There are millions of microbes in your gut that keep your brain and body healthy. You need these friendly bacteria to function; they influence so many processes in the body, dictating everything from your immune system response to your neurological performance. Unfortunately, because gastrointestinal problems are so common, people often ignore what their gut is telling them, thinking that it’s a minor issue they’ll get over in due course. Sometimes that is all it is – but sometimes, the problem can be more serious. Adding probiotic foods to your diet can be a great way to restore any balance issues in your gut, addressing a lack of natural probiotics and countering a surplus of bad bacteria. So for those looking to rejig their nutritional regimes and improve gut health, which foods can you turn to?
Having the wrong internal distribution of bacteria can set you up for a lifetime of gastrointestinal issues including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhoea and bloating, and even contribute to severe disorders such as obesity and cardiac problems. In addition, it’s recently been widely accepted that your stomach can affect your mood. There’s an entire nervous system in your gut (sometimes called ‘the second brain’) that communicates with your actual brain. Gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin, which regulate your mood, and may contribute to bouts of depression or anxiety. Taking all of this into account, it’s extremely important to keep your gut functioning properly. Here are four foods that can help you do it naturally.
Yoghurt is one of the prime sources of friendly bacteria, which is great for gut health. The key to good probiotics is a process called fermentation; this creates the bacteria as the product is given time to ferment. Yoghurt is made from fermented milk, and is brimming with prominent probiotics, namely bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria. If you want to avail of all the probiotic benefits yoghurt has to offer, it’s important to get your hands on yoghurt with active, live cultures (in many cases, the probiotics are killed off during processing). Ideally, you also want yoghurt which is natural and maybe even homemade. Further, the fresher the yoghurt and the less heat-treated, the higher the amount of residing beneficial bacteria.
Kimchi is a Korean dish that is eaten almost religiously in its home country. In recent years, as Asian foods spread west, people from other countries have fallen in love with kimchi, and not least of all for its probiotic benefits. The dish is essentially fermented cabbage; though this is the base, there are many variations depending on your preference, including vegetable and seafood kimchi. It’s flavoured with a diverse mix of seasonings, and usually enjoyed as a side dish to the main meal. It’s high in numerous vitamins and minerals, as well as containing the lactic acids Lactobacillus kimchii and Lactobacillus sakei, among others. Once again, it’s important to source live kimchi to avail of all the benefits. This can often be found in Asian food stores and locally run shops. Jarred kimchi found in supermarkets is not likely to be active, so will have fewer probiotic benefits.
Sauerkraut is very similar to kimchi, but it’s a European variant popular in Germany. It consists of finely shredded cabbage fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It’s a very traditional dish and has been around for many years; it’s most commonly eaten as a sausage dressing or on its own as a side dish. Sauerkraut is a fantastic source of probiotics, but it’s also great for fibre, an important ingredient that keeps the digestive system ticking over. So if you add sauerkraut into your diet, you can potentially solve two gut issues at once. You’ll need to track down unpasteurised sauerkraut, however, as the pasteurisation process lays waste to all those beneficial bacteria.
Miso is a type of Japanese seasoning that often ends up in soup. If you’ve ever visited a Japanese restaurant, chances are you’ve sampled miso soup – it traditionally accompanies most meals, especially breakfast. The crucial ingredient of miso is fermented soybeans, which give the dish its unique, salty taste. A fungus called koji is also mixed in during the fermentation process. In addition to its copious probiotic benefits, miso is also associated with numerous other health advantages, and is a fantastic source of vitamin K, copper and manganese. The best place to try miso is probably at traditional Japanese or Asian restaurants, but if you fancy a culinary challenge, you can always try whipping some up yourself!
You can also benefit from probiotics through natural supplements. These supplements are often crucial for fighting back against chronic diseases, as much of the immune system’s functionality and effectiveness is dictated by the gut. A robust, healthy diet supported by all-natural supplements is often the best foundation for a successful treatment plan. Make Well produces a line-up of such supplements, providing doctors and patients alike with the means to support chronic disease treatment through natural methods.
Many fermented and probiotic foods can also be self-made. Continue reading in our Do It Yourself section for more information!
The fight against chronic Lyme disease is long and arduous. If you’re lucky enough to identify the disease in its acute window, then treatment is relatively straightforward. A course or two of common antibiotics can usually clear up a Lyme infection if it’s caught early enough. However, if the disease progresses to the chronic stage, both treatment and diagnosis become a lot more complicated. It’s no longer as simple as prescribing antibiotics, as the Lyme bacteria is too entrenched within the system for antibiotics to be 100% effective. Patients and doctors need to find other ways of combating the illness, through any means possible. One herbal extract that can aid and support the treatment of Lyme is boswellia.
Boswellia is also known as Indian frankincense. It’s an herbal extract taken from the boswellia serrata tree. It has a long history of being used in traditional African and Asian folk medicine, where it’s believed to aid the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases. It comes in the form of resin (its natural state), cream or pill. Boswellia can be used to treat a number of conditions, but it’s most often prescribed or taken because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Many diseases, especially chronic ones, involve some kind of inflammation. For many, relief from the debilitating symptoms caused by inflammation is one of the primary aims of treatment.
Inflammation in Lyme disease is especially crippling to patients. In fact, the actual infection (the borrelia burgdorferi bacteria) does not cause many issues in chronic patients. Nearly all the traditional symptoms stem from the immune system’s response to the infection. This is why antibiotics are rarely enough to eradicate an instance of chronic Lyme disease on their own. With the immune system in overdrive, even trace amounts of the bacteria will compound the symptoms. Infection, from any virus or bacteria, is usually very sudden; it can come on and disappear very quickly, accompanied by instantaneous symptoms and effects. Inflammation is quite the opposite – it’s a slow, cumulative process that takes a long time to reverse. Natural supplements are one way to help rebalance the immune system.
Finding the right distribution of supplements to take can be tough for patients, and it’s not advised that they go it alone. They should work in tandem with their doctor, and ideally a nutritionist, as the introduction of supplements can be a long, experimental process. Ultimately, though, patients can find success in helping their inflammation symptoms improve. Make Well is a company that offers a range of all-natural supplements, designed to support the treatment of chronic diseases such as Lyme. With the help of their doctor, patients can get started with a treatment plan, and attempt to address the numerous and debilitating inflammation symptoms caused by chronic Lyme and other long-term disorders. One newly introduced Make Well product, G.I. plus, is specifically designed to ease gut and intestinal issues through an effective combination of frankincense, myrrh, chamomile and glutamine, which can be useful for gut health during the treatment of Lyme.
The anti-inflammatory properties of boswellic acid have been documented in numerous studies over the years. But how exactly does it work? One particular study shows that boswellic acid can help prevent the formation of leukotrienes in the body. These molecules are inflammatory mediators, and use lipid signalling (very broadly, communication between proteins) to regulate the immune response. When these misfire or overload, inflammation is the inevitable result. By suppressing these leukotrienes, boswellia can help reduce inflammation, wherever it’s occurring in the body. In addition, the substance contains four key acids, which are all thought to aid in inflammation suppression. The concentration of these important acids is the method often used to rate boswellia produce. The anti-inflammatory effects, however, are mainly mediated by frankincense preparation standardised for boswellic acids in their chemical ß-configuration. The standardisation of boswellic acid extract is therefore an important quality feature in nutritional supplements containing frankincense.
Boswellia can also support and aid good intestinal health, another key factor in successfully fighting back against Lyme. The mucosal lining of the gut is particularly prone to inflammation, and many patients with chronic Lyme disease experience some kind of intestinal discomfort or complications. In addition, a healthy gut is needed for the fight back against chronic Lyme, as it plays a significant role in the immune response, and also resistance to future infections. If the mucosal lining is inflamed, then nutrients aren’t absorbed as well, leading to depleted energy and compounding the fatigue effects of the chronic condition. Boswellic acid is also effective at reducing the inflammation found in the bone joints, a very common symptom of chronic Lyme.
All in all, it’s hard to point to one specific thing that is a one-size-fits-all remedy for chronic Lyme disease. The disease is much more complicated than that, and often requires a specific combination of elements to treat. Supplements like boswellia can support and aid treatment, in conjunction with antibiotics and other informed treatment from Lyme-literate doctors. Just be sure to check with a medical professional before you start adding them to your daily diet, to ensure you’re taking the right amount and getting the very best out of them that you can.
When someone mentions myrrh, your mind may jump to the middle offering that the three kings brought to the baby Jesus on Christmas Day. In fact, myrrh is mentioned about 150 times in the Bible! Despite its biblical framing, however, myrrh is real, and it’s something you can actually seriously consider adding to your diet.
So what is myrrh, exactly? Although the word itself is instantly familiar to many, a lot of people would have trouble imagining exactly what it looks like. Myrrh is a resin, a sap-like substance that originates from the Commiphora myrrha tree, native to the Middle East. It’s one of the most popular and widely used essential oils in the world. It has a smoky fragrance and a yellowish-brown colour. The smell is so potent that it is often used as a base for perfumes. But how exactly is it useful to your body? In a surprising number of ways, as it happens. Let’s take a closer look.
Antibacterial and antifungal benefits
Myrrh oil was traditionally used as an embalming fluid. As gruesome as that is to think about, it’s proven to slow decay. This can also benefit healthy, living people, as scientists now realised that myrrh has powerful antibacterial properties. It has been proven to kill bacteria and other microbes, such as the S. aureus strain, which causes staph infections. In addition to its embalming duties, myrrh oil was historically used to treat wounds and prevent infections. It can be applied directly to the skin in an effort to clear up staph infections, or treat any sort of fungal growths such as athlete’s foot.
Myrrh oil can also have a beneficial effect internally. One study has shown that myrrh can stimulate the production of white blood cells, which bolsters a person’s immune system, while another study has shown that diluted myrrh oil killed all dormant Lyme disease bacteria. Whether myrrh can be utilised more fully in the complex treatment of Lyme disease remains to be seen, but there is certainly more to explore when it comes to the antibacterial properties of this essential oil.
Maintains skin health
We all know that moisturising our skin is important for many different reasons. It keeps skin healthy and full-looking, it prevents wrinkles and cracking, and it can keep our pores clean and breathing. However, sometimes moisturiser alone isn’t enough to tackle certain skin-related ailments. Myrrh is already a common component in many skincare products, where it aids with both moisturising and fragrance. Applying it directly to the skin with a cloth can have the same effect. It can also be used as a healing agent for minor cuts and scrapes, as it promotes white blood cell activity, leading to faster healing and improving protection against infection.
Positive effect on gut health
Keeping your gut in good shape is a crucial component of your overall health. When your intestines are out of whack, it can have knock-on effects for your entire body. Myrrh can help relieve digestive problems such as diarrhoea, indigestion and general stomach discomfort. It acts as a form of natural antibiotic, meaning that it can restore balance in your gut if you have an overgrowth of bad bacteria, or simply keep things moving properly down there.
It is important to not underestimate the health of your gut. It is so crucial to the overall function of your body that it is often called the ‘second brain’. It can dictate how effectively you fight an infection, how quickly your recover from it, and how you protect against future pathogen invasions. If you are suffering from a chronic disease, then fortifying your gut can be even more important. Myrrh has already been proven to be effective in some capacity against chronic Lyme disease. Trials in treating ulcerative colitis have also proven that a phytotherapeutic approach containing myrrh and other components is a promising treatment option.
Other essential oils and supplements can also support the treatment of chronic diseases such as Lyme, when implemented as part of a balanced diet. Make Well offers a range of such products, and provides doctors and their patients with all-natural herbal supplements on a regular basis.
Supports oral health
Thanks to its strong and consistent antibacterial properties, myrrh can help in relieving inflammation of the gums and mouth. Different myrrh tinctures been tested and compared to medical mouthwashes with promising results. Many people suffer from some form of gum disease, also called gingivitis, but often don’t even notice they have it until it has progressed to a problematic stage. You can apply myrrh as a mouth rinse; because it’s an essential oil, it will help to strain any bacteria or debris from your teeth and gums. Just make sure you spit it out when you’re finished instead of swallowing it!
Always consult with your doctor if you’re unsure of the amount of myrrh oil you should be using.
Good gut health is crucial for maintaining an overall level of wellness. In recent years, it’s come to the fore as being of paramount importance for sick and healthy people alike. Among other things, the state of our gut can affect how our immune system functions, which in turn affects how likely we are to both catch and recover from infections and illnesses. Our gut microbiome is full of over one thousand species of friendly bacteria. Usually, these assist in breaking down what we eat and drink, and absorbing nutrients from it. They can further influence several diseases and have an impact on our metabolism and even our mood. However, bacterial imbalances can occur due to different reasons. One such imbalance is called Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) syndrome. Here, bacteria that are supposed to reside in the colon move towards the ileum – which, under normal conditions, only hosts a very small amount of bacteria.
Excess bacteria can survive and thrive by feeding off the undigested food in your small intestine. Sugar and carbohydrates are particularly useful to them, which is why excessive consumption of these two foodstuffs will often prolong or exacerbate the condition. Carbohydrates are also responsible for producing hydrogen as a by-product of the fermentation process. This extra hydrogen can then in turn feed archaea, which are single-celled organisms that live in your small intestine. The by-product of this process is methane, which means you have both high levels of hydrogen and methane in your gut when you suffer from SIBO. Both these gases can cause different symptoms, depending on which one is more predominant in the individual. Either way, it’s a vicious cycle that can continue building upon itself, causing increased symptoms and discomfort in patients.
Speaking of symptoms: what should you be looking out for when it comes to SIBO symptoms? Unfortunately, many disorders of the gut have very similar symptoms, so if you have a number of the following, you shouldn’t necessarily assume you have the condition. Always check with a doctor, as they will be better able to determine what’s making you sick, and how to treat it.
A very common symptom with many gastrointestinal issues, bloating can be ascribed to gases building up within your gut. Eating carb-heavy meals will often exacerbate this symptom. Some things that can help include splitting three big meals per day into five or six smaller ones, and adding fennel, anise or cumin seeds to your diet – these have carminative effects and relieve from bloating and cramping.
A pertinent sign of a digestive system under stress. In SIBO, the excessive colonisation of the small intestine prevents it from its actual function – the absorption of water and nutrients. What follows may not only be diarrhoea, but also a nutrient or mineral depletion and disturbances in fat absorption/metabolism to the point of steatorrhea.
Flatulence is an uncomfortable topic for most people. It is the natural transition after bloating and can also negatively impact quality of life. If you’re experiencing bloating and flatulence, foods that are known to foster gas production – such as cabbage, leguminous plants and onions – should be avoided. Carminative substances and a heating bottle may also help here.
Pain and cramping are hallmark symptoms of SIBO, which is caused by a general upset within the intestinal system. Certain herbal remedies, unsweetened tea and general relaxation can help to decrease abdominal pain. To further reduce pain, foods consumed should be easily absorbed and therefore gently prepared – by steaming, for example.
Although this is much less common than diarrhoea, it still affects many patients with SIBO. An increase of water intake, along with digestion-improving remedies such as dry bread, dried figs or flaxseeds, can help to increase digestion and remove the symptoms of constipation.
Irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease
The two types of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, involve the digestive system being severely impaired and altered by inflammatory processes. Irritable bowel syndrome, on the other hand, covers all symptoms concerning a ‘healthy’ digestive tract that is not functioning well in certain areas. SIBO, IBS and IBD do have a connecting link, and can cause or worsen each other. However, not all of these links have been identified or clearly explained. It’s important to properly identify the cause of any symptoms to ensure the right treatment.
Numerous vitamin and mineral deficiencies
Usually, the small intestine is not colonised by a high number of bacteria; this ensures its function in nutrient absorption to supply the body with all it needs. Due to the false colonisation in SIBO, this function is impaired. The gut struggles with absorption and the additional problem of fermentation in the upper intestine, causing increased gas production. To avoid nutrient deficiencies, it is advisable to consume easily and quickly digested foods, which can be absorbed at an early stage in the upper small intestine before reaching the lower small intestine and the increased numbers of bacteria. Supplementation of important nutrients can also help to increase the likeliness of absorption.
Malabsorption of fat
Malabsorption of fat can also turn into a big problem, as energy delivery to our body can be severely affected when fats cannot be absorbed properly. Fatty stools (steatorrhea) are a sign of a malabsorption of fat. This is primarily caused by the loss of bile acids required for fat absorption. Bile acids are usually recycled in the terminal ileum for further use. If this is not possible, due to the colonisation, they reach the colon and are eliminated with faeces. The higher the loss of bile acids, the sooner the body can’t compensate anymore and stops absorbing fats.
Furthermore, fat-soluble vitamin uptake (A, D, E and K) is impaired by the malabsorption of fat. In cases of steatorrhea, long-chain fatty acids can be temporarily replaced with medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). MCFAs do not require bile acids or enzymatic breakdown for absorption. Some main sources are coconut oil (e.g. caprylic acid and lauric acid), palm oil and, to some extent, dairy products. Specific dietary products are also available.
Chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorders and diabetes
As our gut plays host to a majority of our immune system and influences many different body parts through the so-called ‘gut-brain axis’, SIBO can influence mood or cause fatigue. Nevertheless, these are non-specific symptoms, and can have both serious and relatively harmless causes.
Food intolerances are common in SIBO patients, as many foods can no longer be properly digested. For example, fructose and lactose absorption are often impaired. A high intake of dietary fibre should be avoided, as well as (un-ground) wholegrain products, cabbage, leguminous plants, foods high in fat, salted or fried foods, and excess sweets. Foods that are consumed should be freshly prepared and easy to digest. Proper chewing and water intake are also important.
As you can see, the list of symptoms and complications are quite varied and potentially dangerous, especially if left untreated. So how exactly do you treat SIBO once it’s been professionally diagnosed? Typically, the condition is combated with a run of antibiotic therapy and dietary changes. Starving the bacteria of foods they thrive on is an important first step in the process, which means cutting down on your intake of sugar, alcohol and carbohydrates. Taking their place will be vegetables, leafy greens, proteins, healthy fats and some fruit. After that, the antibiotics will be at their most effective, so the next stage is destroying the bacteria and eradicating them from the small intestine. It’s important to use antibiotics that are designed to target the bad bacteria and leave the good bacteria untouched.
Finally, the last step in the treatment chain is restoring whatever good bacteria you may have lost in the process. Dietary changes and implementations are key here, and supplements can also help. Make Well produces a large range of varied, all-natural supplements designed to support the treatment of chronic diseases. These supplements can be a major boost when it comes to restoring your gut to tip-top shape, and preventing further issues in the future.
Gastrointestinal issues can be an easy thing to ignore, as they are so common. However, if you’re having recurring symptoms, get yourself checked out by a doctor to diagnose the problem properly. Remember: all good health starts in the gut!
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) offers many benefits to your system. Q10 is a so-called 'vitaminoid' found throughout your body (especially in your heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas). These tissues contain high numbers of mitochondria, which are indispensable for energy production under use of Q10 amongst others. It can be eaten in small amounts of certain foods, such as meat, seafood, eggs and several veggies. It can also be manufactured in a laboratory and consumed in supplement form. Q10 basically functions as an electron carrier in the mitochondria’s oxidative phosphorylation, which is required to produce ATP (adenosin triphosphate). Individuals with specific diseases – ranging from high blood pressure and Parkinson’s to blood infections, heart disease or chronic fatigue – may show lower levels of CoQ10.
There are two supplements that can help you reap the benefits of CoQ10. Energy Plus can make you healthier in several ways. For example, with a CoQ10 deficiency, your cells can no longer produce enough ATP (or energy), leading to reduced energy levels. This supplement can work to strengthen your energy storage. Additionally, some people believe this supplement can work as an anti-ageing agent, because of its antioxidative elements (which protect skin cells from damage caused by free radicals). Another helpful supplement is MITO Plus, which uses a combination of vitamins, minerals and CoQ10 to boost energy metabolism.
Wondering what health benefits you might be able to get from a coenzyme Q10 supplement? Here’s a list of ways you can improve your health with CoQ10.
Lower blood pressure
For some people with high systolic blood pressure (the top number), but normal diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number), taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth daily helps them lower their systolic blood pressure. Because high blood pressure can lead to other serious conditions such as heart disease and stroke, helping manage this can lead to an overall healthier system.
Treat heart failure
Some research has shown that heart failure could be connected to low CoQ10 levels. Adequate levels of CoQ10 might reduce some symptoms of heart failure and minimise the chances of developing an abnormal heart rhythm or other cardiac issues.
Prevent or treat migraines
Studies have shown that taking CoQ10 by mouth daily seems to decrease the frequency of headaches by about 30% and the number of days with migraine-related nausea by about 45%. Another encouraging study noted that more than half of patients taking the supplement experienced a 50% decrease in the number of headache days they had per month. Some individuals had to wait more than three months to see significant benefits, but this treatment can still be helpful in reducing and treating migraines.
Treat vision loss
Vision loss in older adults (or age-related macular degeneration) can also be treated with CoQ10. A supplement that contains both this substance and acetyl-L-carnitine and omega-3 fatty acids can help improve vision-related symptoms, so you can worry less about your eyesight as you get older.
Keep your brain healthy
Because mitochondrial function decreases as we age, total mitochondrial dysfunction can support patients experiencing the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's. This is partly caused by the brain experiencing oxidative damage, which then increases the production of harmful compounds that affect everything from memory to cognitive function. CoQ10 can actually reduce these compounds, thereby slowing the progression of some of these conditions.
Better control diabetes
Cell damage can often result in metabolic diseases such as diabetes. CoQ10 has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and help to better regulate blood sugar levels in the body. One study found that taking a CoQ10 supplement could increase the CoQ10 concentrations in the blood up to three times in diabetic patients (who normally have lower levels). There’s even the possibility that CoQ10 could prevent diabetes by encouraging the breakdown of fats and reducing the accumulation of fat cells that sometimes lead to type 2 diabetes.
Help with fertility
As women get older, their CoQ10 production slows, making their bodies less effective at protecting their eggs from oxidative damage. Adding in a CoQ10 supplement can help and even reverse age-related decline, resulting in a possible increase in eggs and improved quality of the eggs. Along the same lines, male sperm is also at risk of being affected by oxidative damage, which can result in a reduced sperm count and/or poor sperm quality – leading to infertility. Studies have shown that adding CoQ10 as a supplement can work to improve sperm quality.
Give you better skin
As mentioned above, CoQ10 can have great benefits for your skin as an anti-ageing agent. Additionally, applying CoQ10 directly to the skin can reduce damage from internal and external forces. It works to increase energy production in the skin cells to promote antioxidant protection. CoQ10 has even been effective in reducing the damage caused by UV rays and decreasing the depth of wrinkles. Plus, low levels of CoQ10 mean you’re more likely to develop skin cancer.
Protect your lungs
Because your lungs have the most interaction with oxygen, they’re the most susceptible to oxidative damage. This can lead to low levels of Q10 and the development of lung diseases such as asthma and COPD. Supplementing CoQ10 can reduce inflammation in the lungs and provide better tissue oxygenation, resulting in better functioning, healthier lungs.
Reduce the risk of cancer
Oxidative stress in your body can cause cell damage. If this occurs, you have an increased risk of cancer. CoQ10 can actually protect your cells from this oxidative stress and prompt better cellular energy production. Cancer patients often have lower levels of CoQ10, so taking a supplement can help with the protection and survival of cell DNA – which can then reduce the risk of cancer.
Although more research needs to be conducted to find out the full extent of the benefits of coenzyme Q10, many recent studies have demonstrated that the supplement can be helpful for people looking to improve their health in a variety of ways. Just don’t forget to check with your doctor before adding any new supplements to your medication regimen.
If you’re one of the millions of people dealing with chronic fatigue syndrome, you know how debilitating this condition can be. Simply checking basic tasks off your to-do list may leave you exhausted, and you might find yourself regularly struggling to get out of bed.
Sometimes referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis, chronic fatigue syndrome is a serious illness that makes living a normal, active life extremely difficult. In addition to a feeling of exhaustion that no amount of sleep can mitigate, symptoms of chronic fatigue include:
- Decreased ability to do things that weren’t difficult before illness
- A feeling of ‘crashing’ after engaging in normal physical or mental activity (known as post-exertional malaise)
- Sleep problems such as falling or staying asleep
- Impaired cognition, including memory problems, trouble concentrating and ‘brain fog’
- Muscle and joint pain
- Frequent sore throats
The exact cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown, but a few theories have gained traction in the scientific community. Based on the fact that many people with chronic fatigue syndrome feel their condition originated with a flu-like illness, some experts believe it’s caused by a viral infection, while others think a bacterial infection like pneumonia may trigger the illness. Since chronic fatigue syndrome and autoimmune disorders share characteristics like increased inflammation, problems with the immune system are also considered a potential cause. Stress and genetics are other theoretical triggers of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Recently, researchers have begun to explore a possible link between chronic fatigue syndrome and imbalanced gut bacteria. In a 2017 study conducted at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, scientists identified abnormal levels of certain gut bacteria in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Not only were levels of specific strains of intestinal species strongly associated with chronic fatigue syndrome, the severity of chronic fatigue symptoms experienced by study subjects correlated with the relative abundance of these bacterial types. Based on their findings, researchers concluded that chronic fatigue syndrome may involve a breakdown in communication between the brain and the gut.
Considering that a growing body of evidence points to the importance of a healthy microbiome – the community of microorganisms living in our bodies – for overall well-being, it’s perhaps unsurprising that chronic fatigue syndrome has been associated with the gut. As science continues to uncover the many roles our microbiome plays in our health, the importance of protecting it becomes increasingly clear. The microflora in your gut aid digestion, produce vitamins and support your immune system, among other things. Your microbiome also affects your mental health, with some research pointing to a connection between gut bacteria and mood. Other conditions linked to the microbiome include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diabetes and even obesity.
A healthy microbiome is important for everyone, but it’s especially critical for people with chronic fatigue syndrome, who may be experiencing an imbalance of gut bacteria that is contributing to their condition. For these patients, probiotic supplements may be a useful tool for supporting the microbiome and reducing symptoms of chronic fatigue.
The microbiome is made up of many different types of bacteria, both helpful and harmful. When we’re healthy, these good and bad bacteria are balanced. But when something happens to upset this balance – whether it’s illness or a course of antibiotics – the microbiome can’t function optimally. When levels of beneficial bacteria dip too low, harmful microbes may take over, potentially leading to a microbiome that’s overrun with bad bacteria. This imbalance negatively impacts our wellness.
Enter probiotics. These supplements contain various strains of live bacteria that help repopulate the microbiome with beneficial microbes, restoring the balance between harmful and helpful. Not only are sickness-causing pathogens kept at bay, digestive processes are optimised and the immune system is able to function properly.
The benefits of probiotics have been widely studied, and science suggests these supplements can help with a whole host of health problems. Here are some of the many conditions probiotics have been shown to treat and/or prevent:
- Vaginal infections
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Urinary tract infections
- Eczema (in children)
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
Studies specifically examining the effect of probiotics on symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome have also been promising. One systematic review found that ‘the studied strains of probiotics have demonstrated a significant effect on modulating the anxiety and inflammatory processes’ in chronic fatigue patients.
With research suggesting that an imbalanced microbiome could be a cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, taking probiotics to bring the microbiome back into balance may be an effective way to reduce symptoms of chronic fatigue. Since probiotics typically don’t interact with any medication, they can be a safe, natural and gentle addition to any chronic fatigue treatment plan.
Additionally, gut health can perfectly be promoted by the right diet: Increase in fibre to foster the good ones and include fermented foods as probiotic yoghurts or others. The gut is a precious organ to be taken care of!
Despite the fact that Lyme disease is a prevalent disorder on every continent bar Antarctica, we still don’t have a good grip on it. Most people know it’s spread by tick bites and is predominant in the north-eastern United States, which is true, but only relatively so. Lyme disease continues to spread around the world, with numbers of cases increasing year after year. Unfortunately, our medical knowledge is not keeping up with the incessant spread of the disorder, meaning that many doctors and healthcare professionals are woefully unequipped when it comes to treating Lyme effectively. Here are four primary reasons why Lyme disease is so often misunderstood by doctors around the world.
Failure To Differentiate Between Acute And Chronic Lyme
The baseline reason for the misunderstanding around Lyme disease is the failure to differentiate between its acute and chronic forms. This problem is compounded by the fact that chronic Lyme is not strictly a legitimate disease; many official bodies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. have yet to officially register chronic Lyme as a demonstrable condition. Acute Lyme disease is well documented and accepted. It takes the form of flu-like symptoms, often accompanied by a distinctive bullseye rash. These manifest shortly after the offending tick bite, and dissipate after a few weeks.
If the disease is not caught and treated within this crucial window, in time it will progress to chronic Lyme, which comes with a whole new set of symptoms that bear little resemblance to the initial set. Many doctors only quantify the existence of the acute form of the disease, and don’t take chronic Lyme into account.
Symptoms That Mimic Other Disorders
Part of the problem surrounding chronic Lyme disease is that it mimics other disorders. This is even evident in the acute stage, where Lyme is nearly indistinguishable from the flu. Due to the fact that it is an unofficial, outlier disorder, chronic Lyme is often misdiagnosed as something else entirely. The rate of misdiagnoses among Lyme patients is extremely high, and probably higher than we know, as a large number of people are probably living with their misdiagnosis, none the wiser. Symptoms of chronic Lyme include joint pain, muscle aches, swelling, stiffness and fatigue. Further issues can include cardiovascular and neurological complications.
There is no one set of definitive symptoms for chronic Lyme; because the disorder manifests as an interplay between the borrelia bacteria (the causative agent) and the immune system, symptoms often vary wildly between patients. This is another reason why it’s so hard to pinpoint Lyme. Issues can appear soon after the initial tick bite, or weeks, months, even years later. By the time symptoms show, the tick bite is long forgotten, if it was even noticed in the first place. Lyme is commonly misdiagnosed as MS, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, Crohn’s disease, early ALS, early Alzheimer’s or arthritis, among others. This tendency towards misdiagnosis has earned Lyme disease its unofficial nickname, ‘the great imitator’.
Treating With Antibiotics Only
Acute Lyme disease can usually be treated solely with antibiotics. Chronic Lyme requires a more thorough approach. However, doctors will routinely attempt to treat the symptoms of chronic Lyme using antibiotics alone. Not only has the borrelia bacteria likely become stronger and more resistant to common antibiotics over the time it’s been in the system, but it is also not the only thing causing symptoms in the first place. A large part of chronic Lyme symptoms stem from the immune system overreacting to the infection, causing swelling, pain and fatigue. These issues can’t be treated with antibiotics alone; they require a rebalance of nutrients in the body via supplements and diet alterations.
Make Well is one such company that produces these specialised supplements. Their all-natural range is routinely used by doctors to support the treatment of chronic diseases such as Lyme. Continued and sustained use of antibiotics is likely to cause the patient more issues in the long run; once the immune system is in such an inflamed state, it can react to even trace amounts of the borrelia bacteria. This means that antibiotics are ineffective on their own when it comes to chronic Lyme. A successful treatment path must tackle both the bacterial and the inflammation symptoms simultaneously.
Ignoring Dangerous Co-Infections
Unfortunately, Lyme disease is not the only thing you can catch from ticks. When assessing a Lyme patient, many doctors aren’t clued in on the fact there are probably numerous infections working in tandem, compounding Lyme symptoms or causing new ones all together. These co-infections are startlingly common in Lyme patients, and the chances of catching one or more simultaneously with Lyme disease are high. They include babeiosa, bartonellosis, anaplasma ehrlichia and chlamydia pneumoniae, among others. These infections need to be resolved alongside the dominant Lyme infection. Many doctors don’t even test for these co-infections, let alone treat them. The result is a long road of frustration and continued illness for patients.
Lyme disease is a severely debilitating disorder that affects many facets of a patient’s body. It is caused by the pathogen borrelia, an insidious strain of bacteria that cements itself in the patient’s system over time, making it very hard to treat if missed in the early stages. Acute Lyme is identified as the first stage of the disease; at this stage, symptoms can mimic the flu. The acute stage lasts for a few weeks and, if caught at this point, is highly curable. If not, the disease will progress to the chronic stage, leading to a whole host of other complications. The aches, pains and fatigue of chronic Lyme disease patients are often given primacy in discussions about the disease, and rightly so – they can be devastating for many. However, a less-discussed aspect of the disorder is the effect it has on the body’s metabolism.
So what exactly is your metabolism? You might have heard people refer to having a ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ metabolism – the former makes it easier to stay slim, while the latter means you have to be careful with what you eat. Basically, your metabolism dictates how your body turns food, water and nutrients into energy. It is the life-sustaining procedure of an organism, manifested as a series of chemical reactions. It is a complex biochemical process, which ultimately decides when and where you transform food into energy. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the only factor in weight loss or gain, though it plays a central role. As we get older, our metabolism slows down as the body loses muscle and gains fat.
Your specific metabolism is somewhat dependent on genetic factors, but also on how much you eat, what you eat, and how much exercise you get. If you eat healthily and get plenty of fresh air and exercise, you’ll be helping your metabolism perform at its optimum level. On the contrary, if your diet is poor and you’re generally unfit, your metabolism will be struggling to cope, meaning that you will likely put on weight. The amount of energy your body needs is directly impacted by your body mass and amount of muscle; this is largely determined by your lifestyle, diet and fitness level. So it possible to adjust your habits to suit your metabolism – just because you have what might be referred to as a ‘slow metabolism’, it doesn’t mean you’ll inevitably be overweight.
Many diseases and conditions can affect a person’s metabolism. One of these is Lyme disease. There is no one set of symptoms when it comes to chronic Lyme disease. Patients are affected in various different ways. The same can be said when it comes to Lyme disease and a person’s metabolism. In most cases, the borrelia bacteria will impact metabolism as a result of the immune system flaring up. Many of the symptoms of chronic Lyme are caused by the body’s own response to the infection, and the metabolism and immune system are inextricably linked. It is important for patients to change their diet accordingly when they are diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. The borrelia infection means that your body is operating very differently than what it’s used to. In most cases, sticking to a regular diet will inevitably result in weight gain, as your body is focused entirely on fighting the infection. The immune system is in overdrive, so to speak, meaning that all other processes are affected, including your metabolism.
To combat this, herbal supplements can be prescribed, and a nutritionist should be consulted. Make Well produces a range of all-natural supplements used by doctors around the world to support the treatment of chronic diseases such as Lyme. Adapting your diet and supplying it with the right boost of nutrients can help keep your metabolism in check, and adjust it to a lower gear as your body fights the inflammation. In addition, these supplements can often support the immune system, reducing inflammation symptoms and levelling out the body’s response.
However, Lyme disease does not always cause patients to put on weight. In a minority of cases, it can actually cause patients to lose weight. It is suspected that this is for the same reason: the borrelia pathogen wreaks havoc on the immune system, but the effects in this case go the opposite way. More often than not, weight loss experienced by Lyme disease patients will be minor when compared to how much weight other patients put on. This is why the input of a nutritionist is vital to help you keep and establish an optimum weight, giving you the best chance of fighting back against the infection.
Like much of our collective knowledge about chronic Lyme disease, it is not fully understood why this interplay with the metabolic process occurs. As ever, more research is needed across the board when it comes to how exactly the borrelia bacteria interacts with the body’s complicated systems. One thing is for sure, however: the longer the bacteria stays in the body, the more it puts it into a stranglehold. Catching Lyme disease early is key. In the acute phase the symptoms are mild, and the pathogen has less chance to affect important procedures like metabolism.
There are many factors to consider if you think you might have contracted Lyme disease. If you have spent some time outdoors and now have a rash, or you're feeling tired and don't know why, it’s possible you have been bitten by a tick and infected with Lyme. Here’s how to tell if you might have Lyme disease.
The first thing to evaluate is whether you’ve been in any high-risk environments recently. The woods (especially off the beaten path), as well as areas near overgrown plants, grass or wood piles, can all be places where ticks love to hang out. Because ticks are often attached to animals like deer or mice, being in close proximity to these creatures can also mean you might have been exposed, since ticks can crawl onto your skin from an animal or a plant. Once they’re there, they’re very small and hard to see. So if you’ve spent time outdoors recently, it’s quite possible you could have come in contact with a tick.
If you have just been out in nature, you should check your skin to see if a tick is present. Make sure to examine all areas of your body, especially hard-to-see areas like the back of your neck or behind your knees. Don’t forget to check your scalp too. If you find a tick, immediately remove it with tweezers or a tick-removal kit. Clean the area with alcohol to try to get rid of any leftover bacteria. You can then send in the tick for testing to see if it was a carrier for Lyme disease.
If some time has passed since you were outdoors, the tick might not be attached to your skin any longer. If this is the case, you should be paying attention to how you’re feeling physically in order to tell if you should be seen by a doctor. One of the main things you should look for is a red, bullseye rash (also called erythema migrans) that can appear on the skin at the site of the tick bite. A rash like this can show up anywhere from 3–30 days after the initial bite. It looks like a solid, red oval or a bullseye, with a central red spot, a clear circle surrounding that, and then a wide red circle on the outside. Without treatment, it’s common for the rash to expand (which is a sign that the infection is spreading in your skin tissue). There are also smaller rashes that can crop up between three and five weeks after you’ve been bitten. These rashes can look different in appearance and can show up as red blotches, raised rashes, or blisters. Even if you don’t notice a rash on your body, you could still have contracted Lyme disease, because a rash only occurs in 60%–90% of cases. If you have any type of rash like this, it’s a good idea to let a doctor evaluate it to see if it’s related to Lyme.
Extreme fatigue is also a major red flag that you might have contracted Lyme disease. This severe tiredness and lack of energy is different than typical fatigue, because it can’t be attributed to overexertion or a specific activity. If you feel tired and don’t know why, and even a nap or sleeping more doesn’t help, you could have Lyme disease. Fatigue from Lyme can be cyclical and can change in its severity every couple of weeks. Please note: some people are misdiagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome or depression when they report these symptoms. So be sure to notify your doctor if you think you might actually have Lyme disease.
Many Lyme disease patients also suffer from joint pain. This might involve achy, stiff or swollen joints that are inflamed, painful or warm to the touch. Some people also report limited range of motion in these affected joints. With Lyme disease, you might find that the pain moves around. One day your knees can be hurting, and the next day your neck is stiff. This transitory pain and the severity of pain can differ between patients. Most of the time, the large joints in the body provide the biggest problems, and more than one joint is affected. Lyme disease patients often note that the first episode of joint pain occurred within the first six months of getting bitten. To avoid a misdiagnosis of arthritis, notify your doctor of your concerns of a Lyme infection.
If you’ve started to have symptoms that mimic the flu (such as headaches, dizziness, fever, muscle pain, malaise etc.), this could also be an indicator of Lyme disease. About half of Lyme disease patients have these flu-like symptoms within the very first week of being infected. You can tell that these symptoms aren’t a typical flu or virus if they come and go instead of being constant. These symptoms, coupled with a bullseye rash or joint pain, could demonstrate to a doctor that you may have contracted Lyme disease.
There are a variety of other symptoms that are less obvious or straightforward. For example, you might notice that you’re experiencing a lot of sleep disturbances or having night sweats. In addition, some people with Lyme can start to experience cognitive difficulties that can include problems with concentration, memory lapses or periods of confusion. In cases of chronic Lyme, patients can also have loss of balance, facial palsy or sensitivity to light. It’s also quite common for Lyme disease patients to see significant changes in their mood, such as showing signs of irritability, rage, anxiety or depression.
If you’re experiencing some (or all) of these symptoms, it’s critical for you to consult with a doctor. They can then rule out any other possible diagnoses, test for Lyme disease, and get you on an appropriate treatment regimen right away. Don’t hesitate to get checked out by a doctor – the quicker you can get treated, the sooner you’ll feel better!
Dealing with any type of chronic illness can have a negative effect on your mental health. Besides coping with your symptoms, you have to navigate the complicated medical world of doctor’s appointments and tests – all while managing to still care for yourself. You might experience heightened anxiety or bouts with depression because of this struggle. If you have Lyme disease, these battles can be even more difficult. This condition is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood, which can end up having a significantly negative impact on your mental health.
Fighting Lyme disease can often feel like an uphill battle for many reasons. One of the main factors is that the medical community at large doesn’t generally accept or understand the condition. Most doctors are not educated about the dangers of Lyme disease, its symptoms or appropriate forms of treatment. Unless you find a doctor who fully grasps the complexities and seriousness of Lyme, you will probably face medical professionals who end up misdiagnosing you or being dismissive of your symptoms. Having doctors question how sick you are or writing off your concerns can feel invalidating and frustrating. Because not all doctors truly understand Lyme disease, it can also mean that it takes much longer for you to get a proper diagnosis and an effective treatment regimen. This can lead to an increased risk of depression due to the hopeless nature of trying to get a medical professional to understand your health struggles.
Because many medical professionals aren’t up on the latest research about Lyme disease, it’s common for patients to get misdiagnosed with conditions other than Lyme. For example, if you are complaining of fatigue and low energy, a doctor might diagnose you with chronic fatigue syndrome or depression. Symptoms of joint pain and stiffness could get you a diagnosis of arthritis. Additionally, flu-like symptoms might be swiftly dismissed as a simple flu or virus, which likely means you wouldn’t get taken seriously as a potential Lyme disease candidate. Being misdiagnosed can lead to months (even years) of the wrong treatment, which means you won’t find any relief and you could become severely depressed until you get the correct diagnosis of Lyme disease.
Aside from being misdiagnosed, many Lyme disease patients have noted that they were not believed when they sought help from a medical professional. Some of this stems from the doctor being ill-informed about Lyme disease, but it’s also because a patient can often feel gravely ill without the doctor really knowing what’s going on. You could have flu-like symptoms and extreme fatigue, but the doctor might not believe you’re as sick as you say. Not being believed can have a huge effect on your psyche – it can be an isolating and lonely experience (which is only magnified when coupled with depression). Sometimes not being believed by medical professionals can result in a person beginning to question themselves. They might feel like they’re ‘going crazy’ because no one will validate how physically awful they feel. Not being believed also decreases the chance of feeling better, since the doctor won’t be prescribing the right treatment.
Another unfair aspect of Lyme disease is that insurance companies in the U.S. often won’t cover all of your medical costs (even once you’ve received the right diagnosis). Insurance companies are infamous for denying coverage even for well-known conditions, so Lyme disease patients are frequently faced with huge bills when trying to get the proper care. Insurance is even less likely to cover any type of alternative treatments or therapies. For example, you likely wouldn’t be reimbursed for purchasing beneficial supplements, such as MITO plus, which can help promote healthy energy and metabolism in Lyme disease patients. Having to pay out-of-pocket for all your health expenses can put a strain on your finances – which can result in additional symptoms of anxiety. It’s also easy to fall into a depression if you are stressed about how you’re going to afford your medical costs.
Lyme disease can also be a demoralising condition to live with because many of the symptoms are ‘invisible’. A chronic illness like this, where symptoms aren’t readily visible to others, can make you feel like no one understands what you’re going through. People can be critical if they can’t fully see or grasp that you’re suffering. This can lead to feelings of depression and hopelessness. Because you might feel like people don’t empathise with your condition, you might tend to isolate from friends and family – and isolation further breeds depression.
Lyme disease can come with a whole host of painful and debilitating symptoms. It can be discouraging to find that you’re unable to do the same things you were able to before you got the condition. Some people have to make many changes in their day-to-day lives just to cope. Hopelessness can creep in if you feel like you’re not able to achieve your goals (whether that’s at work, caring for your family, etc.). In order to take care of your mental health while dealing with Lyme disease, it’s imperative that you take part in as much self-care as possible. Anything from taking time out of your day to go for a walk to simply reading a book can help. You should also seek help from a mental health professional if you feel like you’re suffering from symptoms of anxiety or depression. They can help you discover healthy coping tools and determine if medication might be beneficial to you during your recovery from Lyme. Remember that caring for your mental health is just as crucial as getting treatment for your Lyme disease.