fatigue, nutrition | November 20, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (also referred to as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) first attracted attention in the mid 1980s with patients describing persistent debilitating fatigue and symptoms such as sore throat, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, and difficulty sleeping.
Initially, as there was no recognisable cause for the symptoms, chronic fatigue was referred to as a psychiatric disorder, a 20th century illness, and even as a “yuppie flu”. Although there is still no explanation why chronic fatigue syndrome develops, it is now recognised as a serious condition that can cause long-term illness and disability.
It has been suggested that a person is born with a predisposition for the syndrome, which can then be triggered by other factors.
There are no specific laboratory tests to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome. Your doctor will carefully evaluate your symptoms and medical history, and may order further tests to rule out other possible explanations. According to Emerge Australia, to be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, a patient should have symptoms that have persisted for more than 4-6 months in an adult and 3 months in a child.
Because the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is still a mystery, there is no known cure and research is ongoing. However, some nutritional strategies may assist in relieving the symptoms. They include:
Some patients with chronic fatigue syndrome appear to be deficient in certain vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. Correcting these deficiencies may improve fatigue and contribute to the healing process.
Specific deficiencies include:
Many patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have been found to have allergies or food sensitivities. Many eliminate gluten and/or dairy, sometimes unnecessary, in the hope it would relieve their symptoms.
If you suspect that certain foods in your diet are causing some of the symptoms of chronic fatigue, an elimination diet may help to determine if you are sensitive to anything in your diet. This should only be done in consultation with a qualified dietitian, nutritionist or naturopath.
Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds in plants that provide powerful benefits to our health. They help the body get rid of toxins, boost the immune system, improve heart health, stimulate the death of cancer cells and involved in energy metabolism. There are thousands of polyphenols in fruits and vegetables.
Studies in animals (mice and rats) found that polyphenols reduce fatigue. One study in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome demonstrated that a daily consumption of dark chocolate (containing 85% cocoa solids) considerably reduced their fatigue. Chocolate contains cocoa, which is a potent polyphenol. Other foods that are high in polyphenols include blueberries and red grapes, apples, oranges, onion, broccoli, kale, turmeric and tea.
In the absence of a proven food allergy or intolerance, it is not recommended to follow dietary restriction.
However, one study found that 95% of patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome had poor fibre intake and 70% had unhealthy fat, fruit, and vegetable intake. Improving the quality of the diet may help reduce fatigue and increase energy levels.
A healthy and balanced diet should include a wide variety of whole unprocessed foods such as fruits and vegetables in different colours, legumes, nuts, and whole grains, in their most natural forms, as well as healthy oils: fish, olive, and avocado, and lean quality protein.
This therapy is a general form of psychotherapy, teaching patients how to gain control over their symptoms. Although the exact way in which it works is not known, studies found that cognitive behaviour therapy greatly improves fatigue in adults with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Graded exercise therapy has been found to be a very effective and safe treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome, improving symptoms of fatigue and overall health in most participants.
The therapy is delivered in six stages:
1. Estabilising a daily routine
2. Starting regular stretching
3. Deciding on a physical activity goal and choosing a type of activity with which to start (such as walking)
4. Setting an achievable physical activity baseline
5. Increasing the duration of physical activity
6. Increasing intensity
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated disease that can last for months and even years. If you have been diagnosed, it is important that you slow down and minimise physical and psychological stress, optimise your diet, and when you are ready, begin a slow graded exercise program with the help of a qualified therapist.
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