What pumps energy out of us: non-obvious causes of chronic fatigue
Health and beauty
Let’s face it: the older we are, the more we get tired. This is part of the aging process: we lose mitochondria – a kind of energy engine in the cells – and produce less adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which delivers energy to cells throughout the body. Other causes can worsen the condition – for example, side effects of drugs, depression, heart disease and other chronic diseases.
However, factors associated with age and disease are not the only causes of energy loss. At first glance, seemingly innocuous habits may be to blame for constant fatigue. Researchers have identified factors that can take away our vital energy. Knowing the enemy in person, we can understand how to correct the situation.
Lack of activity
With age, we naturally lose muscle mass. “If you have less muscle, you have fewer mitochondria and less ATP,” said Dr. Marcelo Campos, a primary care doctor in Boston. A sedentary lifestyle exacerbates the problem by weakening and contracting muscles, causing them to use energy inefficiently.
Physical activity strengthens muscles, helps them to be more effective and maintain ATP, and also helps to increase the production of chemicals that produce brain energy. Doctors recommend doing 30 minutes a day at least five days a week, doing moderate-intensity exercises.
Five exercises for a sore neck
If necessary, this time can be divided into several shorter periods. And you don’t need to push up to a sweat. “Whatever exercise you do, everyone will benefit,” says Dr. Campos. “Even if it’s climbing stairs and a parking passage.”
Too much stress
Chronic stress can increase levels of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. “Cortisol reduces ATP production and enhances inflammatory processes, which, in turn, also reduces ATP production,” explains Dr. Campos. There are anti-stress techniques that lower cortisol: yoga, mindfulness meditation, tai chi, breathing exercises, or guided visualizations. Even 10 minutes per day dedicated to these practices can help.
If we do not feed our body properly, it will not receive vitamins and minerals to produce enough ATP and we will feel more tired. “Eating too much processed food can increase inflammation, which impairs ATP and energy production. And if you are older and your appetite is not the same as before, you can not provide your body with the calories and fuel that it needs for normal functioning, ”explains Marcelo Campos.
It is important to be attentive to yourself and solve problems on time. There are situations when the regulation of sleep, nutrition and drinking is no longer enough
If you eat too much at a time, it can cause spikes in the increase in blood sugar and also lead to fatigue. How to fix the situation? Doctors recommend eating whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat proteins like fish, chicken, nuts, and seeds.
Fatty acids found in protein-rich foods also help boost ATP. You should strive to consume less volume at one meal and take snacks between them to provide the body with a constant influx of nutrients and at the same time maintain low blood sugar.
Too little sleep
Lack of sleep increases cortisol levels and also supports inflammatory processes. If sleep problems are caused by apnea – pauses in breathing – dips in blood oxygen levels reduce ATP and energy. You should talk with your doctor about the main problems that can take away sleep, such as health conditions – sleep apnea or frequent going to the toilet – or side effects from taking medication.
It is extremely important to observe hygiene of sleep: go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, keep cool, quiet in your room and do not use gadgets that stimulate brain activity.
Wrong fluid choice
Drinking sweet soda can cause a spike in blood sugar and then a drop causing fatigue. Dehydration also contributes to fatigue, as well as drinking caffeinated drinks before bedtime or too much alcohol that interrupts sleep in the middle of the night.
Healthy people need six to eight cups of fluid per day or more if they go to workouts. “Avoid soda and stop drinking caffeine or alcohol six to eight hours before bedtime,” Dr. Campos advises.
Lack of regular meetings with other people can be a manifestation of depression, which, in turn, is associated with fatigue.
“The strength of interaction with others and significant contacts can show your situation on the other hand and give you more energy. Scientists are currently investigating the mechanics of these processes. By communicating, we probably produce various types of chemicals for the brain that make us happier and give us more energy, ”says Dr. Campos.
Meet with relatives, friends, neighbors or even new friends should be at least once a week.
When to sound the alarm?
Lack of vital energy can lead to deeper and more serious consequences. It is important to be attentive to yourself and solve problems on time. There are situations when the regulation of sleep, nutrition and drinking is no longer enough.
“If fatigue affects your day,” says Dr. Campos, “or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as headache, pain in the muscles or joints, fever, stomach problems, or urination, it’s time to see a doctor.”