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    Created in 2008, Phoenix Rising is the largest and oldest forum dedicated to furthering the understanding of and finding treatments for complex chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), long COVID, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), and allied diseases.

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Nutritional Approaches

I've seen a really great holistic therapist today in London who's convinced my CFS symptoms are mitochondrial dysfunction related to my history of GERD and leaky gut problems. I know everyone is different and there is TONS of information on this topic in this gigantic forum, but I just wondered if anyone has had any success with this sort of approach?
As a bit of background, my gut problems were always exacerbated by exercise (way before CFS set in), and my CFS crashes are triggered by the same thing. So I'm interested in the link, and I'd like to hear from other people who have investigated the route of repairing the gut through holistic medicine and nutrition?

Old Bones

Senior Member
@Derekthecat My short answer is that nutritional approaches have had no effect on my ME/CFS symptoms, but both a positive, and negative, effect on other issues that have developed over the years. Here are a few highlights, and "lowlights".

Removing grains (particularly refined grains) and starches has virtually eliminated my GERD. Also, grains and starches seem to have a neurological effect on me, because when I eat them, I regularly stumble, and my hands go numb. The removal of grains dramatically reduced the swelling in my joints, especially my knees, associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Gluten, in particular, affects my thyroid, and makes my hypothyroid condition much worse.

I have many digestive issues -- IBS, SIBO, leaky gut, extreme bloating, alternating hard stools and the opposite. I've tried both the FODMAPS and GAPS diets. Removing FODMAPS was only a short-term solution, because my symptoms returned as soon as I added back the restricted foods. The GAPS diet initially seemed helpful. Within days on Phase 1 (very restrictive), my joint issues were completely gone, as was my bloating. However, my "smeary" bowel movements turned to chronic constipation. I didn't have a bowel movement for several months, and resorted to a weekly enema while waiting for things to return to normal. They didn't. And, my sleep issues worsened. I also lost too much weight -- 15 pounds on a very tiny frame. I was delighted with my completely flat stomach (no bloating), but the diet was so low-carb, I wondered what was feeding the the healthy bacteria in my large intestine. Every time I tried to add in foods in the later phases of the GAPS introduction diet, my bloating returned. And, the longer I stayed on the diet, the worse I felt. I decided I was among those who need a higher-carb diet than that allowed on strict GAPS.

Adding a few starches made my bowel movements more normal, and helped to restore a healthier sleep pattern. But, the bloating over my small intestines returned immediately (SIBO), although not as bad as before. Bloating in the large intestine area still hasn't returned, so in that respect, I think something has changed for the better -- possibly healthier gut flora from all the fermented foods and probiotics.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how I look at it), the GAPS diet definitively diagnosed a mast cell/histamine issue. The fermented foods filled my "histamine bucket" to overflowing. Now, my diet is even more restrictive while I deal with an excess of histamine -- absolutely miserable symptoms. I think GAPS is very good for healing a leaky gut, but those with histamine issues should use carefully-chosen probiotics instead of fermented foods, at least at first. The one higher-histamine food I'm still consuming is homemade bone/meat broth which is supposed to be very healing. I simmer mine for only 12 hours, freeze it immediately, and thaw it just before drinking to limit the histamines.

So for me, a hybrid of a low-histamine/autoimmune paleo (AIP)/GAPS diet seems to work best. I'm currently testing various "safer" starches to see if any might do more good than harm. The take-away message is that the "best" diet for GERD and leaky gut depends on the individual. Trust your "gut", and if something seems to be causing as many, or more, problems than it is solving, try something else.
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Senior Member
Vancouver, British Columbia
I'm considering starting the GAPS diet to try and repopulate my gut bacteria as a result of many years of antibiotic use. My CFS, sinus infections, and allergies all started at the same time and I now wonder if it wasn't the Penicillin that started everything off. I'm wondering if anyone else here has also had the same experience?


Senior Member
The one higher-histamine food I'm still consuming is homemade bone/meat broth which is supposed to be very healing.

Oh that's interesting. I didn't know bone broth was high in histamine. I've noticed that I seem to feel a bit woozy/fluey after chicken soup in particular. Mind you I have been making a lot of broth soup lately and haven't noticed a huge issue, but I have reduced a lot of histamine foods in my diet, so perhaps that's why I can tolerate broth now. I've also suspected I have a bit of histamine issue. Thanks for your post!


Senior Member
I got so far along with healing concentrating on nutrition and low carb autoimmune diet but what has really made a huge difference, is understanding that it is an electrical problem in the mitochondria which is below the radar of nutritionists. Read the work of Dr Jack Kruse who explains it and how to correct it.