Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a lifelong condition characterised by fatigue that interferes with a person’s daily activities. In this case, the fatigue does not go away with rest or a whole night’s sleep.
Symptoms of CFS include fatigue for at least six months that is not curable with bed rest, frequent headaches, chronic insomnia (inability to fall asleep), tender lymph nodes on the armpits and neck and joint paint without redness or swelling.
Nutrition plays a key role in achieving adequate energy levels at any given point in time, and more so in chronic illnesses – CFS being no exception. Since fatigue is your main put-down when you have CFS, keeping your energy levels up will help to avoid disruption of daily activities and help improve symptoms. Therefore, avoiding foods that will deplete your energy reserves or that will give you short-term energy bursts is the best strategy.
Avoid processed carbohydrates as they contain simple sugars. Sugar encourages bacterial growth and further suppresses the immune system. It also causes a sugar spike which is usually quickly followed by a sugar-low (hypoglycemia), which then results in fatigue and an automatic craving for more sugar to replenish the depleted sugar levels. This results in a vicious cycle that is usually hard to break.
The best way to avoid processed sugars is by indulging in whole meal carbohydrates. Eating a minimum of two to three servings of protein in a day will also ensure you get sufficient protein, which is important for maintaining healthy blood sugars and also to prevent loss of muscle mass. In some CFS patients, adrenal hormone levels become inadequate, thus necessitating increased water intake to prevent dehydration.