Which diet is the best for healing from ME/CFS?

Unlike many others out there, I don’t claim in any way to have the truth about this subject; all I can do is compare different “food religions” and tell you my experience.

Standard diet

The thing I like the least about the “standard diet” is the amount of grain. Wheat contains around 70% gluten, which is indigestible for most humans and most other animals. Gluten can cause lots of health problems and is more damaging to the body than sugar, according to some TEDTalk specialists.

Wheat damages the intestine, and the blood sugar spike hinders the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Officials now link conditions like Crohn’s and Alzheimer’s to gluten. For many people, wheat causes bloating and food cravings. The stomach can be full, but the body is still hungry. A substance in grains such as corn (GMO), wheat, and rice hinders the proper absorption of nutrients.

Since “the standard diet” hasn’t actually been the standard diet throughout human history, we should refer to it as the “commercial diet.” Most of our daily foods are both cheap to produce and very profitable. Nature, animals, and your health often suffer as a result.

Personally, I am lactose intolerant, and I haven’t consumed any dairy in 8 years. I don’t miss it; there are better alternatives. I also believe that only calves should consume the milk ethically.

While I was on the standard diet, I suffered from food cravings, bloating, and bad digestion. Malabsorption of nutrients is inevitable. In my early ME/CFS days, I noticed how much better I felt when I took additional mineral supplements to support me with my nutrients.

Other things I had to leave behind in order for my digestion to heal were caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugar. I have become much more sensitive to what I eat, and my body simply doesn’t like these foods. And because I love my body and want what is best for it, I do not consume vegetables with pesticides or food from low-quality soils with artificial fertilizer, which doesn’t really add vital nutrients to the plants.

Many people suffer from the ‘commercial diet’ and develop insulin-related health problems. The pancreas, liver, and gallbladder are under heavy pressure.

Vegan

I recently read a story about the destruction of vast areas of the Amazon for food plantations, primarily to feed cows in the western world, not for human consumption. Looking back 100 years, it has become clear that not only do we eat a lot more meat, we also have a big increase in population. Documentaries such as “Forks over Knives” examine the effects of a western diet in China over the past 50 years. When you watch this movie, you will feel compelled to stop eating meat right away.

The only issue with the documentary is that they focus solely on meat consumption in China without looking at the other changes in their diet, which are a big increase in refined sugars and flours and a big decrease in vegetables. Before, they used to cook their rice, whereas fried rice is now the standard. This movie disregards the combined effects of simple carbohydrates and fats. Sugar and fat together are known to cause a massive insulin peak in the body and will cause insulin resistance, overweight, a fatty liver, and diabetes over time. In Asia, diabetes receives inadequate treatment, leading to significant health consequences. When I was traveling in Asia, I was shocked by the number of overweight people with amputated limbs.

If you, however, choose to live vegan, I wouldn’t worry too much about the proteins in your diet, but what I would worry about is refined sugars, grains, and a vitamin A deficiency. Meats, eggs, milk, and fish contain vitamin A. Vegetables contain an incomplete vitamin A, and a deficiency speeds up aging according to Dr. Berg. Unfortunately, synthetic versions of vitamin A do not absorb properly. A downside of a vegan diet is that many people substitute more grains for animal products, which makes them struggle with health issues in the long run.

Alkaline diet

The alkaline diet is another often-recommended diet. When the body is full of inflammation, the body might be too acidic. Fruits and vegetables are considered alkaline and can balance the body’s PH levels. Meat, wheat, alcohol, and fried foods lower our PH level, and harmful bacteria and pathogens thrive in an acidic body. Maybe the food cravings you have are not even your own but from a parasite?

A downside to this type of vegan diet is that it doesn’t consider the different PH levels in the body. The stomach must have a PH value between 1 and 3. This way, harmful pathogens won’t make it any further than the stomach. If you want to make your body more alkaline, you could eat products with baking soda in them, but this creates problems in your stomach as it can make the stomach less acidic. This usually causes acid reflux, as the top of the stomach won’t close down anymore due to the too-alkaline stomach fluids. Consuming a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and eating a balanced diet can help your stomach recover.

Although I wouldn’t worry too much about proteins, There are some essential proteins and fats that the body needs, and it can’t get them all from this diet. But consuming more vegetables has proven to be healing for the body.

Paleo

Going back to the original human diet and eating a lot of fruits, (starchy) vegetables, nuts, seeds, fats, and occasionally some animal products might be the middle way to a healthy body. By cutting out the grains and sugars and adding some animal fats and protein, the body can have access to all the nutrients that it needs. A downside is that the fruits today are hybrids; they have been cultivated to be a lot sweeter than they used to be. There is an old apple tree that I know, and when I ate its apples, I didn’t recognize the taste. The apples are not as sweet as they are today.

We experience an increase in our sugar levels when we eat an apple. Eventually, the peak will become low, and we will crave more sugar. To avoid this, we could eat more healthy fats and feel more satiated. But by combining sugars and fats, our insulin peaks will increase dramatically, which has a lot of negative effects on the body.

High Raw

As most people know, vitamins are mostly destroyed during cooking. To avoid a lack of vitamins, this diet recommends mostly raw vegetables. I met a massive bodybuilder during my travels last year who only ate raw salads and fruits. He was convinced that this diet was all he needed to build muscle. As he was very muscled by eating insane amounts of salad, I came to believe that this might actually work. Raw vegetables contain high amounts of fiber, which protects the space outside of the intestines from infections. People on, for example, a meat-only diet get a lack of fiber and will develop issues in their gut for this reason.

There is, however, a side effect to the high raw diet. When you have ME/CFS, your digestion system has less energy and power to process all the fibers from raw vegetables. There is a possibility that you won’t get enough energy from your food with this diet. There is a reason why people started cooking their food instead of eating everything raw. Cooking your food will make it easier for the body to get energy. Some say that the invention of cooking is the reason humans could develop large societies. Many people have to start slowly with their raw diet, as their bodies are unable to digest large amounts of fiber.

The recommendation to cook your meat is also based on killing pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. With organic, grass-fed meats, there is no need to cook your steak. I’ve met people who ate all their meat and fish raw. They did it over a longer period of time and were still healthy. If you do continue eating meat and fish, I recommend buying grass-fed animals and being careful to buy fish and meat without antibiotics and added hormones. As I understood from the body builder, the protein story, to get as much of it as possible, is based on a lie. Buying meat from animals who ate an unnatural diet, like cows on corn, has side effects. The animal has had lots of inflammation and deficiencies. This low quality meat won’t give you the complete vitamin A  source that you’d be looking for by eating meat.

Healthy Keto

This is the diet recommended by Dr. Berg on his YouTube channel. Dr. Eric Berg is in his mid-50s and looks like he could be in his late 30s. He can explain very well how the digestion system works, which is why he recommends the “healthy keto diet.” In this diet, 50% of your food should be vegetables, and 50% should be a fat or protein source. In the keto diet, you’d want to limit the amount of carbohydrates to A, switch to ketosis, a state where your energy comes from burning body fat, and recover from insulin resistance (a pre-diabetic state). Between 20 and 50 grams of carbohydrates are recommended per day. The difference between this keto version and the normal keto version is that this version contains a lot of vegetables. Because of the fiber in vegetables, you won’t experience an insulin spike from these carbohydrates. The advantages of this diet are no more blood sugar spikes, fast weight loss, serotonin effects in the brain (like running for an hour), and no more food cravings.

The disadvantages are the need for electrolytes, as the body flushes out a lot of body fluids, and, for me personally, a faster heart rate that prevents me from sleeping. This was caused by the time the body needs to adapt and a lack of electrolytes. In the beginning, you can experience the “carb flu,” which will make you tired, and if you don’t eat enough fat, you’ll be extremely hungry. I have lost 6 pounds in the first week with this diet, but I was already very thin. Most of this loss was because my body didn’t retain so much fluid anymore. Another thing I didn’t like was how limited the diet looks and how many fat sources have other disadvantages to force you to only eat a limited amount of avocado, fish, and nuts, which were also one of the few fat sources beside meat and coconut. Vegetable sources were limited because of the avoidance of starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, parsnips, and pumpkins. Of all the fruits, only berries and strawberries have a place in this diet.

If you have a fatty liver and a malfunctioning gallbladder, you would want to be careful with this diet or support the body with bile salts. This is a natural substance that helps digest fats. If your stool remains too fatty after several weeks, your body is not digesting the fat properly. Another effect of a malfunctioning liver and gallbladder might be a pain in the right shoulder after you have eaten fat.

Because you are feeling so satiated, this diet is often combined with intermittent fasting. By giving your intestines time between meals, they might be able to recover faster from conditions like leaky gut, ulcers, and & crohn’s.

In the morning, many drink coffee with butter to start the day. Personally, I would avoid consuming caffeine while you are recovering from ME/CFS.

The immune system and many other parts of the body are performing better in the state of ketosis. In the state of ketosis, the liver is making ketones from either the fat stored in the liver, elsewhere in the body, or from the food you are consuming. Being in this state has health benefits; it works as an antioxidant, and tissues like the brain and the heart will work better on this fuel source. Nutrients like vitamins and minerals are absorbed much better, and as a result, you will need less food. Because sugars make you retain liquid in your body, you would also need less water. Ketosis does give you bad breath; be careful on your dates.

Medical medium

Anthony William is the guru of this “food religion.” This diet is basically the opposite of the normal keto diet, as he recommends not eating fat and limited animal products. He knows that the combination of fats and carbs puts a heavy toll on the body, and he chooses to cut the fats instead of the carbs. Like the ‘healthy keto diet’, this diet contains a lot of vegetables and vegetable juices, like celery juice. Many people experience health benefits within weeks, but others report deficiencies in the long run.

Like Paleo, healthy keto and the alkaline diet focus on organic, whole foods. I believe we should eat these types of foods, so I can’t say anything against that. On his Instagram page, Anthony frequently posts pictures of fruits and vegetables combined with the text that this particular food cleanses the liver. Looking at science, he might be right in an indirect way: by not eating refined foods, the body has the opportunity to heal itself. The things he claims about foods are often not scientifically proven, but the food information we have scientifically received in the last 50 years has never turned out to be true either. So I give him the benefit of the doubt in this. Many of the fruits that have healing abilities in his eyes are hybrids and not so natural after all. He does differentiate sugars from fruits or other sources, where, according to his spirit source, fructose isn’t as bad as other sugars. Within the keto movement, Dr. Berg disagrees. Modern science is backing up Dr. Berg’s belief that fructose is accumulated in the liver. A typical post from Anthony says that apples are cleansing the liver. An apple nowadays consists of 10% fructose and only 2.4% fiber. To claim that this is cleaning the liver is not based on anything. When I asked this question politely on his Instagram post, my question was removed.

Anthony recommends eating several small meals during the day to keep the blood sugar as low as possible. This is again the opposite of Dr. Berg, who even suggests eating one meal a day to give your digestive system time to recover. Before I became sick, I used to listen to the advice of several small meals during the day, but my body didn’t agree with me here.

Since most people with ME/CFS are young and have lived healthy (food) lifestyles before, I don’t believe a fatty liver to be the cause of this illness. Although there certainly will be people who have adrenal fatigue from poor diets, I doubt that Anthony has any knowledge about ME/CFS as well, as he often talks about chronic fatigue in people who feel sluggish due to a fatty liver.

Following Medical Medium’s liver cleanse diet is probably not doing much for you. Being confronted with no results, Anthony insists that you are not long enough on the diet. His ‘fatty liver diet’ is, however, not beneficial for the adrenals (the organ that probably needs support with ME/CFS). Continuing this diet without results is madness and puts more stress on the body.

For Anthony, his diet is the sole treatment for almost any condition and mystery illness on this planet. He doesn’t like to make nuances and never backs up a theory with evidence. I like many of his whole (natural) food ideas, as well as the juices. Anthony is making a lot of money with dogmatic advice, and some desperate people are paying him a lot of money for consultations. Some of the stories that have become public are quite shocking.

Leaky gut

When the body is stressed, proper digestion becomes harder and harder. The theory of the leaky gut was one of the first strategies I encountered in 2015. The intestinal wall opens up, and tiny particles of undigested food enter the bloodstream. The body needs to remove these particles and perceives them as pathogens. This costs a lot of energy for the body. Some people claim that the fatigue in CFS is caused by the leaky gut. In my opinion, this is not the case, as it is a different form of fatigue or tiredness.
In order to get better digestion, the first step should always be stress release, as that is the cause of bad digestion. In the meantime, you can limit foods that make you tired. You can do a blood test in the hospital nearby to find out what foods react badly to your bloodstream.

Some neuropaths can, in a holistic way, detect deficiencies due to a bad absorption of nutrients. This is often combined with expensive supplements. This can be helpful, but if you still can’t properly absorb these nutrients due to a bad digestive system, there isn’t much point to this.

Often, when people are de-stressing, their absorption becomes much better, and the supplements are not needed anymore. The Alignment Recovery Program is about de-stressing in every possible way, and people report great results with their digestion.

Dry fasting and water fasting

To help with a leaky gut, you can try some fasting. Food is a big stressor for the body, and periods without food can help your intestines recover. You can easily spend 3

contiguous days without food (or water) every month. This is also more in line with how our ancestors used to live, as food wasn’t always available.

Pranic breath

There are people who can live from their breathing. The more you align yourself with your being, the more energy you will have and the less food you will need. When you are sick, however, it is better not to start this. Instead, it is something you can try after you have healed.

Intuitive diet

Take from every diet what you like; whole foods and lots of vegetables can never be wrong. Maybe go to a healthy keto for a few weeks to lose some weight and give your digestive system some rest with intermittent fasting, then switch back to paleo for vitamin A. Take from Medical Medium what resonates with you, and eat alkaline if your body has inflammation.

When we were still hunters and gatherers, our diet depended strongly on the seasons; sometimes we were in ketosis, and sometimes we had a lot of fruits and starchy vegetables. Instead of finding a diet for forever, let’s be flexible with it. Things don’t always have to be black or white. We know that the combination of fats and carbs in one meal spikes insulin. So why not have a fatty breakfast and a medical-medium dinner?

While we are very fatigued, changing our diet from grains to vegetables might be exhausting because of the cravings and the candida die-offs. Change your diet slowly. After having ME/CFS for almost a year in 2016, I tried Lee Holmes’ book, Heal Your Gut. I wasn’t prepared for the effects at all. It caused me to fall even deeper into fatigue. I could still work before the diet, but after a month, that was no longer possible. I’d recommend slowly switching grains for amaranth, quinoa, and starchy vegetables, and later increasing the vegetables and decreasing the carbohydrates.

Most people with ME/CFS have the adrenal body type. This is a stress-related body type, and people might need to support their adrenals with high amounts of fat and protein. Lowering stress in any way should be the number-one objective here. Following diet protocols is probably too stressful. Lots of people who are giving diet advice for chronic fatigue are not talking about ME/CFS as well.

The overall lesson that I’ve learned is to listen to my body instead of others. How is my stool? How does my belly feel? What do I feel like eating? Why do I have cravings? With how many meals a day do I feel the best?

If we are estranged from our bodies and natural ways, we might run for mediums and gurus to tell us what to do. This might be part of the process, but there will always have to be a phase where you become so aligned with your body that your body is your guru. While you are living with the hormones of stress, your analytical mind is hard to shut down. The mind has lots of stories and beliefs, but the heart knows.

A simple ‘yes or no’ if something is good for you or not. Calm down the nervous system, enter the world of your heart, and know what is right for you. If you don’t know which foods are good for you, maybe try to limit the number of ingredients in each meal. That way, it is easier to notice the effects.

I have come to enjoy food so much nowadays. I especially love Mediterranean, oily foods. In the past, I was unable to experience this pleasure. I was very mind-driven with my diet, trying to figure out the right diets as I described them here in the blog. In the past, I ate out of a need to feed my empty stomach, but now it has become a pleasure.

Finally, the most important question is the one that makes this entire blog obsolete: do you enjoy eating? If not, are you too rigid?