Out-of-balance blood sugar. As I mentioned in the last entry, high stress and cortisol both mess with blood sugar and insulin levels. Another problem we often see in patients is that glucose is not being properly delivered to the body’s cells. For glucose to be effectively delivered to the body’s cells requires 4,700 mg. of potassium daily, or the amount in about six cups of vegetables. Are you eating that many vegetables a day?Chronic stress depletes our bodies of potassium, along with zinc and other nutrients, which leads to poor utilization of blood sugar, which can lead to prediabetes and diabetes. Unfortunately, we see many cases in our office where people are fatigued but have been told by their doctors their glucose or HbA1c levels are fine on their blood tests. That’s because the standard lab ranges are far too wide. If your blood is carrying too much sugar, it isn’t carrying enough oxygen or nutrients to your cells. Of course, you feel tired, but your doctor is missing it!
Anemia. In our office, one of the biggest causes of fatigue we see in patients is anemia. But wait, you might be thinking, my doctor tested my iron levels and they were fine! Well, there are a couple of problems with that. First, the “optimal” lab ranges for iron are typically 40-190 ug/dl, but these ranges are far too broad. The real “optimal’ range for iron for you to feel well and function at is best is 85-130 ug/dl.
Secondly, what’s really important is the actual storage levels of iron in your blood, which you can’t tell by measuring iron! To measure how much iron is stored in the blood, you need to measure ferritin levels. Ferritin is a protein that helps store iron in the blood and measuring ferritin is the best way to determine if you have iron-deficiency anemia. Ferritin is used in the production of all the body’s hormones. Proper levels are integral to your health and well-being. And, guess what? Ferritin levels are very rarely tested by traditional doctors. We see patients all the time who are exhausted, have low or normal iron, but their ferritin levels have not been tested.
Autoimmune disease and inflammation. Perhaps you’ve heard of the links between chronic inflammation and bad health. First, it’s important to understand that there are times when inflammation is a good thing, and times when it’s a bad thing.
When your body is sick or injured, it releases something called “C reactive protein,” or CRP, in response to inflammation. It’s what makes you feel lethargic and achy when you’re sick. In this case, inflammation is a good thing because it’s only temporary and helping your body fight what’s ailing you. But, when inflammation becomes chronic, as it can be with autoimmune diseases, it’s like having the flu all the time – and that’s a bad thing. Your body becomes exhausted because it’s literally always attacking itself.
The more inflammation you have, the higher your CRP levels will be. This leads to damage in the tissues at the cellular level and an array of autoimmune diseases including Hashimoto’s disease, scleroderma, psoriasis, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, IBS, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Autoimmune diseases are one of the major drivers of fatigue and we find that 40% of our patients are suffering and we are many times the first ones to discover they have one or more of these diseases! Autoimmune diseases are at an epidemic level and the sad part is many people don’t know they’re suffering.
Fortunately, it’s easy to determine if autoimmune disease and/or chronic inflammation are causing you to be exhausted. We recommend everybody get an Antinuclear Antibodies Test to screen for autoimmune disease, and blood tests to assess levels of CRP and other important inflammation markers. If autoimmune disease or inflammation are behind your fatigue, you will need to work with a doctor who knows how to balance the immune system, lower inflammation and work to fix the root cause and help you get your energy and health back. For patients that know they have autoimmune disease, in many cases, are told there isn’t anything that can be done, except very expensive and dangerous immune suppressing therapies but that just isn’t the truth from my experience helping 1000’s of patients feel better.
Thyroid Disease. The thyroid hormones are responsible for the speed in which the body functions, down to every cell, tissue, organ and gland of the body. Therefore, if someone has a slow thyroid it is going to mean they have a slow function of everything in their body, a slower metabolism which will result in weight gain, their digestion will slow which can cause constipation, their overall effectiveness of their hormones will decline which can lead to heavy or irregular menses, their immune system will slow which can lead to chronic infections or frequent illnesses, their circulation will slow which can lead to cold hands and feet and much much more than we have time for today.
According to the American Thyroid Association 60% of people who have a thyroid disease don’t even know it! This is directly related to culprit #5 Autoimmune Disease, because the most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Doctors miss this all the time because even if someone tests positive for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis it doesn’t change most medical doctors recommendations or treatment, therefore they don’t usually run it, unless asked. Most doctors wait till the thyroid becomes damaged enough, by the immune system, that the thyroid starts producing less and less thyroid hormones then what is acceptable lab range low. Then the patient can be put on thyroid medications. Its basically a “well lets wait and see what happens approach”.
The other issue we have seen with thyroid conditions is many doctors are not looking at the optimal ranges of blood thyroid ranges, instead they are only looking at the normal ranges which are much too broad. People can have normal lab results yet still feel sick!
For example, we know that if you are trying to conceive, the first blood test most fertility doctors will run is TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Fertility doctors want the TSH to be 2.5 or less, the lower the TSH the more thyroid hormones are present in the body normally. Fertility doctors understand how important the thyroid hormones are to every function of the body especially other hormones and this is why they like those levels to be at the optimal range of 2.5 or less. Unfortunately for so many people, their doctors are following the outdated standard lab range of 4.5. The standard lab range high leads to people having to suffer from low thyroid symptoms, despite lab range normal testing. You shouldn’t have to wait until things are considered medically lab range broken to be helped. We’ve seen so many patients feel and function better when they are within the optimal range which ensures they are feeling their best at all times.
Fatigue is one of the biggest indicators of a thyroid disorder or imbalance, so make sure and know your levels.