Chronic stress is a significant contributor to the dysregulation of both mitochondria and the microbiome. Implementing effective stress management techniques is crucial for supporting recovery from CFS and fibromyalgia.
Here are some practices to consider:
Prioritise Good Quality Sleep:
Getting adequate, restful sleep is essential for restoring mitochondrial function, reducing inflammation, and supporting the gut microbiome. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule, creating a calming bedtime routine, and optimising your sleep environment can greatly improve sleep quality. Evidence has shown that a disrupted microbiome can have a significant impact on your sleep quality, another reason to nurture and nourish the gut and the microbiome.
Mindfulness and Meditation:
Practising mindfulness and meditation can help regulate the body’s stress response and promote relaxation. These techniques have been shown to reduce inflammation, improve mitochondrial function, and positively impact the gut-brain axis. Taking a few minutes each day to focus on deep breathing or engaging in guided meditation can make a significant difference in managing symptoms.
Engaging in regular physical activity not only helps alleviate stress but also supports mitochondrial function and enhances gut health. Find activities that you enjoy and can comfortably participate in, whether it’s walking, yoga, swimming, or strength training. It’s important to listen to your body and choose exercises that suit your energy levels and capabilities. Supporting your body with the right nutrition before and after exercise will alleviate some of the stress on the body and adequately fuel the body. Exercise should be exciting and fun, so picking a physical activity that brings you joy, will also help with how the body perceives the stress when the body is doing physical activity.
Detoxification and Environmental Considerations:
Toxins in our environment, including household products, personal care items, and processed foods, can disrupt mitochondrial function and compromise the microbiome. Minimising exposure to toxins and supporting the body’s natural detoxification processes are vital.
Choose Non-Toxic Products:
Opt for natural, non-toxic alternatives for household cleaning products, personal care items, and cosmetics. Look for products that are free from harmful chemicals, artificial fragrances, and preservatives. I simply make my own, this can be very cost effective and better for you and the planet. This reduces the toxic burden on the body and supports mitochondrial and microbiome health.
When possible, choose organic foods to minimise exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and other agricultural chemicals. The Environmental Working Group provides a helpful resource called the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen,” which lists the most and least contaminated produce, respectively. I personally use a local organic veg box company, of which I buy every other week. If organic foods are not viable, please look into a natural vegetable wash, limiting toxic exposure from pesticides and herbicides. These can be found on Amazon, at a decent price.
Support Detoxification Pathways:
Supporting the body’s natural detoxification pathways can aid in the elimination of toxins. Stay hydrated, consume foods rich in antioxidants (such as berries and leafy greens), and consider supporting liver function with nutrients like milk thistle, dandelion root, and cruciferous vegetables.
Incorporating these lifestyle modifications, along with targeted nutrition and stress management techniques, can be powerful tools in the recovery and management of CFS and fibromyalgia. However, it is important to remember that each individual is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Seeking personalised guidance from a qualified functional nutritionist or healthcare professional can help tailor an approach that suits your specific needs.
We cannot overlook how trauma exacerbates CFS and Fibromyalgia. Trauma and dealing with trauma is an essential aspect of the recovery journey for individuals with conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia. Trauma, whether it is physical, emotional, or psychological, can have profound effects on both our mental and physical well-being. It is well-established that trauma can disrupt the delicate balance of our body systems, including the mitochondria and the microbiome. Traumatic experiences trigger a stress response in the body, leading to the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Prolonged or chronic stress can have detrimental effects on mitochondrial function, impairing energy production and contributing to fatigue and other symptoms experienced by individuals with CFS and fibromyalgia. We know, stress-induced inflammation can disrupt the balance of the gut microbiome, leading to dysbiosis and further exacerbating symptoms. Understanding the role of trauma in these conditions is crucial because trauma can be stored at a cellular level. Unresolved trauma can create a persistent state of stress in the body, perpetuating symptoms and hindering the healing process. Therefore, addressing trauma becomes an integral part of the recovery journey as well.
I have often seen patients navigate their way through all of the aspects spoken about with great success, but often remission or management can quickly revert, due to childhood trauma or adult trauma not being addressed or resolved. This is a crucial part of healing, and one that I have personally found to be of great benefit. It is important to acknowledge that the recovery process from trauma is unique to each individual. Healing trauma is a deeply personal and individual journey that requires time, patience, and support. Seeking the guidance of a qualified mental health professional or trauma specialist is highly recommended to navigate this process safely and effectively.
Various therapeutic modalities can assist individuals in processing and releasing trauma.
Talk therapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), can help individuals reframe their thoughts and beliefs, promoting healing and reducing the impact of trauma on their physical and mental health. Other approaches, such as Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) and somatic experiencing, focus on releasing trauma from the body on a physiological level.
When trauma is addressed and managed effectively, it can have a profound impact on mitochondrial health and the microbiome. By reducing chronic stress and inflammation, individuals can create a more supportive environment for their cells and microbiota to thrive. This, in turn, can contribute to improved energy levels, reduced pain, and enhanced overall well-being..
The importance of proactive steps to recovery
As someone who has personally experienced the challenges of living with CFS and fibromyalgia and having seen my own mother struggle with these conditions without finding relief, I understand the importance of taking proactive steps towards recovery. Through my own journey and the knowledge and tools we have discussed, I have been able to achieve a state of remission and significantly improve my quality of life. It is vital to recognise that while there may be a genetic predisposition to these conditions, our genes do not dictate our fate.
This is where the fascinating field of epigenetics comes into play. Epigenetics teaches us that our genetic expression can be influenced by various factors, including our environment, lifestyle choices, and personal experiences. In my case, I have witnessed firsthand the impact of personalised care and the role of epigenetics in my journey towards remission. By implementing targeted nutritional strategies, addressing gut health and the microbiome, managing stress levels, and delving into the impact of unresolved trauma, I have been able to positively influence the expression of my genes and promote healing. I firmly believe that each individual’s path to recovery will be unique, shaped by their genetic predispositions and life experiences.
However, armed with the knowledge of epigenetics, we can embrace the understanding that our health outcomes are not solely determined by our genes. We have the power to create an environment that supports optimal gene expression and promotes healing.
No, one-size fits all
I want to emphasise that this is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each person’s journey will require different interventions and a personalised care plan tailored to their specific needs and circumstances. However, the potential for transformation and improvement in health is within reach for anyone who is willing to explore the intersection of genetics, epigenetics, the microbiome, and mitochondria.
Photo by Liza Summer