Who Wants Abundant Energy - Part 3
In this edition I will briefly discuss the importance of sleep, the impact of anaemia and iron deficiency on fatigue and mention how blood sugar must be considered if you are to have boundless energy.
It may seem obvious that if we don’t have a good night’s sleep, our energy will be low in the day. The amount of sleep needed varies from person to person, but generally, an adult can function well on 7 hours a night.
Sleep is important for recovery and cell renewal, giving the body chance to regenerate. The small pineal gland in the brain produces a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin is only produced when the light is dim, the body associating this with night time and sleep. In our 24 hour society, indoor lighting, light from a TV or computer, street lights etc., have all become a regular part of night time behaviour, affecting production of this valuable hormone. As melatonin is connected to the production of serotonin (the ‘good mood’ hormone) poor sleep and low mood are often experienced together. Regardless of how much sleep we get, it’s the quality that matters.
There are many reasons as to why we may not sleep well, stress, snoring, shift work, menopausal night sweats, high caffeine intake, inappropriate night time stimulation as mentioned above, can all be factors.
New government legislation prevents me from discussing nutritional supplements that can aid sleep, but in clinical practice, there are a variety that I would check, based on experience of those that produce good results. I also discuss good sleep measures, including dietary and lifestyle strategies to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Anaemia and Iron Deficiency
Often, if you present to a GP with fatigue, you will get tested for anaemia. Anaemia occurs when the level of haemoglobin, (the molecule containing iron, found in the red blood cells which carry oxygen) is too low. This means that there is not enough oxygen sent to our cells and one result, is fatigue.
Sometimes this occurs if we don’t eat enough iron rich food such as red meat, liver, pumpkin seeds and dried apricots for example. Or it can be that we do not absorb the iron from our diet very well (usually the fault of the digestive system). A pregnant woman requires more iron as do women who suffer from heavy periods. Vegetarians and vegans are also at risk as vegetable sources of iron are harder to digest. It is important to get your iron status assessed as there is more than 1 type of anaemia and you must not take a supplement unless you know that you are deficient. Ferrous sulphate is a cheap form of iron and is poorly absorbed by the body. I always recommend a supplement that can be easily utilised, as improving iron levels can make a huge difference to the symptoms of fatigue.
In previous parts of this series I mentioned how glucose is the energy source for all cells in our body. Our whole body’s systems work at their best when there is a steady supply of the appropriate form of glucose in our blood. Keeping your blood sugar balanced is top of the list if you want good energy levels.
As maintaining blood sugar balance is so important, the body has wonderful systems that keep it in place. When we discuss the balance of blood sugar, we are considering whether there is too much sugar in our blood (hyperglycaemia) or not enough (hypoglycaemia). Both situations can adversely affect our health.
As this subject is both important and complicated, I will start my next editorial, part 4, with more detail, including the effects of stress on blood sugar and energy levels too. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Rebecca Smith at Newport Complementary Health Clinic.