Author Sidebar: I remember when I was diabetic, I struggled with having enough energy just to get through each day. I remember my legs feeling heavy and almost lifeless. It took a lot of effort to walk up and down the stairs. All I wanted to do was stay in bed.
And, even though my mother, daughter and sister were taking care of the house, preparing meals, etc., I still had to go with them to the grocery store, drugstore, etc. because they didn't know where the stores were and how to get back to the house.
It was torture walking with them through the stores! They wanted to go up and down every aisle, sometimes multiple times! I used the shopping cart as a prop to keep me upright, but, it didn't really help that much.
During my research, I discovered that I was not the only diabetic struggling with low energy problems. It turns out that most diabetics feel tired during the day or when they get up in the morning. The primary reason for this is that not enough glucose is able to get into the cells because of the insulin resistance. And, without glucose, the cells are unable to produce energy and do their job.
One of the cells that is affected by this insulin resistance happens to be the muscle cells, which need glucose to help our muscles to move. So, without enough glucose in the muscle cells, muscles find it difficult to contract and expand consistently and constantly while you're walking.
But, once I started to eat better, the insulin resistance went down and I was able to move my leg muscles more easily. As a result, walking became easier and I was able to start exercising on a daily basis for 10 to 15 minutes; and, eventually I was able to work up to about 30 to 40 minutes. Later, I was able to exercise twice a day without any struggle.
The 6 Major Types of Fatigue
But, you don't have to be diabetic to have a feeling of being tired all the time.
In general, fatigue is a feeling of exhaustion that can't be fixed with sleep. It is tiredness, weariness, or listlessness. Fatigue overwhelms most other feelings and can make it hard to function physically and mentally.
Fatigue appears to be more common in women and in people who:
- Have a disease like diabetes, MS, obesity, heart disease, etc.
- Have a weak immune system, e.g. frequent colds, flu, infections, slow-healing cuts/bruises, etc.
- Have chronic pain or neurological problems
- Live alone or in a non-supportive home environment
- Have psychological or psychiatric problems
- Abuse alcohol or drugs
- Eat a poor diet or follow a fad diet
- Take a lot of medications
- Have stressful, low paying, or boring jobs; night-time job
- Have feelings of depression, low self-esteeem
- Have insomnia, poor sleeping habits
- Exposure to chemical, environmental pollutants
- Experienced a major trauma or injury, e.g. major surgery, car accident
If you have any of these problems or experiences, then, you may be a likely candidate to have some type of long-term fatigue.
There are six (6) major types of fatigue that can cause you to feel tired for extended periods of time:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Adrenal Fatigue
- Diabetes/Other Disease-related Fatigue
- Physical Fatigue
- Psychological Fatigue
- Mental Fatigue
Unfortunately, Western Medicine's solution for fatigue issues is to prescribe more drugs on top of the diabetic drugs, which are partially responsible for your fatigue issues.
As a result, most people either take more medication or they learn how to tolerate and live with the fatigue. However, because fatigue issues make it difficult to defeat your diabetes, it is important to use meal planning, raw juicing and/or detox to help address your fatigue issues.
One of the most common types of fatigue is called chronic fatigue, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
CFS is a debilitating condition that involves ongoing fatigue and tiredness that is unrelated to exertion.
CFS is usually characterized by fatigue, extremely low stamina, weakness, muscle pain, lymph node swelling, depression and hypersensitivity.
Other symptoms of CFS include sleepiness, unrefreshing sleep; widespread muscle and joint pain; irritability; sore throat; headaches; cognitive difficulties; lack of motivation; and, mental and physical exhaustion.
Persons with CFS may have other symptoms, icluding increased sensitivity to light, sounds and smells, digestive problems, depression, and cardiac and respiratory problems.
CFS often occurs in conjunction with two other related illnesses: fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) and myofascial pain syndrome (MPS). It is estimated that FMS alone affects 3 to 6 million Americans, causing more disability than rheumatoid arthritis. MPS affects many millions more.
Another type of fatigue is adrenal fatigue, which is caused when your adrenal glands function below the necessary level and lose the ability to cope with stress.
Your adrenal glands are responsible for balancing various hormones, including cortisol (which is referred to as the stress hormone).
Cortisol influences, regulates or modulates many of the changes that occur in the body in response to stress including:
- Blood glucose levels
- Blood pressure
- Heart and blood vessel tone and contraction
- Fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism
- Immune responses
- Anti-inflammatory actions
- Central nervous system activation
Cortisol levels tend to increase during stressful events, which is okay, as long as the cortisol levels return to normal once the stressful event has ended.
However, in today's high-stress environment in combination with managing a disease like diabetes, your stress response is activated so often that the body does not always have a chance to return to normal.
This can lead to health problems resulting from too much circulating cortisol and/or from too little cortisol if the adrenal glands become chronically fatigued.
Low levels of cortisol (as in adrenal fatigue) have been associated with various health problems, including:
- Brain fog
- Mild depression
- Underactive thyroid function
- Blood glucose imbalances, e.g. hypoglycemia
- Fatigue, especially morning and mid-afternoon fatigue
- Sleep disruption
- Low blood pressure
- Lowered immune function
Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol (like those associated with chronic stress) have been associated with various health problems, including:
- Blood glucose imbalances, e.g. hyperglycemia
- Increase in blood pressure
- Impaired cognitive function
- Dampened thyroid function
- Decreased bone density
- Sleep disruption
- Decreased muscle mass
- Lowered immune function
- Slow wound healing
- Increased belly fat*
*Please Note: Increased belly fat has a strong correlation to certain health problems including heart attacks, strokes, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems.
Adrenal fatigue is most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress usually due to a trauma event, but, it can also arise during or after acute or chronic infections, especially respiratory infections such as influenza, bronchitis or pneumonia.
People experiencing adrenal fatigue often have to use coffee, colas, sugar drinks and other stimulants to get going in the morning and to prop themselves up during the day.
Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc with your life. In the more serious cases, the activity of the adrenal glands is so diminished that you may have difficulty getting out of bed for more than a few hours per day.
As your adrenal function diminishes, it affects every organ and system in your body. Some of the changes that occur include problems with carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism; fluid and electrolyte balance; cardiovascular system function, and sex drive.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue may include: constant tiredness, body aches, light-headedness, low blood pressure, loss of body hair, skin discoloration, unexplained weight loss
Adrenal insufficiency may be diagnosed by blood tests and special stimulation tests that show inadequate levels of adrenal hormones; but, these tests may not be sensitive enough to detect such a small decline in adrenal function.
Type 2 diabetes is one of the more common diseases that cause people to feel tired all the time. The primary reason for this is due to insulin resistance, where the cells are unable to absorb glucose and produce energy.
The good news about this type of fatigue is that it can easily be corrected by eating a plant-based, fiber-rich diet and avoiding flour and sugar-laden foods.
Other diseases and health problems that are associated with fatigue problems include obesity, fibromyalgia, depression, congestive heart failure (CHF), cancer, Alzheimer's, lyme disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, celiac disease, PCOS, underactive thyroid, and other autoimmune diseases.
Physical fatigue is usually associated with muscle weakness. It makes it more difficult to do simple things like getting dressed, driving, working around the house, even walking.
Usually physical fatigue gets worse in the evening, after a busy day. But, if you're diabetic, you may feel worse in the morning. Often, this kind of fatigue will get better if you eat better and become more active.
Psychological fatigue or emotional fatigue comes with worrying about your diabetes, feeling depressed, having anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, and other psychological conditions.
This kind of fatigue gets worse with stress, especially if you're not managing your diabetes effectively. Often, sleep does not help.
Psychological fatigue is often at its worst during the day while you're trying to manage your diabetes and multi-task with work, family, and unplanned events. For most diabetics, this kind of fatigue will get better when you acquire the knowledge about diabetes, organize yourself, and learn how to successfully fight the disease.
Mental fatigue or cognitive fatigue makes it hard for you to think or concentrate. The more you have to concentrate and focus on your diet or controlling your blood sugar, the more mentally fatigued you may get.
This may cause you to be irritable, have headaches, be forgetful, have brain fog, etc. For most diabetics, attending a class; working with an experienced diabetes health coach; or, using a journal, a diabetes tracking chart or a meal planner can help you with mental fatigue.
Fatigue | Natural Remedies
Although the specific remedies may vary for each type of fatigue, there are some common remedies that help most people dealing with fatigue issues, including nutrition, raw juicing, detox, and lifestyle changes.
Follow a plant-based diet and eat foods like green vegetables, bright-colored vegetables, whole fruits, cold-water fish, plant oils, beans, nuts and seeds.
More importantly, make sure that you avoid the fast foods, junk foods and processed foods that contain caffeine, flour, sugar, HFCS, artificial sweeteners, and other similar stimulants and chemicals.
Be aware that various forms of sugar are an additive in many breads, condiments, dressings, cereals, canned goods, packaged foods, and beverages.
Make sure that you avoid hydrogenated oils (e.g. margarine, frozen meals), vegetable oils (e.g. corn, soybean) and canola oil because they cause cellular inflammation, which triggers immune responses that can wear out your adrenal glands.
If done properly, raw juicing can be very therapeutic for people suffering with fatigue issues.
Why? Because raw juicing allows you to get the necessary nutrients into your cells a lot faster and more easily. This enables your cells to produce energy and reduce the amount of fatigue.
Perform a periodic detox to help remove the toxic chemicals that can overwhelm your liver, kidneys, and brain.
Nutritional supplementation should only be used after a healthy nutritional dietary program has been put in place. Taking a bunch of pills for a fatigue issue can cause more harm than good.
Some vitamins that may help include Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and the B-Complex, particularly B6, B12, Biotin and Folic Acid. B vitamins help fight fatigue by helping your body use the glucose (fuel) and aiding in the formation of red blood cells (energy transport).
Some herbs, minerals and nutrients that may help include: Siberian ginseng, gotu kola, CoQ-10, d-ribose, l-carnitine, zinc, iodine,and magnesium, all of which can treat chronic fatigue symptoms by increasing energy production in cells.
Vitamin B-Complex. Fatigue and depression can result from the depletion of B vitamins. Folic acid, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and vitamin B12 are needed for normal growth and maturation of red blood cells. Their deficiency leads to anemia and fatigue.
Vitamin B6 is extremely important in relieving and preventing fatigue, especially if you are prone to fatigue caused by bacteria, viruses, candida, or allergies. Vitamin B6 is needed for both the production of antibodies by white blood cells and the production of T-cell lymphocytes by the thymus. This vitamin also appears to help enhance the activity of the T-cells, making them more effective in destroying infectious agents.
Women using birth control pills and menopausal women on hormonal replacement therapy can be prone to fatigue because the use of hormones causes vitamin B6 deficiency. Finally, B6 deficiency has been found in fatigued women who suffer from depression.
Vitamin C. In one research study done on 411 dentists and their spouses, scientists found a clear relationship between the presence of fatigue and lack of vitamin C. By supporting the immune function, vitamin C helps prevent fatigue caused by infections.
In women with iron deficiency anemia, vitamin C increases the absorption of iron from the digestive tract. Vitamin C has also been tested, along with bioflavonoids, as a treatment for anemia caused by heavy menstrual bleeding, a common cause of fatigue in teenagers and premenopausal women in their forties.
Vitamin C reduces bleeding by helping to strengthen capillaries and prevent capillary fragility. One clinical study of vitamin C showed a reduction in bleeding in 87 percent of women taking supplemental amounts of this essential nutrient. The best sources of vitamin C in nature are fruits and vegetables.
Iron. An essential component of red blood cells, iron combines with protein and copper to make hemoglobin, the pigment of the red blood cells. Studies have shown that women with iron deficiency have decreased physical stamina and endurance.
Iron deficiency, the main cause of anemia, is common during all phases of a woman's life, because of both poor nutritional habits and regular blood loss through menstruation. Iron deficiency frequently causes fatigue and low energy states.
Good sources of iron include liver, blackstrap molasses, beans and peas, seeds and nuts, and certain fruits and vegetables. The body absorbs and assimilates the heme iron from meat sources, such as liver, much better than the non-heme iron from vegetarian sources. To absorb non-heme iron properly, you must take it with at least 75 milligrams of vitamin C.
Calcium. This mineral helps combat stress, nervous tension, and anxiety. An upset emotional state can dramatically worsen fatigue. A calcium deficiency worsens not only emotional irritability but also muscular irritability and cramps.
Like magnesium and potassium, calcium is essential in the maintenance of regular heartbeat and the healthy transmission of impulses through the nerves. Good sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, salmon (with bones), nuts and seeds, tofu, and blackstrap molasses -- not milk!
Iodine. This mineral is necessary to prevent fatigue caused by low thyroid function. Iodine, along with the amino acid tyrosine, is necessary for the production of the thyroid hormone thyroxin.
Without adequate thyroid hormone, you may suffer from excessive fatigue, excess weight, constipation, and other symptoms of a slowed metabolism. Only trace amounts of iodine are needed to maintain its important metabolic effects. Good food sources include fish and shellfish, sea vegetables such as kelp and dulse, and garlic.
Magnesium. This mineral is required for the production of ATP, the end product of the conversion of food to usable energy by the body's cells. Magnesium also helps to relax your muscles.
Potassium. Like magnesium, potassium has a powerful enhancing effect on energy and vitality. Potassium deficiency has been associated with fatigue and muscular weakness. One study showed that older people who were deficient in potassium had weaker grip strength.
Potassium aids proper muscle contraction and transmission of electrochemical impulses. It helps maintain nervous system function and a healthy heart rate. Potassium is found in abundance in fruits, vegetables, beans and peas, seeds and nuts, starches, and whole grains.
Zinc. This mineral improves muscle strength and endurance. It reduces fatigue by enhancing immune function, acting as an immune stimulant and triggering the reproduction of lymphocytes. Zinc is a constituent of many enzymes involved in both metabolism and digestion.
Zinc is needed for the proper growth and development of female reproductive organs and for the normal functioning of the male prostate gland. Good food sources of zinc include wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, whole grain wheat bran, and high protein foods.
Herbs. Many herbs can help relieve the symptoms and treat the causes of chronic fatigue. Some herbs help relax tension and ease anxiety. Other herbs have mild anti-infective and hormonal properties to combat fatigue causing viruses and fungi.
Herbs such as oat straw, ginger, ginkgo biloba, licorice root, dandelion root, and Siberian ginseng may have a stimulatory effect, improving energy and vitality.
Herbs such as passionflower (passiflora) and valerian root have a calming and restful effect on the central nervous system.
Passionflower has been found to elevate levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan, an essential amino acid that has been found in numerous medical studies to initiate sleep and decrease awakening.
Valerian root has been used extensively in traditional herbology as a sleep inducer. It is used widely in Europe as an effective treatment for insomnia. Research studies have confirmed both the sedative effect of valerian root and its effectiveness as a treatment for insomnia.
Self, Lifestyle & Environment
Living in an environment that is negative and non-supportive is very stressful. So, you need to focus on yourself and be selfish about treating yourself the way that you want to be treated.
If you don't treat yourself the way you want to be treated, how can you expect your family members and others to treat you any differently?
Here are some things to think about doing on a daily basis.
Self: Take time for yourself (do something relaxing).
Home/Family: Don't sacrifice your health and try to do everything yourself. Look for and require help from your partner and other family members. This is especially important for women, who tend to be the caregiver that puts the family first while sacrificing their own needs.
Women, in particular, need to be more selfish and put themselves first. Think about it: If you're sick, you can't take care of your family.
Internal Talk Track: Eliminate negative thoughts. Focus on positive thoughts about yourself. What we think about ourselves becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Laughter: Laugh and do something fun every day.
Sleep: Try to sleep 8–10 hours a night. Avoid staying up late and stay on a regular sleep cycle — ideally, in bed by 11 p.m.
Work: Try to minimize work and relational stress.
People: Avoid negative people and their drama.
Meal Planning: Try to eat at the same times every day. Avoid eating out as much as possible. Definitely avoid the fast food places.
Use alternative medicine techniques such as Tai chi, meditation, massage, muscle relaxation and yoga to help reduce some of the mental stress in your life.
Use therapy such as psychological counseling to help you cope and improve your mindset. But, be careful -- some therapists tend to push drugs as the solution to your fatigue, stress and mental problems.
Although exercise may not help in some cases, once you start to eat better, you should gradually add some light exercise, like walking with a friend or take up a hobby like gardening.
Although you might feel too tired to exercise, a lack of exercise is worse because it causes muscles to weaken. Any form of exercise will improve your body's health by facilitating blood flow and metabolism; and, it will help you build and strengthen muscle tissue.
Take a diabetes class or use training job aids to reduce your anxiety and stress with managing your diabetes.
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Note: For more clinical references and more details about chronic fatigue, refer to the Death to Diabetes Blog.
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