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When I was recovering from ME, nutrition played an important part in my journey back to health. Although what I did was trial and error and without the knowledge that Pete and I have since accumulated over the years, the focus on nutrition I adopted when ill and through my recovery has stayed with me now I am back to full health.
I would like to share with you some of the nutritional building blocks I put into place during my journey and also what we have learnt along the way. We cover this topic much more fully on our workshops in which you will get a comprehensive understanding on how to adapt your diet to maximise its health benefits, but the information here will go a long way to help you gain an overview of the importance of good nutrition and how it can help you support your body whilst you recover.
Nutrition plays two parts in helping you break the cycle of ill health. A good understanding of nutrition is important firstly to help you avoid foods that put additional stress on your system when your stress hormones are already on overdrive and secondly by teaching you how to support your body’s own ability to heal and thrive.
When your body is already fighting illness it needs nutritive foods to aid it in its recovery. There are some foods which rather than healing the body, put additional stress on the body and it is these foods that we should be ideally avoiding or at least reducing our consumption of (drastically!). Nutritional stressors include stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine, highly processed foods such as cakes, ready meals etc, sugar, refined grains such as white flour, products and white rice and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame; foods that put your body into a state of stress and toxicity. Moving away from such foods will give your body a better chance of focusing on healing, rather than having to digest and process foods which put a further load on an already compromised system.
The second aspect of nutrition which is vital is to include foods which are nutritious and support our health and recovery. To get right down to basics, the starting point should be a focus on our cells. Our body is made up of trillions of cells which can be thought of as the building blocks of our body. Cells are the fundamental units of life the bricks from which all your tissues and organs are made. If your cells cannot operate efficiently, the functioning of your tissues and organs, which are built of your cells, will become compromised and ill health and dis-ease can follow. It is therefore imperative to keep your cells nutritionally supported so that your body can heal and thrive.
For your cells to carry out their functions in supporting your body’s health and healing there are certain things the cells need for optimal health. To maintain cell health the cells need a variety of amino acids, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins and crucially also water. The best way to ensure that you provide the cells with their nutritional requirements is to drink 2 litres of filtered water a day (water, not tea, coffee etc!) and eat a balanced wholefood diet incorporating lots of fresh vegetables and fruit (ideally organic).
Your cells need a full spectrum of vitamins to enable them to produce energy and fight free radicals. B vitamins are important here. Additionally, as your cells are protected by a membrane which relies on a good supply of healthy fats, it is important that your diet includes fats such as omega 3 to ensure that the outer membranes of your cells are strong and healthy.
Your immune system will also need help through nutrition during the time of healing and recovery. Antioxidants including vitamins C and E are important here so including foods high in these vitamins is often beneficial.
During my recovery my focus was on organic foods with lots of vegetables and fruits, often blended into smoothies or juiced which were easily digested and did not overburden the body. I personally also took supplements in the form of Vitamin D and Co-Q10 having read studies suggesting that they may also be beneficial in supporting the body when it is fighting ME.
This has been a bit of a whistle-stop tour through a few nutritional building blocks which I hope you have found useful. If you feel that you would like to learn more about how nutrition can help you, do please sign up for our FREE webinar series which goes into more detail on this topic and others to help you on your road to recovery.