Many people feel tired all the time, usually due to blood sugar problems or lack of nutrients, but chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is something different. People with CFS often talk about becoming exhausted after eating and after exercise or any mildly strenuous activity. I have found, in almost all cases, chronic fatigue can be solved by answering five questions:
Is there an underlying thyroid problem? Is there an underlying blood sugar problem?
(In which case my low GL diet works wonders.)
Is there a methylationMethylation is what occurs when the body takes one substance and turns it into another, so that it can be detoxified and excreted from the… problem?
(this requires homocysteineHomocysteine is an amino acid found in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine have been associated with narrowing and hardening of the arteries, an increased… testing.)
Is there an unidentified food intoleranceFood intolerance is not the same as a food allergy. Food intolerances tend to cause digestive symptoms such as bloating, cramps and diarrhoea, but are…?
(I recommend Yorktest’s IgG food indicator test to explore this option)
Is there an underlying detoxification problem?
Solving any of these common causes of chronic fatigue can transform how you feel very quickly.
Amanda-Jane, aged 33, is a case in point. She was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. In truth, her health had never been the same since a big car accident ten years ago. After the car accident, she had frequent chest infections and very low energy. In fact, sometimes she could barely walk. Because chronic fatigue is sometimes a symptom of poor methylation, I recommended that Amanda-Jane have her homocysteine level checked. She was shocked when she found her H score was 25.9 units, significantly higher than the ideal 6 units score. Consequently, she went on my homocysteine-lowering diet, which means more folate-rich vegetables (such as greens and beans), less meat and more fish, beans and lentils for proteinProteins are large molecules consisting of chains of amino acids. Proteins are essential nutrients for the human body – they are a building block of…, garlic every day, and no salt, caffeinated drinks, or alcohol. She also took homocysteine-lowering supplements, which provided 1,200 mcg of folic acidWhat it does: Critical during pregnancy for the development of a baby’s brain and nerves. Also essential for brain and nerve function. Needed for utilising…, 1,500 mcg of methylcobalamin (a methylated type of B12), 150 mg of B6, 45 mg of B2, 30 mg of zincWhat it does: Component of over 200 enzymes in the body, essential for growth, important for healing, controls hormones, aids ability to cope with stress… and 2,250 mg of TMG (trimethylglycine). Almost immediately her sleep improved, and within four weeks she had much more energy. Two months later she retested her homocysteine level and found it had dropped to 9.4 units—that’s a 64 percent decrease! But the real proof is Amanda-Jane’s own experience. “I feel much better. I’m very busy right now, and in the past I’d feel overwhelmed and not able to cope, both mentally and physically, but now I feel great. My mood is very positive—no panic or depression. I feel buoyant, energetic and enthusiastic. I’m sleeping much better and my PMS has disappeared—I am really delighted and will continue this approach, not quite so strictly, but at a level that I can easily maintain for life.” In Amanda’s case methylation was the key issue, but for you it may be something else.
Here’s what you need to check for:
Balance your blood sugar
Certainly the most common cause for fatigue is blood sugar problems or a lack of nutrients, especially B and C vitamins, which are vital for turning food into energy. If you have pronounced energy dips if you haven’t eaten, and crave sweet foods, then it is really important to start following a low glycemic load (GL) diet, as explained in my book The Low GL Diet Bible. Also associated with blood sugar problems is adrenal fatigue, often linked to overuse of stimulants. Also, it is important to reduce your stress level – see my Special Report on HeartMath. But true chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is something different. People with CFS often talk about becoming exhausted after eating, rather than energised, and after exercise or any mildly strenuous activity. This is often due to liver detoxification issues (see below).
Check your thyroid
Another common cause is an underactive thyroid gland, which produces the hormone thyroxine, which is vital for keeping your energy level good. The classic symptoms are fatigue, low sex drive, low body temperature, weight gain, poor memory, dry skin and constipation. Your thyroid function can be tested by your doctor. See my Special Report on ‘Unexplained fatigue: could your thyroid have the answer?’
Are you suffering from digestion problems or hidden food allergies?
Many CFS sufferers complain of digestion related problems such as bloating, indigestion and abdominal pain. Often CFS relates to poor liver detoxification (see below) but such problems usually start in the gut, which is the barrier between your food and your bloodstream.
The epithelial cells that make up your digestive tract form a barrier less than half a piece of paper thick – and this is easily damaged by alcohol, food allergens, antibiotics, but most of all by painkillers, of which the average person takes 373 a year! As a consequence incompletely digested food particles can cross the barrier, against which the immune system reacts resulting in the development of a food intolerance or allergy.
If your chronic fatigue comes and goes, or gets better when you are eating a very different diet, perhaps on holiday abroad, it may be that you have developed hidden food allergies or intolerances. This is something worth checking for. Yorktest offer a FoodScan home-test-kit to discover your intolerances. In the meantime it is worth supplementing a combination of digestive enzymesDigestive enzymes break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins into their smallest components, allowing them to be absorbed by the body. Examples of digestive enzymes include…, which help to break down your food completely, beneficial bacteria to reinoculate the gut, and glutamine, which helps to repair and rejuvenate healthy epithelial cells in the gut wall, thus reducing your allergic potential.
Increased intestinal permeability, also known as ‘leaky gut syndrome’, can be tested by drinking a substance and collecting a urine sample. A nutritional therapist can arrange this test. The more permeable the intestinal wall the more extra work the liver has to do, detoxifying the blood. The ‘cure’ for leaky gut syndrome is to remove food allegens and supplement glutamine, taken as a powder, one to two teaspoons (4 to 8 grams) a day in water away from food.
Another common cause of chronic fatigue and digestive problems is an overgrowth of the Candida albicans yeast, known as candidiasis. See my special report on How to Beat Candida.
Check your liver detoxification potential
Poor liver detoxification is a common cause of fatigue since the liver has to break down and dispose of the by-products, or exhaust fumes, of our normal metabolismMetabolism is a term that is used to describe the chemical reactions that take place within the body’s cells. The body gets the energy it…, as well as any other toxic substances you consume. You can get a good indication of your detox potential from your ‘detox’ score when you complete my on-line free 100%Health Check.
Alternatively, complete the Detox Check below: Score one point for every symptom you occasionally have, and two points for those you have frequently.
HEAD – headaches, faintness, dizziness, insomnia.
EYES – watery or itchy eyes, swollen, red or sticky eyelids, bags or dark circles, blurred vision.
EARS – itchy ears, ear ache, ear infection, drainage from ear, ringing in ears, hearing loss.
NOSE – stuffy nose, sinus problems, hay fever, sneezing attacks, excessive mucus formation.
MOUTH – chronic coughing, gagging, frequent need to clear throat, hoarseness, loss of voice, swollen or discoloured tongue, gums, lips, canker sores.
SKIN – acne, hives, rashes, dry skin, hair loss, flushing or hot flashes, excessive sweating.
DIGESTION – nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, bloated feeling, belching, passing gas, heartburn, intestinal/stomach pain.
HEART – irregular or skipped heartbeat, rapid or pounding heartbeat, chest pain.
LUNGS – chest congestion, asthma, bronchitis, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing.
JOINTS/MUSCLES – joint/muscle aches or pain, arthritis, stiffness or limitation of movement, feeling of weakness or tiredness.
WEIGHT – binge eating/drinking, craving certain foods, excessive weight, compulsive eating, water retention, underweight.
ENERGY – fatigue, sluggishness, apathy, lethargy, hyperactivity, restlessness.
MIND – poor memory, confusion, poor comprehension, poor concentration, poor physical coordination, difficulty in making decisions, stuttering or stammering, slurred speech, learning disabilities.
EMOTIONS – mood swings, anxiety, fear, nervousness, anger, irritability, aggressiveness, depression.
If your total score is above 25, suspect a detox problem and clean up your diet; above 50, your detox potential is under par; above 75, you are well advised to seek the help of a nutritional therapist.
Some people with CFS are ‘pathological detoxifiers’. This means that the first phase of liver detoxification, Phase I, works very well, but the second phase, Phase II, doesn’t. For these people, taking lots of antioxidants – which largely drive the first phase – can make matters worse. So, feeling worse after taking supplements can be a sign of liver detoxification problems – and a sign that it’s worth having a liver detoxification test, which a nutritional therapist can arrange. This involves ingesting a mixture of substances, and collecting a urine sample. By analysing what is excreted it is possible to identify which biochemical pathways are functioning properly, and which aren’t. Phase II liver detoxification depends on four main processes. One is called glycine conjugation, another glutathione conjugation. If these aren’t working, a nutritional therapist will give you either glycine or glutathione (or N-acetyl cysteine, it’s precursor) to get the pathway working again. Another critical process is called sulphation and the highly-absorbable form of sulphur, MSM, helps in these cases. Then there is glucoronidation, which is helped by glucosinolates, found in cruciferous vegetables. And finally there is methylation. If a person is poor at methylation, their homocysteine level is high.
Check homocysteine and improve methylation
There are about a billion methylation reactions every few seconds in your body which are vital for mental and physical energy, and dependent on a host of nutrients, mainly B vitamins. Faulty methylation is another common cause of chronic fatigue. You can test your methylation potential with a blood homocysteine test, either tested at a lab (a health care practitioner can arrange this) or using a home-test kit. If your level is high you’ll be given a combination of homocysteine-lowering nutrients (see Chapter 32, The Homocysteine Solution for more on this). One not uncommon cause of raised homocysteine is vitamin B12 deficiency, often a result of malabsorption of B12. This is more common later in life but some people are just very bad absorbers of B12 and only start to feel better when given very large supplemental amounts, or B12 injections.
The best and worst foods
The best foods to eat are vegetables, especially greens and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage), fish, gluten-free grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, berries, raw nuts and seeds, red onions and garlic.
The worst foods are sugar, processed foods, junk food, burnt fatThere are many different types of fats; polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, hydrogenated, saturated and trans fat. The body requires good fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) in order to… and meats, dairy products, wheat and yeast containing foods.
In terms of supplements make sure you are taking: 2 x High potency multivitamin with B vitamins, zinc 10mg and magnesiumWhat it does: Strengthens bones and teeth, promotes healthy muscles by helping them to relax, also important for PMS, important for heart muscles and nervous… 100mg, 2 x Vitamin CWhat it does: Strengthens immune system – fights infections. Makes collagen, keeping bones, skin and joints firm and strong. Antioxidant, detoxifying pollutants and protecting against… 1000mg, 1 x digestive enzymes, probiotics, glutamine with each meal. See the Packs at HOLFORDirect.com
It is well worth seeing a nutritional therapist and getting the right diagnosis, guidance and support if these changes to your diet, plus additional supplementation, make little difference. There are many potential causes and contributors to CFS and it is rarely caused by just one imbalance or deficiency. To dig deeper into this subject read Beat Stress & Fatigue and 9-Day Liver Detox Diet which include key referenced studies.
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