Chronic Fatigue

One of the major signs of geriatric status is lethargy, fatigue, low energy- or whatever term is used to describe “laying around all day”. Fatigue, especially chronic fatigue, is a truly “holistic” condition. Many deficiencies and imbalances are involved. Hypothyroidism and adrenal insufficiency are two of the most commonly recognized. There is, however, an even more fundamental deficiency that should be considered in any case of chronic fatigue.

For the sake of discussion, imagine the body is an automobile- not just any automobile, but a hybrid. The hybrid car can use gas or electricity as fuel. In that sense, the body is also a hybrid. The body can use glucose or fat as fuel. Glucose is the default fuel for the body, just as gas is the default for a hybrid car. The body can switch to using fat as fuel if necessary. This is the basis for ketogenic diets. However, unlike a car which can switch fuels easily, the body takes time to be able to use fat as fuel.

Adapting to a ketogenic diet is not easy. The transition period is described as the “keto” flu. The process is not pleasant, so before adopting a ketogenic diet, there is another factor that needs to explored. Most animals, two legged and four legged, are adapted to using glucose as fuel to create energy. This implies that the cause of chronic fatigue may be a relative inability to metabolize glucose. Glucose is metabolized to create ATP, which the body uses to create energy.

The rate limiting step in the creation of ATP is the conversion of glucose to ribose. Ribose is absolutely necessary for the creation of ATP. So before adopting a ketogenic diet, ribose supplementation should be considered. It is inexpensive and readily available. The only caveat is the ribose is a sugar which contribute to yeast infections. Ribose is especially indicated in cases of heart or kidney disease.

When a car is out of fuel, tuning the engine will not help. It is the same with body. When there is insufficient fuel to produce energy, correcting thyroid or adrenal issues will not correct fatigue. So before testing thyroid levels, make sure the body has fuel- just as IT people suggest making sure the computer is plugged before calling the repair person.

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