Fatigue – we all feel it from one time or another and there are many reasons why we just want to crawl into a wee cosy space and have a quick nana nap. Stress from a job, stress from kids, stress from finances, or just plain old stretching your physical resources can cause “normal” fatigue. There is a “tired” where a quick caffeine drink or similar can help give you that must needed pick me up or there is t….i….r….e….d where unfortunately no amount of stimulants helps and in fact makes you feel worse, with constant brain fog and usually unfortunately low immune function, perhaps body aches and other health concerns.
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), is the name given to a group of symptoms mostly associated with severe on-going fatigue, pain, inflammation, low immune function and sleep abnormalities which impact upon a person’s ability to carry out normal daily activities.
What are the symptoms?
Severe fatigue not associated with physical exertion that is apparent for at least 6 months
Brain fog or poor concentration
Poor sleep, insomnia or waking feeling unrefreshed
Food or other environmental allergies/intolerance’s
The great news is we have a lot of emerging and recent research into the mechanics of Chronic Fatigue giving clues as to what might actually be going on.
Chronic fatigue may cause inflammaton and pain
Mitochondrial dysfunction is one of the key-factors – that means the powerhouse of every cell of the body where nutrients are absorbed and broken down to make energy – do not actually work as well as it should. Imagine that? Every single cell of the body not working effectively?!
Mitochondria do not only just function to make energy but depending on the cell location (brain, muscles, skin…anywhere!) then they have their own unique way of protecting themselves from danger/damage as a way of protecting the overall organ those cells are involved in.
Pretty powerful stuff.
But the modern world we live in is now known to have a damaging effect on the cells and their mitochondria. And this is where science is trying to work out the damage that is being caused, the why’s and the how to fix it.
Just as the symptoms are varied, the causes of Chronic Fatigue are often varied. Chronic low grade infection and inflammation may be a risk factor. But also viral infections such as glandular fever or meningitis. And also gut issues. Chronic fatigue is also linked with depression and body pain as so these factors may also be the root cause of Chronic Fatigue or a symptom of chronic fatigue.
Emerging science has worked out that inflammation is a key driver to causing mitochondrial dysfunction and of course we now know that inflammation is associated with many of our chronic health conditions. Stress is another known risk factor which promotes inflammation in the body also.
There is also some very new research around how gut bacteria can ultimately help protect us from things like Chronic Fatigue or promote it depending on what our micro flora is like.
Chronic Fatigue is not contagious, it does have some sort of genetic predisposition and may occur to someone of any age.
Chronic Fatigue can make you feel like you have the flu, or follow on from the flu. Viral infection is closley linked with chronic fatigue.
Best ways to manage Chronic Fatigue.
There are many holistic approaches to consider when looking to support Chronic Fatigue.
In my personal experience in clinic, getting to the root cause is key, looking back at a person’s health history will give some clear indication of why a person may have some of the symptoms. As with any road to recovery or better health outcomes, nutrition is absolute foundation to improving long term health.
A diet that has minimal or no processed foods, that is high in vegetables from all the colours of the rainbow, good quality protein and most importantly healthy dietary fats will ensure that the body is getting the right range of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytochemicals/antioxidants that are SO VITAL important for the cells of the body.
Gentle movement also is key. Although a person with chronic fatigue may not feel up to it, functional movement has been shown to be beneficial for mitochondrial function. I like to use the term move it or lose it. Movement does not need to be vigorous. So activities such as yoga, walking, or pool walking can be really helpful.
Which nutrients can help support chronic fatigue?
There are some great evidenced based nutrients that may help to support the foundation of healthy nutrition and I have used some with great success in clinic. There are many to try but here is a list of some that are definitely worth considering:
One of the key nutrients that helps to produce energy within the mitochondria. It is also a really great antioxidant so great for heart health, general muscle health, skin health etc.
I suggest going for a direct Ubiquinol source as this does not need converting in the body, however Ubidecarenone source is also okay so long as it comes with co-factors (other nutrients) to help increase its absorption and utilisation into the cells.
B Vitamins with Ginseng, Withania or other adaptogenic herbs: B Vitamins are vital for energy production so would be another great supplement to have. Using B Vitamins with adaptogenic herbs which are herbs that help to support adrenal function – that is stress – will ultimately help with energy.
This spice is a well known natural anti-inflammatory, the list of positive benefits is endless. This is one to certainly consider where there is ongoing muscle and/or joint pain associated with Chronic fatigue.
Another essential nutrient, this time a mineral for energy production. It may also help to relax the muscles often tensed up with stress associated with Chronic Fatigue. It may also help some for sleep.
Essential to help support the function of the immune system. Look for zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D with K2.
This is regarded as an essential nutrient, known as as an essenital fatty acid – the body cannot make this essential nutrient so must get it from food or supplements. Omega 3 is an important nutrient not only for the structure of the cell membrane, but also is helps to control inflammation associated with chronic fatigue.
Other factors to consider?
If there is leaky gut/digestive issues – this is a good place to start concentrating on. Looking at potential food triggers, improving bowel motions or getting on top of reflux or bloating.
Get some bloods done to see if there a viral infection might be contributing towards the chronic fatigue. Also worth noting that elevated B12 or liver enzymes may in fact be causing inflammation and therefore fatigue.
Undiagnosed autoimmune conditions may also be a factor? Which is why getting to the root cause may also help to uncover health issues you were not aware of.
Want to know more, or have concerns? Make sure to get in contact.