Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) presents with an anthology of symptoms. Each symptom has a connective cause, which when investigated can be understood and treatment applied. Causes can include oxidative stress, mitochondria dysfunction, food intolerance, leaky gut syndrome, hypoglycaemia, hormone imbalances, reoccurring viral infections or environmental toxic stress.
The digestive system is the first area in my experience to benefit from immediate treatment. The restriction of some foods can have significant reductions in symptoms. This is not to say that we have to eat a boring restricted diet or measure every ounce we eat. It took me approximately six months after severe ME/CFS symptoms to realise what I ate was affecting my health.
The first benefits I gained were a reduction in cognitive fog, fatigue, bloating, constipation, feeling poisoned or hung-over and headaches. This was achieved by the elimination of wheat and some diary products. Although I still eat small amounts of rye bread and goat’s yogurt and cheese. A reduction in these symptoms is not a cure for ME/CFS granted, but it’s a start and it guided me towards research and better health.
The reason why many people with ME/CFS benefit from a reduction or elimination of wheat and dairy is found in the bio chemical response to the protein gluten and the sugar lactose.
Gluten is a protein (amino acid) found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats (less so in the latter). It is estimated that one out of one hundred people have sensitivity to gluten. However, this is not reflected in general diagnoses, as only one in every one thousand will be diagnosed with gluten sensitivity or complete intolerance (celiac disease).
Lactose is the natural sugar found in milk and lactose intolerance is caused by a lack of, or reduced amount of lactase the enzyme, which breaks down lactose. It is estimated that half the world population have a reduced capacity to digest the sugar lactose. This is not reflected in general population diagnosis, as only 5% are diagnosed with lactose intolerance within the UK.
If we consider the above figures it is unlikely that many people have been diagnosed with sensitivity prior to becoming ill with ME/CFS. Symptoms such as bloating, cognitive fog, diarrhoea or constipation are common with regard to food allergies and intolerance. An individual could also develop a form of malnutrition, as the stomach becomes compromised through malabsorption of nutrients.
Constipation and malabsorption are very important issue to address with regard to general health. To become constipated is to slow down a very important bodily function detoxification. This is the body’s ability to flow waste products from cells, organs, the lymphatic and digestive system. When the detoxification process becomes sluggish cells are compromised on many levels including the mitochondria (the power houses of the cells).
Blog continues next week.
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