If you struggle with lack of motivation and low energy, you may beat yourself up and call yourself lazy. But science demonstrates laziness and lack of motivation are often red flags pointing to chronic inflammation.

When you’re healthy you are naturally motivated to engage in life. If you can’t be bothered and don’t care, this is a sign an underlying health condition could be sapping your motivation.

A new study shows that chronic inflammation impacts an area of the brain that govern motivation.

This area is called the dopaminergic signaling system. It depends primarily on a brain chemical called dopamine, which is our neurotransmitter responsible for motivation, drive, and self-worth. If dopamine activity is poor, this could explain why you feel not only lazy but also worthless and ashamed for feeling lazy.

The researchers say that chronic inflammation lowers drive and motivation, so that the brain is freed up to direct that energy toward healing instead.

Suddenly taking care of both daily tasks and chores in addition to working towards goals and dreams no longer feel worth the effort.

That’s because the chronic inflammation has dampened the dopaminergic signaling system that links a sense of reward to effort and work.

Low-grade chronic inflammation is at epidemic levels these days, underpinning such chronic inflammatory conditions as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and cancer.

Chronic low-grade inflammation also causes depression, anxiety, fatigue, memory loss, brain development disorders in children, and even acute psychiatric conditions.

Why do so many Americans suffer from chronic inflammation?

It’s common in our high-productivity society to shame and stigmatize people who appear lazy. People suffering from low motivation typically also shame and belittle themselves for it as well and suffer in isolation as a result.

However, laziness and lack of motivation are often symptoms of an underlying health disorder and not a character flaw.

Why is modern life so inflammatory?

Yet why are Americans so inflamed and why do we have one of the highest rates of chronical illness in the world?

Here are just a few factors driving the epidemic of chronic inflammation:

High blood sugar. America seems to revolve around getting people to eat junk food and sugary stuff. Yet research shows high blood sugar is one of the most common causes of chronic inflammation.

The Standard American Diet (SAD). Gluten sensitivity causes chronic inflammation more often than people realize. Industrialized oils such as canola oil, soybean oil, and hydrogenated fats are inflammatory. American diets are also laden with salts and artificial chemicals.

People don’t eat enough plant fiber. Americans eat half the fiber that is required for good health. Eating lots of produce creates a health and diverse gut microbiome that combats inflammation. On the other hand, the SAD diet promotes pro-inflammatory bad gut bacteria.

Most Americans lead sedentary lives. Unless your job is physical, our screen-based home and work lives are too sedentary for good health. Even if you exercise an hour a day, “sitting disease” is a profound source of chronic inflammation.

We live in a sea of environmental toxins. Many studies connect environmental toxins with inflammatory health disorders. Modern humans are also exposed to too much artificial light, which dysregulates biological rhythms and triggers inflammation.

American s are stressed out. In many ways, life is more convenient and comfortable than ever, yet depression, anxiety, and stress are at all-time highs and afflicting younger and younger people. These brain-based disorders are both a symptom and a cause of inflammation.

How our office can help you restore your natural motivation

Although we Americans face many assaults on our physiology from modern living, functional medicine recognizes offers tools and strategies to help protect you.

One of the most rewarding aspects of working in functional medicine is seeing patients win back their natural energy, motivation, and ambition.

“Laziness” and lack of motivation are red flags of an underlying health disorder. Ask our office how we can help you address them.