If you find it hard to perform everyday activities, concentrate, or be motivated at your normal levels, it can be difficult to understand what is causing your fatigue.

Recently, Kounsel brought on Rick Weissinger to discuss ways to boost your energy levels and how to fight fatigue by finding the cause. Understanding the science behind fatigue can help you better combat it and boost your energy levels.  

The basics of brain chemistry and fatigue

Brain chemistry is a result of a complex mix of neurotransmitters (NTs) that work together to act on the brain and each other. Different NTs work on different parts of the brain. When it comes to fatigue, these NTs are most active:

Stressors create chronic inflammation. This means that they release a chemical called cytokines. Certain cytokines are linked with depression and “sickness behavior,” which includes symptoms of sleepiness, depression, anxiety, and failure to concentrate. Cytokines lower the ability of protein that we need to make N.E., dopamine, and serotonin, which are all linked to being awake. Without these wakefulness NTs, you can feel unwell and have low energy.

Stressors that can cause fatigue include:

What improves energy?

Some tactics that can improve your fatigue include:

Fats and fatigue

Weissinger also points to using nutrition as a way to help fight inflammation that can cause fatigue. In particular, he recommends eating unsaturated fats to help the brain. Plant foods and fish are both good sources of unsaturated fats. Omega-3, an unsaturated fat, has many anti-inflammatory benefits, so eat lots of foods that contain omega-3.

Do supplements help?

Nutritional supplements can be helpful, but they have downsides. Supplements can be very expensive, lack important nutrients, have too much of one nutrient, or be contaminated. However, some supplements, when used in moderation and combined with other healthy lifestyle efforts, can improve energy levels. These include:

It is important to note that some research indicates that herbs such as ginseng can have more harmful side effects than other supplements.

Benefits of fatigue

Fatigue tells us that something is wrong and forces rest. Without fatigue, we would just continue to work without having a chance to heal and recover. Fatigue gives us a chance to catch up on sleep, enjoy recreational activities, or simply spend time reflecting. Remember to listen to your body, rest when you need to, and live a healthy lifestyle to safely keep your energy up.

About Rick Weissinger:

Rick Weissinger is a registered dietitian and certified health coach who is also a licensed nutritionist in GA, FL, and TX. Rick obtained his Bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College and a Master's degree in nutrition from California State University and has since earned additional credits in psychology, public health, and healthcare administration. He is the author of Fatigue Fighters: How To Go From Tired To Wired And Reclaim Your Energy, What The Experts Say About Food And Cancer, and the co-author of three editions of Nutrition Guide For Clinicians (with Neal Barnard, M.D.) Contact Rick on Kounsel for issues related to weight loss and for comprehensive, state-of-the-science nutrition and lifestyle counseling for most common ailments.