Today I wanted to share with you my timeline to recovery from CFS/ME.
CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) is a chronic illness with extreme exhaustion and flu-like symptoms that is difficult to recover from. Many people suffer from CFS/ME for many years.
Some people with ME/CFS can recover in a few years (like me), some people recover in decades, and sadly some people never recover. Everyone has a different recovery time.
I first got ill in December 2008 which I when I had to stop working and move back with my parents. I was able to go back to work full-time in December 2011. So my recovery time took 3 years.
The key to recovering is finding all of your root causes with symptom diagnosis and functional testing and pulling them out. You may have multiple root causes and it can take time to find them all and treat them.
Below I share with you my timeline to recovery from CFS/ME so you can see how long it took me to recover from my CFS from the time I went to see a Nutritionist, to the time I was able to work full-time again. I’ve also shared other things I tried that helped me on my recovery journey. I hope it gives you hope.
Nutritionist, Supplements & diet change – I went to see a Nutritionist, at the recommendation of my Acupuncturist. This was the best thing I ever did for my ME recovery. She used a Vegatest Bioresonance machine to detect that I had Candida overgrowth, Epsteinn Barr virus and cytomegalo virus. She gave me a course of natural supplements to kill off the infections. Also I was deficient in Vitamin C, iron and Omega-6-fatty acids and she gave me vitamins to take. Additionally she discovered that I was intolerant to cow’s milk, yeast, sugar and beef. So I immediately cut all these foods out of my diet. I felt much better after doing this, especially after cutting out sugar. I began eating healthier, experimenting with cooking new foods. After removing my food intolerances andtaking these supplements for a few weeks, I had a lot more energy. I could concentrate for longer, my mind was clearer; I could do more physical activities around the house such as cooking and washing my hair.
Fluconazole – the nutritionist advised my to visit my doctor when she detected that I had a yeast infection. He prescribed me fluconazole for my thrush.
Anti-Candida Diet – I felt weak and shaky the morning after cutting out sugar from my diet. This is the body’s normal response of withdrawal symptoms to suddenly stopping taking a drug. I replaced the processed white sugar with fruit.
NHS Pacing Programme – I went once but did not like it as they were very patronising and only talked about the managing the symptoms and not things that might help cure them. They made us sit on hard, uncomfortable chairs which for people with ME who have aching bodies is not very comfortable. I felt that they didn’t understand ME.
Relaxation Music – as I was housebound I would spend most of the day sitting in the conservatory watching the nature outside and reading and spent the evenings listening to relaxation music from Global Journey where you can get 25 free downloads. This really helped to slow down my overactive nervous system and get me out of fight-or-flight mode and into the rest-and-digest parasympathetic nervous system. The gentle sounds, calmed and relaxed me and left me feeling so peaceful and content.
Positive Affirmations – I also read the most amazing book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ by Louise L. Hay. She taught me how to change my negative thinking habits into positive ones and how positive thoughts attract positive experiences and it brought miraculous events into my life.
Holosync Meditation – I discovered Holosync Audio meditation. This is another one of the best things I have ever done. Whilst resting for an hour everyday laying on my bed, I listened to the audio meditations on my iPod and allowed my body to get into the healing state. It quietened my over-active mind. I became a more peaceful, calm and happy person. My stress tolerance improved and I now don’t get upset about the things that I used to. I remain calm under pressure.
Reduce ElectroMagnetic Radiation (EMR) – I turned my bedroom into a tranquil paradise and removed most of my electrical appliances such as my TV and computer to reduce nasty EMFs that affect my sleep.
Massage – I started having massage at a beauty clinic using essential oils which warmed and relaxed my tense and aching muscles and left me feeling so peaceful and calm. It is a shame the effects wear off after a day!
6 Month Check-Up with Nutritionist – I had a 6 month check up with the Nutritionist. All my results on the Bio-resonance machine were good. I told her about a past trauma I had had and she recommended that I went to go and see a counsellor and hypnotherapist.
Counselling & Hypnotherapy – It was helpful to talk about traumas that happened in the past and my current problems. She gave me some great advice such as encouraging me to join a ballroom dancing club to be around people again and to learn to drive to get more freedom and independence. She did guided visualisations to get me into a relaxed state and then put positive messages into my subconscious mind.
Learn to drive – I started having driving lessons once a week for an hour. I found it mentally and physically exhausting, using muscles that I hadn’t used before to press the clutch and accelerator. However I had a great driving instructor who made me laugh! I passed my driving test the second time around in August and bought a car. This gave me freedom and independence.
University – my counsellor encouraged me to leave home and go back to university. As I was interested in Nutrition I enrolled in a Dietetics degree. I got a place at the University of Plymouth. However after a 4 hour drive, when I got to the room I would be staying in, I realised I couldn’t stay there. It was cold and horrible with squeaky floor boards and an unforgiving landlord. In the end I returned home. It was a big trauma and I had to pay for the room rent for a year as I had signed the contract. This left me with no money and I had to sign on for job seekers allowance and look for a job.
Volunteering – I started on job seekers allowance and volunteered at the British Heart Foundation Furniture & Electrical shop to get back into society. I regained my confidence, made friends and had a lot of fun.
Full-time job – I started working in a full-time job on a contract as an administrator in an office. This is the point that I began to call myself fully recovered as I was able to work and function in society again.
Constipation is the opposite of diarrhoea – it’s when your stool tends to stick around longer than necessary. Often it’s drier, lumpier, and harder than normal, and may be difficult to pass.
Constipation often comes along with abdominal pain and bloating. And can be common in people with certain gut issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It’s also very common in people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME).
About 14-24% of adults experience constipation. Constipation becomes chronic when it happens at least three times per week for three months.
If you have chronic constipation it can cause fatigue and inflammation in the body as toxins recirculate.
Constipation can be caused by diet or stress, and even changes to our daily routine. Sometimes the culprit is a medical condition or medications. And sometimes there can be a structural problem with the gut. Many times the cause is unknown.
Whether you know why or not, there are some things you can do if you get constipated.
So what to eat if you get constipated?
You’ve probably heard to eat more prunes (and figs and dates) if you get constipated.
Why is that?
It comes down to fibre.
Dietary fibre is a type of plant-based carbohydrate that we can’t digest and absorb. Unlike cows, humans don’t have the digestive enzymes to break it down. And that’s a good thing!
Even though we can’t digest it ourselves, fibre is very important for our gut health for two reasons.
First, fibre helps to push things through our system (and out the other end).
Second, fibre is an important food for feeding the friendly microbes in our gut.
Soluble fibre dissolves in water to make a gel-like consistency. It can soften and bulk up the stool; this is the kind of fibre that you want to focus on for helping with constipation. Soluble fibre is found in legumes (beans, peas, lentils), fruit (apples, bananas, berries, citrus, pears, etc.), vegetables (broccoli, carrots, spinach, etc.), and grains like oats.
Psyllium is a soluble non-fermenting fibre from corn husks. It’s been shown to help soften stools and produce a laxative effect.
Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, holds onto water and can help to push things through the gut and get things moving. It’s the kind found in the skins and seeds of fruits and vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, celery, zucchini, as well as the skins of apples, pears, and potatoes.
It’s recommended that adults consume between 20-35 grams of fibre per day.
If you are going to increase your fibre intake, make sure to do it gradually. Radically changing your diet can make things worse!
And, it’s also very important to combine increased fibre intake with my next point to drink more fluids.
NOTE: There is conflicting evidence on how fibre affects constipation. In some cases, less insoluble fibre may be better, especially if you have certain digestive issues. So, make sure you’re monitoring how your diet affects your gut health and act accordingly. And don’t be afraid to see your healthcare provider when necessary.
Since your stools are hard and dry when you’re constipated, drinking more fluids can help keep everything hydrated and moist. This is especially true when trying to maintain a healthy gut every day, rather than when trying to deal with the problem of constipation after it has started.
And it doesn’t only have to be water – watery foods like soups, and some fruits and vegetables can also contribute to your fluid intake.
Always ensure you’re well hydrated, and drinking according to thirst; this is recommended for gut health as well as overall health.
Probiotics are beneficial microbes that come in fermented foods and supplements. They have a number of effects on gut health and constipation. They affect gut transit time (how fast food goes through us), increase the number of bowel movements per week, and help to soften stools to make them easier to pass.
Probiotic foods (and drinks) include fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut and kimchi), miso, kefir, and kombucha.
More research is needed when it comes to recommending a specific probiotic supplement or strain. If you’re going to take supplements, make sure to read the label to ensure that it’s safe for you. And take it as directed.
Some studies show that the gut benefits from regular exercise.
Ideally, aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes most days.
In terms of stress, when we’re stressed, it often affects our digestive system. The connection between our gut and our brain is so strong, researchers have coined the term “gut-brain axis.”
By better managing stress, we can help to reduce emotional and physical issues (like gut issues) that may result from stress. Try things like meditation, deep breathing, and exercise.
And last but not least – make sure to go when you need to go! Don’t hold it in because that can make things worse.
Optimal digestion is so important for overall health. Constipation is a common problem.
Increasing our fibre and water intake and boosting our friendly gut microbes are key things we can do to help things move along.
And don’t forget how lifestyle habits can affect our physical health! Exercise, stress management, and going to the bathroom regularly can also help us maintain great gut health.
Have you found that fibre, water, or probiotics affect your gut health? What about exercise, stress, and regular bathroom trips? I’d love to know in the comments below!
150g oats, gluten-free
Pinch sea salt
300ml almond milk, unsweetened
2 medium pears, sliced
4 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Toast oats by placing them in a large saucepan over medium-high heat for 2-4 minutes. Make sure to stir them frequently to prevent burning. Add salt, water, and almond milk to the saucepan of toasted oats. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20-30 minutes, or until desired tenderness is reached. Divide into four bowls and top with pears, walnuts, maple syrup, and cinnamon.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: If you want to roast your pears first, place them in a baking dish at 200C for about 10 minutes while you’re cooking the oats.
With the stressful pace of modern living in the West, the adrenal glands can struggle to keep up! Your adrenal glands secrete adrenaline and other stress hormones to help you to cope with stress. When you are feeling exhausted, your adrenals give you the energy to keep going!
With constant stress, your adrenals are continuously being stimulated until they crash. This is when you can experience adrenal fatigue.
People with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) often have adrenal fatigue leaving them bed bound.
So how can you use nutrition for supporting the adrenal glands?
Nutrition is a powerful allie when recovering from ME/CFS. A question I get asked a lot as a Nutritionist is “What should I eat?” In this article I will explain the best foods to eat for healing ME/CFS.
Firstly, let me tell you what I ate when I was ill with my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Step 1: Junk Food
When I was a university student living away from home and first became ill with ME/CFS I used to eat a diet of junk food such as:
By eating all these junk foods in excess I destroyed my health.
I now know that when you microwave meals it denatures the structure of the food so it is not the same food that went into the microwave!
Step 2: Gluten-Free in Recovery
After a positive Coeliac IgA blood test result from my Doctor in May 2009 I removed wheat from my diet and cooked things such as:
These are the foods that I was eating during my recovery from 2010-2011. then helped me to regain my health.
If you would like to find out more about diet for healing ME/CFS, book your free 15 minute fatigue breakthrough call.
When you have leaky gut syndrome, holes appear in the gut and large molecules of food can leak into the blood stream. This can cause an immune reaction to the molecules of foods in the blood causing chronic fatigue. Below I will explain how to heal leaky gut.
People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) often have systemic candida. Candida Albicans is a yeast infection most commonly present in the gut. Candida grows roots through the gut wall reaching into the blood stream to suck up nutrients. When the candida grows roots this causes holes in the gut wall leading to leaky gut syndrome. Also when you eat difficult to digest foods such as wheat, the gluten can scratch the gut lining causing further damage.
If you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) then check out my post on tips for recovering from ME/CFS.
When you undertake this gut healing protocol, it can take 3-6 months to fully heal the gut.
One other thing to mention is that people often have a leaky energy as well as a leaky gut. The mind, body, spirit and energy are all linked so if your gut is leaky, then so are all the other areas of your life!
Where else in your life is your energy being drained? Are there energy vampires in your family or at work who drain your energy? Does your mind focus on negative things that cause you stress and drain your energy? Do you waste your money and time on pointless things that do not nourish your energy? It is worth asking yourself these questions and taking action to remove these drains from your life.
Having experienced myself what it is like to go through Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), I know how important nutrition is for recovering health. I have gained a wealth of knowledge on my nutrition course to support CFS. Below I have listed my nutrition for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome tips:
If you have CFS you may have aches and pains in your muscles after minor exertion. When you take magnesium it can help to relieve muscular pains and it is know as nature’s tranquilliser. Good sources of magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables, dark chocolate and nuts and seeds.
People with CFS often have a lot of toxins in their body. Drinking at least 2 litres of filtered water every day helps to flush out the toxins and keep you hydrated. Having a water filter clears the water of toxic chemicals, as well as chlorine and fluoride which can harm the thyroid gland.
The average adult needs to eat 2-3 portions of protein per day or their weight in kilos x 0.8. If you are ill with CFS you need to eat an extra portion of protein to support you body building immune cells and for tissue repair. People with CFS need to eat an amount of protein in grams equal to their weight in kilos x 1. For example 50kg x 1 = 50g of protein per day. Good sources of protein include meat, chicken, fish, eggs and tofu.
Often people with CFS have multiple viruses and infections that the body is constantly trying to fight off. This can deplete the immune system of the vital nutrient zinc. When you take zinc it boosts the immune system. Good sources of zinc include fish, seafood and pumpkin seeds.
People with CFS often are inflammatory and have lots of free radical damage from their immune cells constantly fighting infections. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to mop up free radicals and prevent cell damage.
You need omega 3 fatty acids for brain health and concentration, skin health and tight cell membranes. You can find omega 3 in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, walnuts, hemp powder, flaxseed and chia seeds. Often people with CFS are deficient in omega 3 so it may be worth increasing it in the diet and taking a supplement to see if you feel better.
If you would like to find out more about how to use nutrition to support CFS/ME recovery, please contact me to book your free 15 minute fatigue breakthrough call.