The notion of chronic fatigue shouldn't be reduced to the simple definition of experiencing exhaustion every now and then; it's actually a debilitating condition that can leave you feeling totally devoid of energy and unable to make it through simply daily activities. While getting to the root of the problem and fighting it with medication is often necessary, there are natural changes you can make to provide extra support for improving your symptoms.
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
The Mayo Clinic defines chronic fatigue syndrome as an intense feeling of exhaustion that cannot be explained by an underlying medical condition. While there is not one definitive cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, scientists believe there are multiple factors that are involved with the development of the disease, like an overactive immune system or certain viruses. Additionally, other conditions like depression and sleep disorders, for example, may play a part in contributing to chronic fatigue. Those who suffer from chronic fatigue typically experience an all-consuming feeling of extreme lethargy possibly in addition to muscle pain, reduced concentration and memory, below-average quality of sleep, sore throat and even pain in the joints. Once the major contributing cause is found, your doctor may prescribe medications and even therapy to help improve your symptoms. However, there are also lifestyle changes you can make to help replenish your energy levels and fight off exhaustion.
Make yourself exercise, even if it's just a little
While forcing your body to move is probably the furthest thing from your mind if you're battling chronic fatigue, it's also one of the most important things you need to do in order to keep yourself from falling deeper into a slump of inactivity. While aerobic activities are ideal—like cycling, running or swimming—if you just can't muster the energy required for these higher-intensity exercise, you may want to start off small and work on exercises where you can ease yourself in. Breathing exercises and lower intensity, stress-reducing workouts like yoga may be a good place for you to start, so your body and mind can adjust more gradually to expending energy. It's also very important to not push yourself too hard, so you are not down for the count the following day.
Add energizing foods to your diet
Your nutritional intake can also have a heavy involvement in your lack of energy. Sometimes blood sugar may be involved with your chronic fatigue, and it might be necessary to start eating more frequently throughout the day, albeit in smaller portions to promote healthy blood sugar maintenance and help regulate energy. Complex carbohydrates—like legumes, whole wheat pasta, corn, peas and potatoes—can also help supply a steady release of energy to get you through the day. Additionally, foods like chia seeds, oatmeal, beans, watermelon, fish and milk can provide nutrients that are essential for maintaining great health and fighting fatigue. Dehydration can also contribute symptoms of fatigue, so it's crucial to ensure you drink enough water.
Try supplements to improve energy levels and reduce other symptoms
Using supplements is another option in helping to boost your energy levels. If you're not already doing so, taking a multivitamin with B vitamins and energizing herbs can help nourish your body and work as a pick-me-up. Taking supplemental ribose may also be effective at improving symptoms of chronic fatigue and boosting energy levels. A study
in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
illustrates that ribose was able to significantly improve energy, sleep, mental clarity, pain intensity and overall wellbeing in participants with chronic fatigue syndrome and/or fibromyalgia. Additionally, Dr. Weil
states that antiviral properties of astragalus
root may be able to improve immunity; an underactive or weak immune system may worsen symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Eleuthero
and Omega-3 fish oils
might be able to help provide energizing effects and other benefits to help you make it through your day without falling victim to overwhelming exhaustion.
Get enough sleep
While getting enough sleep may seem to be a no-brainer when it comes to fighting off fatigue, you might be unaware that you are even struggling with sleep problems. Conditions like sleep apnea can crop up without you knowing it, derailing your sleep patterns and contributing to health problems. If you aren't receiving a sufficient amount of restful sleep, your symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome may worsen. An underactive thyroid may also cause problems with sleeping.
Having chronic fatigue syndrome isn't something to take lightly. It can drag you down and have you missing out on life if you can't get it under control. Therefore, it's paramount to talk to your doctor if you suspect you might have chronic fatigue, in order to find the root cause and determine your best options in treating it. Before taking any supplements, talk to your doctor.
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