You’re exhausted…ALL. THE. TIME. You’d give you left arm to feel refreshed in the mornings, to stay focused all day, and to NOT crash every single afternoon. And you’re doing everything you’re supposed to: working out every day, eating healthy, taking time to relax in front of the TV at night… But it doesn’t seem to be working… Why does it still feel so wrong even though you’re doing everything right?
The Frustration of Chronic Fatigue
Have you gone to your doctor so many times about your fatigue and been told “there’s nothing wrong”? Or, you’ve been given one-off supplements or medications to try (because they really don’t know what to do for you)? Maybe you’ve had your hormones tested and things have come back normal. Unfortunately, for a lot of women struggling with chronic fatigue, our health concerns are overlooked or brushed off because there are no true tests our doctors can run to find out why you feel so exhausted all the time. So, you end up with surface-level tips on supplements or nutrition that don’t help rebalance the root causes of your chronic fatigue. And this just keeps you stuck where you’re at for far too long.
So, What Causes Chronic Fatigue
When looking into what causes chronic fatigue, please remember that the whole body is interconnected. An imbalance in one area, if left untreated, will eventually lead to imbalances in other areas. And, we all have different “weak links” in our bodies, so our symptoms can manifest in so many different areas that it’s no wonder so many women struggle to get answers to what causes chronic fatigue! But there is one main area that’s so integral to your energy that we have to start there, and that’s with how strong and resilient your stress response is. If your stress response is dysregulated, your entire hormonal, detoxification, immune, digestive and nervous system are affected. And what causes chronic fatigue, ultimately, is a dysregulated stress response due to the combined effects of prolonged exposure to stressors, not addressing stress with the right nutrition, emotional trauma, and even the stress effects on our DNA that’s been passed down by our ancestors. Plus, all the worry and frustration about your health is very, very stressful!
The Stress / Inflammation Cycle
When it comes to what causes chronic fatigue, we know that stress is a main contributor. And that when we don’t have a resilient, strong stress response, our adrenals (the glands that produce your stress response) become exhausted and start pumping out cortisol at all the wrong times. The other part of this equation is chronic low-grade inflammation. When your stress response is dysregulated, it signals the body to increase its inflammatory response in order to protect the body from physical danger. Your stress response is your “fight or flight” response; it’s a survival mechanism. When stress is constantly high and your adrenals are continuously pumping out cortisol, inflammation increases. On the flip side, when inflammation is high, this signals to your adrenals to pump out more cortisol for survival. And, over time, the body gets stuck in this “stress / inflammation cycle” and this tells your thyroid to slow down and for your cells to stop producing energy. Therefore, this “stress / inflammation cycle” is what causes chronic fatigue. Break the cycle to begin to regain your energy.
How to Break the Cycle with Nutrition
One of the quickest ways to break the “stress / inflammation cycle” is with proper nutrition. So many food options today increase the inflammatory response in women, even foods labeled as “healthy”. Diet culture claiming low calorie, low fat, and/or low carb have all played a role in our stress load too – either through not enough food or not enough of the right nutrients to maintain a resilient, strong stress response. The top 3 pro-inflammatory food groups are dairy, sugars (and artificial sweeteners) and grains. Gluten is very pro-inflammatory but processed grains also trigger inflammation in many women. (Brown rice and I do NOT get along…) The best way to find out if gluten-free grains are tolerable is to remove them for 3 weeks and slowly add some back in. At the same time, you have to replace lost nutrients, too. When it comes to what causes chronic fatigue, removing foods without properly replacing them is probably the biggest mistake women make when trying to fix their fatigue on their own. The first step in rebuilding a resilient stress response is the make sure your adrenals are getting enough of the right nutrients needed to produce cortisol (your main stress hormone). That means eating adequate amounts of healthy fat at every single meal. Not only does healthy fat give the adrenals what they need, but your cells run off of fat more efficiently. Meaning, when they have adequate healthy fat, they can keep up with energy demands easier.
The Best Foods For High Energy
I used to be completely scared to eat foods that were high in fat! Hey, I grew up in the 90s when dieting culture was all about “low- and non-fat”. Back then, I was told “eating fat will make you fat”! How wrong that advice was…if you want to know more about this idea, check out my blog on the secrets to fat loss! Eating healthy, mainly plant-based fats, is actually really important to keep your adrenals (and your entire hormonal system) happy and healthy. My favorite foods are avocados, olives and olive oil, wild-caught salmon, whole eggs, ground flaxseeds, pecans, walnuts, almonds, and coconut oil. Make sure you’re eating 2-3 servings of healthy fat with every meal because your body will use the nutrients from foods so much more efficiently than from supplements. Although, one excellent supplement most women need is a really good omega-3 fish oil. (There are vegan versions made from marine plant life too.)
Getting the Help You Need
Trying to figure out what causes chronic fatigue on your own can feel like trying to piece together a huge jigsaw puzzle that’s missing ¼ of its pieces! The biggest mistake busy women with chronic fatigue make, too, is to NOT ask for help. So, if you’re struggling with chronic fatigue, burnout, brain fog, sleep issues, and/or a lot of unresolved trauma or stress, then getting the help you need to live your best life – a life you fully deserve – should be a top priority. Your body needs to heal, but it won’t be able to do this until you first break the “stress / inflammation cycle”. Book a free 45-minute Energy Audit Call with me today so that we can jump into your symptoms and get you massive clarity on what’s causing your chronic fatigue.