Role of dietary modification in alleviating chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms: a systematic review

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2017 Aug;41(4):338-344. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12670. Epub 2017 Jun 14.


Objective: To review the evidence for the role of dietary modifications in alleviating chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms.

Methods: A systematic literature review was guided by PRISMA and conducted using Scopus, CINAHL Plus, Web of Science and PsycINFO scientific databases (1994-2016) to identify relevant studies. Twenty-two studies met the inclusion criteria, the quality of each paper was assessed and data extracted into a standardised tabular format.

Results: Positive outcomes were highlighted in some included studies for polyphenol intakes in animal studies, D-ribose supplementation in humans and aspects of symptom alleviation for one of three polynutrient supplement studies. Omega three fatty acid blood levels and supplementation with an omega three fatty acid supplement also displayed positive outcomes in relation to chronic fatigue syndrome symptom alleviation.

Conclusions: Limited dietary modifications were found useful in alleviating chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms, with overall evidence narrow and inconsistent across studies. Implications for public health: Due to the individual and community impairment chronic fatigue syndrome causes the population, it is vital that awareness and further focused research on this topic is undertaken to clarify and consolidate recommendations and ensure accurate, useful distribution of information at a population level.

Keywords: chronic fatigue syndrome; diet; supplementation.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / diet therapy*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status