Nutrition for Fatigue

Using nutrition therapy to treat CFS and ME

We derive energy from the food that we eat and the oxygen that we breathe. But the process of converting food into energy involves many stages that can become disrupted.

When a patient suffers from ME/CFS it is of vital importance to ensure that they are not only eating the correct range of nutrients to provide energy such as unrefined carbohydrates, proteins containing the balance of amino acids and healthy fats, but that their digestive system is functioning correctly in order to break down and digest those foods.Nutritional therapy will assess acid production of the stomach; the secretion of digestive enzymes to ensure foods are being broken down correctly, and the health of the gut to ensure the correct pH conditions for absorption, production of specific vitamins and water regulation.

Once foods are digested and assimilated they need to move into every cell in the body in order to be converted into energy. Transport of nutrients across the cell membrane requires the correct balance of minerals, particularly sodium and potassium and the nutritional therapist will ensure that your diet maximises this potential. Within the cell, specific nutrients such as magnesium, B vitamins and Coenzyme Q10 are required to convert foods into energy storage molecules. Your diet needs to provide a luxury supply of these nutrients for successful conversion.

The nutritional therapist will pay particular attention to the regulation of blood sugar (glucose) via the diet in order to control the hormones insulin and glucagon. These hormones are responsible for the uptake of glucose into the cells and directly affect energy production. Poor regulation of blood sugar is seen as a major stressor to the body as the brain reads low blood sugar as an emergency. It will send hormone messages to the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Cortisol will convert stored energy from fats and proteins into glucose in order to replenish the cells immediately. However, it is preferable to provide constant energy through a diet high in complex carbohydrates that are broken down regularly into energy rather than place continual stress on the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. If this occurs too often then the adrenal glands become overworked and fatigue will result. Therefore regulating blood sugar is essential to the ME/CFS patient.

Joint pain is a frequently occurring symptom with ME patients. The nutritional therapist will ensure that the diet contains foods that promote anti-inflammatory action such as plant and fish oils, fruits and vegetables and reduce those that promote inflammation such as excessive meat consumption. A correct balance of the essential fatty acids is vital for cell membrane health and joint health. Diagnosis can be made via a simple blood test.

Getting the basics right is frequently a matter of making a few small changes; adding specific foods to the diet and removing others that promote ill health. Foods can be used to repair damage and maximise the body’s potential for healing itself.