Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Is NOT Actually Just In Your Head
Written by: Kat Gal
“It’s in your head.”
I would be a millionaire if I got a penny for every time a doctor said this to someone with a chronic illness.
If you are dealing with chronic fatigue syndrome, you have probably heard this a million times as well. Now you have a punch line: “No, it’s actually in my gut.”
And it is not just a funny come-back, but actually the truth. Chronic fatigue syndrome is in your gut.
What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a health condition where normal exertion leads to extreme fatigue that isn’t alleviated by rest (note that there are other sleep disorders out there. Before you self-diagnose yourself, please, check with your doctor if you have chronic fatigue syndrome, narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia, or another sleep disorder, or if your fatigue comes from another issue).
Chronic fatigue syndrome has been bringing a lot of confusion to medical professionals as there seems to be no reason for the tiredness.
HOWEVER, a very new study at Cornell University published in the journal Microbiome recently identified biological markers of this illness in the gut bacteria and inflammatory microbial agents in the blood.
In their report they have described how they diagnosed chronic fatigue syndrome in 83% of patients through blood work and stool samples. They have found that the gut bacterial microbiota in patients with chronic fatigue wasn’t normal. They speculate that gastrointestinal and inflammatory issues cause the symptoms of these patients, instead of being simply psychological in origin as suggested by some physicians.
The Current Research
The research is in its early stages, but in the future they hope to see this technique as a complement to other noninvasive diagnoses and a way to better understand what is happening in the gut microbiome of patients with chronic fatigue.
Ludovic Giloteaux, postdoctoral researcher and first author of the study is hoping that clinicians who learn about these results would suggest their patients to change their diets to a more gut-friendly one, to start eating a diet higher in fiber and using prebiotics and probiotics.
Researchers of the study have collaborated with Dr. Susan Levin, an ME/CFS specialist. They recruited 48 people with ME/CFS and 39 healthy participants as a control. They collected blood and stool samples from all participants. They have found that the diversity of types of bacteria was much lower in those with ME/CFS than with the healthy control group. These observations are very similar to studies on people with Crohn’s and Colitis.
Checking inflammation in the gut, researchers found that intestinal problems are likely caused by leaky gut syndrome, allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Bacteria in the blood is not good news as it triggers an immune response and worsens symptoms.
Though the studies have clearly showed issues in the gut of those with chronic fatigue syndrome, they found no evidence to determine whether the compromised gut microbiome is the cause of the consequence of the illness. Further research is needed on this.
What Can You Do?
Regardless if an unhealthy gut is the reason for or the result of your problems, if you have chronic fatigue syndrome, it seems like you have a compromised gut. Therefore, it is especially important for you to eat a healthy diet high in fiber, made up of organic whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes, eating probiotic rich foods and taking probiotic supplements. Even if you do not have chronic fatigue, these healthy tips can’t hurt you, but can only help your health.
What are you going to do today to take care of your gut? Have you seen improvements in your energy levels from changing your diet and taking probiotics? Share your experiences in the comments below, we would love to hear from you.
Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who encourages others to embrace their unique authentic selves, follow their heart and find their own version of freedom in life.
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