Fibromyalgia and Nutrition

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“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 there’s need to do the math to illuminate you of the seriousness of this problem. Not only that, but the importance of taking matters into your own hands and trying to do something about it. I am not advocating ditching doctors, nor do I advocate abandoning medicine because I know the value it has had on our society. However, that old adage “you are what you eat,” might actually be very telling of the human race.

I believe food has a great impact on our health. We can see with our 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 everyday 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: 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 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 and whether you are a skeptic or true believer in the benefits diet can have on your health, the stark reality is that it is far cheaper to change our diet that 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. I am not pushing you to be vegan or pushing you toward any specific diet. This is a personal decision and one that can affect many aspects of your life, to include your wallet and your family. I do advocate research of what might be the best for you and I am going to share with you some important information about the Anti-inflammatory Diet, as shared with me 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, sharing with me some great information I couldn’t wait to use.

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 that 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 eating meat also caused a lot of inflammation. I only eat chicken and fish, but I was wondering if that too, I should eliminate. 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. 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 realise 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.”

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.

Before I go want to leave you with a well rounded bit of advice, in case going the anti-inflammatory diet is not the path for you, whatever your reasons. Here are some general tips I have heard 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. So give it some thought, do your research and make a plan of attack. It can only help better 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.

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