Fatigue is a common symptom following a viral infection; however, prolonged post-viral fatigue can develop into a chronic and debilitating illness. Current research into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome strongly suggests a link to disruption in the gut microflora (dysbiosis) so taking care to restore your digestive system is a top priority.
There are four key steps to re-set the microbiome
- Increase unprocessed plant foods and fibre in your diet.
- Use herbs to heal the gut and rebalance the digestive system.
- Address stress levels and negative mindset – an often overlooked cause of dysbiosis.
- Include fermented foods in your diet, such as kombucha, unpasteurised sauerkraut and kefir.
All Things Fabulous About Fibre
You may have heard that fibre is good for your health, but what exactly makes it so good, and how can that help you to heal? There are two types of fibre, both of which have unique features which aid your health:
Soluble fibre – This type of fibre is found in oatmeal, chia and flax seeds, apples, pears, berries, legumes and carrots. It absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance as it passes through the digestive tract, providing food for beneficial bacteria. The ‘good bacteria’ can then produce short chain fatty acids – these have numerous positive effects which include – strengthening the gut barrier function (essential for healing a leaky gut), reducing intestinal inflammation and regulating the immune system. They are also absorbed into the blood stream where they exert anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body.
Insoluble fibre – Found in most vegetables, wholegrains, potatoes (with their skins on), nuts and seeds. It balances the pH level of the intestine and aids the elimination of toxins by encouraging regular bowel movements and acting as a mild abrasive in the colon, dislodging wastes and old dead cells.
Most plant foods contain a mixture of soluble and insoluble fibre, in varying proportions. By far the best way to get fibre is from the original, unprocessed source! Fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains (unmilled) and legumes (beans and pulses), nuts and seeds; let these form the great majority of your diet (80 – 90 percent as a guide) to meet your fibre needs.
Most processed foods come with unwanted accompaniments such as added sugars and degraded or trans fats. These are pro-inflammatory and cause havoc in the body through glycation (the ‘aging’ of cells), oxidative stress (resulting in cell dysfunction) and mitochondrial dysfunction (impeding energy production).
TOP TIP: Preserve the fibre in your vegetables by lightly steaming or stir frying so that they are tender and firm rather than boiling or excessive steaming until soft and mushy.
NOTE: If you have difficulty digesting fibre and find that it creates a lot of wind and bloating, try increasing your fibre consumption gradually. For those with digestive disorders it would be advisable to seek help to resolve these, so that you can reap the benefits of fibre in your diet.
Keep it simple
Make healthy eating easy in order to preserve your energy and inspiration. Batch cook soups, stews, dahls and curries; dinner one day, lunch for the next and one for the freezer. Get help on board, do you have someone willing to lend a hand in the kitchen? Cooking with two speeds up the process and company can be fun – socialising and cooking achieved in one sitting – check!
Delicious wholesome meals don’t need to be extravagant and time consuming, search for quick, simple and tasty recipes that you can add to your personal repertoire.
Medicinal herbs have a significant impact on re-setting the microbiome, each working in different ways to heal the digestive tract and re-establish a beneficial community of microbes. Herbs can:
Improve elimination through the bowel which encourages the removal of toxins and prevents growth of pathogenic (disease forming) species.
Re-establish function in the walls of the digestive tract – reducing inflammation allows the tight junction cells to regain their tone and start doing their job once more – Meadowsweet, Chamomile, Marigold.
Heal inflamed surfaces with soothing plant compounds – Marshmallow, Liquorice, Plantain.
Slow transit time in the bowel (for those with excess motility), allowing inflamed surfaces to heal and a healthy bacterial community to establish.
Have probiotic effects – encouraging the growth of beneficial species.
Have antibiotic effects – where necessary, certain herbs have a stronger effect to kill off problematic strains of bacteria.
In addition, herbs can improve mood, reduce systemic inflammation and ease discomfort. They support and strengthen the work you do with your diet and mindset, making your job easier.
Try making a tea using equal parts of the following loose dried herbs:
Filipendula ulmaria – Meadowsweet (Reduces inflammation, tones and heals the gut lining)
Chamomilla recutita – German chamomile (Reduces inflammation, improves liver function, probiotic)
Foeniculum vulgare – Fennel seed (Improves secretions of digestive enzymes, relieves digestive discomfort)
Glycyrhizza glabra – Liquorice (Heals inflammation of the gut linings and restores a protective mucosa, supports adrenals)
Althaea officinalis – Marshmallow root (Soothing action, heals inflammation, strengthens and nourishes body)
You can also look online for our website post on herbal adaptogens which are valuable for rebuilding the immune system and improving strength and energy.
NOTE: Tea bags bought at supermarkets are not suitable for medicinal purposes as they contain small quantities of the herbs milled into fine pieces which degrades some of their medicinal effects. Always consult a practitioner before using herbal medicines if you are taking any medications or during pregnancy.
The Herbal Clinic 32 King Edward Rd, Swansea SA1 4LL.
MEILYR JAMES BSc(Hons) DBTh DAcu AcuC Dir MGNI Registered Medical Herbalist, Iridologist & Acupuncturist
T: 01792 474356 W: herbalclinic-swansea.co.uk E: email@example.com