Question: I have no energy and no motivation and just want to drink coffee, eat carbs, watch TV and stay warm.
I feel like I am putting the bare minimum into my life in general. Is there anything natural that could give me some pep?
Answer: There are many who share your complaint. Today, I found myself, for the first time in a very long time, getting coffee and a decadent little treat today around 3:30 p.m. when it was -29 C and I was on my umpteenth night of very poor sleep because of our teething baby.
I noted that in addition to being sleep deprived, it had also been over four hours since I last ate and so my blood sugar would be dipping.
My point being I will be sure to drink water steadily for the rest of the day, take my supplements after eating a good meal and go to bed early tonight.
The sugary indulgences will now be avoided because they make me bloated and congested, they make my eyes feel tired and burning, my hair gets flat, I generally retain fluid and feel tired and irritable. Eating wheat, dairy and sugar kills my energy dramatically more than lack of sleep, and I have had feedback from thousands of people who also react negatively. I also avoid these allergens and sugar, as I don’t want to weaken my immune system with so much flu on the go.
Maybe you get 10 hours of sleep per night and no amount of sleep rejuvenates you. Or you eat great regular meals but crave carbs mid-afternoon. Remember to eat something with protein, healthy fat and low glycemic carbs every four hours. Drink an 8-oz glass of water every couple of hours between waking and 7 p.m. Keep in mind if you eat lunch at noon but supper is not until 6 p.m. or later then you really should eat a snack, such as a handful of almonds and an apple around 3 p.m. before you feel any hunger. That will help keep your blood sugar up longer so you don’t abandon all reason later because your blood sugar is too low.
When you get past the four-hour mark, blood sugar starts to drop, and once this happens the healthiest of meals may not satisfy because that meal will not help raise your blood sugar until about two hours later. So your body drives you to keep eating foods such as bread, cookies, chips, sugar or anything that will quickly raise your sugar until your blood sugar normalizes. It could take up to three days for your body to adjust to your new and improved habits, so bear with it.
Adrenal and/or thyroid hormone dysfunction is a common contributor to low energy. Adrenals make adrenaline, sex hormones, corticosteroids and mineral corticoids whose balance is very important to how you feel. Too much stress, caffeine, nicotine and sugar weaken the adrenals. Adrenals rely on adequate amounts of vitamins B5, B6, C, E, magnesium and zinc, and supplementation can dramatically improve energy levels.
An armpit temperature less than 36.5 C is a strong indicator of adrenal and/or thyroid hormone deficiency. Also, get your hemoglobin checked, as well as ferritin (iron stores), as anemia is a major cause of fatigue.
Kali Simmonds, ND is a doctor of naturopathic medicine who practises in Charlottetown. The information provided is not intended to diagnose or substitute the advice of your healthcare professional. Please consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes. She welcomes questions for this column, which is published every second Tuesday in The Guardian. She can be reached by mail at 34 Queen St., Charlottetown, C1A 4A3 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org