Chronic fatigue is a controversial condition.
Doctors and researchers have struggled for years to to decide if this condition even exists. Chronic fatigue syndrome was brought into the limelight after a large number of people were struck by the unexplained exhaustion at the Royal Free Hospital in London, England in the 1950s. It was seen again in Lake Tahoe, Nevada in the 1980s, nicknamed the “Raggedy Ann Syndrome.” Individual cases continue to appear throughout the world, with individuals suffering from severe exhaustion, impaired memory and concentration, headaches, and joint, limb and muscle pain. Up to 90% of those with chronic fatigue syndrome also report symptoms abdominal discomfort, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is now recognized as a genuine condition, and researchers across the world have been working towards finding both a cause and a solution. Recent studies show that people with chronic fatigue have imbalances in their gut bacteria. → they have higher levels of six types of bad bacteria. These bad bacteria were in such high abundance, researchers were able to accurately predict which study participants had chronic fatigue based solely on their microbiome.
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The Gut-Brain Axis
Gut bacteria is intimately linked with the immune system and significantly affects the brain. This unique connection is called the “gut-brain axis.” This relationship is so strong, that the gut can be thought of as the “second brain.” When there is an imbalance of bacteria in our gut, the bad bacteria and undigested proteins leak into the blood stream. This is what’s known as a “leaky gut.” A leaky gut stimulates pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause an exaggerated immune system response, resulting in inflammation and tissue destruction. Inflammation and tissue damage allow pro-inflammatory cytokines easy access into the brain. Increased brain cytokine levels are associated with many psychiatric symptoms including severe fatigue, depression, poor appetite, low libido, infertility, anxiety and headaches.
Although somewhat of a new concept in the scientific world, scientists are in consensus that our microbiome impacts specific hormonal exchanges enabling communication between gut bacteria and the brain. This is especially true with the stress hormone, cortisol. Those with chronic fatigue will have low levels of this stress hormone. And although it may sound like a good thing to have low levels of stress hormone, too much or too little cortisol will result in devastating symptoms. When cortisol is low, you will have:
What is the takeaway here? Nourishing your body with a healthy diet filled with fruits and veggies will help balance your microbiome and prevent a “leaky gut” from leaving you exhausted.