Unproven Diet Therapies in the Treatment of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Diane H. Morris, PhD, RD;
Fredrick J. Stare, MD, PhD
Arch Fam Med. 1993;2(2):181-186.
This report is a review of the unproven diet therapies recommended for individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Diet therapies promoted for the relief of CFS symptoms by the authors of five CFS self-help books were evaluated on the basis of nutritional adequacy and scientific rationale. Unproven diet therapies for patients with CFS include megavitamin/mineral supplements; royal jelly and other dietary supplements; and elimination, avoidance, and rotation diets. Claims that these therapies relieve CFS symptoms and promote recovery are anecdotal and have not been substantiated by clinical research. The yeast-avoidance and sugar-free diets, both promoted to combat Candida albicans overgrowth, are of questionable value in treating patients with CFS. The rotation diet is not balanced and does not meet the current recommended dietary intake levels. Diet strategies that call for the avoidance of food additives, preservatives, sweeteners, and other ingredients are not supported by available evidence and are not practical for patients with CFS. A diet plan for patients with CFS should be based on sound nutritional principles and common sense. Until the results of studies demonstrating the benefits of particular diet therapies in the management of CFS are available, patients with CFS are advised to eat a varied diet selected from among and within the basic food groups to ensure an adequate nutrient intake and to reach and maintain a reasonable body weight.
From the Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass. Dr Morris is now with Mainstream Nutrition, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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