What to Do About Chronic Fatigue

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So many women today deal with extreme fatigue that is life-altering, leading to significant changes in their lifestyle, goals and aspirations and often contributing to a great deal of shame and discouragement. This issue is such a frustrating one because you spend hours visiting specialists pleading the case that you aren’t just lazy, this isn’t normal for you –to dozens of strangers who don’t know you and who are taught to examine the data… while your labs and your tests keep coming back normal. What is left but to end up feeling like, “perhaps it is all in my head.”  When you are a driven woman who is used to a high-paced, goal oriented approach to life and you get railroaded by symptoms that you have been ignoring and pushing past for years, that you can no longer ignore, you can’t help but feel defeated.

The reality of the situation is that feeling tired all the time is not normal. It is a warning alarm that something is seriously wrong on a foundational cellular level. 

Consider the statistics:

  • 2.5 Million people in the US are diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome [2]
  • The medical costs of those suffering with Chronic Fatigue and pain is 3-4 x higher than the rest of the population [1]
  • And never forget that the number one cause of bankruptcy in America is medical expenses [3]

These statistics are staggering and give you a tiny snapshot into the significance of this issue and hopefully help you feel like you are not alone and certainly not crazy. Don’t forget that men are often underreporting when it comes to chronic fatigue, so the numbers of people truly affected by this issue are most certainly a good bit higher than what is reported.

Why am I so tired?

Think back to middle school biology, when we had to make our clay models of the inside of the cell. Remember learning that the mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell? Well, consider if your mitochondria are unable to do its primary function and not produce the energy that the cells need to function. What if the cells in question are brain cells? This most certainly leads to brain fog, memory issues and definitely fatigue.  

If the problem is that your mitochondria are not producing enough energy, then the solution needs to be one that supports healthy mitochondria and doesn’t demand more from them (synthetic caffeine drinks, medications, ect). The solutions for supporting the mitochondria need to be targeted at supplying what the mitochondria needs to use to produce energy and also at removing the things that are robbing the mitochondria of their necessary tools. 

What does the mitochondria need?


Without getting into the nitty gritty of the complexity of the cell communication, krebs cycle, electron transfer chain, and so on, we can simplify the foundation of all energy to a few things:

Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen and electrons (the source of all electricity). Where do we get these? 

We get carbon from good quality ORGANIC foods. The key is that these foods are not from genetically modified sources because the changes that occur in GE foods affect the way we are able to use the carbon from them. 

We get hydrogen primarily from the water we consume.  Other sources are from our diet- sugars, proteins and fats. Our bodies are 60-70% water (depending on your age), so water is incredibly important. But here’s the thing: water contains loads of chemicals- the EWG (ewg.org) has identified 320 chemicals, but this number does not include byproducts of medicines (hormones, antidepressants, chemo, ect) that are released into municipal water systems with no way to remove them. Furthermore, the best tests available, which are often used by water purification companies to evaluate and prove the effectiveness of their water systems, are only able to test for 120-130 chemicals. What about the rest? And why all the talk of chemicals in water? 

Remember, how we said the mitochondria need hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and ELECTRONS? When we are exposed to chemicals, those nasty little guys rob us of our needed electrons – it is one of the ways that our cells end up with free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that have had an electron stolen from them, so they are very volatile and destructive to the body. They cause collagen to break down (wrinkles, aging, tendon issues), immune cells not to work (chronic infections) and the nerves not to send signals correctly (brain fog, dementia, learning disabilities). 

Bringing all this information together:  we need hydrogen from CLEAN, PURE WATER if it is going to support our mitochondria. But, as you can imagine, most of us don’t consume truly clean, purified water, which is one factor that is contributing to low energy!

We also need oxygen, and the same rule applies to oxygen as it does to water- clean air is needed. Just like the combustion engines in our cars or a log fire, oxygen is absolutely critical to fuel the production of energy in our bodies; without oxygen your logs will never catch fire and produce energy and your mitochondria are likewise unable to produce ATP (energy).  This is one reason exercise is so tremendously helpful for producing (not just robbing) energy in and for our bodies. We breathe deeper and heavier and intake a much larger volume of oxygen when we exercise, giving our bodies more oxygen to use for the mitochondria to make ATP!

Finally, let’s talk about electrons. Electrons are responsible for lightening, and necessary for  you to charge your cell phone, turn on your lights and run anything electrical. Guess what? Our bodies are also fundamentally electrical. We gather electrons for our bodies in many different ways- exposure to sunlight, walking barefoot on the ground, consuming energy rich foods, and most importantly, avoiding the things that rob us of our electrons, namely toxins, emf, even negative emotions and environments.

The problem

The problem is that most of us who deal with chronic fatigue have been struggling for a long time. If you think of the body in terms of a savings account- your oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and electron accounts are in the negative and you are constantly having to float your bills between credit cards (different organ systems). This is why you may have a new seemingly unrelated symptom pop up every few months.  One day you have a ton of brain fog, but you are able to get around and do the basic physical things, then the next day, your body doesn’t want to move, but you are able to concentrate a little more clearly. You keep robbing Peter to pay Paul.

There is also the issue of WHY are you so depleted in key elements. This is what we call root cause investigation.  What is causing you to burn through the critical nutrients in your body? Is it that you have a high level of stored toxins? Could it be that you have a low-grade chronic infection? Are you being exposed to significant amounts of electrical smog (emf, radiation or electricity from large amounts of power lines)? Are you living in mold or do you have stored mold toxins from a previous exposure that are just now starting to cause issues? While you begin to support your body with the missing nutrients, it is also wise to start exploring the root cause. 

What Can I do?

I know that the standard drumbeat of “diet and exercise” gets old, but believe me, it is a vital place to start. But when we talk about diet, I am not referring to some specific, restrictive, special diet (though I do implement those for clients when and where needed)- I am referring to starting with removing those foods that YOU KNOW are stealing from your already-depleted-electron/hydrogen-savings account. Remove the sugars, check for preservatives, and go organic as much as you can! 

When I refer to exercise, I am not referring to an hour on the Peloton! If you are like me, a driven professional who has goals and plans, it is hard not to do things ALL OUT.. But, when it comes to chronic fatigue and exercise, LESS IS MORE. Less intensity, less time, less heavy weight. Just move your body, and preferably do so OUTSIDE. 

Pay attention to your water consumption and be sure you are drinking clean water!  Think about lightning and water. When lightning strikes a body of water, the electricity is conducted a very large distance and instantly. This is the same way electrons work on the water in our bodies. We need to stay hydrated to be able to use the electricity in our cells efficiently! How much is enough? That depends on your exercise, altitude, and metabolism.  A good rule of thumb is to drink your body weight in ounces each day. 

In the meantime, one supplement you can consider adding to your regimen is Magnesium. Though we spent the majority of this blog discussing the fundamentals of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and electrons, magnesium is also very important to the body. It is like an accelerant in fire. We need magnesium to boost the function of about 300 different metabolic functions in the body and when we are chronically ill, we have also depleted our magnesium savings account. A good balanced magnesium (blend of magnesium glycinate, threonate and malate or other forms of magnesium)  is important so that a variety of different cells can use it. 

Conclusion

I want to leave you with hope! It IS possible to get on top of and recover from debilitating chronic fatigue. You are not crazy. It is not just in your head. You have the beginning of chronic illness that has the potential to cause long-term chronic debilitating (and costly) disease. Give yourself a little grace as you walk through the steps toward healing. If you need a sherpa to guide you up Mount Everest, reach out to us and book a consultation

For more information, join us for one of our monthly webinars!

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References

Valdez AR, Hancock EE, Adebayo S, et al. Estimating Prevalence, Demographics, and Costs of ME/CFS Using Large Scale Medical Claims Data and Machine Learning. Front Pediatr. 2019;6:412. Published 2019 Jan 8. doi:10.3389/fped.2018.00412

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/235980-overview

3https://www.abi.org/feed-item/health-care-costs-number-one-cause-of-bankruptcy-for-american-families

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