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.
Oh, the words “blood sugar level.”
Does it conjure up visions of restrictive eating, diabetes medications, or insulin injections?
Blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. You need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles.
The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot.
This fluctuation is the natural balance between things that increase it; and things that decrease it. When you eat food with sugars or starches (“carbs”), then your digestive system absorbs sugar into your blood. When carbs are ingested and broken down into simple sugars, your body keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin allows excess sugar to get it out of your bloodstream and into your muscle cells and other tissues for energy.
Many people with ME/CFS have a blood sugar imbalance that is leading to symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, dizziness and sugar cravings. When I was ill with my CFS and went to see a Naturopathic Nutritionist, her test revealed that I was on the edge of being diabetic! I was able to balance my blood sugar level with nutrition.
Your body wants your blood sugar to be at an optimal level. It should be high enough, so you’re not light-headed, fatigued, and irritable. It should be low enough that your body isn’t scrambling to remove excess from the blood.
When blood sugar is too low, this is referred to as “hypoglycaemia.”
When blood sugar is too high, it is referred to as hyperglycaemia. Prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar levels (chronic hyperglycaemia) can lead to “insulin resistance.”
Insulin resistance is when your cells are just so bored of the excess insulin that they start ignoring (resisting) it, and that keeps your blood sugar levels too high.
Insulin resistance and chronic hyperglycaemia can eventually lead to diabetes type 2.
So let’s look at how you can optimise your food and lifestyle to keep your blood sugar stable.
The simplest thing to do to balance your blood sugar is to reduce the number of refined sugars and starches you eat. To do this, you can start by dumping sweet drinks and having smaller portions of dessert.
Eating more fibre is helpful too. Fibre helps to slow down the amount of sugar absorbed from your meal; it reduces the “spike” in your blood sugar level. Fibre is found in wholegrain, plant-based foods (as long as they are eaten in their natural state, processing foods removed fibre). Eating nuts, seeds, and whole fruits and veggies (not juiced) is a great way to increase your fibre intake.
Also eating protein and healthy fat foods which break down slowly and don’t cause blood sugar spikes. Foods like meat, fish, eggs, tofu, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
FUN FACT: Cinnamon has been shown to help cells increase insulin sensitivity. Not to mention it’s a delicious spice that can be used in place of sugar. (HINT: It’s in the recipe below)
To learn more about how to use foods and supplements to balance your blood sugar level, contact Kate for a free 15 minute discovery call.
Exercise also helps to improve your insulin sensitivity; this means that your cells don’t ignore insulin’s call to get excess sugar out of the blood. Not to mention, when you exercise, your muscles are using up that sugar they absorbed from your blood. But you already knew that exercise is healthy, didn’t you?
Would you believe that stress affects your blood sugar levels? Yup! Stress hormones increase your blood sugar levels. If you think about the “fight or flight” stress response, what fuel do your brain and muscles need to “fight” or “flee”? Sugar! When you are stressed signals are sent to release stored forms of sugar back into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar levels. So, try to reduce the stress you’re under and manage it more effectively. Simple lifestyle tips are regular meditation, deep breathing, or gentle movement.
Sleep goes hand-in-hand with stress. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, you tend to release stress hormones, have a higher appetite, and even get sugar cravings. Sleep is crucial, often overlooked, factor when it comes to keeping your blood sugar stable. Make sleep more of a priority – it will do your blood sugar (and the rest of your physical and mental health) good.
Your body is on a constant 24-hour quest to keep your blood sugar stable. The body has mechanisms in place to do this, but those mechanisms can get tired (resistant). Long-term blood sugar issues can spell trouble.
There are many nutrition and lifestyle approaches you can take to help keep your blood sugar stable. Minimising excessive refined sugars, and eating more fibre, exercising, reducing stress, and improving sleep are all key to having stable blood sugar (and overall good health).
2 apples, chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
½ tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon
⅛ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Place chopped apples into a small saucepan with 2 tbsp water. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes the apples will become slightly soft, and water will be absorbed.
Add 1 tbsp coconut oil. Stir apples and oil together.
Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so.
Add cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Stir well.
Cook for another few minutes, stirring until the apples reach your desired softness!
Serve and enjoy!
Tip: Keeping the peel on increases the fibre, which is even better for stabilising your blood sugar.
Which diet is better for CFS recovery? Is a vegetarian or stone-age diet better when recovering from CFS? There are so many diets out there, how do you know which one is right for you?
Everybody is unique and no one diet fits all. Some people have food intolerances or allergies to certain foods.
When I was recovering from my CFS, I was eating meats such as lamb, pork and also fish such as rainbow trout or seabass 2-3x per week. I was also eating carbs such as gluten-free bread, wild rice, gluten-free pasta and dried apricots. I ate plenty of broccoli, peas and carrots. So I was on a moderate protein, moderate carbohydrate, low refined sugar diet.
When I visited a Nutritionist, she detected that I had intolerances to beef, sugar, yeast and cow’s milk. So being an all-or-nothing kind of person, I immediately cut out these foods. Within a few weeks I felt a lot better. After 5 months of following her nutrition and supplement plan I had my energy back. Basically she put me on an anti-candida diet as my body was overrun with Candida and my immune system was weak.
A stone-age diet is high in meat and animal protein, low in carbohydrates and high in fat. Dr Myhill recommends a stone-age/paleo diet for people with CFS, as meat is rich in amino acids and protein which boost the immune system and heal tissue damage in the body. People with blood type O do better on a stone-age diet as they have high levels of stomach acid and can easily digest meat.
A vegetarian diet done correctly is full of vegetables, lentils, legumes and beans and is rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants. People with blood type A do better on a vegetarian diet, possibly with some fish. For people who have low stomach acid and find meat difficult to digest, or those on PPIs such as omeprazole or lansoprazole which block stomach acid production, may do better on a vegetarian diet. Also meat can be constipating so eliminating meat eases constipation and improves your detoxification abilities.
So which diet is better for CFS recovery? Personally I would recommend a low sugar, anti-candida diet for healing CFS. Avoiding refined sugar, sugary fruits like bananas, grapes and dried fruits, also avoiding yeast found in bread, mushrooms, fermented foods, cheese, peanuts and cashew nuts.
Also you need to avoid your food intolerances which deplete your body’s energy. The most common food intolerances are to gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley and rolled oats) and cow’s milk.
You need to eat plenty of protein when recovering from CFS to boost your immune system and to heal tissue damage. So a Stone-age diet is very beneficial. If you are vegetarian and can’t face eating meat, I would recommend a high protein vegetarian diet eating plenty of beans, chickpeas, lentils, non-GMO tofu and eggs.
If you don’t eat oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines or herring regularly, which I didn’t when recovering from my CFS, you need to take an omega 3 supplement e.g. a fish oil or a vegan algal omega 3 supplement. I took igennus Vegepa supplement.
For more information on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), contact Kate and book a free 15 minute fatigue breakthrough call.
Do you feel tired all the time? Are you unable get up in the morning? You may have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). Below I talk more about the illness and what causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Firstly to get a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome you will undergo multiple testing. After all avenues have been ruled out then you can be diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. When you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you have a group of symptoms including:
Currently around 250,000 people suffer with the illness in the UK. Women more commonly get this chronic illness, especially between the ages of 20-45.
There are many root causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is a complex condition. It is caused by a combination of factors that over time have weakened your body. Furthermore many people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome find that a very stressful event triggered their illness. Below I have listed some of the common triggers to chronic fatigue syndrome:
However in my experience with ME/CFS patients, the main root cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a high sugar diet. This leads to a suppressed immune system, viruses and a Candida overgrowth. In my new 12 Week Fatigue-Fighting Programme we tackle the root cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with 12 week low sugar meal plans.
For more information on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), book your free 15 minute fatigue breakthrough call.
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.
Around 250,000 people in Britain are recognised as having M.E or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Many more are undiagnosed. I suffered with severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 3 years. It was after visiting a Nutritionist and following her plan for a few months that I began to get my energy back. After a year I was fully recovered and back working again. Below you can read my tips for recovering from ME/CFS.
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.