Fibromyalgia and Nutrition

By Liza

“Fibromyalgia symptoms are only about 30% amenable to current pharmaceutical strategies on the market.” This is according to Kathleen Houlton, PhD, MPH, lead author of Potential Dietary Links in Central Sensitization in Fibromyalgia.

Given that statement and the current estimate of about 5 million people struggling with fibromyalgia (and no doubt the millions more who do not yet have a diagnosis), I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist to realize there is a problem. Because of these statistics and the general misunderstanding of fibromyalgia, I think is important to take matters into your own hands to try to do something about it.

I believe food has a great impact on our health. We can see with our own eyes the impact of over-eating or eating the wrong things, has on our body in terms of weight and nutrition. It is common sense and understood by most adults and even children, that eating fast food every day is not the best nutritional choice.

So why is it such a crazy leap to believe that what we eat affects our overall health? Simply put, what we eat gives our bodies the input it needs to function correctly. When we make bad food choices, we are giving our bodies the wrong input and placing ourselves at risk for a host of problems like diabetes and heart problems.

A Few Key Things to Know

  • Processing food removes nutrients.
  • Processed foods are chock full of additives such as: artificial colors, flavors, chemically-altered fats and sweeteners.
  • Even food grown in the ground has fewer nutrients, needing chemicals to aid in growing because nutrients have been depleted from our soil.
  • Two-thirds of our calories comes from corn, soy, wheat and rice.
  • No longer do we eat just for pleasure, but for convenience and speed, which prevents us from connecting over-all, without food (the preparation of it) and the people (our family), whom we typically eat with.

Our society, as a whole, is facing many challenges, the most significant of which is health problems. Whether you are a skeptic or true believer who treats her body as a temple, the stark reality is that it is far cheaper to change our diet than be faced with mounting prescription medicine costs as we age. The worst possible thing that could happen is that you receive absolutely no benefit from changing your diet, in which case you aren’t out some exorbitant amount of money, and you return to life as you knew it.

There is no push toward a specific diet, as this is a personal decision that can have a wide array of effects from your wallet to family life if you are the one cooking the meals. I advocate doing your own research to see what fits best for you, because you are more likely going to stick to it if isn’t too difficult or extreme.

Here is some important information about the Anti-Inflammatory Diet, which can help Fibromyalgia as well as Rheumatoid Arthritis, as shared by Jessica Curl, a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist Strength Coach and Owner of Gangsta Gym and Holistic Gangsta Education, who was amazing enough to reply to a message I sent her, giving me some great information to share with you.

She is a big fan of the anti-inflammatory diet and actually starts all her clients on a 4 week plan “cutting out all major food groups known to cause inflammation like: gluten, dairy, soy, alcohol, sugar, coffee, grains and anything processed.” I think 4 weeks is a reasonable amount of time to ditch those foods and see if it makes a difference. No commitment, but you will get valuable information that you can use to make an educated decision.

One of my questions she answered for me was about meat, and whether or not to eliminate it from the diet. I’ve heard a variety of information; especially how consuming meat can also cause a lot of inflammation. In my specific case, I only eat chicken and fish, but I was wondering if I should eliminate that too.

Here is how she explains it:

“It is going to depend on a few factors, the first, where the meat is sourced and how it is fed. Commercially processed meat will be fed with grains, gluten and corn and usually pumped with antibiotics and hormones to plump them up and get more out of them. So, you need to make sure the meat you’re getting is organic, hormone free and grass fed.”

And like me, she loves the farmer’s market! If you can research your areas and hit one up, not only will you benefit from the local food but you will be helping local farmers. Another thing to remember is you should always check with local farmers how they feed their livestock, as sometimes they are organic and grass fed, but the certification is so expensive it makes it difficult for the farmer to advertise his animals are organic.

The next thing Jessica told me is about quantity of meat.

“Having too much in one sitting will spike your blood sugar and your mTor pathway [mTOR (Mammalian Target of Rapamycin) is a protein, which is a molecule made up of amino acid residues (which is another way of saying amino acids that are bonded together–i.e. the residual molecular structures from the unbound amino acids.) (www.wikipedia.org, n.d.)] They say the average person can handle about 25-30g in one sitting before the rest of it turns to sugar in the blood. People don’t realize that because we are protein dominant society, but eating too much protein can be inflammatory for sure.”

Well said Jessica! And not only are we meat-dominant but our portions are huge. I know if we went out to a restaurant and my husband was served an ounce of food there’d be a serious case of “where’s the beef.” She concludes that “we should eat 75% veggies (majority non-starchy) with 15% from fat and 10% protein.” (Curl, 2018)

If you decide to go for it, here are the particulars as given to me by Jessica Curl:

  • 4 weeks engaged in the anti-inflammatory diet
  • Helps to reset digestion, flush out toxins in the body re-sensitize your insulin response and lower overall systemic inflammation.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Gluten
  • Grain, bread or rice
  • Sugar of any kind including fruit
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Soy (tofu, tempeh, soy sauce)
  • All processed foods
  • Soda or fruit juices
  • Dairy
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils)

You are encouraged to drink lots of water, green and herbal tea, apple cider vinegar, bone broth, lemon and lime in water, fresh vegetables only smoothie or water with chlorophyll in it. You may experience flu-like symptoms as your body flushes out toxins. This is normal. You can try upping your water intake which should help.

Here is some advice in case going the anti-inflammatory diet is not the path for you. These are some general tips I have learned, to help with fibromyalgia/chronic pain:

  • Load up on Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency can mimic fibromyalgia so all patients should be screened for it. Vitamin D as a supplement, should be taken during the winter months.
  • Avoid additives. Common food additives, like monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame, can act as excitotoxin molecules, and can increase sensitivity to pain.
  • Eat fish. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, like salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed, are known to reduce inflammation and help prevent cardiovascular diseases. They may also help ease pain in patients.
  • Eat those veggies. Most fruits and veggies are packed with antioxidants that battle cell-damaging free radicals in the body. It’s important to eat them and while a raw or vegan diet has been shown to be helpful most find it too difficult to adhere to. So, if you are going to eat some meat, make sure it is grass-fed and hormone free.

In the end you have to do what works for you. Give it some thought, do your research and make a plan of attack. It can only help improve your life by improving the quality of your life and so I think it is well worth it to try to implement some, if not all these tips.


Header Image Credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/flat-lay-photography-of-vegetable-salad-on-plate-1640777/

 

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