Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), has many manifestations such as muscle and joint pain, anxiety and depression. However, the main characteristic is that of extreme and debilitating fatigue that is not relieved by rest; to the extent of seriously affecting an individual’s ability to work and go about daily activities. Researchers believe only about 20% of CFS sufferers are actually diagnosed with the illness as there is no specific test for the disease. Diagnosis is based on ruling out other underlying causes along with the length and severity of symptoms.
Treatment includes sleep or pain medication as well as anti-depressants when relevant. It’s believed that CFS is an inflammatory condition with some immune dysfunction being implicated and is often linked with gut disorders. Nutritional and lifestyle changes can play a significant role in helping to relieve symptoms. Below are some of the most beneficial foods for those with Chronic Fatigue.
Oily fish such as salmon, especially wild salmon, are loaded with essential omega-3 fatty acids that necessary and extremely beneficial for many functions in the body, including memory and cognitive function. Oily fish are also a good source of vitamin D, levels of which are seen to be low in many CFS sufferers. To help relieve symptoms of CFS, try to include at least 3 portions of oily fish per week in your anti-inflammatory diet.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is known for its many health benefits, one being that it improves digestion of foods by increasing levels of HCL in the stomach. Adequate HCL helps to break down the foods we eat into more easily absorbed components. This in turn can help ease any digestive issues and help prevent food intolerances, which may be a trigger factor for chronic fatigue. Take 1 tablespoon of “live” apple cider vinegar before each meal to aid digestion and see if symptoms improve.
Recent studies support what nutritional therapists have long preached, that the antioxidant content of brightly colored fruit & vegetables, such as blueberries, offer protection against inflammatory conditions like CFS. Yet another reason to ensure you’re getting 5+ portions of brightly colored fruit & vegetables per day as part of your anti-inflammatory diet.
Chia seeds are a great vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids that positively benefit many functions of the body, including memory and cognitive function, which in turn may help with chronic fatigue. To help relieve CFS symptoms, use a dessert spoon of chia seeds sprinkled on cereals, poached fruit, into soups and in baking.
Dark Leafy Greens
As with any chronic health condition such as CFS, including generous amounts of dark leafy greens into your healthy eating regime is a great way to get much-needed antioxidants into your diet. Dark leafy green vegetables are so nutrient dense, alkalizing and anti-inflammatory that they can really make a difference to CFS symptoms.
Quinoa is a super food containing all nine essential amino acids, it’s chock full of minerals and does not contain gluten. It can be cooked as cereal, ground into flour, or bought as pasta in place of wheat pasta. Quinoa is also an alkaline grain, which lends to keeping a healthy pH balance. In cases of CSF, where gluten is suspected as a trigger factor, use liberally as a healthy alternative.
Sauerkraut, made by fermenting vegetables, is high in nutrients and probiotics and is very beneficial for gut health. Over 70% of our immune system lies in our gut, and it’s now thought that conditions like CFS can be helped by cultivating a healthy balance of gut bacteria. So get experimenting and start eating, or even making your own sauerkraut, and see if CFS symptoms improve.
Turmeric is a real super food that has long been prized for its potent anti-inflammatory qualities. As CFS is thought to be an inflammatory condition, turmeric should be high on your “to eat” list. Turmeric is also well known for its digestive soothing properties, so will further help if digestive issues are amongst your CFS symptoms.
Licorice has a positive effect on the kidneys and nerves. It is indicated in nervous exhaustion as licorice is a strong adrenal tonic giving enduring energy.
Ashwagandha is a calming adaptogenic tonic to the nervous and immune systems. It strengthens an exhausted nervous system by helping it relax whilst also energising the body and mind by nourishing the adrenal glands and the entire Hypothalamic Pituitary Thyroid Adrenal axis (HPTA). It’s probably the best herb in the world for chronic fatigue.
5-HTP is a precursor to the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, low levels of which have been linked to CFS. Taking 5-HTP as a nutritional supplement has been shown to relieve certain symptoms of CFS such as depression and sleep disorders so try it out and see if you notice any improvements.
It’s thought that a magnesium deficiency may contribute to the muscle pain and fatigue associated with CSF because of its involvement in energy production and muscle relaxation. Magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables, beans, seeds and grains such as oats, which are all advocated as part of this CSF diet, however, a supplement is recommended to ensure necessary levels of the important mineral.