Fatigue from your Gut?
Feeling tired is common, we are getting to the end of the year and this year has been particularly challenging!
However if you have been feeling exhausted for a while, or have a chronic fatigue disorder or disease, it’s time to address the gut!
Your digestive system is involved in eating food, breaking food down and acquiring nutrients AKA fuel and then eliminating the waste. In terms of fatigue, the breakdown of food and the absorption of nutrients is where fatigue can come into play:
- Your diet may be lacking the specific nutrients your body needs or not eating enough to obtain enough energy
- You are not be breaking the food down well enough for the nutrients to be absorbed
- The absorption pathways through the intestine may be impaired due to inflammation
- The intestinal barrier can be compromised (leaky gut) causing bacteria and also larger food molecules to pass into the bloodstream and cause immune responses
- If suffering from digestive symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, excess gas, altered bowel motions; energy can be utilised trying to combat inflammation
- Your microbiome can be imbalanced causing digestive, inflammatory and immune symptoms especially in those with chronic fatigue
- Your inflammation levels could be high causing you digestive system to be inflamed and impair digestion
All of these have the opportunity to cause fatigue and when discussing fatigue and energy levels with my clients, I will always look at the gut to see if there are any problems.
How to get your energy levels thriving through the gut:
1. Mindful Eating.
This sounds so simple but can be a game changer!
Mindful eating is the practice of eating with purpose. Sitting down to a meal when feeling relaxed, taking the time to look at your food, smell the aromas, taste the food and chew well are all aspects of mindful eating.
Eating mindfully allows your nervous system to switch to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest), your food is chewed adequately to stimulate the release of stomach acid and other digestive enzymes to break down the food particles when they reach the stomach and it allows us the opportunity to work out when we are feeling satisfied with our meal or if we are still hungry and need to eat more.
2. Eat stewed apples.
Another strange recommendation but with good reason!
Apples are high in pectin in particular in the skin of the apple. Pectin is a prebiotic, a food for our gut bacteria and it has been shown that stewed apples (with the skin on) can alter inflammatory markers, begin healing the gut lining and alter the ratios of colonic bacteria.
The stewed apples can be consumed as a snack or as part of a meal.
Stewed apples: (6 serves)
6 Bramley apples (or any organic apple of choice)
½ cup of water
½ cup of raisins or sultanas (for fibre and sweetness)
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Core and finely slice apples
2. Add into a medium sized saucepan with all other ingredients and place on medium heat
3. Stir regularly until the apples are soft
4. Serve immediately or store in fridge for 3 days
3. Increase bitter foods in your diet.
Bitters or bitter tasting foods can stimulate your digestive enzymes and stomach acid to be produced, encouraging a better breakdown of food particles.
Bitter foods are not foods that we commonly consume in Melbourne as most of us are more accustomed to sweeter tastes however your body will adapt gradually over time.
Start slowly with incorporating bitters into the diet -
- ½ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in warm water 15 minutes before a meal. Make sure you rinse your mouth out with water afterwards.
- Adding some bitter greens into your salad or meal - rocket, raddichio, mustard greens, beet greens, watercress, chicory, dandelion greens
- Using lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to dress a salad
- Chamomile tea as a herbal tea
4. Eat whole foods.
Whole foods are foods that are closest to their form in nature.
Food processing and the addition of preservatives, flavours and sweeteners are challenging for the digestive system to process as our digestive systems were not made to digest numbers!
Whole foods include:
- Protein though animal or plant sources
- Fruit and Vegetables
- Legumes and beans
- Nuts and Seeds
5. Eating warming foods.
It takes significant energy to break down food and to digest. Eating foods that have been slower cooked or cooked and cooled is a great way to take the pressure off the digestive system for a period of time.
For example, have a slow cooked meal of veggies and animal protein or adding some roasted veggies into a salad rather than just raw ingredients.
I like to add a cooked element to every meal to optimise my digestion but you could make 2-3 elements pre-cooked.
Fatigue is inevitable within our lives - especially in our hectic lifestyles! But by including some important digestive techniques such as slowing down our eating, eating wholefoods and supporting our digestive health by consuming stewed apples we can support our energy production whilst addressing our digestive function.
Do you need a personalised fatigue management plan? I offer 1:1 consultations to tackle this very issue tailored towards your needs and lifestyle. Find out more HERE.