Why Am I Tired All the Time?

April 29, 2018

Why Am I Tired All the Time?

One of the questions we receive most often is “Why am I tired all the time?” Listen in as we talk about the many reasons that might be causing your fatigue from simple lack of sleep to more in-depth medical reasons. Learn how you can maximize your energy by eating real food.

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KARA:     Good morning and welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness.  I'm Kara Carper. I have a master's degree in holistic health and I'm also a licensed nutritionist. I work one-on-one with clients at our Wayzata office, but also, you know, I work with clients via phone all throughout the country and actually throughout the world, which I think is really interesting. I have clients in Australia. I spoke with someone last week and we did a skype in China. I have a client in India, in England, so we definitely as nutritionists work with clients all over. Worldwide and statewide so and our clients have a broad range of health issues. The one question that I consistently hear all the time is "why am I so tired?" So I'm excited to be here with Cassie today. We are going to present a variety of reasons why you might be tired all the time.

CASSIE:   Good morning, Kara.

KARA:     Good morning. So fun to be with you again.

CASSIE:   I know, I know it's been a long time, but it's always enjoyable to be on the radio together.

KARA:     I feel the same.

CASSIE:   All right. Well I'm Cassie Weness. I'm a registered and licensed dietitian. I have been a registered and licensed dietitian for about the past 20 years now and still every day as I teach nutrition classes and read nutrition research, I continue to learn more and more, but what I think is really important and relevant to today's topic is that I had a time in my life when I was tired all the time. And I know from personal experience that sometimes the reason is so simple, like the fact that some people are trying to live on five or six hours of sleep a night. Now if you weren't aware, five or six hours of sleep a night is not sufficient sleep. It's not sufficient sleep to recharge your body and it's not sufficient sleep to recharge your brain, so of course you're going to be tired all the time.

KARA:     You know, sometimes there's a more in-depth medical reason for feeling fatigued, so today we want to talk about some simple reasons such as you're not sleeping and you're tired because of that. But there could be a more in depth reason like perhaps a mitochondrial shut. Don't worry, we'll talk more about what that means. It might come as a surprise to you that the most common complaint people have and share with their doctor, so they go in for their visit and they tell their doctor they're tired all the time. What can I do about this?

CASSIE:   Isn't that interesting that is the most common complaint out of all the different symptoms and health complaints. Probably unique to America I would say. While preparing for the radio show for today and for this podcast over the past couple of weeks, I've been doing some reading on fatigue and I came across an interesting book that I wanted to share with the listeners. The author is Dr. Sarah Myhill and the title of her book is The Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalitis.  OK. That was a mouthful. Myalgic encephalitis, but basically that is just the clinical term for chronic fatigue syndrome and I really enjoyed this book because Dr. Myhill does a good job of giving visual, simple visual explanations for some pretty complex biochemical processes, so I just wanted to share a couple of those with the listeners so if you can follow along with me as I make these comparisons. I'm going to make some comparisons between your car and your body and this is what Dr. Myhill did in her book. She said, your car's engine is like your mitochondria, so if you think of the engine of your car, it's what gives your car energy and allows it to move. That's what the mitochondria inside every cell in our body do. They give us our energy. Dr. Myhill said, gas is your car's fuel. Whereas for us humans, meat and vegetables and healthy fats are our fuel source. She says, the fuel line is the delivery system in your car and your heart and circulatory system deliver nutrients throughout the body. This next one is a really good one. She says, OK, we know that the gas pedal in your car will either speed up or slow down your car's energy. That's like your thyroid gland.

KARA:     That's interesting.

CASSIE:   Isn't that a good comparison though because I think people are confused about what exactly it is my thyroid does, but just like the gas pedal, your thyroid can either give you a lot of energy or give you way too little energy depending on how well it's functioning. Dr. Myhill says your car's gearbox functions like your body's adrenal glands. Here's a good one. She says your car needs ongoing service and repair and we all know that, to keep it running. She says that sleep is our body's service and repair center. That's how important sleep is.

KARA:     That is when we regenerate cells and we do repair and restore the body when we sleep.

CASSIE:   Yes, sleep is so important. Dr. Myhill says that regular oil changes ensure that our car has cleaned fresh oil to keep the engine running smoothly. For us, its antioxidants that we get mainly from a healthy diet, especially lots of vegetables. Antioxidants protect our body from free radical damage and help to keep our body running smoothly. Much like a regular oil change does for your car.  And one more I want to share and then I promise I'll stop hogging the mic.

KARA:     No, this is great. I love this.

CASSIE:   Dr. Myhill says that you are the driver of your car. Your brain is the driver of your energy, but what I find most fascinating about that is she goes on to explain that if your brain is not in a healthy state, you probably can't achieve great energy. So if you're suffering with depression or anxiety because your brain is the driver of your energy, you have to fix that piece first.

KARA:     I even wonder if some people are putting more time and energy into like managing their car than their body. I mean without realizing it. Every 3-5,000 miles, we get the oil changed.

CASSIE:   But we don't stop and think about, yeah, what have done for our body for service and repair.

KARA:     I think we need a more complete definition of mitochondria. As Cassie just mentioned, mitochondria is the engine of our cells and mitochondria are tiny structures. They're found in every cell in the body and these tiny structures are really key to providing our body with energy, or if we don't have enough mitochondria, it could be a lack of energy just depending on how well they're functioning.

CASSIE:   Right. I always think of those little mitochondria inside every cell in our body as little furnaces.

KARA:     Right. So I think of it like a spark plug.

CASSIE:   There's a good one. So they are what gives us energy and here's just a little bit more biochemistry. The health of your mitochondria is involved in nearly all diseases. Isn't that interesting? So it's not just that it's involved in whether we have good energy or poor energy. The health of our mitochondria are involved in nearly all diseases, from cancer to heart disease, to autism, to dementia and Alzheimer's. You can kind of think of it like this. If you have impaired energy delivery to any organ because your mitochondria aren't working well, then that organ can eventually slow down and start to fail.

KARA:     And it's interesting to note that two-thirds of all of our energy goes into keeping our vital functions just to keep us alive. People may have heard the term, the basal metabolic rate or BMR for short, so if two-thirds is going into that, just keeping our organs running, that leaves a third of our energy for the other things we're doing. Our physical goals, our mental goals, our social life.

CASSIE:   Wow. Wow, that's interesting. So it takes a lot of energy a lot to simply keep all of our internal organs working, even if we're just sitting there doing nothing all day.

KARA:     Keep that heart pumping. The blood circulating.

CASSIE:   Yeah. So let's think about these little furnaces inside ourselves, the mitochondria, a little further. If you are tired all the time and struggling because your energy bucket just doesn't seem to be filled up, it might be from a mitochondrial dysfunction and we'll talk about how to address that a little bit later in the show, but before we delve any further into this topic, I want the listeners to ask themselves a couple of questions. First, ask yourself, is my energy bucket partially full or partially empty? If it's partially empty, stay tuned because we'll be talking about several ways you can fill that up. Here's another question to ask yourself, how can I maximize the delivery of energy to my body systems and at the same time, minimize wasteful energy expenditure? You might want to get a pen and paper out to jot down the answer to that one. When we go over that a little later. And a final question I think some people are forced to ask is, is it possible to live on a less than full bucket of energy and still experience the joys of life? Good question. We'll try to answer that one too.

KARA:     Cassie maybe we should take a quick break and then answer those questions when we come back.

CASSIE:   Great idea, and if you're new to this program, you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. This show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. Before we go to break, I want to give you the answer to a question that we dietitians and nutritionists often get asked. That question is, do I need to take vitamins? Well, here's something noteworthy to consider as we consider the answer to that, do I need to take vitamins? The statistics show that up to 90 percent of Americans are not getting enough nutrients from their food to maintain healthy body or brain functions. So think about that a little bit. If you get too little folic acid today, you might suffer from cancer in the future. If you get too little vitamin D now, you might have osteoporosis down the road. If you have low zinc levels and you're not getting enough zinc from your food, you might have a poor immune function today and in the future. At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we do always recommend food first and then some supplements. If you do have any unique personal needs on top of that, but just keep in mind 90 percent of Americans are not getting enough nutrients from their food. We'll be right back.

KARA:     Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Here's another nutritional question that I'm often asked in classes. What are sugar alcohols and are they safe to use? Sugar alcohols are derived fruits and vegetables. You'll find that food manufacturers use them in all sorts of things. It could be gum, cough drops, breath mints, chewable vitamins. I'm just going to list off some of the names for sugar alcohols that you might see on a label, and it basically anything that's ending in T-O-L, -tol, mannitol, sorbitol, maltitol, xylitol, are a few. Interestingly, for many people, their intestinal tract doesn't like sugar alcohols. So when you eat a product with sugar alcohols, you might experience gas, bloating, even diarrhea, but you might not realize that your digestive problems are coming from the gum or the breath mint that had xylitol. So we just suggest, first of all, just read those labels and just try to minimize anything that has sugar alcohols. You might not be sensitive to it, but I've had clients that they're like, oh yeah, I have gas, bloating and diarrhea and come to find out it's from a protein bar that they're eating that had erythritol. That's another one, erythritol.

CASSIE:   I don't think many people can handle those sugar alcohols. And I say that from clients I've talked to from personal experience in our body.

KARA:     Same with me, personal experience.

CASSIE:   Yeah, well your body doesn't break it down. So I think it's trying to figure out what do I do with this? We had a caller, didn't we Kara, that didn't want to go on the air, but just wanted us to repeat the name of that book that I was referencing at the start of the show and also to spell the author's last name. So the name of the book is The Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalitis. And if you just google the author's name, that book comes up in a couple of other good books that she's written will pop up too. So her first name is Sarah S-A-R-A-H last name Myhill and that is spelled M-Y-H-I-L-L.

KARA:     So Cassie, recently I was reading over some evaluations from clients who have taken our 12 week Nutrition 4 Weight Loss Series. And so actually we're both going to share a couple of comments from that. But before you do, I just want to refresh your memory on what Nutrition 4 Weight Loss is. It's based on eating real food, so when we say real food, we're talking about real protein, meat, fish, poultry, chicken, things like that. Our carbohydrates are coming from real vegetables and some real fruits and then real unprocessed oils and fats and the examples would be butter, olive oil, coconut oil. So we're avoiding things like trans fats. We're avoiding refined oils like soybean, corn, canola, and cottonseed. But here's a comment from one client, "I lost 13 pounds and my heartburn has gotten. My knee pain has gone, I'm less tired and I have more energy." So that's how that ties into today's show.

CASSIE:   Totally ties into today's show, but I also want to just on a sidebar stress that she said her knee pain is gone. That is huge and don't we hear that a lot both in people that take the Nutrition 4 Weight Loss Series and people that take the Weight and Wellness six week series. And then on the other end of the spectrum, people that don't know much about Nutritional Weight and Wellness, it seems like every third person is having knee replacement surgery. So I just wanted to point that out. I'm not saying that it's gonna help you avoid surgery every time, but I think for some people out there cleaning up your eating can, can do.

KARA:     There is just less inflammation in the body so people don't take. I don't think they always take our classes thinking, oh my knee pains is going to go away. They might take it because they want to lose weight and this person lost weight. But then was pleasantly surprised that the knee pain went away.

CASSIE:   Yes. And that she had more energy. I mean, yeah, all those nice side things happen as well. And here's another comment from someone who just completed the Nutrition 4 Weight Loss Series. This lady says, "I've lost 18 pounds and I feel great. I have a lot of energy and I'm never tired." So there's how it relates to today's show. But she also says, "I went to the doctor and had my blood pressure and cholesterol tested and my levels are amazing." So just like you said, Kara, you know, they come in to lose weight, but all these other wonderful things end up happening too.  And as dietitians and nutritionists, we believe that the key to filling up your energy bucket is getting your essential nutrients from real food. Your goal when you're eating this real food is to maximize the delivery of energy to your body systems. So a great way to do that is eat the healthy fats like butter, coconut oil, avocados, olive oil. And at the same time, eliminate all together, eliminate those trans fats and either eliminate or really, really reduce your intake of those processed oils that Kara mentioned earlier. So that means no soybean oil, no canola oil, no cottonseed oil and no corn oil. And I encourage you, if you are in your kitchen right now and you have a minute, walk over to the pantry or the turn table and read some of the labels on the foods in your house. If they have the corn oil, the soybean oil, the cottonseed oil, it's time to throw them out. And Find a different brand. 

KARA:     I would agree. And when you said, you know, I think that's a great point. Ideally, we would get rid of a hundred percent of those, but I think even making a goal of just dramatically reducing the soybean oils, corn oils. Personally, I always, you know, I don't have anything in my house with those ingredients, but if I'm going to a restaurant, you know, I guess I don't really special order and say don't use the canola oil. So I know I'm getting a little bit when I go to restaurants. We have some colleagues who will bring their own salad dressing though.

CASSIE:   One of our past clients, Tina Beehler, her husband after suffering a heart attack, he takes butter with him to his favorite restaurant when he found out they were cooking with something else.

KARA:     So Kudos to people that do a hundred percent.

CASSIE:   I think some people do need to do that, but I'm with you Kara, you will not find these oils in my house. And I certainly don't want my kids ingesting them. But then when we do go out to eat, I don't double check on that. But then we don't go out to eat that often either.

KARA:     Right. So you are probably at least 90 percent avoiding those. So that's good. When we think of our energy bucket, we want to support the function of our mitochondria. We want to also minimize wasteful energy expenditures, so that might be stress or worry. It seems that some people have a genetic predisposition to having a mitochondrial dysfunction. And for these people, diet and lifestyle are extremely important. If you have low energy and you're tired all the time, you might be one of those people who are genetically predisposed to having mitochondrial dysfunction.

CASSIE:   Right. And we will talk more about mitochondrial dysfunction on the other side of break. I can't believe it's time for our second break already, but before we go to break, I want to clear something up that I'm sure some of our listeners are confused about. If they heard last week's show here on 107.1 FM. If you listened to last week's Dishing Up Nutrition show, you probably heard an American Heart Association commercial that promoted vegetable oils like corn oil, soybean oil, and canola oil as heart healthy. That's what this commercial said, so did that confuse you? I'm sure it did. Well, that was a commercial that was a marketing message, but the researched truth is that these polyunsaturated oils are very unstable and they oxidize easily and this creates inflammation and free radical damage in our bodies. In fact, there have been numerous research studies done that have shown that inflammation is the leading cause of heart disease. So I guess simply put butter, a real healthy fat, is anti-inflammatory, but the margarines, the corn oil, soybean oil, they are inflammatory.

KARA:     Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you're confused about what you should eat or how you should feed your family, I suggest that you take our Weight and Wellness series, it starting the week of May 15 and we're offering it at three locations. So you'll learn about things like how to balance your blood sugar, how to reduce inflammation, how to keep your heart healthy, prevent pre-diabetes, and type two diabetes. And you know, we talk about foods that will help support positive moods and good memory and so much more there. Six classes, they're two hours each and they're full of great information. It's based on real research and science. You can call 651-699-3438 to sign up, or if you'd like more information, you can also go to our website, weightandwellness.com and you can read about what class participants have found helpful. You can read some testimonials.

CASSIE:   And that can be a really good way to help you decide if this is the right fit for you. But that is an amazing series.

KARA:     It really is. It's kind of our signature in-house series.

CASSIE:   Absolutely. OK, so we were talking about mitochondrial dysfunction before break. I want to talk a little bit about the standard American Diet. I think we would be doing the

KARA:     The SAD diet?

CASSIE:   There you go. The acronym is SAD and it's pretty darn sad and I think we'd be doing the listeners a disservice if we didn't mention that the standard American diet can really be an energy robber. It is full of calories. We know that, but it's deficient in a lot of micronutrients. And micronutrients are basically our vitamins and our minerals. You know, and I really, really feel like that's why when our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss class members start eating real food and they ditched that standard American diet that's full of, you know, bread and pasta and frozen pizza and fried food. When they ditch that and start eating real during the Nutrition 4 Weight Loss series like meats and vegetables and healthy fats, it fills up their energy buckets basically. They lose weight, but more importantly they have the energy to enjoy life and they're not tired all the time.

KARA:     Those processed foods really can kind of just weigh you down and just cause a lot of fatigue.

CASSIE:   Absolutely. And people don't always make that connection.

KARA:     No, I mean, that's why I'm so excited to be sharing this information today. Research has found that as many as 20 to 40 percent of American women have thyroid problems. So we're going to talk a little bit about thyroid because that is such an epidemic. It's usually low thyroid function, which is also called hypothyroidism. And we know that the first symptom of low thyroid function is low energy. There are other symptoms as well. People often have dry skin, they're constipated, they just can't remember things as well, or focus and depression. Actually, there could be anxiety as well, but depression or anxiety and often weight gain or just a really difficult time losing weight.  When the thyroid functions well, it allows you to match your energy delivery to your energy demands. So think back to Cassie's car analogy. The thyroid is like your car's gas pedal. So how well your thyroid functions depends on how much energy your mitochondria puts out. So simply said, we all need our thyroid working well so that we have energy and we're not tired all the time. So you're probably thinking now, well, what helps the thyroid gland function well? That's a great question.

CASSIE:   That is a great question. The research tells us that the thyroid gland needs a lot of different micronutrients, but one of the most important micronutrients for the thyroid is the mineral zinc. So now that you know that the most important micronutrient for the thyroid is the mineral zinc listened to this, 73 percent of Americans are deficient in the mineral zinc. No wonder we are reaching epidemic proportions of thyroid issues or hypothyroidism. So if you're low in zinc, your thyroid might be trying to put out energy, but it doesn't have the right fuel to do so. Now, of course, I think everybody realizes you could run out and buy a zinc supplement, but at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we always want you to try food first. So let's talk about what foods do we need to eat to get zinc.

KARA:     Right. And I know you're familiar with the answer to this because you have taught The Magic of Minerals. I know you've taught that to some lunch and learn groups. And also there's a great, listeners I should make listeners aware this, that there's an online class on our website weightandwellness.com called The Magic of Minerals that you're teaching.

CASSIE:   That's right. I got to stand in front of the cameras and teach it, too. That was a little discombobulating but fun. You know it was interesting Kara because I've taught that class many times and when I'm in a lunch and learn setting, there's always questions, you know, it's interactive and then when we turned the cameras on and we taped me doing this class, it was like everybody froze, and didn't have any questions. I had a live audience.

KARA:     But they weren't asking questions. They were probably nervous.

CASSIE:   They didn't want the camera flashing on them, but it's still a great class. It's full of great information and one of the things we talk about in that class, The Magic of Minerals is that in order to get enough zinc from food, your best source is beef. Beef is especially high in zinc, so if you enjoy pot roast or steak or today would be a great day for hamburgers on the grill, you're going to get a good dose of zinc. I love beef, so I have no problem eating beef every day, but maybe that's not your favorite. Well then maybe you want to try chicken or turkey. They're not as high in zinc, but they still have a decent source. Salmon is another good protein source of zinc and I just want to point out that grass fed meats are best. They're going to have the highest concentration of nutrients. Now, all that said, keep in mind that if you've been low in zinc for a long time, you very well might need a therapeutic dose for a period of time and that means a supplement. So try food first, but just know that you might need to take a reacted zinc supplement as well, at least for a few months. And how much do you usually recommend that clients supplement with Kara?

KARA:     I believe the one in our office, the reacted zinc that you were talking about is about 50 milligrams. And I think that's a perfect amount to take for several months if someone is deficient, which again, three out of four people are deficient in this country. So and then maybe after a few months, you know, something like 25 milligrams might be a better long-term dose. In our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss Series, we encourage class members to eat 12 to 16 ounces of meat or fish every day to support their thyroid function. Also to support weight loss and energy. I really like our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss plan because it is based on science, you know, it's not counting calories, there's no counting points and we take into consideration what nutrients are needed for good mitochondrial function and it's maybe more complex than counting points, but when it's followed, our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss plan gives clients and participants amazing health results and they just find that their energy just naturally starts coming back.

CASSIE:   Absolutely, and another thing that we talk about during this class, and you know, we talk about it one on one with clients too, is to stop using any artificial sweeteners. And in fact the research shows that the use of artificial sweeteners has been linked to Hashimoto's thyroiditis. There's another mouthful. Why do I get to say all the big lines today? And it basically, if you're not familiar with Hashimoto's thyroiditis, it's an autoimmune form of low thyroid or the hypothyroid. So again, the research is showing this link, we don't know yet if it directly causes hypothyroidism, the artificial sweeteners directly caused hyperthyroid, but there's certainly a link. So why take a chance, just don't eat those artificial sweeteners. So for example, rather than eating the low fat yogurt that's been sweetened with artificial sweeteners, maybe it's got aspartame in it, maybe it's got sucralose, none of them are good instead by the full-fat organic yogurt and just enjoy the real taste. And if you're new to eating full-fat plain yogurt, you'll probably need to add a little sweetness, so just a teaspoon or two of pure maple syrup or even some raw honey, a teaspoon or two of that will give it the sweetness that you need. And I want to mention too that a few studies found that a total elimination of artificial sweeteners from the diet reversed thyroid dysfunction. And maybe that's the reason clients lose weight when they stop drinking diet soda. I remember the story about a client at Nutritional Weight & Wellness not too long ago, who lost 30 pounds in just one month when he stopped drinking Diet Coke.

KARA:     I remember that as well. I believe that was when Dar's clients.

CASSIE:   Thirty pounds in a month. Now granted, he was drinking six cans of Diet Coke a day, but still he didn't change anything else.  He just stopped the diet pop and he lost 30 pounds.

KARA:     That's an amazing testimonial. It looks like it's time to go to our break already.

CASSIE:   Sadly, it's already time for our final commercial break. If you just tuned in, you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Before we break, I just want to remind all of you that at Nutritional Weight & Wellness our mission is to provide research based nutrition information presented in an easy to understand and practical way.  We recently completed a great online class where we give you this research based information in an easy to understand way, and this new class that's up online is called Eating to Reduce Pain and Inflammation. Now, the long-time listeners already know that eating gluten grains could be the cause of your pain and inflammation, or it could be the bad polyunsaturated fats that you're eating, like the soybean oil, the corn oil, and cottonseed oil. Those might be the culprits behind your pain. And what about sugar? You've probably heard us talk about the sugar aches. Well, this online class puts it all together for you. Just go to our website weightandwellness.com. Click on classes and then find the online class called Eating to Reduce Pain and Inflammation, and if you are having trouble navigating our website, just call the office and they can help you out. That number is 651-699-3438. We will be back in a minute.

KARA:     Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you're struggling with low energy, being tired all the time, or have mitochondria that are not functioning as well, I suggest you make an individual nutrition therapy appointment at Nutritional Weight and Wellness because nutrient deficiencies can deplete energy and slow the functioning of mitochondria. Some of those deficiencies could be magnesium, vitamin B3, Acetyl L-carnitine, something called CoQ10 or Co-enzyme Q10, vitamin B12, actually a lot of the B vitamins, and D-ribose. So I find when working with people who have had long-term chronic fatigue, they will benefit from supplementing with the one that I just mentioned, D-ribose and I'll frequently start them off with a teaspoon per day and gradually increase that up to three teaspoons per day. With the use of the supplement D-ribose what I see is less fatigue, fewer aches and muscle pains, but it's really best to just be working with someone one on one, one of our nutritionists or dietitians, to guide you because we, you know, you can't just out supplement a poor diet.  We always say that.  You can't just add D-ribose and not look at what you're eating. So you know, we want to put an individualized meal plan in place that's going to give real food that's tailored to your specific needs though. So if that sounds, you know, like that would be helpful to you. You can call our office 651-699-3438 and just talk to the front desk staff about making an appointment.

CASSIE:   Right. I love that you said, we can't out supplement a poor diet because that is the truth.

KARA:     Wouldn't that be nice to just take some supplements and keep eating processed foods? But just unfortunately doesn't work that way.

CASSIE:   It doesn't work that way and that D-ribose might be a great product, but it wouldn't be where you would start. Right? You would start with healthy eating and try some other things, so I love that you gave that disclaimer. So where were we?

KARA:     We were talking a lot about artificial sweeteners and I just wanted to throw out that when people are having yogurt or whatever it might be, that would contain sucralose or Splenda, that actually contains chlorine. I don't know if people knew that. So you were making the connection between artificial sweeteners and thyroid dysfunction and we know that chlorine is very bad for the thyroid, so that's kind of one connection with artificial sweeteners and how that can inhibit thyroid. It's understandable that when clients eliminate processed foods, they stop eating foods with artificial sweeteners. They start eating real foods, protein, vegetables, healthy fats, they start having more energy because their mitochondria are getting the nutrients needed to function.

CASSIE:   If you think of the mitochondria as a furnace and you're stoking the furnace now with coal because you're putting the healthy fats and the meats and the vegetables. Now you have great energy, but I want to switch gears a bit before we get to the end of the show and go from food and nutrients to talking a little bit about sleep. So if you are one of the millions saying, why am I tired all the time? You have to stop and think about how much sleep you're getting and if you need some convincing that getting five to six hours of sleep is not enough, I really suggest that you read Dr. Matthew Walkers new book. It's called Why We Sleep. Dr. Walker is the director of UC Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, and in his book, I love this, he says, sleep is one of the most important but least understood aspects of our lives, of our wellness, and of our longevity. And he also says in his book that we can harness sleep to improve learning, to boost our moods, to give us better energy levels, but also we can harness sleep to help prevent cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and to slow the effects of aging.

KARA:     I'm not sure if anyone has thought about this, but what Dr. Walker found and said in the book is that before babies are born, they sleep 24 hours, almost 24 hours in a day and the week before birth the fetus is in REM sleep for 12 hours a day. Many of you know that REM sleep is critical for helping the brain develop and mature. So it would seem that if we want energy in a well-functioning brain, we also need to be getting that good REM sleep.

CASSIE:   Yes. And just hearing you talk about babies and sleep, it takes me back 12 years to when my son was a baby and long-time listeners have heard my whole backstory. I'm not going to get into that, but basically my son was experiencing a lot of acid reflux as a baby. It took us four years to figure out that he had celiac disease and once we took the gluten out, that remedied that acid reflux. But when he was a little baby and was so uncomfortable with this acid reflux, there were many nights that I was up rocking him and walking with him, so you can imagine I was getting like three hours average of sleep a night. I was a zombie. My energy level was in the tank. My thinking was not good. I remember so many times saying, oh, it's just mommy brain because you hear people blaming it on the fluctuation of the hormones. Well no, it was just really lack of sleep brain and it was not good. So when you're not getting enough sleep, not only does your energy tank, but you don't think well, you might have some depression. Nothing good happens.

KARA:     So true. Many clients come to us because they're tired all the time and the cause is that they're not getting that eight to nine hours of sleep that people need every night.

CASSIE:   I don't know that everybody realizes you should get eight to nine hours of sleep a night.

KARA:     Unfortunately, it's become sort of a badge of honor to be able to get through on, you know, I only need five hours.

CASSIE:   Because I have this big project at work.

KARA:     Right. And what that doctor is saying is that actually is not the case we need, we do need more than that to function. So the first thing we do when a client comes in and is not sleeping, we determine the reason why. Is it because you know, sometimes it's poor sleep habits, could be too much caffeine or coffee or alcohol, could be a lack of magnesium, it could be too much sugar, a lack of serotonin, a lot of stress. So you can see kind of a complex thing.

CASSIE:   And it could be many different things. I think back to when I had insomnia, it was about three or four different things I needed to address.

KARA:     Good point. It's not always just one of those.

CASSIE:   Right. So at Nutritional Weight & Wellness we can help you overcome a variety of issues that might be causing your insomnia. But I want to first address the bad habits Kara, because I think sometimes people just need to step back and correct some bad habits like sleep hygiene is another way to call it. Too much screen time before bed, for instance, is a poor sleep habit. But you know, for as much as you might like that TV on in the bedroom right up until you try to go to sleep, we often find that people are willing to change these bad habits when they understand that the lack of sleep negatively impacts their health. Now, if you were just listening a couple of minutes ago, you heard me say that when my first born was a baby, he had awful acid reflux and that kept both him and me from getting a good night's sleep. And I just want to repeat that because I'm sure there are many listeners that have reoccurring acid reflux or heartburn. So ask yourself, is my heartburn keeping me from getting sleep?

KARA:     We do hear that. People are trying to raise up their mattress and do all kinds of things.

CASSIE:   It's just painful when you lay down to get a good night's sleep. So it could be that, or maybe it's some other reason why  your sleep is disrupted, but we can help with that too. And I cannot believe we're already...

KARA:     It went really fast. We had so much more to share.

CASSIE:   We might have to do a part two to the “Why Am I Tired All the Time?” but if we didn't address what might be making you tired all the time, do consider a nutritional consult. Our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for listening to Dishing Up Nutrition and have a healthy day.

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