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Nutritional Therapy for Chronic Fatigue

Chronic fatigue is a complex condition that affects millions worldwide, leaving individuals feeling drained physically, mentally, and emotionally. While there are various factors contributing to its onset, including medical, psychological, and lifestyle components, one often overlooked aspect is nutrition. Nutritional therapy offers a holistic approach to combating chronic fatigue by addressing deficiencies, optimising energy levels, and promoting overall well-being. In this blog, we'll delve into the role of nutritional therapy in managing chronic fatigue and explore dietary strategies to help reignite vitality and vibrancy, slowly but surely.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), is characterised by persistent fatigue that isn't alleviated by rest. Alongside fatigue, individuals may experience cognitive difficulties, sleep disturbances, muscle pain, and other symptoms that significantly impact daily functioning. While the exact cause of CFS remains unclear, it's believed to involve a combination of factors, including immune dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, and neurotransmitter abnormalities.

Nutrition plays a crucial role in supporting energy metabolism, immune function, and overall health, areas often compromised in chronic fatigue. Deficiencies in essential nutrients can exacerbate fatigue symptoms and hinder recovery. Nutritional therapy aims to address these deficiencies, optimise nutrient intake, and promote energy production pathways within the body.

Several nutrients are vital for supporting energy metabolism and combating fatigue:

1. B vitamins, including B12, B6, and folate, are essential for energy production and nervous system function. Deficiencies in these vitamins may lead to fatigue and cognitive impairment. Incorporating B vitamin-rich foods such as leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, and lean meats may help replenish stores. It is usually the B vitamins within multi-vitamin supplements that make your wee look radioactive luminous yellow/green, gives you the shock of your life initially!

2. Iron is crucial for oxygen transport and energy production within cells. Iron deficiency anaemia is a common cause of fatigue, particularly in menstruating women and vegetarians/vegans. Including iron-rich foods like lean meats, seafood, beans, lentils, and fortified cereals can help prevent deficiency or using supplementation where appropriate. It is useful to know there are at least two different types of iron, heme-iron (from animal products, thought to be more easily absorbed due to its somewhat similar structure to human form) and non-heme (from plant sources). It is advised to take Vitamin C alongside iron to aid in the absorption, perhaps having a small glass of fresh orange, or adding lemon juice to your salad dressing, or something more creative.

3. Magnesium plays a vital role in energy metabolism, muscle function, and stress response. Low magnesium levels have been associated with fatigue and muscle weakness. Incorporating magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, and leafy greens can support energy levels. Did you know good quality dark chocolate also contains Magnesium? Enjoy a couple of squares, delicious with a small portion of organic nuts, i.e. brazils, walnuts, almonds.

4. Omega-3 fatty acids possess anti-inflammatory properties and support brain health. Research suggests that omega-3 supplementation may improve fatigue symptoms in some individuals. Fatty fish like salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are excellent sources of omega-3s. Using olive oil on your salads, sprinkling hempseeds on your breakfast, making chia puddings are all great ways to increase your omega-3 fatty acids.

In addition to incorporating nutrient-rich foods, certain dietary strategies can help manage chronic fatigue:

1. Aim for balanced meals that include a combination of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fibre-rich fruits and vegetables. This may help stabilise blood sugar levels and sustain energy throughout the day.

2. Dehydration may exacerbate fatigue and impair cognitive function. Ensure adequate hydration by drinking water regularly throughout the day. Herbal teas and electrolyte-rich drinks are great ways to support adequate hydration.

3. While caffeine and sugar may provide temporary energy boosts, they can lead to energy crashes and worsen fatigue in the long run. Limit intake of caffeinated beverages and sugary foods, opting for healthier alternatives instead.

4. Practice mindful eating by paying attention to hunger and fullness cues, chewing food thoroughly, and savouring each bite. This may promote optimal digestion and nutrient absorption.

Nutritional therapy offers a valuable approach to managing chronic fatigue by addressing underlying nutrient deficiencies and supporting energy metabolism. By incorporating nutrient-rich foods and adopting healthy dietary habits, individuals can nourish their bodies and enhance vitality. While nutritional interventions alone may not cure chronic fatigue, they can play a significant role in alleviating symptoms and improving overall quality of life. Always consult with a healthcare professional or registered nutritional therapist before making significant dietary changes, especially if managing a chronic health condition like chronic fatigue syndrome.

Sally Munro is a Registered Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist, Yoga Teacher and Director of Simply Swim Aberdeen swim school. Working with clients of all ages and stages of life, Sally focuses on the simple steps you can take towards improving your health and wellbeing.

website: www.sallymunro.co.uk
email: hello@sallymunro.co.uk
Instagram: @salthewellnesswarrior
Facebook: Simply Swim Aberdeen

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