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The Upside-Down World of CFS and Low Carb Diets, Where Even the Mental Stuff is Physical

By HERWriter
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Nobody was more surprised than me to find that purely physical changes, like avoiding wheat and other grains, could bring about mental improvement.

I mean, the disappearance of the bloating, and of the stabbing pain in my gut, made sense. The end of insatiable, voracious and constant hunger was an incalculable relief and an unexpected bonus. When I stopped a physical behaviour (eating grains) I felt a physical consequence. Logical, right?

But I had not expected to find that the pervasive mental fog, the memory lapses, the cognitive sputtering, and the swirling in my head would also diminish.

Nevertheless, that is what happened when I went on a low carb diet. And it happened very quickly. I noticed a dramatic change within 48 hours. I could think more clearly, and remember what was said to me. I didn't have a nauseating, undulating ball of seasickness in my head, all because I turned away from a sandwich, and cereal, and hamburgers in buns.

Spaghetti had to go, as did toast and English muffins. Pancakes and French toast are a thing of the past. Even basmati, the low glycemic rice, is off the list.

I add flour to thicken gravy at my peril. Granola is NOT the healthy choice around here. Taco salad is great without the tortilla and there is no pain from a gyro without the pita.

I loved that stuff, and I still miss it sometimes. Now that I am in better health, I actually find that I can "cheat" with all of these foods once in awhile.

But only once in awhile.

Me, I don't like pain in my gut, nor fog in my head, either. Apparently my brain and my gut talk to each other, and they both agree that I should keep away from these foods. So to keep what is precious, my health and my mind, I happily forego the grains.



Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

What does it matter if she feel miraculously better? So long as everyone else here has heard that low carb diets are bad for you.

October 14, 2009 - 4:11pm
EmpowHER Guest

When you move from using glucose to fuel your brain to ketones, which are the biologically preferred method, you have a shake-out period of a couple of weeks. After all most of us need to detoxify from an actual addiction to sugar. And in fact there is good evidence that you have a more global, broader perception with a low carb diet.

Add to that that many of us have gluten sensitivity, which disappears with a low carb diet, and there is much better cognitive ability.

m is correct that a longer study would have had different results.

And isn't it curious that a high carb diet is considered "balanced" when for most of human history we ate a low carbohydrate paleolithic diet with only a few nibbles of the indigenous grass heads in season.

Karen Vaughan, Licensed Acupuncturist and Registered Herbalist (AHG)

May 15, 2009 - 11:09pm
EmpowHER Guest


One problem with that study, the diet only lasted 3 weeks. Most people need at least 3 weeks to adapt to a low-carb diet.

You're body can make all the glucose it needs from protein through gluconeogenesis.

Had they extended the study to 3 months, they would have found that mental function improved.


May 15, 2009 - 2:49pm

Hi Jody, it's great to read how well you feel and think on your diet. That's wonderful!

However, there are studies that show low carbs diets impair mental ability. I know when ever I've tried low carb I don't feel mentally sharp.

I did a review on a study in Jan this year that showed low carb diets affect memory and cognitive function. It was a small study on a group of women who did complex mental tests during a three week diet. Half the women followed a low carb diet, and half were on a balanced low calorie diet. Here is the review: http://www.my-weight-software.com/low-carb.html

The women on the low carb diet performed worse in memory tests than those on the balanced diet. The researchers thought that the lack of glucose from low carb diets affected their brains. Both groups lost the same amount of weight! I guess a diet that works for one may not work for another.

May 15, 2009 - 2:04pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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