A healthy and nutrient rich diet is extremely important, irrespective of whether you’ve any illness or even if you’re fully fit. Consuming a variety of food items, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, healthy and low fats, dairy products and protein enriched food not only gives you energy but also strengthens your immunity. And given our present lifestyle and the wear and tear of it, one may fall victim to any acute or chronic disease. Many of the disorders in modern times go without any effective treatment even after all the latest technological advancements. One of such infamous pain disorders is Fibromyalgia. Read on to know more about Fibromyalgia and how you may ease its effects with a properly targeting Fibromyalgia diet.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
People suffering from Fibromyalgia have really hard time keeping up with their day-to-day activities. It can seriously reduce the quality of your life while impacting many aspects of your body and mind.
Its main symptoms include fatigue, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, cognitive difficulties, headache, low back pain, and illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematous and osteoarthritis.
As a results, eating disorders, like obesity and over-weight, are also quite common in most FM ridden patients.
Now, that you have a fair idea about Fibromyalgia and its symptoms, let’s go ahead and find out the ideal Fibromyalgia Diet for you. We’ll explore the essential nutrients that you should intake, and the food items that you should eat and avoid. In addition to that, I’ll provide you with some tips and tricks so as to be able to follow an ideal Fibromyalgia diet plan.
Back pain is one of the major symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Essential Nutrients of a Fibromyalgia Diet
In last few years, several studies have been conducted in order to understand the cause, effects and possible treatment of Fibromyalgia. Some of the most commonly found nutritional deficiencies among FM patients are:
- Antioxidants (like Coenzyme Q10)
- Ferritin and Iron
- Trace Elements such as selenium, zinc and magnesium
- Branched chain amino acids especially valine, leucine and isoleucine
- Vitamin D
Although, it’s still unclear whether they are the cause or consequence of Fibromyalgia, a study claims that Binge Eating Disorder (BED) or poor eating habit is closely associated with Fibromyalgia.
Therefore, eating food items rich with essential nutrients is pretty important to balance and meet your daily nutrition requirement. You’re also recommended to eat from all the main five food groups (as mentioned below) every day so as to achieve a healthy and well-balanced Fibromyalgia diet.
- Vegetable, legumes or beans
- Whole–foods (Grains & cereals)
- Meat, poultry and protein (Fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, etc.)
- Dairy products with reduced fat
By managing a balanced Fibromyalgia diet, you can ensure an optimal nutrient intake, avoid deficiencies related with FM, and maintain a healthy weight.
Grapes are a natural source of beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols
The Perfect Fibromyalgia Diet
Since Fibromyalgia is a rheumatoid disease, with chronic pain and oxidative stress being the main concern, eating anti-inflammatory food-items that are rich in antioxidants is extremely beneficial. For instance, uncooked raw vegan products called the Living Food.
Here’s a comprehensive list of easily available food items that you can choose from and prepare a healthy Fibromyalgia Diet.
1. Go Vegan with Whole-Foods Plant-based Diet (WFPB Diet)
According to research conducted by the National Institute of Health, it has been concluded that Fibromyalgia patients can be helped by a mostly raw vegetarian diet or unprocessed food.
Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components. Therefore, eating from a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits will ensure the intake of all the essential nutrients.
Here’s a list of vegetables and fruits that you can include in your Fibromyalgia diet plan:
- Leeks, onions and garlic
- Carrots, spinach and parsley
- Capsicum (Green, red, etc.)
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower
- Green leafy vegetables
- Thyme and oregano
- Sweet Potatoes
- Eggplant, grapes and berries (blueberries, cranberries, blackberries)
- Pumpkin, mangoes and apricots
- Citrus fruits and apples
- Pink grapefruit and watermelon
- Oranges, blackcurrants, kiwi and strawberries
2. Eat whole-grain food
Whole grains are the healthiest kind of grains compared to refined and enriched grains. Also called as cereals, whole grains are the seeds of grasses cultivated for food.
So, make sure at least half of your grains intake is whole-grains. You can easily find the whole-grain version of rice, bread, cereal, flour and pasta at most grocery stores.
Examples of whole-grains that you can include in your Fibromyalgia diet:
- Brown rice
- Bulgur (Cracked wheat)
- Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers
3. Increase your Omega–3 fatty acids intake
Novel Techniques in Arthritis & Bone Research claims that diets enriched with omega-3 fatty acids and plant proteins can ease the pain associated with Fibromyalgia.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in seafoods such as fish as well as flaxseed or linseed, soybean, and canola oils. You can also take dietary supplements such as fish oil to increase levels of omega-3 fatty acids in your body.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in some foods and can also be added to some fortified foods as mentioned below:
- Cold-water fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines.
- Nuts and seeds (flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts).
- Plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil).
- Fortified foods (such as certain types of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages, and infant formulas).
Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C.
4. Spice-up your meals
Herbs and spices are full of chemical compounds with anti-inflammatory effects. Some of the most effective anti-inflammatory herbs and spices include:
- Jamaican allspice
- Apple/Pumpkin pie spice mixture
- Gourmet Italian Spice
Now, keep in mind that you don’t have to consume these spices in mega doses rather just enough amount to keep your meals tasty.
5. Drink Water
Drink Water to avoid dehydration, headaches, mental fog, backache and fatigue.
Foods to avoid in a Fibromyalgia Diet
1. Sugar, salt and simple carbs
Sugar, salt and refined carbs are usually anti-nutrients. A diet high in these substances can fuel inflammation, cause calcium retention, tighten muscles, weakens the immunity, and causes fatigue and bloating. Therefore, limiting their intake is quite important.
(Tip: Always read the label and check for sugar levels before buying a food item.)
2. Yeast and Gluten
Cutting down on yeast can help manage the pain associated with Fibromyalgia.
Gluten causes many stomach ailments and digestive problems. It’s also responsible for fatigue in FM patients.
Therefore, going yeast and gluten free can bring some significant improvements in the health of Fibromyalgia ridden patients. However, it’s important to consult with your doctor and come up with a proper plan in order to gradually quit gluten without ending up with nutrient deficiencies.
Many FM patients turn to caffeine rich beverages to refill their energy levels and become active. But consuming too much of caffeine or items such as coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate can instead increase the fatigue. Therefore, cutting down on your caffeine intake can make a huge difference in your fatigue level within a week or so.
4. Meat and Dairy products
People with Fibromyalgia should decrease their intake of dairy products since they contain saturated fat. You can go for low fat versions or dairy alternatives such as soy milk.
Cutting down your consumption of non-vegetarian meals or read meat to be specific can also help FM patients manage the symptoms. You can go for turkey, fish, and vegetable-based substitutes instead.
5. Food Additives/ Chemicals
Food additives such as Excitotoxins, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and artificial sweeteners may worsen some of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Thus, eliminating such food additives from your diet can reduce FM symptoms to a great deal.
6. Nicotine and Alcohol
Nicotine and alcohol are anti-nutrients and stimulants. Thus, avoid smoking and drinking while managing Fibromyalgia.
7. Nightshade plants
There are around 2000 species of nightshade plants. Tomatoes, potatoes, chilly and bell peppers, and eggplants being the most common. Though these vegetables are highly nutritious, some FM patients claim that they can trigger various types of arthritis including Fibromyalgia.
So, it’s ideal to check for yourself or consult with your doctor to find out whether you’re sensitive to nightshade plants or not, before banning them from your fridge.
Eating too much sugar may increase your risk of heart disease
Consult your doctor for supplements
Before you take any supplements to meet the necessary intake of elements such as magnesium and Vitamin D, make sure to consult with your doctor. Since, supplements, be it chemical or natural, can have different effects in different people. For some, it can bring positive results, but for others, it can have adverse effects.
Therefore, check with your doctor to see if you can take supplements for anti-inflammatory effects and manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Since there’s no effective treatment or cure for Fibromyalgia at present, making healthy dietary choices may certainly help, as claimed by various studies.
By keeping the aforesaid tips in mind, you can manage the symptoms of Fibromyalgia more easily. But, remember different people have different food sensitivities or allergies. A diet plan which works for one patient may not be that effective for others. So, be careful in choosing the food items while preparing your diet plan for Fibromyalgia.
Apart from eating healthy, there are other measures that you can take, such as:
- Daily Exercise
- Sleep hygiene
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
For more practical information on Fibromyalgia, you can get yourself the most up-to-date, comprehensive treatment guide (The FibroManual: A Complete Fibromyalgia Treatment Guide for You and Your Doctor) on Fibromyalgia, by Ginevra Liptan, a renowned physician who herself has the condition.
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