Running out of Steam?

The Truth Behind Chronically Low Energy

If you were to ask one hundred people at random, “Raise your hand if you could use a little more energy”, you can pretty much guarantee that nearly one hundred hands would go up (or more, depending on how enthusiastic the replies were). But while most of us tend to drag our heels at least a little bit here and there, there is a large portion of the population whose chronically low energy levels can make it difficult to do even the most basic of tasks. For these people, getting through a busy work day can feel tantamount to scaling Mount Everest every Monday-to-Friday. Social engagements? Can’t do it. Getting to the gym? Forget about it. And while many people often resign themselves to accepting this “new normal”, it’s vitally important to figure out why the issue exists, because the solution may either be incredibly simple, or, potentially, life-saving.

First of all, it should be stressed that the causes for chronically low energy levels are numerous, and certainly exceed the scope of this post. But as a naturopathic doctor, the conversation typically involves a combination of physical examination, lab testing, dietary and lifestyle counseling, and other factors. If you’ve noticed your energy drain since weathering a particularly stressful time at work or home, the chronic strain of elevated stress hormone (cortisol) levels can be at play. Do you feel lightheaded after standing, tying your shoes, etc? When cortisol levels remain elevated for a prolonged period, our blood pressure often dips when rising (termed “orthostatic hypotension”), often leading to lightheadedness or dizziness. This is an easy thing to check in the doctor’s office, as are lab tests like fasting blood sugar, thyroid hormone status, iron levels and red blood cell counts, each of which may, if unbalanced, take a toll on your energy levels. To complicate matters further, our dietary choices can also have a huge impact, with diets high in refined, simple sugars (ie. junk food!) often leading to crushing drops in energy, usually in the early-mid afternoon. In addition, a number of prescription medications, like some blood pressure medications and antibiotics, may also contribute to fatigue and general malaise. Finally, worsening fatigue may also be an early sign of a serious health condition such as cancer.

To sum up, it’s all too easy to simply write off chronically low energy as the result of too much work and not enough rest – and rightly so, as for many people, this is all there is to it. However, if your energy levels just aren’t where you want them to be, then it’s time to get to the bottom of things.

If you would like to know more please give us a call:  604-888-8325.

You can thank me later!

Dr. Erik Boudreau ND

Integrated Health Clinic

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