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Health 21 January 2019
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.
- 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.)
- High fat dairy (cheese, milk chocolate, and ice cream)
- Processed foods or “damaged fats" such as deep-fried, margarine, hydrogenated vegetables
- Artificial sweeteners
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 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:
- Cacao Powder
- Nuts (e.g. Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews)
- Seeds (Sunflower, Flaxseeds, Pumpkin, Sesame etc.)
- Beans (Lentils and Beans)
- Whole Grains (Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Quinoa)
- Fish (e.g. Mackerel)
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:
- Brazil Nuts
- Fish (Yellowfin Tuna, Salmon, Halibut, cooked)
- Other Seafood (Oysters, Shrimp, Crabs & Sardines, canned)
- Lean Meats (Grass Fed Beef, Turkey, Chicken, Pork)
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:
- Raisins, Prunes, Dates
- Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts)
- Dried Apricots
- Peanut Butter
- Beans (Red Kidney, Lentils, Chickpeas)
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:
- Brewer's Yeast
- Free Range Eggs
- Sweet Potato
- 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.
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.
Cooking tomatoes in olive oil is a great way to combine lycopene with omega-3 fatty acids.
Try purple potatoes, which contain anthocyanins, an important antioxidant for protecting cells, instead of white potatoes.
Organic berries, such as strawberries, are not only delicious but also high in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, which are known to boost cellular health.
Studies have found that polyphenolin found in green tea is able to penetrate the body's cells and shield DNA potent free radicals.
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.
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist