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Gavin Guard: Part 1: Five Unexpected Reasons You Might Have Fatigue

  • Written by Gavin Guard

Key Takeaways

  • Here are 5 reasons you might be experiencing fatigue and excessive tiredness:
    • Poor gut health
    • Sleep disordered breathing
    • Hormone imbalances
    • Inadequate nutrition
    • Anemia
  • It’s important to both take a comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating these issues in order to get the best long-term results


Do you wake up feeling “groggy”? Experience brain fog (fuzzy thinking, hard time remembering words)? Rely on coffee especially during your post-lunch dip in energy? Are you a busy mom sitting on the couch just wishing you had just one hour by yourself, maybe even take a nap? Do you wish you had more energy to give to others?

This perhaps has lead to:

  • Little energy to play with your kids
  • Poor productivity at work
  • No time to invest into your own health
  • Feel like you’re living at 50%

If this sounds like you then you are among the millions of Americans suffering from chronic fatigue. Just like a good mechanic, the first part of fixing something is identifying and diagnosing the problem. 

But the nebulous condition of chronic fatigue is often not well-addressed in a conventional 15-minute doctor visit. You might be told that “all your labs look fine” and not given an ounce of clarity of why you’re not feeling your best.

In this 5-part series, I will discuss 5 of the most common issues I see for causing fatigue (some might be a little unexpected). Let’s start with reason #1.

Reason #1: Poor gut health

Functional digestive disorders affect 4 out of 10 people, and irritable bowel syndrome (abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, constipation) affects 10-15% of the population. It’s common and often overlooked.

How might you know that you have poor gut health? Here are some common symptoms we see from research and from my clinical experience:

  • Digestive symptoms (diarrhea, reflux, discomfort, constipation)
  • Insomnia 
  • Joint pain and inflammation 
  • Anxiety/depression, brain fog 
  • Skin issues like acne or rosacea 
  • Low energy

We can also employ testing to discern more insidious causes of poor gut health. Stool tests can assess imbalances in the microbiome (collection of bugs in your gut), possible presence of “bad bugs” such as parasites, overgrowth of bacteria, and fungus, as well as levels of inflammation and digestive sufficiency. 

However, I often don’t perform stool tests until a patient fails foundational gut therapies. Why? Because it often does not change much of my treatment recommendations and leads to squandering of the patient’s financial resources. With that said, stool tests can at times be useful to identify silent digestive imbalances that don’t present as obvious digestive symptoms (e.g. fatigue caused by problems in the gut). 

It’s obvious from the research that there exists a gut-energy connection. In other words, problems in the gut can lead to low energy and symptoms such as fatigue. For example, fatigue often accompanies IBS. In fact, in a review of 24 studies, 54% of IBS patients had fatigue. 

But does treating the gut improve energy? The good news is that it in fact does! And we have lots of research to support this. 

For example, a foundational therapy for better gut health such as probiotics has led to improved quality of life when used in those with IBS. To date, 3 collections of studies (encompassing many individual studies) have supported the use of probiotics in improving fatigue, quality of life, and energy levels. 

Another digestive therapy called elemental dieting also improves IBS symptoms and quality of life (including energy levels). Finally, an antimicrobial approach to IBS led to better cognition in another study. 

In summary, poor gut health is associated with fatigue and improving one’s gut health is associated with improved energy levels, cognition, and quality of life.  

The Bottom Line

That’s it for part 1. Stay tuned in the next few weeks for the rest of the series.

Don’t let these issues go unaddressed and unsolved. Get a comprehensive assessment and personalized medical care plan today. You can schedule a free 15-minute appointment with me today to review your health concerns and create a game plan for you moving forward.  

I hope you found this information useful and helpful in your journey back to a healthier and happier life.

Like what you are reading? Learn more about how to take control of your health by signing up for the "5 Minute Health Makeover" where I coach you through 3 pivotal strategies for better health.

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In Health,

Gavin Guard, PA-C, MPAS, CISSN, Pn1
Medical Director, Roots Integrated Care
Last modified onTuesday, 02 November 2021 00:13