Feel like a shadow of your former self? – Australian Nutrition Centre

Feel like a shadow of your former self?

‘Why do I keep getting sick?’

‘I feel like I haven’t recovered from ‘X’ virus’

I’d like this to be a 3-minute read but it will probably be longer, but for those who want a quick read I’ll try to put all the juicy bits at the beginning and explain with more detail later.

I first got interested on the topic of ‘Post Viral Syndrome’ when trying to help people with Chronic Fatigue years ago. But it’s now very topical again due to a ‘novel virus’ – and I’ve been seeing a lot of it. The idea is that the body gets ‘attacked’ by a virus or infection and immune system mounts a response, but some people never really recover past the 2-week mark and can have symptoms lasting 2 months or longer.

Typical symptoms of Post-Viral Syndrome can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cognitive dysfunction (like brain fog, memory problems)
  • Joint pain
  • N.b. this list is limited and can include many other symptoms, with symptoms varying from person to person and the symptoms can also change over time.

Annoyingly, in many cases there are often very few abnormalities in blood tests which is why people end up seeing me. They know something is wrong, but when they get tested, nothing shows up.

This ‘thing’ is 100% real, and people really struggle with it.

People who seem to suffer more are those with:

  • High levels of viral RNA early during an infection
  • Presence of certain autoantibodies
  • Reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus (aka Glandular Fever)
  • Having type 2 diabetes

It’s important to note that whether you had a mild case or severe case of a virus seems to make no difference as to how it affects you long-term.

So what’s happening in the body?

The initial infection can stimulate the immune cells to mount a response that can affect the brain, circulatory system and immune system. But for some, after the infection has ‘gone’ the immune signalling and inflammation doesn’t switch off and the cycle of inflammation continues.

One of the hallmark symptoms is long-lasting fatigue, and this results from the mitochondria (the things that make energy for us) being compromised in their ability to produce energy. The self-perpetuating cycle of inflammation keeps the body in a stale-mate, meaning people just don’t get better without some sort of intervention.

So how do we treat this?

  •  Firstly we try to remove any extra burden on the body (this includes excess calorie intake, not ‘overdoing it’ with exercise, avoiding toxins and processed foods).
  • We try to maximise sleep, rest and hydration where possible, whilst minimising stress.
  • Correct specific nutrient deficiencies through balanced diet and supplement where necessary
  • Treat or minimise other medical conditions.
  • Often we recommend intermittent fasting to trigger the body to repair itself also.

This can be complicated to do and obviously the action plan will vary from person to person, but the main goal by removing extra burden on the body is to allow the body to move out of this self-perpetuating cycle of inflammation, and allow you to ‘get back to normal’.

The 2 MOST common deficiencies we see in clinic with sufferers are Vitamin D and Zinc.

Patients should be looking to have their Vitamin D levels above 120nmol/L and their Zinc levels above 15 mmol/L – though if we are being particular, we want to make sure our Copper levels aren’t higher than our Zinc levels to allow Zinc to do its job properly. If you’re planning on getting your levels tested, make sure you take a look at copper levels too.

In most cases our supplemental protocol at a minimum looks like this:

Zinc Citrate 50mg/day

Vitamin D – 4000IU/day

Liposomal Quercetin complex (to help quieten the immune storm) - Twice daily.

Zinc and Vit D are two of the most powerful nutrients to support the immune system and our favourites for stabilising immunity (especially for those who seem to always get sick easily).

Please know that if you are suffering, there is a way out of this. It isn’t a fast way out, but there will be gradual improvement if you get the treatment right.

If you have a question, please feel free to ask. We’re here to help.