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ME and Your Gut Health


ME and Your Gut Health
World ME Day aims to raise awareness of this misunderstood and frequently invisible condition. ME places unrecognised restrictions on the lives of more than a quarter of a million people in the UK, often those who’ve previously been very active and motivated. In this article, you’ll learn about some of the things which can go awry in your body to potentially lead to ME. Only by understanding the root causes of a disease can they be put right. Several different factors can combine and make you more susceptible to developing ME. One of these is the health of your digestive system. Read on to discover how ME is connected to your gut.

What is ME?

ME, short for myalgic encephalomyelitis, is often known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), the two terms being used interchangeably. It’s a continuum of symptoms characterised by ongoing fatigue not improved by rest, foggy-headedness and often severe malaise after even mild activity. Other symptoms include memory and concentration issues, dizziness, racing heart, sore throat and swollen glands, muscle, joint or nerve pain, digestive issues, headaches, problems sleeping and waking up feeling unrefreshed.

Everyone experiences ME differently, and symptoms usually fluctuate day to day and week to week without any pattern, meaning living with ME can be extremely frustrating. Even if symptoms abate, once the sufferer engages in any activity this can set them back again.

ME often follows a viral illness, but not always. One of the problems faced by those affected by ME is the lack of a specific medical test for diagnosing the condition, meaning many sufferers have had to fight to have their illness recognised. However, with long-COVID affecting so many people worldwide, a spotlight has recently been shone on chronic post-viral conditions.

Conventionally, treatment of ME focusses on reducing the symptoms, so you may be prescribed painkillers or antidepressants, but these medications don’t address the causes of the condition.

myalgic encephalomyelitis and gut health

Your Microbiome and ME

There’s no one single cause of ME, but many factors can make it more likely to develop.

One of the first areas a functional medicine therapist will consider when presented with any chronic condition is the gut. This is because your gut has an incredibly profound effect on your health.

You are walking around with an amazingly complex population of bacteria living in your gut. Called your microbiome, these bacteria are as individual as your fingerprint. The bacteria release messenger chemicals which pass into and travel around in your bloodstream, affecting your whole body. The types of chemicals released by a healthy population of gut bacteria are anti-inflammatory and beneficial to health, so a balanced population of bacteria will have widespread beneficial effects.

If on the other hand, the bacteria become out of balance they release inflammatory chemicals instead, meaning low-level, chronic inflammation will rumble on unabated in your tissues. This can adversely affect the parts of your cells responsible for manufacturing energy. In this way, it’s easy to see the direct and often unsuspected connection between your gut and your energy levels.

Certain chemicals released by your gut bacteria travel directly to your brain, explaining the foggy-headedness and concentration difficulties reported by ME sufferers.

Indeed, research has discovered people with ME tend to have different types and fewer overall species of gut bacteria living in their intestines than healthy people.

ME and Your Gut Lining

Because a balanced population of gut bacteria are essential for a healthy intestinal lining, if your microbiome becomes disturbed, the lining can become too permeable. When this happens, substances destined to be eliminated from your body are allowed into your bloodstream, irritating your nerves. This can cause painful joints and muscles. A leaky gut lining will predispose you to become intolerant to certain foods, so they’ll tend to spark off your symptoms – gluten and dairy are common culprits.

An unhealthy digestive lining will also create difficulties in absorbing nutrients from your food, paving the way for deficiencies even if you’re eating a nutrient-rich diet.

Personalised Support for ME

Your therapist may recommend tests to assess your gut health, but because functional medicine always looks at you as a whole person, your gut won’t be considered in isolation. An in-depth consultation allows your therapist to do some detective work to discover why you developed your health condition.

Nutrient deficiencies, immune system dysfunction, oxidative stress, hormone imbalances, toxic metals or moulds and unresolved viral infections can play a part in ME, so will all be assessed. Appropriate nutrients, foods and lifestyle strategies will then be recommended to support your whole body, including your gut health.

With the support of a therapist who understands how you are feeling, you can regain your life and energy. Contact us to start your journey today.

Did you know you can request a FREE 15 minute Discovery Call to discuss ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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