CFS, Fibromyalgia and Obesity: The Truth about Exercise and Diet
We have now reached a level of obesity in the US, South America, Canada, and throughout Europe which is unprecedented in recorded history.
It is also accepted that the lifestyles we lead are often very high stress.
It is no coincidence that these new peaks of obesity and stress correlate directly with an increase in the occurrence of 'modern' or 'new' diseases of Western society, including heart disease, the cancers, and others including the rheumatic and fatigue spectrum, specifically in our case Fibromyalgia and CFS.
At least we have moved past the era when debate was so Neolithic as to suggest that these conditions don't really exist or are a subdivision of psychology and now we can concentrate on the science and biology of these diseases and the reality of life and recovery for Fibromyalgia and CFS patients.
Carrying extra weight will exacerbate small anomalies in musculoskeletal balance.
These anomalies in conjunction with a certain genetic predisposition appear to underlie the onset of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in certain individuals, while other individuals who suffer the same initial 'trigger' infection, trauma or exposure recover relatively unscathed.
Post-onset, carrying extra weight may cause your condition to be maintained longer and exacerbated more than in patients of normal weight.
The Autonomic Nervous System, damaged by the initial trauma of your condition controls homeostasis, digestion, and the organs of elimination to name but a few of its functions.
The ANS will be under additional stress in individuals who are overweight or clinically obese.
I do appreciate that the last thing you need to hear when you are struck with the early stages of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is that you need to lose weight.
In the early stages of the illness weight loss is NOT advised. I advise sufferers to eat a well balanced diet.
At a later stage as overall toxicity reduces, lymphatic flow improves, immunological modulation begins and digestive stress is reduced weight loss strategies can be considered and undertaken.
However due to the causal factors involved in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome it is essential to avoid programs which require strenuous exercise regimes, due to the onset of post-exertional malaise which is a defining feature of Fibromyalgia and CFS pathology.
Any program involving sustained aerobic activity that induces cardiovascular debt or strenuous muscular exertion such as weightlifting, can seriously damage sufferers of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Patients suffering 'true' CFS should never attempt to waste what little energy they have on strenuous exercise, whether it be weight bearing, graded, aerobic or anaerobic.
The only energy you should be expending is on your essential daily activities, and relaxing walks or pastimes which will reduce your susceptibility to depression.
What I am about to say I am sure will open a veritable Pandora's Box, well so be it.
My research has lead me firmly to the conclusion that the evidence supporting 'graded exercise' as a strategy for CFS and Fibromyalgia treatment is wholly unfounded.
Clinical trials I have investigated which were used as supporting evidence for the use of graded exercise as an establishment response to CFS and Fibromyalgia were deeply flawed as inadequate distinction was made with regards to the actual medical cause of fatigue in these sufferers.
The definition of Chronic Fatigue was basically that a subject should have suffered pronounced fatigue for 6 months or more.
From our own research we all know that there are a thousand and one different causes of long term fatigue. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome being just one of these.
Similarly it is a recognized fact that patients diagnosed with mild, post-natal, or clinical depression and/or Seasonal Affective Disorder often respond well to graded exercise regimes, particularly if undertaken outdoors in daylight.
Not only does graded exercise improve stamina via increased RBC production and oxygen uptake, it provides a lux (unit of light) boost in SAD sufferers, and provides a new purpose and routine to depressed patients.
Exercise also produces endorphins which help to boost and modulate brain chemistry with respect to serotonin and dopamine balance.
Naturally, it stands to reason that all these factors will benefit patients with fatigue of DEPRESSIVE origin.
However, damage to the Autonomic Nervous System in patients with 'true' Fibromyalgia and CFS mean that energy production via the Sympathetic Nervous System in response to exercise is impaired.
More importantly, removal of toxins and lactic acid produced by the muscles in response to exercise via the lymphatic and venous systems is seriously compromised and as a result causes toxic overload and rapid symptomatic decline after exercise.
This results in the 'post-exertional malaise' that Fibromyalgia and CFS sufferers who have attempted an exercise regime WILL have experienced.
A cruel twist in the tale which has lead the establishment down the pscychological path so many times is that often the most obvious physical sign of illness in Fibromyalgia and CFS patients is that they are suffering depression.
It is only now being acknowledged by the establishment that patients with these syndromes display depression as an environmental CONSEQUENCE of living with their illness.
It is NOT THE CAUSE as is so often dictated by well-meaning healthcare providers.
I am putting together a manual of dietary advice which I will be posting soon, but in the meantime I recommend a diet that is balanced and safe, rich in nutrients and will produce sustainable results with regards to maintaining or reducing your weight while you are still in the recuperative phase of a chronic disease.
I do admit reservations about recommending calorific restrictions but our illness is not caused by a lack of calories, and excessive consumption due to depression or comfort eating will only serve to overload organs which are already disturbed and congested.
From a dietary perspective, I advise a pretty standard protocol:
• Eat 5 or more portions of fresh, raw fruit and lightly boiled or streamed vegetables per day, with a good balance of protein and carbohydrates.
• Avoid red meat more than once a week. Eat chicken and fish instead.
• Avoid too much sugar. Fruit will contain all the sugars you need in a more useable form.
• Avoid dairy products due to the almost universal immune over-reaction to cow's milk.
• Avoid alcohol consumption. This should be a given if you are reading this anyway. The immune response is excessive and the toxic load on the eliminatory organs such as the liver, kidneys and stomach are also excessive.
• Take a daily high quality multivitamin/multimineral supplement.
With this balanced diet you will not be deficient in any nutrients which could possibly be causing your fatigue, or that could hinder your recovery from your condition.
Also, you will not be putting undue strain on your digestive system, which is currently disturbed and malfunctioning.
I DO advocate taking a high quality multivitamin/multimineral supplement to top up any slight deficiencies you may have on a daily basis. They will certainly do you no harm and for a small price will eliminate any worries you might have over dietary deficiencies.
There have been notable cases where sufferers who have been misdiagnosed have responded remarkably to high doses of the B-Complex family. It seems malnutrition is still far from being confined to history in the US and with the rise of fast food is making quite a confident and remarkable comeback in our own backyard.
The quality of foods you consume should hugely outweigh the quantity.
All foods consumed should be natural, unprocessed, and highly rich in vitamins, minerals and micronutrients.
If I must recommend a particular 'fashion' diet that meets these criteria it would probably be 'The South Beach Diet', but I do not recommend any dietary restrictions till you are past the 3 month stage of your recovery protocol.
About The Author
Mark J Shaw, is the author of a new digital book and training manual 'Beat Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syn