Are You Fatigued?

One of the most common reasons people come to see me is fatigue. I am sure if one were to ask other primary and preventative care doctors, they would say they also see a lot of fatigue. It is surprisingly common in a world full of technology meant to make things easier.  There are numerous reasons for fatigue. To work up a diagnosis of fatigue, physicians have a standard protocol, including a variety of studies and lab work, but honestly most of the time these workouts do not provide the answer to our patients’ fatigue concerns. I would encourage you to have severe fatigue worked up to rule out anything alarming, but there are a couple of things you can do on your own to see if you can help manage or improve your fatigue prior to seeing your doctor. The first is simply to protect the energy-providing organelles in each of your cells. These little power houses are called mitochondria. Continually elevated insulin levels, as seen in insulin resistance and elevated insulin secretion, have been shown to damage and prevent the creation of new mitochondria and, thus, are primary mechanisms of fatigue.  Keeping an adequate amount of protein in your diet at each meal, and doing your best to avoid insulin stimulating foods such as sugary drinks, and white carbohydrates is a great place to start. Eating a large variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other whole foods also helps to protect your mitochondria, due to the abundance of antioxidants. The second simple act involves removing technology at night to improve your sleep. Time and again I have been able to help chronic insomniacs by simply having them turn off any technology screen when the sun goes down. This would include TV, computer, video games, cell phones, Kindels, iPads, etc. Removing that brain intensifying light source from your routine at night will allow better sleep. Better sleep means better recovery. Better recovery means less fatigue. These two simple steps: following a moderate protein, high antioxidant, low sugar diet and turning off all screens when the sun goes down will decrease, if not cure, a lot of the fatigue out there. 


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