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Health News, Information and Advice from a British Doctor

ME, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is also known as CFS or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

It is often asked if ME is a valid disease as there are no objective, definitive tests that prove you have it. However, it is generally now accepted that it is real and it is difficult to live with. In fact, living with ME on a daily basis can make a lot of everyday tasks very difficult and can mean things take twice as long to complete because you need to take regular rest breaks. The smallest of tasks – like tying your laces – can become frustratingly difficult. Symptoms may not be limited to fatigue either. Sensory overload can be a big part of a sufferer’s challenges and add to the disadvantages of coping with an invisible, misunderstood condition.

 

The medical bit: It is a chronic fluctuating neurological illness and estimates show that there are around 250,000 people affected by it in the UK in varying degrees. Figures are difficult to pin-down due to the variable nature of symptoms. Many suspect that there are countless more sufferers who just think they are rundown or weary of life. There are many symptoms of ME/CFS, which can include but are not limited to headaches, pins & needles, cramps, complete exhaustion, breathing problems and stomach problems. The severity of these symptoms vary dramatically and can evolve and change over time – hence the difficulty in finding and maintaining a diagnosis.

Sometimes it may feel easier to push on through the extreme tiredness and exhaustion but in the long run this will do you no favours as it just makes it harder on your body. If you have a big event to attend or take part in then you need to allow for some downtime even if it just a few minutes of sitting in a quiet corner to relax so you don’t overdo it. It is also important not to sleep outside of your normal patterns as one of the many effects of ME can be insomnia. So rest when you need to and sleep in a routine.

Although, in all honesty, it doesn’t matter how much rest or sleep you get it never goes away. It can go into remission but the need to pace yourself will remain. It may help if you are honest with those closest to you about your illness so that they understand your needs and are there to support you. The misconceptions surrounding ME mean that while people don’t intend to be insensitive, their initial reactions can often be one of “pull yourself together”, just take it easy at the weekend and you’ll be fine.

Diet can play an important part in keeping the symptoms of this illness under control. Gut bacteria can boost energy levels, if your body is absorbing nutrients and getting rid of toxins more efficiently then you will see a vast improvement in your energy levels.

Here is a list of seven gut bacteria foods that may help you…

1, Jerusalem artichokes- You need to introduce these slowly as they could cause distress to people with sensitive digestive tracts. Once digested though it will ferment into healthy micro flora.

2, Bananas- These restore healthy bacteria and may reduce inflammation due to their high levels of potassium and magnesium.

3, Broccoli- This contains glucosinolates which when broken down release substances that will reduce the risk of various cancers.

4, Blueberries- These can modify the microbiota to enhance the immune function and studies show they may help improve memory, immune system and diversify our gut bacteria.

5, Beans- Are packed with fibre, folate, protein and vitamin B. They play a part in a healthy gut and brain.

6, Polenta- This is high in fibre and also varies in fermentable components.

7, Fermented plant based foods- These are probiotics that have been found to improve the health of the intestinal cells and improve immune function.

It is a long hard struggle to get through life with ME, it would be great to see people having a better understanding of this debilitating disease often with unseen symptoms and for the real cause of it to be identified or better still a cure to be found.