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The Great Physician's Rx for Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia
By Jordan Rubin Joseph Brasco
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 Jordan Rubin and Joseph Brasco
All right reserved.
Chapter OneKEY #1
Eat to Live
Many sufferers from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia attempt to change their dietary habits as a way to get some of that old zip back into their lives. They may have heard that certain nutritional deficiencies were contributing to their lackluster energy levels or that following a special diet would allow them to feel like their old selves.
I nod my head in agreement, but only up to a point. According to my research, chronic fatigue syndrome is not strictly a dietary disorder, although you'll find diet-related theories on the causes of CFS or FM, as noted in the Introduction. My view is that following the Great Physician's prescription for eating is vitally important; however, something in the body is obviously not working right, as evidenced by overwhelming fatigue, chronic pain, constant infection, digestive disorders, or liver problems. At the end of the day, there's a strong chance that your body is not working right because you're not eating right.
Where diet and CFS and FM intersect is the immune system. Medical physicians believe that an imbalanced immune system is one of the underlying factors contributing to these conditions. When the immune system isn't functioning the way it should, your body fails to eliminate toxins building up in the body. Choosing to eat foods that are part of the Great Physician's prescription sends a battalion of reinforcements to your immune system, providing life-giving nutrients to better deal with toxins leaking from the intestines into the bloodstream and the energy necessary to eliminate these toxins.
Gloria Gilbère, a doctor of naturopathy and natural health, says that leaky gut syndrome (LGS) was the cause of her chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. She described LGS as something such as a damaged or destroyed digestive filter that allows bacteria, toxins, and foods to leak into the bloodstream. Dr. Gilbère's book, I Was Poisoned by My Body, is the first of its kind to connect the causes of autoimmune disorders, allergies, inflammatory diseases, and multiple chemical sensitivities with colon and digestive disorders.
As a CFS and FM sufferer, you probably have a feeling that something isn't right in the digestive tract or that you aren't deriving the energy you need from the foods you eat. When it comes to chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, "Your energy level is directly related to the quality of foods you routinely ingest," said Michael Murray, N.D., author of Healing Foods.
Tom Cowan, M.D., a San Francisco physician in private practice and columnist on the Weston A. Price Foundation Web site, compared our energy level to a flowing river. "This river has many tributaries or areas to which our energy is diverted," he said. "The main energy 'drain' for most of us is the digestion of our food. When we ease this energy drain going to digesting our food, we suddenly have a huge reserve available for tasks such as muscle function, thinking, exercise, or other more creative pursuits. This is the essence of chronic fatigue syndrome."
Are the foods you're choosing to eat flowing like a river to sustain you, or are they "draining" foods because they're loaded with chemicals and trans-fatty acids, high in sugar, and high in naked calories? Dr. Cowan's point is that eating processed high-starch, low-fiber foods, as well as greasy, fried meats, cause your digestive system to work overtime, leaving your immune system scant amounts of energy available to fight off lingering diseases and conditions.
While managing chronic fatigue syndrome can be as complex as the illness itself, adopting the first key of the Great Physician's prescription-"Eat to Live"-could turn things around in a hurry. This key is founded on two main beliefs:
1. Eat what God created for food.
2. Eat food in a form that is healthy for the body.
Following these two vital principles will give you a great chance to emerge victorious in your quest to get back on the road toward living a healthy, vibrant life.
Back to the Source
What are some foods that God created? My friend Rex Russell, M.D., compiled a comprehensive list in his book What the Bible Says About Healthy Living (Regal, 1996). I'm reprinting them here, along with the scriptural references. As you scan through his list, ask yourself if these sound like foods that Moses and the Israelites would have consumed:
almonds (Gen. 43:11) barley (Judg. 7:13) beans (Ezek. 4:9) bread (1 Sam. 17:17) broth (Judg. 6:19) cakes (2 Sam. 13:8, and probably not the kind with frosting) cheese (Job 10:10) cucumbers, onions, leeks, melons, and garlic (Num. 11:5) curds of cow's milk (Deut. 32:14) figs (Num. 13:23) fish (Matt. 7:10) fowl (1 Kings 4:23) fruit (2 Sam. 16:2) game (Gen. 25:28) goat's milk (Prov. 27:27) grain (Ruth 2:14) grapes (Deut. 23:24) grasshoppers, locusts, and crickets (Lev. 11:22) herbs (Exod. 12:8) honey (Isa. 7:15) and wild honey (Ps. 19:10) lentils (Gen. 25:34) meal (Matt. 13:33 KJV) pistachio nuts (Gen. 43:11) oil (Prov. 21:17) olives (Deut. 28:40) pomegranates (Num. 13:23) quail (Num. 11:32) raisins (2 Sam. 16:1) salt (Job 6:6) sheep (Deut. 14:4) sheep's milk (Deut. 32:14) spices (Gen. 43:11) veal (Gen. 18:7-8) vegetables (Prov. 15:17) vinegar (Num. 6:3)
Have these foods been staples in your diet? Do you have to think hard to remember the last time you bit into a fresh apple, scooped up a handful of raisins, or supped on lentil soup? These listed foods are nutritional gold mines and contain no refined or processed carbohydrates and no artificial sweeteners. Since God has given us a bountiful harvest of natural foods to eat, it would take several pages to describe all the fantastic fruits and vibrant vegetables available from His garden. A diet based on whole and natural foods fits within the bull's-eye of eating foods that God created in a form healthy for the body.
I believe God gave us physiologies that crave these foods in their natural state because our bodies are genetically set for certain nutritional requirements by our Creator. Our taste buds, however, have been manipulated by fast-food chains and restaurants that sweeten meats with secret sauces and top everything in sight with melted cheese and bacon. The strategy has worked: we've become a country that loves inexpensive, deep-fried, greasy food. For many of us taste trumps health, which explains why drive-thru chains and sit-down restaurants are doing great business serving cheese-and-egg sandwiches, monster burgers, barrels of fried chicken, and stuffed-crust pizza-foods certainly not in a form that God created.
Having an awareness of what you eat is an important first step to dealing with your chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. As we begin traveling down this road together, I need to help you understand that everything you eat is a protein, a fat, or a carbohydrate-nutrients that keep the body running at its best. Each of these nutrients positively or negatively affects your digestive tract and your health.
Let's take a closer look at these macronutrients.
The First Word on Protein
Proteins, one of the basic components of foods, are the essential building blocks of the body. All proteins are combinations of twenty-two amino acids, which build body organs, muscles, and nerves, to name a few important duties. Among other things, proteins provide for the transport of nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout the body and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body's cells, tissues, and organs.
Our bodies, however, cannot produce all twenty-two amino acids that we need in order to live a robust life. Scientists have discovered that eight essential amino acids are missing, meaning that they must come from sources outside the body. We need these eight amino acids badly, and it just so happens that animal protein-chicken, beef, lamb, dairy, eggs, and so on-is the only complete protein source providing the Big Eight amino acids.
Chronic fatigue and muscle pain could be due to a deficiency in one or more of the three branch-chain amino acids known as leucine, isoleucine, and valine. This is why I view eating meat (I consider fish or poultry as meats) as essential, because doing so ensures a complete supply of the entire amino acid complex. High-quality eggs and cultured dairy products are also excellent sources of the critical branch-chain amino acids. While plant foods are extremely beneficial for us, they do not contain all the essential amino acids found in animal proteins, which play an important part in retaining muscle strength and keeping your immune system healthy. I'm not in favor of a vegetarian diet when it comes to CFS and FM.
I'm confident that many battling chronic fatigue have been eating the wrong kinds of meat for many years. For instance, hamburger is found in every main dish from backyard burgers to spaghetti and meatballs, but in this country the vast majority of hamburger is comprised of ground chuck from hormone-injected cattle who have eaten pesticide-sprayed feed laced with antibiotics.
You would be much better off eating hamburger-as well as other cuts of beef-produced from range-fed and pasture-fed cows. Natural beef is much healthier for you than assembly-line "production" cuts filling our nation's supermarket meat cases. The best and most healthy sources of meat come from organically raised cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, and venison. Grass-fed beef is leaner and lower in calories than grain-fed beef, and the flavor is tremendous. Organic grass-fed meats are higher in heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids and important vitamins such as vitamin [B.sub.12], which is important because a vitamin [B.sub.12] deficiency is thought to be a contributing factor to fatigue.
Another superb protein source is salmon and other coldwater fish, which contain high levels of beneficial essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6. CFS and FM sufferers have to be careful, however, about eating fish with high mercury levels, which is a toxin associated with fatigue, headaches, depression, and concentration difficulties. You can now find an excellent brand of tuna that is low in mercury and high in omega-3s. I eat this delicious and healthy tuna at least twice per week. (For more information on healthy tuna, visit www.Biblical HealthInstitute.com.)
Also, be careful about purchasing "feedlot salmon" raised on fish farms; they don't compare to their cold-water cousins in terms of taste or nutritional value. While it's great to see more people eating the tender meat of farm-raised Atlantic salmon-albeit colored with orange dye-it's never going to nutritionally match what comes from the wild.
The better alternative is to purchase fresh salmon and other fish from your local fish market or health food store. Look for labels such as "Alaskan" or "wild-caught." Wild-caught fish is an absolutely incredible food and should be consumed liberally. Supermarkets and health food stores are stocking these types of foods in greater quantities these days, and of course, they are found in natural food stores, fish markets, and specialty stores.
The Skinny on Fats
God, in His infinite wisdom, created fats as a concentrated source of energy and source material for cell membranes and various hormones. Fats give foods flavor and aroma by adding creaminess, shine, smoothness, and great mouth feel. In addition, fats are responsible for the regeneration of healthy tissues and maintaining ideal body composition, and they carry the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K throughout the body.
Sally Fallon, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, points out that saturated fatty acids constitute at least 50 percent of all cell membranes, play a vital role in the health of our bones, enhance the immune system, protect the liver from too much alcohol and other toxins, and guard against harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract. For CFS and FM sufferers, the latter is vital because short-chain and medium-chain (saturated) fatty acids protect the intestinal lining, assist in the absorption of nutrients, and properly metabolize carbohydrates. Medium-chain and short-chain fatty acids found in extra virgin coconut oil, palm oil, and butter from grass-fed cows can account for 5 percent to 10 percent of your daily energy requirements.
What type of fats should you eat? The fat found in grass-fed animals, wild-caught fish, free-range poultry, dairy products from grass-fed animals, nuts, seeds, and nut and seed butters are great sources of fats. People are often shocked to hear me say this, but I believe butter is better for you than margarine. Butter, when organically produced, is loaded with healthy fats such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and short-chain saturated fatty acids such as butyric acid, which supply energy to the body and aid in the regeneration of the digestive tract. Margarine, on the other hand, is a man-made, congealed conglomeration of chemicals and hydrogenated liquid vegetable oils loaded with trans fats. I can feel my gut turning sour just at the thought of "buttering" my flaxseed-and-sunflower bread with margarine.
Margarine is just one of today's foods made with hydrogenated fats. Practically every processed food, from Frosted Flakes to Tostitos Tortilla Chips, from Ding Dongs to Dove Bars, contains unhealthy hydrogenated fats and partially hydrogenated fats. These type of fats have been associated with a host of maladies, including diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
The reason food manufacturers use partially hydrogenated oils is to increase shelf life and give flavor stability to foods, but trans fatty acids, or trans fats, are formed when these manufacturers turn these liquid fats into solid fats through hydrogenation. Mark my words: trans fats are bad for you and are found in nearly every processed food stacked on a supermarket shelf: vegetable shortening, crackers, cereals, candies, baked goods, granola bars, snack foods, salad dressings, or anything fried in a restaurant-chicken, steak, or fries.
For years, however, you couldn't find out how much trans fat was in the food you're eating, but that changed in 2006 with the introduction of new Nutrition Facts labels stating the amount of trans fat in the food. The new labeling makes it easier to remove these unhealthy fats from our diets.
Many who suffer from CFS and FM look to low-fat, reduced-fat, or fat-free diets because they've heard that fat is bad for you. Best-selling books such as The Pritikin Principle by Nathan Pritikin and The Ornish Diet by Dean Ornish, M.D., have preached the gospel of low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets. Around ten years ago, we began seeing supermarket shelves filled with convenience foods displaying the magic words "fat-free" or "reduced fat" on the packaging.
What happened is that consuming low-fat blueberry muffins and reduced-fat ice cream didn't help anyone become healthier. In fact, the case can be argued that the opposite happened because, statistically speaking, we've become fatter as a nation since the mid-1990s. No one with CFS and FM can say they felt better after snacking on reduced-fat chips and fat-free yogurt.
Generally speaking, low-fat diets have several things working against them. First of all, most people cannot stay on a low-fat regimen for any length of time. "Those who possessed enough will power to remain fat-free for any length of time develop a variety of health problems including low energy, difficulty in concentration, depression, weight gain, and mineral deficiencies," wrote Mary Enig, Ph.D., and Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions.
In my view, low-fat diets fail to distinguish between the so-called "good fats" in food (including olive and flaxseed oils, tropical oils such as coconut oil, and fish oils) and the "bad fats" (hydrogenated oils found in margarine and most packaged goods). We need certain fats in our diet to provide a concentrated source of energy and source material for cell membranes and various hormones. Fats also provide satiety; without them, we would be hungry within minutes of finishing a meal.
Excerpted from The Great Physician's Rx for Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia by Jordan Rubin Joseph Brasco Copyright © 2007 by Jordan Rubin and Joseph Brasco. Excerpted by permission.
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