Digestive health issues and fatigue seem to frequently co-exist in almost every individual. Unfortunately, both display completely different symptoms but together can leave you feeling like absolute rubbish. And because the cause is still yet to be completely determined, human beings are left dealing with the brunt of it all, trying to figure out the perfect recipe just to stay afloat.
So let’s explore what fatigue can look like?
Fatigue is something that almost everyone has endured in their lifetime. Whether it’s from being overworked, stress or maybe even a hangover. However, for some, there’s an underlying issue that needs to be addressed and it could most likely be your digestive health.
People who suffer from IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) are more likely to already encounter chronic fatigue, which means that you’re more than just tired. You’ve most likely been tired for a considerable amount of time and unfortunately, in this case, there’s no diagnosis for it, however, you can look out for other symptoms like:
- Muscle pain
- Memory problems
- Joint pain
- Sleep issues
- Sore throat
These symptoms reflect the same as a digestive health diagnosis, so If you’re yet to be diagnosed with IBS or IBD and are experiencing the symptoms just mentioned, then it’s important to see a doctor. Otherwise, you could be attempting to battle fatigue, yet your digestive health needs the attention.
So why are you so damn tired?
Recent studies have determined that chronic fatigue starts in the gut. When the gut is experiencing inflammation (our favourite word), it contributes to fatigue.
How? There is a growing study that reflects evidence that gut flora, the immune system and the mucosal barrier in the gut are all linked.
We already know that having a lot of ‘good’ gut bacteria will naturally make you feel better. When your gut is overwhelmed by ‘less helpful’ gut bacteria, you can become tired, drained, moody and mostly unwell – generally craving junk food, which can be a very ugly cycle if you get trapped!
Once the inflammation exists, fatigue develops through various different avenues.
- Inflammation: chemical signals are produced during inflammation, which acts directly on the brain causing ‘sick like’ behaviours, such as loss of appetite, motivation, and fatigue.
- Pain: Pain can be a common symptom for those with IBD and some with IBS. It causes blockages in the gut, along with arthritic type symptoms (for those with IBD only), bloating, etc. Dealing with pain can be draining, which ends up contributing to poor sleep, reduced physical activity, emotional and psychological distress.
- Nutritional deficiencies: Nutrients and vitamin deficiencies are more common in those with IBD, however, they still can exist in IBS patients too, due to diarrhea, loss of appetite or poor absorption through the inflamed gut wall.
- Anemia: People with anemia carry less oxygen in their blood, which can mean they easily become exhausted.
- Emotional stress: Anxiety, depression, and stress are consistently associated with IBS and IBD, however studies show that they’re not sure what comes first; fatigue or emotions. Emotional and psychological pain cause or trigger inflammation and pain, which may contribute to fatigue
- Medication: For IBD patients, check the side effects of your immune altering medication to determine whether that could be the reason for fatigue.
- Disturbed sleep: Multiple bathroom visits throughout the night causes fatigue.
So, once the fatigue is determined by various causes how can it be treated?
From a simplified perspective, your diet and how much you consume alcohol play a HUGE factor in fatigue. Being overweight/underweight can cause fatigue, also extremes of weather and lack of a support group, or understanding your problems can also be the main denominator. Any of these factors can lead to fatigue, however, in some cases, there is no obvious explanation.
Regardless, it’s important to explore why fatigue exists. Seek professional help. Go and get blood tests. You might have a vitamin B deficiency, or maybe you’re lacking in vitamin D? These little factors are very important to figure out.
Otherwise, maintain a good level of physical activity to boost energy levels. Increase your levels of H20. Stretch in the morning and at night. Go to bed early, and eat less but more often.