Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke
When we feel lethargic, we naturally seek to address the situation. Unfortunately we are not always aware of the true causes for this fatigue. We think maybe it’s caused by low blood sugar so we eat sugar, but the lack of sugar is not necessarily responsible for our lack of energy. Also, the sugars we choose for this energy boost are, generally speaking, bad sugars, which only increases over-consumption of carbohydrates with no benefit.
People who often feel fatigued and without energy need to try to determine if one or more of the factors described in this chapter are at work in their situation. They will then be able to take steps to address these factors, and thereby reduce their sugar consumption.
Our bodies consist of 70 percent water. To function properly, they must regularly take in more water to replace the fluid that is eliminated via urine, stools, perspiration, and breathing.
For most people the intake is not sufficient to keep up with these eliminations. These people do not drink enough and they become dehydrated. Energy loss is one of the metabolic disorders that is created by poor hydration. This loss of vigor is due to the fact that the enzymes can no longer work properly.
Enzymes are responsible for all the biochemical transformations that take place in the body. They act as catalysts; that is, they speed up biochemical reactions. They are therefore indispensable in the processes of digestion, absorption, cellular multiplication, defense, and so forth, as well as for the production of energy. To properly perform their work, enzymes require an environment that has high water content. This gives them sufficient space to activate and perform their work effectively.
Conversely, the more their working space is reduced due to a lack of fluid, the greater difficulty enzymes have in successfully completing their tasks, as the bodily fluids are too thick and congested. This heightened viscosity is the inevitable result of dehydration.
When enzymes find themselves in a restrictive environment that hampers their activity, they continue to work, but at a slower pace. Over time this rhythm slows down and the biochemical transformations are performed imperfectly and intermittently. In the worst-case scenario, they stop completely.
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This enzymatic slowdown can paralyze the entire organic processes of the body, as all the activities necessary for its proper functioning, including—and this is what is important for our subject—the production of energy, gradually diminish. In this way the lack of sufficient water in the body leads to a lack of energy.
This energy deficit manifests as fatigue, lack of enthusiasm, the desire to do nothing, and the impression of not being up to performing your daily duties. The mental state is also altered, manifesting as a lack of passion and joy in life and work.
In the case of dehydration, the cause of the energy deficit being the lack of water, the obvious solution would be to increase the intake of water. This is really the only effective solution, because it addresses the very root of the problem. In fact, it is only by removing the cause that the effects are alleviated.
In other words, someone suffering from low energy can re-hydrate by drinking enough liquid every day and recover all former strength. A generous intake of water (2.5 quarts a day) will in fact relaunch enzymatic activity and allow a heightened level of energy to return. A resurgence of strength and vitality is one of the first effects mentioned by most people who have increased their water consumption to bring hydration levels back to normal.
However, many people do not heed the sensation of thirst their body gives them to let them know it needs more fluids and that it is imperative to get them. To the contrary, these people often confuse thirst and hunger and eat—bad sugars in particular—instead of drinking water. This provides temporary relief, but not because of the carbohydrates they have ingested, as they were not responsible for their lack of energy.
These people recovered their strength for other reasons. On the one hand, it is because almost all foods contain water, something the body was lacking at that time. On the other, it is because the pancreas and the body went into a state of alert when confronted by the arrival of bad sugars, which stimulated the body and gave it a temporary burst of energy.
The consumption of these sugars can therefore be easily avoided if people drink something when feeling low in energy, rather than eat. If they take this step, they will see that their fatigue actually vanishes. (For more on this, see my book The Water Prescription)
People who are fatigued because they are dehydrated should drink water rather than eat sugar to restore their energy levels.
2. Loss of Acid-Alkaline Balance
An acid-alkaline imbalance in the body is another cause of lack of energy and a craving to eat sweets.
The substances that compose the human body are either acidic or alkaline. The body will not function properly unless both these types of substances are present in equal quantities, hence the notion of the acid-alkaline balance.
In our era of overeating, sedentary lifestyles, stress, and so forth, this balance is prone to being disrupted by an increase of acidic substances. It is extremely rare for the opposite situation to occur, which would mean this balance is threatened by alkalosis (too much alkaline). When this does happen, the cause is generally a serious disease.
A greater variety of organic functional disorders can result from the acidification of the body’s cellular terrain (acidosis). This first crops up as minor health problems: dry skin, hair loss, brittle nails, nervousness, and so on. But over time and increased acidification, health disorders will become more severe: tendinitis, neuritis, rheumatism, depressive states, and, most importantly, fatigue and a loss of energy.
The lack of energy and lethargy, tiring easily and recovering slowly, are typical symptoms of an acidified terrain. Here again, the cause of this energy deficit results from the reduction of energy production by the enzymes.
There is an ideal pH for the body, and more specifically for its cellular terrain, that allows the enzymes to function at an optimum level. (The pH measures the degree of a substance’s acidity or alkalinity.) Any change of the pH will inevitably lead to an alteration in enzymatic activity, which most often is expressed by it slowing down. The more acidic the terrain becomes, the more the enzymes are hindered and shackled. Among other things, they are then less capable of producing energy.
This is why a person suffering from slight acidification feels tired, but someone who is seriously acidified is experiencing a true loss of energy. Both individuals naturally look for a way to restore their strength. If they are not aware of the true cause of their fatigue—acidity—they will eat, thinking that they have run out of fuel. The foods they choose are likely to be high in sugar, and unfortunately, for most people these will be bad sugars.
In this vicious cycle a person suffering from acidification is eating bad sugars when the lack of sugar is not the cause of their lack of energy. This consumption makes things worse in the long term because the bad sugars make the terrain more acidic.
The real solution then would be the elimination of the cause of their exhaustion by restoring a healthy acid-alkaline balance. In concrete terms, this means stopping the acids at their source by a change of diet and thus eliminating excess acids in the body.
The reformation of the diet is based on the reduction of acidifying foods (sweets, white bread, meat, fried foods) and increase of alkalizing foods (green and colored vegetables, potatoes, nuts, fruits).
The elimination of acids is obtained by stimulating the organs responsible for their elimination: the kidneys and the skin. This can be achieved through the use of diuretic plants and sessions of intense sweating (saunas and hot soaks). Finally, taking alkaline supplements will make it possible to effectively neutralize the acids lodged in the tissues.(For more on this, see my book The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health)
By restoring the acid-alkaline balance using these various measures, your fatigue will disappear and your energy levels will bounce back to normal. Your craving for sugar will also vanish.
3. A Sedentary Lifestyle
As we go about our daily chores and expend energy, the glucose in the bloodstream is used by the cells, so it is inevitable that its level will drop. But the need for the cells to refuel doesn’t stop. This is why, when blood sugar level reaches the normal bottom limit, which is to say 0.8 grams per liter, glucose must absolutely be provided to the bloodstream. This can be done either by intake of sugar via the consumption of sugar-rich foods or the body can extract these sugars from itself. In the latter case, it transforms the glycogen stored in the liver and muscles into glucose, which then enters the bloodstream.
The conversion of glycogen into glucose takes place whenever necessary during the course of the day, depending on level of exertion. The body particularly relies on this measure when engaged in intense physical activities. When this effort is pushed to extremes, as is often the case with athletes, the body must seek deeper within itself for stored sugar. The ability to convert glycogen into glucose improves every time the body does this, if only by a little. Eventually the active person’s body will be clearly superior at performing this conversion process than the body of someone who rarely engages in physical activities.
Among people who lead a sedentary lifestyle, the opposite is what happens. As they never put any demand on their reserves, their ability to do so diminishes. Over time it becomes quite weak. The result of this phenomenon is a total or partial incapacity to draw from its reserves when blood sugar levels fall below their normal range. This accentuates the drop of blood sugar causing a craving for sugar to manifest, and the person affected starts eating something sweet. This consumption of sugars—which here, too, often consists of bad sugars—takes place even though the individual has no real need to eat them. In fact, the body’s glycogen reserves are not empty. The problem is only that the body is unable to make use of these reserves because it has lost the habit. It struggles to do so—and does it poorly—only during intensive physical efforts, and very little if at all when no physical activity is prompting the body to release its reserves.
The best means for improving the body’s ability to draw from its existing reserves is to get regular exercise. This could be a sport practiced outside in nature or simple physical exercises such as walking, gardening, or going on a bike ride. The repeated contractions of the muscles will burn away the sugar available in the bloodstream. You will start feeling sensations of fatigue and hunger, but if you resist and don’t eat anything, but just continue exerting yourself, it will force the body to react. It will transform stored glycogen into glucose. At first this process will be minimal and poorly performed; then, with repetition, it will start releasing larger quantities over longer periods of time. Finally, once the body is accustomed again to performing this task, it will be able to do so even when there are no physical activities triggering it, simply when blood sugar levels start dropping a little too steeply. At this point, resorting to bad sugars between meals to restore the proper blood sugar level will no longer be necessary. The body will take charge of restoring the blood sugar content to a healthy level by dipping into its reserves.
What We Eat Today Is Truly Our Health Tomorrow
The harmful effects of refined sugar are becoming more widely known every day. Not only have a growing number of individuals become aware of this, but it has become a source of concern to our governments.
Pressure has been applied to the manufacturers of foods that are high in refined sugar to lower its contents in their products. These measures are beneficial, but they do no absolve people from the need to take responsibility for their own health.
In the final analysis, it is always up to the individual to either choose poor food options that result in illness or to eat sensibly and stay healthy by eliminating or reducing consumption of refined sugar and replacing it with the good sugars offered by nature.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Healing Arts Press.
©2020 by Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com
Good Sugar, Bad Sugar: How to Power Your Body and Brain with Healthy Energy
by Christopher Vasey N.D.
In this practical guide, Christopher Vasey, N.D., explains how to successfully replace bad sugars with good sugars as well as how to reduce sugar cravings and break your sugar addiction. He reveals how refined sugars not only cause well-known, sugar-related health issues such as obesity but also lead to acid-alkaline imbalances, hyperactivity of glands and organs, chronic fatigue, nutrient deficiencies, thickened blood, and mental disorders such as fits of rage, phobias, depression, and confused states akin to dementia--conditions uncommon before white sugar was introduced into the world’s food supply more than 200 years ago. Offering a path out of sugar addiction and easy steps to power your brain and body with healthy energy, Vasey gives you with the tools to take ownership of your own health.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon. Also available as an e-Textbook.
About the Author
Christopher Vasey, N.D., is a naturopath specializing in detoxification and rejuvenation. He is the author of The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health, The Naturopathic Way, The Water Prescription, The Whey Prescription, and The Detox Mono Diet. Visit his website (English, French, or German language) at www.christophervasey.ch