Managing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Part 1

What Is CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)

What is FATIGUE?

“Low energy levels”; “chronically tired”; “lethargic”; “drained and exhausted”; “brain fog”, “burnout” are typical keywords used to describe the way many people feel in today’s society and stressful world.

Temporary fatigue:

Acute exhaustion and tiredness from an identifiable cause (late night, disrupted night of sleep, lengthy journey etc.). One recovers from this fairly quickly.

Chronic fatigue:

Constant tiredness and exhaustion that develops over time causing one to feel completely run-down, constantly low in energy, demotivated and often depressed. Fatigue at this level directly impacts emotional and psychological wellbeing, often also resulting in regular bouts of illness of one or another sort.

Being chronically fatigued is often the symptom of an underlying medical issue which, once treated (with diet and lifestyle changes and, in some cases medical treatment), resolves this symptom. However, the reverse side of the coin is that poor lifestyle habits can cause chronic fatigue, which in turn, can be a direct contributor towards injury, acute illness and often chronic illness.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS):

A complex medical condition, characterized by long-term fatigue and other symptoms such as inter-alia unrefreshing sleep, widespread muscle and joint pain, sore throat, severe headaches never experienced previously, and chronic and severe mental exhaustion. These symptoms are to such a degree that they limit a person’s ability to carry out ordinary daily activities. The fatigue is not caused by ongoing exertion, is not relieved by rest and is not caused by any other medical condition. However, diet and lifestyle changes are fundamental treatments that improve this specific condition.

The opposite of feeling fatigued: ENERGY / LIVELINESS / VIGOR / WELLNESS!

When one is NOT chronically fatigued, one has:

Good energy levels, feeling vibrant and energized ALL DAY, with subsequent:

  • High levels of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Ability to “Go the extra mile” in work and in recreation. (i.e.-increased productivity at work)
  • Improved ability to cope with stress
  • Extra hours in the Day!

Less illness:

  • The body has a good ability to fight off illness
  • Less “run-down”
  • Improved recovery rate should illness occur

Significantly reduced risk of developing CHRONIC DISEASES OF LIFESTYLE:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Skeletal problems
  • Certain cancers

Symptoms of FATIGUE

  • Chronic tiredness or sleepiness, not resolved by sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Sore aching muscles, muscle weakness, slowed reflexes and responses
  • Impaired-judgement and decision making
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Impaired hand to eye coordination
  • Blurred vision
  • Poor concentration and memory; and reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand
  • Reduced immune system function
  • Low motivation

Why does one become FATIGUED?

A variety of medical conditions cause fatigue

  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • hypertension
  • tuberculosis
  • influenza
  • HIV/AIDS
  • hepatitis
  • anaemia
  • sleep disorders

Poor lifestyle habits

  • lack of exercise
  • poor diet
  • bad time management
  • High stress levels at home: financial stress, marital stress, unsuitable accommodation, long travelling hours (this can cause depression, anxiety and further stress, thus causing adrenal fatigue which exhausts the body and compounds overall fatigue).
  • High stress levels at work: including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, constant change or threats to job security such as industrial action and strikes add to fatigue.
  • Long working hours
  • Shift work (can cause hormonal disturbances due to upsetting of the “circadian clock” in the brain, causing an imbalance in blood sugar levels)
  • Sleep disturbances and sleep apnoea (both of which also cause an upset in the adrenal hormones which can again unbalance blood sugar levels)
  • Alcohol and drug use and abuse
  • Smoking

Understanding the physiology of FATIGUE

The benefits of plant-based diets in managing CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME are worth the effort!

Use a WIDE VARIETY OF VEGETABLES, FRUITS, SEEDS, NUTS, AND LEGUMES.

Include SOYA foods and drinks DAILY.

Within days – one feels better, and the health benefits experienced over the subsequent weeks and months to come are vast!

In Part 2, we will look at further ways to manage and treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, discussing the following guidelines:

General Lifestyle and Dietary Guidelines for Treating CFS

Lead a Healthy Lifestyle:

  1. Healthy, Balanced Eating
  2. Exercise
  3. Sleep
  4. Manage Stress
  5. Not Smoking
  6. Good Time Management