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The Top Foods To Strengthen Your Body When Fighting Chronic Illness

Health

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
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.

5 Min Read
People

Judge Tanya Acker On Overcoming Racial Barriers And Her Rise To The Top


You may recognize Judge, Tanya Acker, from her political and legal commentary on different networks and shows like Good Morning America, The Talk, Wendy Williams, CNN Reports or The Insider. Acker is more than an experienced commentator. She is also a Judge on the fifth season of Emmy nominated CBS show, Hot Bench.

The show, created by Judge Judy, is a new take on the court genre. Alongside Acker, are two other judges: Patricia DiMango and Michael Corriero. Together the three-panel judges take viewers inside the courtroom and into their chambers. “I feel like my responsibility on the show is, to be honest, fair, [and] to try and give people a just and equitable result," Acker says. She is accomplished, honest and especially passionate about her career. In fact, Acker likes the fact that she is able to help people solve problems. “I think that efficient ways of solving disputes are really at the core of modern life.

“We are a very diverse community [with] different values, backgrounds [and] beliefs. It's inevitable that we're going to find ourselves in some conflicts. I enjoy being a part of a process where you can help resolve the conflicts and diffuse them," she explains.

Acker's career has been built around key moments and professional experiences in her life. Particularly, her time working right after college impacted the type of legal work she takes on now.

Shaping Her Career

Acker didn't foresee doing this kind of work on television when she was in college at either Howard University or Yale Law. “I was really open in college about what would happen next," Acker comments. “In fact, I deliberately chose a major (English) that wouldn't lock me into anything [because] I wanted to keep all of my options open." Her inevitable success on the show and throughout her career is an example of that. In fact, after graduating from Yale, Acker served as a judicial law clerk to Judge Dorothy Nelson who sits on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

It was not only her first job out of law school but also one of the formative experiences of her professional life. “[Judge Nelson is] certainly, if not my most important professional influence," Acker says. “She is really the living embodiment of justice, fairness, and believes in being faithful to the letter and the spirit of the law," she exclaims. “She delivers it all with a lot of love." Judge Nelson is still on the bench and is continuing to work through her Foundation: The Western Justice Center in Pasadena, California, where Acker serves on the board. The foundation helps people seeking alternative ways of resolving their disputes instead of going to court.

"I enjoy being a part of a process where you can help resolve the conflicts and diffuse them," she explains.

“It was important to her to try and create platforms for people to resolve conflict outside of court because court takes a long time," Acker explains. “I'm proud to be a part of that work and to sit on that board."

After her clerkship, she was awarded a Bristow Fellowship and continued building her career. Outside of the fellowship, Acker's legal work incorporated a broad variety of matters from civil litigation, constitutional cases, business counseling, and advising. One of her most memorable moments was representing a group of homeless people against the city. “They were being fought for vagrancy and our defense was, they had no place to go," she shares.

As part of her pro bono work, Acker was awarded the ACLU's First Amendment Award for her success with the case. Though, she has a hard time choosing from one of many memorable moments on Hot Bench. Acker does share a few of the things that matter to her. “Our show is really drawn from a cross-section of courtrooms across America and the chance to engage with such a diverse group of people really means a lot to me," she discusses.

How Did Acker Become A Judge?

In addition to Judge Nelson, Judge Judy is certainly among her top professional influences. “I think it's incredible [and] I feel very lucky that my professional career has been bookended by these incredible judges," she acclaims. “I've really learned a lot from Judy about this job, doing this kind of job on television." Before Acker was selected for Hot Bench, she hadn't been a judge. It was Judge Judy who recommended that she get some experience. Acker briefly comments on her first experience as a temporary judge on a volunteer basis in traffic court. “I was happy to be able to have the chance to kind of get a feel for it before we started doing the show," she comments. “Judy is a wonderful, kind, generous person [and] she's taught me quite a lot. I feel lucky."

Judge Acker in white pantsuit with her dog. Photo Courtesy of Annie Shak.

Acker's Time Away From Home

Outside of Hot Bench, Acker took recent trips to Haiti and Alabama. They were memorable and meaningful.

Haiti, in particular, was the first trip she excitedly talks about. She did some work there in an orphanage as part of LOVE Takes Root, an organization that is driven to help children around the world whether it's basic aid or education. “Haiti has a special place in my heart," she began. “As a person who's descended from enslaved people, I have a lot of honor and reverence for a country that threw off the shackles of slavery."

She was intrigued by the history of Haiti. Especially regarding the communities, corrupt government and natural disasters. “They really had to endure a lot, but I tell you this when I was there, I saw people who were more elegant, dignified, gracious and generous as any group of people I've ever met anywhere in the world," she goes on. “I think it left me with was a strong sense of how you can be graceful and elegant under fire." Acker is optimistic about the country's overall growth and success.

“[Judge Nelson is] certainly, if not my most important professional influence," Acker says. “She is really the living embodiment of justice, fairness, and believes in being faithful to the letter and the spirit of the law."

“There are certainly times when people treated me differently or made assumptions about me because I was a black woman," Acker says. “I've got it much better, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...it certainly isn't, but you just have to keep it moving."

Her other trip was different in more ways than one. She traveled there for the first time with her mother as part of a get out to vote effort, that Alabama's First black House Minority Leader, Anthony Daniels was organizing. “It was incredible to take that trip with her [and] I've got to tell you, the South of today is not the South of my mother's upbringing," she explains. Originally from Mississippi, Acker's mother hasn't been back in the South since 1952. “Every place has a ways to go, but it was a really exciting trip [and] it was nice for me to connect with that part of the country and that part of my history."

Overcoming Racial Barriers

As a black woman, Acker has certainly faced challenges based on her race and gender. But it doesn't define who she is or what she can accomplish. “There are certainly times when people treated me differently or made assumptions about me because I was a black woman," she says. “There's no sort of barrier that someone would attempt to impose upon me that they didn't attempt to impose on my mother, grandmother or great-grandmother." In a space where disparity is sometimes apparent, she recognizes that there is no barrier someone would try to impose on her that they didn't attempt to impose on her mother or grandmothers. “I've got it much better, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...it certainly isn't, but you just have to keep it moving," Acker states. The conversation continues truthfully and seriously. Acker shares what it can be like for black women, specifically. “I think we're underestimated and we can be disrespected, whereas other folks are allowed the freedom to enjoy a full range of emotions and feelings," she articulates.

At times black women are often restricted from expressing themselves. “If someone wants to make an assumption or jump to a conclusion about me because of my race or gender, that's on them, but their assumptions aren't going to define me," Acker declares. “If something makes me angry or happy I will express that and if someone wants to caricature me, that's their pigeonholing; that's not my problem." A lifelong lesson she learned and shared is to not let other people define who you are. It is one of three bits of wisdom.

Three Pieces Of Advice From Judge Acker

The Power Of Self-awareness

“It's really important that you have a really firm sense of what you want to do and be, and how you're moving in the world because when people try to sway you, judge you or steer you off course you've got to have some basis for getting back on track."

Know Your Support System

“Have a strong community of people who you trust, love and who love you," she advises. “But also learn to love and trust yourself because sometimes it's your own voice that can provide you the most comfort or solace in something."

Learn From Your Experiences

“Trust yourself. Take care of yourself. Don't be too hard on yourself. Be honest with yourself.

“There are times when it's not enough to say this is who I am. Take it or leave it. Sometimes we've got things that we need to work on, change or improve upon," she concludes.

Acker stands out not only because of her accomplishments, but the way she views certain aspects of her life. These days, she's comfortable accepting what makes her different. “I think there's a time when you're younger when conformity feels comfortable, [but] I'm comfortable these days not conforming," she laughs. She enjoys being a decision maker and helping people work through it on Hot Bench.

This article was originally published May 15, 2019.