Are you exhausted?


Are you exhausted? I mean really exhausted. On a scale of one to ten (with ten being jumping-full-of-beans) do your energy levels hover around minus 3? Well, you are not alone.

If you feel your tiredess is not normal, do some super-sleuthing. Tiredness can be due to any number of things including anaemia, low thyroid, sleep apnoea, diabetes or even depression. A simple blood test will determine the cause.

There are herds of exhausted folk just like you, who lurch from bed to work to home and bed again. Managing somehow inbetween to assuage the boss, clean the house and feed the kids and budgie. If you wake up knackered and the day doesn’t improve from there, you need help. How does a fully paid ticket to Hawaii and a couple of weeks under a palm tree sound?

If you feel your tiredess is above and beyond what is normal, some super-sleuthing is required. First step is to visit your doctor for a check-up. Tiredness can be due to any number of things including anaemia, low thyroid, sleep apnoea, diabetes or even depression. A simple blood test will determine whether anything obvious, like anaemia, is responsible for your weariness. Iron-deficiency anaemia is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, and over 60% Australian women do not obtain enough iron from their diet. Iron from food is incorporated into red blood cells to form haemoglobin. Haemoglobin carries oxygen around the body, including the brain. Low oxygen equals low energy.

People at risk of anaemia include pregnant women, menstruating women, junk food eaters and the elderly. Iron is a tricky mineral to absorb, with vegetable iron (green leafy vegetables, dried apricots, parsley, prunes) more difficult to absorb than iron from red meat. Vitamin C increases iron absorption, so take a 500mg vitamin C tablet with your meal or squirt some lemon juice over your vegetables. If your iron levels are low, you need to take a supplement. My favourite are the liquid iron tonics, which are a combination of iron rich herbs as well as various minerals and vitamins that assist in iron absorption. They don’t cause constipation (as other iron tablets can) and it tastes O.K. too.

If you are tired all the time, it’s vital that you pay attention to your diet. Although tempting, try not to rely on the ‘false’ energy provided by caffeine or sugar. These little jabs of energy only make things worse in the long term, and give you jittery brittle energy instead of sustained strength. Cut out all junk and make sure you are eating fruit and fresh vegetables every day. Most importantly, ensure you are eating protein, a serve with with each meal. ‘Enough’ protein for a main meal is an amount that is as large as your palm, for snacks, an amount equal to half your palm. Protein is found in eggs, red meat, chicken, fish, pork, tofu, legumes (eg lentils), nuts and cheese. Eating protein with each meal ensures our blood sugar levels remain constant. Low blood sugar levels cause tiredness.

One of the best herbal remedies for fatigue is ginseng. There are several forms of ginseng, but the best for general fatigue is Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus). Siberian ginseng reduces the effect of stress. A short burst of stress will energise you, but if the stress continues long term this is a recipe for fatigue. One or two tablets of Siberian ginseng each morning will help.

I wasn’t joking about lying under palm trees in Hawaii. The best cure for exhaustion is often to do what your body has been telling you for months – REST. If a long restful holiday is out of the question, then you need to look at reducing your work/stress load, such as deferring the uni course or hiring a house cleaner for a few months. But those palm trees sure do sound good.