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What Causes Fatigue?

Do you want to know what causes fatigue? Fatigue is a term that refers to an overall feeling of tiredness and lack of energy. It is not the same as simply feeling sleepy or drowsy. Being sleepy is one symptom of fatigue, but it is not the same thing.

Types of Fatigue

Fatigued WomanThere are 2 main types of fatigue – physical and mental. An individual with physical fatigue might find it hard to do things he/she usually does, such as climbing stairs. Symptoms include muscle weakness. Diagnosis may involve completing a strength test. On the other hand, a person with mental fatigue may find it hard to concentrate and stay focused. He/she may feel sleepy and have difficulty staying awake while working.

Causes of Fatigue

Fatigue is associated with various lifestyle factors and health conditions. Listed below are the different causes of fatigue.

Lifestyle Factors

• Lack of sleep
• Being overweight or obese
• Lack of physical activity
• Periods of emotional stress
• Using recreational drugs
• Using alcohol on a regular basis
• Not eating a nutritious diet
• Consuming too much caffeine

Physical Health Conditions

• Anemia
Fibromyalgia
• Chronic fatigue syndrome
• Infections such as cold and flu
• Arthritis
• Addison’s disease, a disorder that affects hormone levels
• Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
• Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
• Autoimmune disorders
• Diabetes
• Cancer
• Liver disease
• Kidney disease
• Emphysema
• Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
• Hormonal contraception such as birth control pills
• Pregnancy

Mental Health Issues

• Stress
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Emotional exhaustion or burnout
• Bereavement and grief
• Boredom
• Seasonal affective disorder
• Eating disorders such as anorexia
• Life events, such as getting a divorce or moving home

Drugs and Medications

• Anxiety medications
• Some antidepressants
• Antihypertensives
• Steroids
• Statins
• Sedatives
• Antihistamines

Heart and Lung Conditions

• Pneumonia
• Asthma
• Arrhythmias
• Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
• Coronary heart disease
• Valvular heart disease
• Congestive heart failure

Sleep Factors

• Insomnia
• Sleep apnea
• Working late
• Working different shifts
• Reflux esophagitis
• Narcolepsy
• Jet lag

Symptoms of Fatigue

Common symptoms associated with fatigue include:

• Daytime drowsiness
• Apathy and a lack of motivation
• Aching or sore muscles
• Gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
• Headache
• Irritability or moodiness
• Difficulty concentrating
• Vision problems such as blurriness
• Slowed response time

When to See Your Doctor

Consult your doctor if you are feeling fatigued and you:

• Cannot think of anything that may account for your fatigue
• Have experienced unexplained weight loss
• Have a higher than normal body temperature
• Regularly have trouble falling or staying asleep
• Feel very sensitive to colder temperatures
• Believe you may be depressed

If you’ve made significant changes to address the problem, yet your fatigue has continued for 2 weeks or more, talk to your doctor.

What Can You Do to Reduce Fatigue?

There are many things that can be done to help reduce fatigue. To boost energy levels and overall health, you can do the following:

• Practice healthy eating habits
• Drink enough fluids to stay hydrated
• Avoid known stressors
• Get enough sleep
• Exercise on a regular basis
• Take part in relaxing activities like yoga
• Avoid a work schedule that is overly demanding
• Abstain from alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs

Conclusion

Tired ManFatigue is a common symptom of various health conditions that can range from mild to serious. It is also a result of some lifestyle choices, such as poor diet or lack of exercise. If the fatigue that you feel does not resolve with adequate rest and proper nutrition, consult your doctor. He or she can help diagnose what is causing your fatigue and recommend ways to treat it.

These lifestyle changes can help lessen fatigue. It is also important that you follow your doctor’s recommendations for any diagnosed health condition. You should take this matter seriously. Left untreated, fatigue may take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

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Do Sweets Make You Fat?

Sweets are delicious. And it’s easy to overindulge in cakes, ice cream, cookies, baked goods, and sweetened beverages because, well, again, they’re delicious and eating them makes most people happy. However, there is a controversial issue regarding sweets. Many people ask, “Do sweets make you fat?” Can a diet high in added sugar cause obesity and chronic health conditions? This article will attempt to answer these questions.

Reasons Why Added Sugar Is Fattening

So do sweets make you fat? The short answer is yes. Here are the reasons why.

1. High in empty calories

Sugars are added to foods and beverages to improve taste. Common types include corn syrup, fructose, cane sugar, and agave. Excess sugar may lead to weight gain because it is high in calories but offers little in terms of nutrition.

Chocolates and CandiesAdded sugars are called empty calories because they are relatively high in calories but void of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber, which the body needs to function optimally.

Foods and beverages that usually contain a lot of added sugars include ice cream, soda, candy, and cookies. They are often loaded with calories as well. While consuming small amounts of added sugar is not likely to cause weight gain, regularly eating foods that are high in added sugars can cause a person to gain excess body fat quickly and more drastically.

2. Impacts blood sugar and hormone levels

HyperglycemiaConsuming large amounts of added sugar daily can lead to elevated blood sugar levels. Hyperglycemia (prolonged elevated blood sugar) can cause harm to your body, including weight gain.

One way hyperglycemia leads to weight gain is by promoting insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when cells stop responding to insulin properly, leading to elevated blood sugar levels. That condition impairs normal cell function and promotes inflammation.

High blood sugar and insulin resistance are associated with increased body fat, especially in the belly area. In addition, insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels interfere with leptin, a hormone that plays an important role in energy regulation, including calorie intake and fat storage. Leptin reduces hunger and as a result, also reduces food intake.

3. Foods high in added sugar are less filling

Foods and beverages packed with added sugar tend to be low or lacking in protein, a nutrient that promotes feelings of fullness. Protein produces this effect by slowing down digestion, keeping blood sugar stable, and regulating hunger hormones. Additionally, protein reduces levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases calorie intake and drives appetite.

Eating refined carbs high in added sugars is less filling and may lead to weight gain because you tend to eat more throughout the day. High sugar foods are also usually low in fiber, a nutrient that can reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness.

4. Displaces healthy foods

If a majority of your diet consists of foods high in added sugars, you are likely missing out on important nutrients. These include vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats, and fiber which are found in whole, nutritious foods. Your body needs these nutrients to function optimally and stay healthy.

Fruits and VegetablesIn addition, refined foods and beverages high in added sugar don’t contain antioxidants, which are found in brightly colored vegetables and fruits, nuts, beans, and olive oil. Antioxidants help protect your cells from free radicals.

Oxidative stress (imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals) is linked to heart disease and certain cancers. Diets high in added sugars increase your risk of such diseases, as well as your risk of obesity. Eating foods high in added sugar could negatively impact your overall health because it displaces nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.

5. May cause you to overeat

Ice CreamEating too much added sugar, especially fructose, can increase levels of ghrelin, a hunger-promoting hormone, while decreasing levels of peptide YY, an appetite-suppressing hormone. Also, fructose may increase appetite by affecting a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for appetite regulation, calorie burning, carb and fat metabolism.

The body is predisposed to crave sweetness. Studies suggest that sweet tasting foods activate certain parts of the brain responsible for pleasure and reward. Sugar may increase the desire for calorie-rich foods, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.

6. Linked to obesity and chronic diseases

Many studies have linked high consumption of added sugar to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. This effect has been observed in both adults and children. A review of 30 studies in 242,000 adults and children found a link between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity. One study conducted on 6,929 children found that those between the ages of 6 and 10 that consumed more added sugar had significantly more body fat than those who consumed less.

Studies also show that consuming too much added sugar can increase the risk of chronic health conditions. In a study conducted on 85,000 people, the risk of dying from heart disease was twice as high in individuals who get 25% or more of their daily calorie intake from added sugars, when compared to individuals who get less than 10% of their calorie intake from added sugar.

Added sugar is also associated with heart disease in children because of its role in raising body fat, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels – which are all risk factors for heart disease. Meanwhile, sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with the occurrence of type 2 diabetes in adults.

Conclusion

To summarize our “do sweets make you fat” article, unhealthy dietary habits can lead to weight gain and accumulation of excess body fat. The key here is moderation. Sweets, desserts, and sweetened beverages taste great, and it’s okay to enjoy them once in a while. What you should avoid is overindulging to a point that sweets displace other healthier, nutrition-rich foods. Besides putting on excess body fat, eating too many sweets can increase the risk of chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

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Macronutrients and Calories – All About Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats

What are macronutrients? Macronutrients are nutrients your body uses in relatively large amounts. Hence, you need to get macronutrients from your diet daily. There are 3 types of macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Macronutrients provide your body with calories and building blocks for cellular growth, overall repair, and immune function. They help the body to function properly. Here’s what you should know about macronutrients and calories.

Types of Macronutrients

1. Carbohydrates

CarbohydratesCarbohydrates are broken down into glucose. Glucose is the energy source of the body. Specific organs need glucose to function properly. Aside from being a primary energy source, some carbohydrates help synthesize specific amino acids.

There are three main types of carbohydrates:

Simple carbohydrates – are easy for the body to break down for energy. Also known as sugars, simple carbohydrates have one to two sugar molecules and are found in food items which are usually sweet, such as table sugar, milk, yogurt, honey, agave nectar, syrup, molasses, and fruits. Fruits contain a natural sugar called fructose, as well as vitamins and minerals.

Complex carbohydrates – require more time for your body to break down. Also known as starches, complex carbohydrates are long strands of sugar molecules that are strung together and usually have a savory taste. Starches include pasta, bread, and cereal. They also include certain vegetables such as peas, corn, and potatoes.

Fiber – is a type of carbohydrate that can’t be broken down by the gastrointestinal tract. Eating foods rich in fiber can make you feel full, making it less likely for you to overeat. This nutrient doesn’t provide energy, but it helps your body get rid of wastes and keeps the intestinal tract healthy.

2. Protein

ProteinPlant Based Protein allows the body to grow, build, and repair tissues. It is composed of amino acids (building blocks of protein). There are two types of amino acids. Non-essential amino acids aren’t required to be consumed through your diet because the body can make them. On the other hand, you must get essential amino acids through your diet.

Protein-rich foods include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, and other types of animal byproduct foods. But this doesn’t mean you have to eat animal-based foods to be healthy. A person can get amino acids from consuming plant-based proteins such as those found in beans, nuts, lentils, and soy, as well as in some grains, vegetables, and fruits.

3. Fats

Fats allow you to store energy, make hormones, absorb fat-soluble vitamins, cushion organs, and help with cell membrane integrity. The three types of fat are saturated fats, unsaturated fats, and trans fats.

Saturated fats – have single bonds in their chemical structure and are generally solid at room temperature. In large amounts, saturated fats can increase cholesterol levels and increase the risk for heart disease. Conversely, decreasing the amount of saturated fats in the diet can be beneficial. Saturated fats are mostly found in animal sources with high fat content such as pork, fatty beef, poultry with skin, lamb, lard, butter, cream, full-fat cheese, and other dairy products.

AvocadosUnsaturated fats – have at least one double bond in their chemical structure and are generally liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats are considered healthy fats because they can reduce the risk of heart disease. This type of fat originates from plant sources like avocados, nuts, olives, and oils (olive, safflower, canola, etc.). They are also found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and herring.

Trans fats – come from hydrogenating (adding hydrogen molecules to unsaturated fats) in order to make them into solid or semi-solid saturated fats. The process produces hydrogenated oils. Trans fats can be found in margarine, baked goods, doughs, shortening, and fried foods. You should cut out or limit your consumption of trans fats, as they increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Fats usually get a bad reputation because they are the way we store excess calories, and saturated and trans fats can be unhealthy. Certain types of fats aren’t good for us, but consuming healthy fats at the right amounts is good for overall health.

Understanding Calories

What are calories? The amount of energy in foods or drinks is measured in calories. When you eat or drink more calories than you use up, your body stores the excess as body fat. If that continues, you may put on weight over time.

You can check if you have a healthy weight by knowing your Body Mass Index (BMI).

As a rule of thumb, an average man needs around 2,500 calories (kcal) each day. For an average woman, it is around 2,000 calories (kcal) a day. These figures can vary depending on age, size, level of physical activity, and metabolism, among other factors.

Checking Calories in Food

Knowing the calorie content of foods and drinks can help ensure you are not consuming too much. To know how many calories they have, check the packaging or nutrition label.

The calorie content is usually expressed in kcals (short for kilocalories) and also in kJ, (short for kilojoules). A kilocalorie is another term for what is commonly known as a calorie. So 1,000 calories is written as 1,000 kcals. Meanwhile, kilojoule is the metric measurement of calories. To determine the energy content in kilojoules, multiply calories by 4.2.

The packaging label usually indicates how many calories are contained in 100 g or 100 ml of food or drink, so the calorie content of various products can be compared. You can use calorie information to evaluate how specific foods fit into your daily caloric intake.

Calories and Energy Balance

It is important to strike a balance between macronutrients and calories. The body needs energy to keep it alive and its organs functioning normally. When you eat and drink, you put energy into your body. Your body uses up that energy through everyday movement.

ExerciseCarbohydrates and protein provide 4 calories per gram, and fat provides 9 calories per gram.

To maintain a stable and healthy weight, the energy you put into your body should roughly be the same as the energy you use through bodily functions and physical activity. The more physical activity you do, the more energy is spent. It is important to balance the calories you put into your body with the energy you use.

Conclusion

It’s important for your body to receive the right amount of macronutrients and calories. So consume a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. For optimum health, you should eat a balanced diet. The USDA recommended amounts (macronutrient split) for macronutrients are: 45 to 65% carbohydrates, 10 to 35% protein, and 20 to 35% fat.

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