Fibromyalgia is a disease that wreaks havoc on a person’s body in many different ways.
From widespread and chronic pain to emotional distress and sleeping problems, people with fibromyalgia know how complicated and disruptive this disease can be to their overall mental and physical health.
Though there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, more and more information is coming out about how a person living with this debilitating illness can work to make some of their symptoms a bit less overwhelming.
We now know that many of the worst fibromyalgia symptoms may be lessened by getting adequate exercise, finding ways to alleviate some of life’s stressors, and practicing healthy self-care routines.
There is also a strong belief that a good fibromyalgia diet can make a difference in some of a person’s fibromyalgia symptoms as well.
Though not all people with fibromyalgia will have the same benefits or reactions to different treatment methods, trying to follow certain dietary guidelines may make a significant difference in your fibromyalgia symptoms and could be a key to living a less painful life going forward.
Eat a Diet Full of Fruits and Vegetables
Research continues to show that having a diet that consists of plant-based nutrients can make a big difference in our weight, our exterior look, our heart health, and even our overall mental health.
In 2001 a study was published that concluded that people with fibromyalgia may see a significantly surprising decrease in their physical symptoms when they focus heavily on a mostly raw vegetarian diet and maybe even a vegan diet.
The study said that raw vegetables and fruits are easier to digest, meaning that those who are experiencing irritable bowel symptoms and other types of digestive pain can really feel a difference when their food intake is mainly made up of raw fruits and vegetables.
It went on to point out that staying away from added spices or condiments when consuming raw fruits and vegetables is also going to be easier on a person’s system.
Food additives have been known to worsen many types of chronic pain disorders, particularly those associated with fibromyalgia.
There is also evidence that people who consume mainly fruits and vegetables also noticed a decrease in inflammation in their joints and muscles, another source of fibromyalgia pain for many who suffer from the disease.
So, if you are experiencing a significant amount of pain and inflammation, either in your joints and muscles or through irritable bowel symptoms, try focusing the majority of your caloric intake on vegan or vegetarian diets for a week to 10 days.
Of course, this can be challenging for many people. Even for those who truly enjoy raw fruits and vegetables, trying to be disciplined enough to make those foods the mainstay of your diet is not easy.
It also means that you’ll need to incorporate some lean protein in as well since a mostly fruits and vegetables diet won’t provide you with the adequate amount of protein that you need to function well.
But – if you can try and stick with a raw plant-based diet for a period of time, you may see some significant improvement that could be long-lasting if you can maintain that level of discipline.
Try a Mediterranean Diet
If going completely vegan or vegetarian is not ideal for you, another diet that may be a good option for you is to try the Mediterranean Diet for decreasing your fibromyalgia symptoms.
A Mediterranean Diet is particularly good for people who suffer from diseases like Fibromyalgia because many of the essential properties unique to it are the large number of anti-inflammatory foods that are part of it.
Some of the main suggested foods in the Mediterranean Diet still consist of a heavy amount of vegetables and fruits, just like vegan or vegetarian diets do.
It is also common for extra virgin olive oil to be a staple of the diet, providing a rich amount of healthy fat in your meal. People with fibromyalgia are encouraged to use extra virgin olive oil in all their meals for this reason.
However, with this healthy diet, you can also add in lean proteins (like chicken breast or pork) as well as plenty of fatty fish, particularly salmon and white fish as well.
These foods have great anti-inflammatory properties which are ideal for Fibromyalgia patients who suffer from a significant amount of joint pain.
Foods that are part of the Mediterranean Diet are also found to have a high amount of antioxidant-rich properties which have essential nutritional and symptomatic benefits as well.
Anti-oxidants are important for our bodies because they provide an effective defense mechanism against the toxins we ingest throughout the day.
Common toxins are found in certain foods as well as in the air around us. Though we can work to avoid certain toxins, it’s impossible to eliminate them from entering our bodies altogether.
Antioxidant-rich foods, however, can help to prevent these harmful toxins from setting up shop in our bodies.
Because fibromyalgia is a disease that taxes the body and reduces its ability to fight off free radicals and other toxic compounds that cause pain and advanced aging, having a diet rich in antioxidants are going to help keep your immune system strong and your body from aging as quickly.
Some vegetables that have high amounts of antioxidants in them include things like asparagus, tomatoes, spinach, and broccoli.
Avocado is a good source of antioxidants as well.
And, as far as fruits are concerned, eating a diet rich in blueberries, peaches and bananas is going to give your body a large dose of antioxidants and allow you to fight off the toxins that enter it more effectively.
If you are interested in trying the Mediterranean diet, there are some great recipe books available as well as websites that list easy-to-prepare meals that follow the plan.
Trying the Mediterranean diet for a month will give you an idea of how your body is responding to it and whether or not it is helping alleviate some of your pain and suffering associated with your fibromyalgia diagnosis.
Try a Gluten Free Diet
Another popular theory that has become more widely accepted in recent years is that adopting a gluten free diet can prove to have some positive outcomes for fibromyalgia patients.
Gluten is the substance found in most grains like wheat, rye, and barley.
Most of the breads that we regularly consume have gluten in them, as do many baked goods and popular sweets.
Certain individuals can’t tolerate gluten in their system and will have complications when they eat it.
Some of the most common complications tend to be things like irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other gastrointestinal symptoms as well.
People who suffer from a gluten intolerance also find that when they eat foods that contain gluten, their skin and hair health also change.
When gluten comes into contact with the small intestine, it produces an autoimmune-like response called celiac disease. People with fibromyalgia can often have a non celiac gluten sensitivity that results in many of these symptoms occurring and even being magnified.
Adopting a gluten free diet can be quite challenging for many people. Eliminating things like breads, baked goods, and pastas are all typically mainstay items that most of us enjoy eating on a fairly regular basis.
That said, it is becoming more and more common for gluten free versions of these foods to be found on our grocery store shelves.
Many companies now make gluten free versions of their pasta products, breads, and even cookies.
Some say eating items that are gluten free can take some getting used to, and that a person may have to sample a few different brands before they find the one that tastes best to them.
Gluten free foods also tend to be a bit more expensive compared to those that aren’t, since wheat is a relatively inexpensive ingredient to add to foods, and since the food additives used to make a gluten free food taste good can be costly.
But, if you think eliminating gluten from your diet may be the key to lowering or even eliminating some of your fibromyalgia symptoms, it is definitely worth trying it for a few weeks and deciding if it makes a difference.
Try a Dairy Free Diet
Another increasingly common belief about fibromyalgia symptoms is that there may be a direct correlation between the severity of your symptoms and how much dairy is in your diet.
Dairy products tend to play a big role in many of our daily meals. From milk in our coffee and cereal, to cheese on our sandwiches and appetizer dishes, dairy has long been a favorite food for many of us.
But, more studies continue to be published that suggest how difficult it is for our bodies to actually break down and digest many of our favorite dairy-rich foods.
For people who find that they develop digestive issues shortly after a meal that contains dairy in it, they will realize that their body has a lactose intolerance and is not going to do well with eating lots of foods that contain animal milk products in them.
Lactose is the natural sugar in milk and dairy foods. Your small intestine produces an enzyme called lactase to break this sugar down for digestion.
If your body doesn’t have an accurate amount of that enzyme, your gut will let you know.
For fibromyalgia sufferers who may be lactose intolerant, frequent episodes of gas and bloating are going to be common, since your body is going to turn that dairy into sugar more quickly than someone who doesn’t suffer from this problem.
Processed dairy products also contain certain hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics that may cause you to have severe digestive issues as well as increased body inflammation, something that is a common complaint from most fibromyalgia patients.
Like with gluten, it may be hard at first to eliminate dairy from your diet, especially if you are a big fan of cheese, milk, or yogurt.
But there are many milk substitutions available now at just about every grocery store.
Many people who want to eliminate dairy from their diet will turn to soy-based products as a reasonable substitute.
Soy milk has a taste that is quite similar to cow’s milk and much easier to digest. You can also find plenty of soy-based cheese products now, as well as yogurt brands too.
If you try soy and it’s not right for you, there are also dairy substitutions in the form of almond milk and oat milk as well.
One of the great things about other dairy substitutions is that – unlike gluten substitutions – alternative dairy products don’t typically tend to be more expensive.
Another added bonus is that their shelf life is longer than that of dairy ones.
If you think that eliminating diary-based foods and drinks from your diet may help your fibromyalgia symptoms, try experimenting with your different options until you find a taste and brand that is most appealing to you.
Try Keeping a Food Diary
If you have tried some of the above suggestions and you haven’t seen a noticeable difference in your fibromyalgia symptoms, here is another idea to try.
Many people with fibromyalgia have felt that keeping a food journal has helped them to pinpoint certain foods that seem to trigger their fibromyalgia symptoms more than others.
By writing down all the different foods (and drinks) that you consume in a day, you may be able to start seeing a pattern of what types of things that you put into your body create various symptoms to flare up.
For example, let’s say you drink a cup of coffee in the mornings with cream or milk. If you begin to experience digestive issues shortly after, try removing the milk or cream from your drink for a few days. If the digestive issues continue, consider switching instead to tea or another beverage that isn’t coffee.
You may find that it’s the coffee that is causing your stomach pains and not the dairy product.
As you write down the foods you eat throughout the day, you’ll start to see some patterns in your diet and your fibromyalgia symptoms.
This may not fully eliminate your pain, but it can help you start to figure out which foods you may want to try and avoid.
Keep Doing Your Research
Most people with fibromyalgia know how important it is for them to be their own advocates.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of support in the medical community for those with fibromyalgia. We must learn how to find our own solutions until our physicians and other healthcare providers start to take our symptoms more seriously.
Native Formulas is a great online resource for helping you discover all you can about fibromyalgia, your symptoms, and how your diet leads to those symptoms worsening.
In fact, you can download the free Biofilm Buster Action Plan to start learning what role you can take in improving your gut health and decreasing your fibromyalgia symptoms on your own.
If you’re ready to gain more control over your diet and begin to relieve fibromyalgia symptoms once and for all, come see what we can do to help.