If you have chronic fatigue syndrome, you confront a paradox: physical activity is helpful, but exercise can also backfire and leave you totally exhausted. You might feel burning or aching in your muscles as if you’ve run a marathon even when you’ve only walked around the block.
This hallmark of chronic fatigue has a scientific name: “post-exertional malaise.” Post-exertional malaise is considered one of the symptoms that officially defines the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Now scientists have discovered a clue about the energy metabolism of people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome that might account for post-exertional malaise.
Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have a different mix of amino acids in their blood stream as compared to healthy subjects.
Scientists speculate that in chronic fatigue syndrome there’s a flaw in the enzyme system that converts carbohydrates into usable fuel for the body’s machinery. As a back-up plan, those with chronic fatigue break down protein as an energy source instead of carbs.
This would account for the shift of amino acids in the blood, and would also mean that your body can’t tap into normal energy cycles when you exercise.
What this means for you
- Regular exercise is still good for you. You just have to figure out the frequency and duration that works best. Over time your exercise capacity will increase.
- Maintaining a healthy gut with diverse colonies of bacteria is crucial. That’s because the microorganisms that share your intestinal tract bring with them their own genes and metabolic capabilities. Your gut bacteria can often accomplish for you some of the internal processes you can’t accomplish for yourself.
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