If the sound of your alarm clock makes you cringe just thinking about it, you’re practically using your computer as a pillow by 4 p.m., and you feel too exhausted to make it through your workout, then you’re already familiar with the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
That feeling of why am I so tired all the time? is super frustrating, but get ready for some good news: scientists just made a huge step toward understanding the medical condition—and it stems from the gut, a study published in the journal Microbiome shows.
For the first time, researchers have identified biological markers of chronic fatigue in gut bacteria, by studying the stool of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and patients who are #blessed enough to have normal energy levels.
One big finding: the patients with chronic fatigue syndrome had less anti-inflammatory bacteria. In other words, if you’re looking for an energy boost, it’s a good idea to eat more anti-inflammatory foods like leafy greens, fatty fish (like salmon and tuna), nuts, strawberries, blueberries, and oranges—some of which have already been identified as good sleep boosters.
“Leaky gut” is another cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, according to the new data. After figuring out if you have a leaky gut or not, if you do, the solution is to add more anti-inflammatory food to your diet as well as probiotics, and consuming less wheat and alcohol.
“Our work demonstrates that the gut bacterial microbiome in chronic fatigue syndrome patients isn’t normal, perhaps leading to gastrointestinal and inflammatory symptoms in victims of the disease,” says Maureen Hanson, the study’s lead researcher, who is also a professor in the department of molecular biology and genetics at Cornell University. It isn’t normal, but it is totally fixable—good news all around!
The mind-gut connection definitely isn’t new. It also affects your happiness. And ready to hear something crazy, but true? Eating the right food can even stimulate brain cell growth.