To function optimally, a flawless digestion is essential. Two things are very important here:

  1. The stomach must produce sufficient digestive juices (gastric acid) to be able to digest food.
  2. The intestines must be able to absorb all necessary nutrients.

More than half of the patients dealing with chronic fatigue also suffers from gastric problems. The problems may have different causes:

– An imbalance in the intestinal flora (a surplus of bad and a shortage of good bacteria). A stool test shows to what extent there’s a shortage of good bacteria. An imbalance in the intestinal flora can be tackled by eating fibres (a Mediterranean diet with a lot of vegetables, fruit, avocado and whole-grain bread) and by taking supplements as probiotics and prebiotics.

– An intolerance for certain foodstuffs. Food intolerances are one of the main causes of fatigue problems. The most common food intolerance is gluten intolerance (mainly wheat, rye and barley contain a lot of gluten), but some people also do not react well to dairy products, sugar, alcohol and coffee. When you suspect that you have an intolerance for a certain foodstuff, then it is wise to exclude it from your diet for two months and to study if your symptoms improve (longer than two months is pointless; if you haven’t noticed any difference by then, you won’t notice any difference in the future). If you notice that certain foodstuffs are indeed causing problems, then you will quickly notice a change: you will suffer less from flatulence, have less cramps, feel less bloated and your stool will become normal again. After four to six months, you can try to include the foodstuffs again into your diet to a limited extend, but if you notice that the symptoms are recurring I suggest that the products for which you are intolerant, should be lifelong excluded from your diet.

– Leaky gut syndrome often is the cause of fatigue. Leaky gut syndrome is a condition whereby the intestinal wall is ‘leaking’, so that various substances from the gut end up in the blood. These unwanted substances strain the liver, cause muscle pains and fatigue. A healthy intestinal wall only absorbs the essential nutrients, while a leaking gut impairs the intake. Leaking gut syndrome is caused by a food intolerance (often a gluten intolerance), by unhealthy foodstuffs containing a lot of sugars and by using antibiotics in combination with anti-inflammatory medication. You can treat it by changing your diet extensively: avoid products for which you are intolerant, take probiotics, strengthen your intestinal mucosa by taking a supplement with amino acid glutamine and extra digestive enzymes.

– Parasites, such as Candida albicans (a yeast) can contribute to fatigue. They can be traced through a blood and stool test. You can eliminate them by taking the medicine nystatin. A stool test can also help in clarifying possible digestive problems. If there are specific problems, you can stimulate the digestion by taking extra digestive enzymes, as is the case with leaking gut syndrome.

– Many people dealing with fatigue problems have a malfunctioning liver. The excessive intake of medication, used for the symptoms that accompany fatigue, can be the cause. The conventional medication, prescribed by doctors in the case of fatigue problems and fibromyalgia, can indirectly cause your body to stop detoxicating sufficiently. There are foodstuffs that enhance the liver function significantly and stimulate the detoxification (broccoli, artichoke). Some specific supplements have the same properties (lipoic acid, silymarin).