Maintaining nutrition is a vital component of dealing effectively with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). A good diet does not aim to cure the condition, it merely intends to manage the symptoms and improve quality of life for individuals.
Many foods have the potential to worsen the symptoms of CFS, and so it’s a good idea to keep a food diary for several weeks to identify any particular dietary patterns or specific foods that are associated with changes in mood, energy levels or symptoms.
It’s important for individuals with CFS to have three regular meals a day in order to ensure a constant supply of energy, vitamins and nutrients. It would be extremely beneficial to reduce or even eliminate sugar in the diet and always try and replace refined carbohydrates and sugars with more complex carbohydrates and wholegrains. Consuming sugary foods or drinks will lead to sudden spikes in energy levels and blood sugars, which will be subsequently followed by a dip. Switching to complex carbs will help to maintain steady blood sugar levels which are essential to managing your energy levels. Cutting out your daily caffeine fix will also help to stabilise sugar levels.
Don’t be afraid of fats; they help to improve poor immune functioning and to decrease short-term memory loss, which are common symptoms amongst CFS patients. Omega-3 fatty acids can significantly reduce inflammation which can help reduce pain, and is additionally extremely effective at preventing depression associated with CFS. Oily fish such as sardines, mackerel or salmon are bursting with Omega-3 fatty acids, however if you’re not a fish fan, it’s quite acceptable to get your Omega-3’s in supplement form.
It’s vital to consume an adequate amount of protein, which will help to maintain lean body tissue and satisfies your appetite a lot more than carbohydrates or fats are able to. Consuming more protein can also reduce pain and muscle weakness. Turkey is a great source of protein and contains the building blocks of the happy hormone – serotonin.
Aim to drink as much water as possible: this will flush out any toxins and prevent dehydration. Even very mild dehydration can vastly reduce energy levels and lower the metabolic rate.
It’s crucial to consume as many vitamins, minerals and nutrients as possible to help your body cope with the condition. Try and cut out junk food which is usually high in sugar, and also tends to be deficient of any important vitamins and minerals. To ensure you are getting all of the essential vitamins and nutrients, a good multi-vitamin is often recommended for persons with CFS. Have a quick look at the label to make sure supplements contain folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc, as these are particularly effective in managing CFS.
Please feel free to contact the G4 Manchester (Didsbury) Clinic to speak to a member of our diet & nutrition team for any questions that you may have or if you wish to arrange a consultation to discuss your diet, nutrition and lifestyle.