4 ways highly sensitive people can defeat chronic fatigue

Have you heard of the term “highly sensitive person” or do you consider yourself one? Highly sensitive people are extra sensitive to external stimuli, and often experience a greater depth of cognitive processing and emotional understanding.

In other words, you “feel it all”. Highly sensitive people take in more stimuli than the average person and may often feel drained, overwhelmed, overworked, tired, and need to take time away to “shut off” their brain from the heavy task of processing so much that is going on around them. If your brain and senses are working extra hard, you probably feel like you need more time off than others — and rightfully so!

Being extra sensitive will also affect your physical health. Many highly sensitive people end up coming to me for help with complaints such as headaches, stomach troubles, allergies, muscle tightness, brain fog, adrenal and thyroid problems, but mostly — chronic fatigue. 

Chronic fatigue syndrome, now medically known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is being studied by researchers who hope to find medical solutions for the symptoms. In my practice where I teach clients how to use evidence-based nutrition, however, I know there are already many tools available to naturally raise your energy levels without relying on medications or risky procedures.

If you deal with feelings of constant fatigue, first consider that you may be a highly sensitive person. How many from this list describe your personality?

  • You are overwhelmed by strong or chaotic sensory input.
  • You are aware of subtleties in your environment that others overlook.
  • Other people’s moods affect you.
  • You are extra sensitive to pain or like to rely on natural, over-the-counter or prescribed painkillers whenever possible.
  • You like to withdraw after busy days so you can have privacy and relief from stimulation.
  • You are sensitive to stimulants, such as caffeine. 
  • Bright lights, strong scents, and loud noises upset you.
  • You have a rich, complex inner life that you share only with a few chosen friends or family members.
  • Your nervous system is prone to feeling over-worked or you have a poor stress response.
  • You get frequent colds or infections. 
  • You are considerate of other people’s needs and often place them above your own. 
  • Sudden noises or changes startle you.
  • Being rushed or having too many expectations on a timeline make you feel anxious.
  • You aim for perfection to avoid being judged by others.
  • You don’t like violent movies or TV shows.
  • You get symptoms of low blood sugar, such as weakness, shakiness, frustration, nausea easily if you do not eat as soon as you feel hungry. 
  • You do not like sudden life changes and go out of your way to feel comfortable.
  • People may often ask you “what’s wrong” even when nothing is wrong.

If you feel many of the above describe you, you could be a highly sensitive person. Highly sensitive people can experience more health challenges than the average person because your nervous system tends to be more reactive than others’, which creates a cascade of health concerns after years of living a stressed-out life. Chronic fatigue is a chief complaint among sensitive souls, but there are solutions to help stop the cycles of tiredness associated with processing more of the world than other people. 

4 ways highly sensitive people can defeat chronic fatigue: 

  1. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine. Instead choose natural options to boost your energy, including:
    • Methyl, Adenosyl, or Hydroxy B12. These are “active” forms of vitamin B12 and easily get into the cells for use. Avoid synthetic B12, also called cyanocobalamin. B12 shots are likely to be synthetic as well. Believe it or not, synthetic B vitamins can actually prevent the nutrient from getting into your cells due to common gene mutations that affect a large portion of  humans. 
    • DLPA: This is a natural stimulant that raises catecholamine levels which keep you feeling energized. It is very different from caffeine, however and won’t give you the same highs and lows.
  2. Eliminate your unique food intolerances. Gluten and dairy are the big two food intolerances that can cause fatigue for many people because they inhibit thyroid function, but also because they require lots of digestive energy for breaking them down in the gut. Ever eaten a meal and felt so tired afterwards? It could be that you’re reacting to a food in the meal you just ate. There are other food intolerances, though, that you may not have heard of that can also make you feel very tired — even disoriented after a meal. These include oxalates, salicylates, histamine, sulfur, and ammonia. A leaky gut (which is where the tight junctions in your intestines become permeable and allow food particles into the bloodstream) as well as common gene mutations can cause people to not break down or eliminate these food compounds properly which can end up making you feel tired after eating them. 
  3. Begin breathing properly. This one sounds simple but many tired, stressed people are simply not breathing well. They take shallow breaths, or quicken their breathing when feeling anxious. Breathing properly involves long, deep inhalations and exhalations. Inadequate airflow to the brain and muscles will make you feel tired. As soon as you feel fatigued, start deep breathing for a few minutes at a time. 
  4. Let go of unhealthy people in your life. From a young age, many highly sensitive people adapt by becoming people-pleasers. This helps to prevent some of the chaos and tension that stimulates you beyond a comfortable capacity. Unfortunately this can make you feel more tired in the long run because while you are looking out for others, there is no one to care for you and ensure you are happy and healthy. Also, often highly sensitive people find themselves in relationships in which there are lots of rules you have to follow to avoid the punishment of others. Being scared of others’ judgments and punishments can leave you feeling extremely drained because you never truly get a break and the flow of love is one-sided. Let go of relationships where you have to please others or are constantly walking on eggshells. If you can’t get these people out of your inner circle, at least put up boundaries and begin asserting your needs and caring for yourself first. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Watch how your energy levels soar once you start caring about what is best for you. 

As always, find a natural health practitioner to help you determine which diet changes and supplements are necessary for you. Being tired the rest of your life isn’t worth it and there are tons of solutions to the problem. 

Ready to stop feeling sick? Ready to get to the root of your fatigue? Click here to book an appointment with me. 

<3 Liz

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12 ways to overcome stimulant addiction

Stimulants. I’m not talking about hard drugs here, just those “innocuous”, legal, everyday substances people are self-admittedly addicted to: coffee, tea, energy drinks, artificial sweeteners, sugar, MSG or other flavor enhancers, chocolate, diet pills, and more.

Could you be addicted to stimulants?

  • Do you feel you can’t start your day with caffeine?
  • Do you make plans to find and consume the above products before you start your day, at the expense of anything and everyone else?
  • Do you commonly reach for these items in the afternoon as well?
  • Do you feel jittery or irritable yet crave the boost from these products?
  • Do you get noticeable “crashes” after consuming these products?
  • Are you especially tired in the late afternoon?
  • Do you have a hard time falling asleep at night?
  • Do you have racing thoughts during the day?
  • Do you use stimulants to initiate bowel movements?

If you answered yes to any of these, you may need some help replacing stimulants with substances and nutrients that energize you more gradually or make up for deficiencies that are causing you to crave these things in the first place. 

12 ways to overcome stimulant addiction:

  1. Vitamin B12. First, get your level tested. If you are in fact deficient or on the low-end of the scale, you can add in an “active” form of B12 called Methyl, Adenosyl or Hydroxy B12. Avoid synthetic B12 which can actually block the absorption of the nutrient. B12 is best taken in the morning and early afternoon.
  2. DLPA. This is a natural stimulant that raises catecholamine levels (catecholamines help us feel energized). However, it is very different from caffeine — DLPA is subtle and should not cause jitteriness.
  3. Adrenal glandulars. This applies to people whose lab work shows they have low cortisol levels. Low cortisol/adrenal gland function is a major cause of fatigue and therefore, the desire to use stimulants. By boosting cortisol levels, you can eliminate the need fr artificial energy from stimulants. 
  4. SAM-e. People who have been dependent upon stimulants for many years are often actually low in SAM-e, which causes the cravings. Supplementation with SAM-e may be very helpful. It is also a natural anti-depressant — win/win. 
  5. Determine if you have irregular blood sugar or insulin. This is an all too common cause of stimulant use — your blood sugar drops, or you have problems with insulin resistance, which makes you tired before or after meals. So you instinctively reach for a stimulant to give you an energy boost. Low carbohydrate, high fat, moderate protein diets work very well to eliminate low energy caused by food intake. 
  6. Determine what your unique food sensitivities are. If you feel cranky, sleepy, achy, disoriented, or brain fogged after every meal, you must determine which foods you are in fact intolerant of. Common food intolerances include: gluten, dairy, soy, corn, grains, nuts and seeds, salicylates, oxalates, histamine, sulfur, gluatamate, and others. Remember that food sensitivities are not always immune-mediated and therefore difficult to prove via testing. You must work with a practitioner and do an elimination diet to figure out which foods you are reacting to. 
  7. Determine if you have underlying mood problems. Low mood can cause us to reach for uppers because they temporarily make us feel on top of the world. We can feel powerful, fun, invincible, and ready to take on the world. Caffeine perpetuates a vicious cycle of ups and downs. Address the cause of your low mood and why you instinctively are self-medicating to boost your mood with caffeine. 5-HTP, and GABA can be very helpful to boost a naturally low mood. Essential fatty acid deficiency, food allergies, and other nutrient deficiencies are a known cause of mood disorders too.
  8. Determine if you have low iron. This is a simple blood test you can order from your doctor and if it is low, it is a common cause of fatigue. Address the low iron by supplementing with a whole-foods iron supplement, or by eating foods rich in iron.
  9. Determine if you have low thyroid function. If your doctor has never performed a “full thyroid panel” lab test on you either for your diagnosed thyroid disease or because of your symptoms of fatigue, demand one. Then ask your doctor to treat your thyroid disease according to which values you were low (or high) in.
  10. Get your electrolytes tested. Low potassium is a common cause of fatigue and in fact it is difficult to get enough daily. Do you ever have twitching muscles or muscle cramps, frequent urination or frequent thirst? Those are easy-to-spot low potassium symptom. You can find magnesium/potassium blend powders or drops to put in your water to make-up for any deficit. 
  11. Eat B-vitamin and mineral-rich foods. If you can tolerate yeast, nutritional yeast is full of potassium and B vitamins which will keep you naturally energized. Choose one that is not synthetically fortified, like Foods Alive brand. Sprinkle on cooked vegetables, sweet potatoes and white potatoes, gluten-free pasta, mix into sauces and use as a cheese replacement (it has a cheddar cheese flavor).
  12. Determine if you have underlying digestive issues. Sometimes if a person is chronically constipated, they reach for caffeine subconsciously to stimulate a bowel movement. If you are chronically constipated, there are underlying gut issues that need to be addressed: food allergies, gut infections (yeast, bacteria, parasites), lack of healthy gut flora (the good bacteria), lack of digestive enzymes (you can supplement these with each meal), lack of bile production (you can use ox bile and salt your food liberally to taste, or drink lemon water before meals to stimulate bile), and more. 

Ready to figure out the perfect diet for you? Ready to improve your lab work and daily symptoms? Click here to book a nutrition consultation.

How to stop hair loss or re-grow hair

Losing hair is a major blow to women because it represents to much of our beauty and identity. Whether the hair loss is due to a thyroid disease, autoimmune disease, or nutrient deficiency, it is a visible symptom that something is wrong with our health and it can range from embarrassing to devastating and that makes us vulnerable. 

How to stop hair loss

The most important first step when dealing with hair loss is to identify the cause. Yes, thyroid disease gets blamed as a catch-all for hair loss, but there are almost always underlying nutritional factors that need to be addressed to stop it. 

Nutrients that are commonly low:

  • Minerals: magnesium, potassium, zinc, silica
  • Fatty acids
  • Iron
  • B vitamins. Another kind of anemia is called megaloblastic anemia which caused by B vitamin deficiency.

Ways to stimulate new hair growth:

  • Horsetail: This is an herb that is used to grow back hair. Works great but will take a few months. 
  • Biotin: This is a B vitamin that stimulates hair growth.
  • Liver: This is a naturally-occurring source of iron and B vitamins that won’t constipate as many iron supplements do. 
  • Marine oil: cod liver oil, fish oil, salmon oil, krill oil, etc. for the fatty acid content.
  • Multi-mineral supplement 
  • Digestive enzyme: This should contain lipase, protease, amylase. These will help you absorb more nutrients from the foods you’re eating.
  • Betaine: Low stomach acid can affect how your absorb iron and B vitamins. Take with meals. 
  • Anti-septic herbs: olive leaf extract, black walnut, Humaworm, etc. because bad gut bugs are a common cause of low iron. 
  • Stop stressing and find ways to relax and stop thinking about the hair loss. Stress will only cause more hormonal changes that won’t benefit you. 
  • Get your cortisol and thyroid checked and treat as necessary.
  • Stop using chemical-based hygiene and beauty products.
  • Stimulate liver function by adding in beets, beet kvass, bitter greens, dandelion or alfalfa tea.
  • Eliminate food allergens. This is a major cause of underlying hair loss.

Frst identify the cause of the hair loss and then work with a practitioner to decide which options are best. 

 

Ready to figure out the perfect diet for you? Ready to improve your lab work and daily symptoms? Click here to book a consultation.