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The Top Foods To Strengthen Your Body When Fighting Chronic Illness

Lifestyle

As many as 2 percent of the population suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, a disabling fatigue that affects one’s cognition, musculoskeletal, system and sleep. While there is no test that can immediately diagnose one’s chronic fatigue syndrome, the syndrome is generally the verdict after all other possible causes for fatigue have been ruled out. I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue when I was younger and it is still something that I struggle with every day. However, now, using my health and nutrition knowledge to find what works for me, I have learned that if I am mindful about what I put into my body, I can live a productive, happy, and healthy life. Following my personal journey, I have made it my career to help others combat this condition.


My three worst experiences with chronic fatigue were when I was 11, 17 and 25— twice, after suffering from mononucleosis and bronchitis, two of the most common infections followed by chronic fatigue. The third was after an emergency appendectomy. Each time I went to see a different doctor, using both Western and Eastern medicine, to help me overcome my fatigue. Some doctors prescribed herbs and supplements. Ultimately, one doctor put me on an extremely strict diet based on theories from the book, “Green For Life” by Victoria Boutenko. As a result, I removed caffeine, alcohol, gluten and dairy from my diet, decreased my protein intake and greatly increased my fruit and vegetable intake. Initially, it was a huge struggle and my body felt worse as it was slowly adapting to these new habits. However, after the initial shock to my body, I began to have more energy than I’ve had in the last decade. I was finally able to do the things that I love again. This experience not only changed my health, but it also changed my life’s journey— I stopped studying business/law and changed my career path to health and wellness, and nutrition.

Whether you have chronic fatigue syndrome or just want more energy in the day, there are some great nutrition tricks that can help boost your energy, mood and health. The things we put into our bodies make or break our energy levels. Providing the right fuels can give you a new lease on life, while eating the wrong foods can cause bloating and sluggishness. There are numerous things that affect the quality of our energy: what we eat, when we eat it, how much we eat, and how our digestive systems react etc.

So how does our body produce energy? The process happens in the mitochondria, or the energy factory of the cell. This is where the Krebs cycle occurs and turns food into cellular energy, or ATP. This process accounts for 75 percent of the total energy produced by cells. Specific nutrients, such as vitamin B’s, L-carniture, magnesium, amino acids and CoQ10, are needed as co-factors in the Krebs cycle. It is important that we provide our bodies with these co-factors either directly through diet or by taking supplements. Other nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, and essential fatty acids, also impact the production of energy by diminishing damage to the mitochondria and sustaining energy.

1. Take the Pressure Off

I am not a fan of the word detox, but I am a fan of knowing when it’s time to be stricter about what you’re putting into your body. Take the pressure off your body by cleaning up your blood and your immune system.

Include

  • Fruit and vegetables with every meal
  • Abundance of good fats
  • Diverse sources of proteins
  • Natural sugars, honey, molasses, fruits
  • Plenty of fluids (water, herbal teas etc.)

Avoid

  • High fat dairy (cheese, milk chocolate, and ice cream)
  • Processed foods or “damaged fats” such as deep-fried, margarine, hydrogenated vegetables
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

People with chronic fatigue are oftentimes mineral deficient; meaning, many of the nutrients needed to protect the mitochondria and boost the Krebs cycle are lacking.

2. Strengthen Your Immune System

People with chronic fatigue are oftentimes mineral deficient; meaning, many of the nutrients needed to protect the mitochondria and boost the Krebs cycle are lacking.

Possible signs of mineral deficiency include fatigue, low blood sugar, cravings, muscle spasms and dizziness.

Add These Minerals

Magnesium

Magnesium is the most abundant mineral in the body and one of the most beneficial minerals for our immune systems. It can regulate gut bacteria, improve muscle and nerve function, help control inflammation, help reduce blood pressure, assist in fighting harmful toxins in the body, reduce anxiety and stress, improve sleep and most importantly, improve daily energy levels. Foods that are high in magnesium are:

  1. Cacao Powder
  2. Nuts (e.g. Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews)
  3. Seeds (Sunflower, Flaxseeds, Pumpkin, Sesame etc.)
  4. Beans (Lentils and Beans)
  5. Bananas
  6. Tofu
  7. Whole Grains (Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Quinoa)
  8. Broccoli
  9. Fish (e.g. Mackerel)
  10. Avocado

Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral that works with vitamin E to help prevent oxidative damage in the cells. It also works in conjunction with iodine to regulate metabolism. Foods that are high in selenium are:

  1. Brazil Nuts
  2. Fish (Yellowfin Tuna, Salmon, Halibut, cooked)
  3. Other Seafood (Oysters, Shrimp, Crabs & Sardines, canned)
  4. Lean Meats (Grass Fed Beef, Turkey, Chicken, Pork)
  5. Eggs
  6. Spinach
  7. Cheese
  8. Mushrooms
  9. Oats
  10. Wheat

Boron

Boron is another trace mineral which is underutilized in optimizing our health. It assists with low concentration, poor memory, and weak muscles. It assists in building healthy bones and regulating cell health by increasing the body’s ability to absorb calcium and magnesium. Foods that are high in boron are:

  1. Raisins, Prunes, Dates
  2. Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts)
  3. Avocados
  4. Dried Apricots
  5. Peanut Butter
  6. Beans (Red Kidney, Lentils, Chickpeas)

Chromium

Chromium works with insulin to help transport glucose through the cell membrane into the cell when it is needed for energy. It also helps turn fats, carbohydrates and protein into energy. Foods that are high in chromium are:

  1. Brewer’s Yeast
  2. Broccoli
  3. Free Range Eggs
  4. Sweet Potato
  5. Oats
  6. Grain Fed Beef

3. Boost Energy

Your cells are the foundation of your health. The foods you eat are also the foods your cells consume. By eating nutrient-dense foods, you provide your cells with the support they need to keep your entire body healthy. Start stocking your fridge with some of these amazingly nutritious foods known to support proper cellular health.

Vegetables

Cruciferous Vegetables

Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, collard greens, kale, red and green cabbage, chard, turnip greens, arugula, mustard greens, savoy cabbage, Chinese cabbage, rapini, watercress, radish, horseradish, turnip, rutabaga, wasabi and Oriental radish

Leafy Green Vegetables

Kale, collard greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens, broccoli, rapini (broccoli rabe), red and green leaf and romaine lettuce, cabbage, bok choy and watercress.

Tomatoes (Cooked)

Cooking tomatoes in olive oil is a great way to combine lycopene with omega-3 fatty acids.

Purple Potatoes

Try purple potatoes, which contain anthocyanins, an important antioxidant for protecting cells, instead of white potatoes.

 

Fruit

Berries

Organic berries, such as strawberries, are not only delicious but also high in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, which are known to boost cellular health.

Green Tea

Studies have found that polyphenolin found in green tea is able to penetrate the body’s cells and shield DNA potent free radicals.

Turmeric

Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant which has been used for centuries for its health benefits. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and supports the formation and maintenance of healthy cells.

7min read
Culture

The Middle East And North Africa Are Brimming With Untapped Female Potential

Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.


A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.

The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.

Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")

The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."

This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.

Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.

She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."

Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.

"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei

While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.

Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.

The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."

This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.

Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.