Chronic, persistent or relapsing debilitating fatigue or easily fatigued, that does not resolve with bed rest and that is severe enough to reduce or impair average daily activity below 50% or premorbid activity level. Associated symptoms can include: mild fever, sore throat, painful lymph nodes, muscle weakness, muscle aches and pains, headaches, joint pain, neuro-psychological complaints, sleep disturbances.
When the syndrome was first being discussed, the Epstein-Barr virus was thought to be the solo infectious agent. This was because:
- a high percentage of patients had a history of mononucleosis
- Epstein-Barr virus is in a family of viruses which may create lifelong latent infection in the host after recovery from the acute infection
- signs and symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome are similar to that of mononucleosis
However, it proved difficult to achieve consistent results among patients and, until recently, determine the presence of a reactivated infection by blood titers. Now other viruses have been implicated in the disease, notably Cytomegalovirus, which produces a disease similar to mononucleosis that usually strikes older people, and toxoplasmosis. As a result, the disease is now known as Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome (CFIDS).
Reports of a prolonged and recurrent mononucleosis-like disease surfaced in the 1940s and 1950s, yet it is still far from being a clearly studied or accepted syndrome. It is suggested the chronic fatigue syndrome patients may have poor glycogen storage, Candida with dysbiosis, hypersensitivities and a history of hepatitis or mononucleosis.
The degree may be mild, being able to perform at work or home but easily fatigued from it; or it may be intense, causing patients to give up their jobs and greatly curtailing other activities. Sometimes they may be bedridden and slight activities, such as housecleaning or going for a walk, may necessitate a recovery period of 2-3 days. Usually more strenuous exertion and exercising are impossible. Frequently, though, patients have alternating periods of fatigue and normalcy. The disease usually begins gradually, with the fatigue slowly growing until it becomes overwhelming. Other symptoms include:
- Recurrent sore throat or infection
- Recurrent headaches
- Muscle and/or joint pain
- Gastrointestinal upset
- May have a history of allergies, difficulty sleeping, weight loss or gain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Chronic low-grade fever
- Inability to concentrate
- Emotional upset and/or depression
Nutritional Factors In Fatigue
Whether you are dealing with mild to moderate or chronic, severe fatigue, there are a number of important nutritional factors to consider in the fatigued or exhausted individual. First of all, the brain, muscles, endocrine glands and heart require a constant supply of blood sugar and hypoglycemia must be avoided. It is very common with fatigue that people often reach for sugar, caffeine or some other type of stimulant, which gives a short-lived pick-me-up, with an energy crash 1-2 hours later, not to mention the long term adverse health effects of nutrient depletion, high cholesterol and triglycerides, increased inflammation and body aches, plus weight gain in most, and sometimes depression too. This is a common oversight by many physicians, who actually have the same problem themselves, due to a high stress, demanding career and lifestyle. In addition to glucose, the adrenal glands supply the body with cortisol and DHEA to regulate metabolism, sleep and energy during the day and to deal with any physical or emotional stresses. Correcting an underlying nutritional deficiency and restoring adrenal function, can restore normal energy, improved sleep patterns, mental function, relieve brain fog, depression and improve body aches. Please see the recommended supplements for fatigue, which includes, first and foremost, a high potency multiple vitamin and mineral formula providing a nutritional foundation upon which to build a healthy lifestyle program. It is important to make sure that the multivitamin multimineral product contains the full range of vitamins and minerals at high potency levels. Deficiencies common in fatigue, adrenal insufficiency, depression, brain fog and musculoskeletal pain include: folic acid, B12, B5, B6, magnesium, calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin A and zinc. These can all be supplied in a high potency, bioavailable multivitamin/multimineral formula. Add some purified fish oils for Omega-3 fatty acids and a good Calcium-Magnesium product and you have what I call “The BASICS”. Now we have to address WHAT YOU EAT.
What To Eat For Health And Wellness
Dietary practices are of the utmost importance when treating fatigue, or any other health issue, for that matter. You literally are what you eat! Even if you feel resistant to having to think about what you eat, it’s time to get back to the foundation of what creates a healthy body and mind, and that simply is the food and drink that you take in. That means eating the cleanest food that you are able to obtain. More organic, non-chemical, non-genetically modified (or non-GMO) and grown without chemicals, hormones, additives or stress, to the best of your ability. Does that mean you never eat anything that’s not organic or start to have panic attacks about what you eat? ABSOLUTELY NOT!! Again, this is about doing the best you can under the circumstances you are in, making small, gradual changes so that you can get closer to your optimum health potential. So don’t get overwhelmed and give up before you start, JUST START!!
Where To Begin?
It’s a good idea to do a Detoxification with an elimination diet as you start implementing more long term healthy dietary practices. The detox removes a number of allergenic products or items that are not generally health promotion, but ALL patients are recommended to remove wheat, gluten (includes wheat, barley and rye), sugar, all cow’s milk dairy products and GMO foods from their daily menu.
A Word On Genetically Modified Foods
GMO’s are food grown from Genetically Modified Organisms, or seeds. Some seeds are spliced with genes that make them resistant to weed killer and others are created so that they produce their own chemicals so that bugs and other parasites cannot survive if they eat the GMO food. That means you are eating these chemicals too - YUCK! The main GMO foods are corn and soy. Unless the label says “organic” or “non-GMO”, these food items will be GMO. There’s more to it, but in a nut shell, DO NOT EAT CORN AND SOY unless it is non-GMO or organic.
It’s not that you will never ever eat a speck of these foods again in your whole life, but by and large, these are the foods that are making you sick, slowly but surely. These products are pro-inflammatory, highly allergic and many of them, such as modern wheat and corn, are extremely high on the glycemic index, or very high in sugars. Basically, modern wheat is higher on the glycemic index than jelly beans!! No kidding! Some people may be able to add back small amounts of organic or raw cow’s milk products from grass fed cows after they have seen a substantial health improvement. But, beware, do not add back dairy products on a daily basis, or symptoms and weight gain may occur. It’s best to return to these clean dairy products only 1-2 times per week, or for some individuals 1-2 times per month, depending on tolerance.
For more information, an array of books can be found on the subject of health issues and grains, sugar and dairy. Some of my favorites are: Wheat Belly, Grain Brain, Dangerous Grains, Practical Paleo, 21 Day Sugar Detox and Primal Blueprint. If you cannot completely avoid grains when you are first starting the program, then only have 1-2 grains per day, and make them ancient grains, such as, amaranth, millet, quinoa and long grain or brown rice, and lastly, gluten-free oats, limited to 100 calorie servings, limiting each item to 1-2 times per week. In other words, don’t eat the same grain every day, or you will likely develop a sensitivity to it, which could cause inflammation, fatigue, gut issues or brain fog. In fact, it’s a good practice, to rotate most foods, so you are eating a variety of foods and aiming to eat each item no more than twice per week. And most important in all of this is, YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT!!! Practice the 80/20 rule. Shoot for 100% perfection and if you hit somewhere between 80-100%, you are doing very well and should pat yourself on the back for a job well done! And, YOU WILL FEEL BETTER!