Diet can go a long way in helping fibromyalgia and other rheumatic conditions
Fibromyalgia is a condition which causes pain and stiffness in muscles. Other fibromyalgia symptoms include unexplained tiredness, lethargy, poor concentration and memory, digestive symptoms as well as anxiety and feeling low.
Although the range of symptoms experienced by those suffering from fibromyalgia is broad, the most troublesome of these is often pain in the muscles and joints.
In naturopathic theory, inflammation in these tissues arises as a result of a disturbance of mineral metabolism, making it important that we change from an acid producing diet to one yielding an alkaline surplus.
This change in diet can also help those who suffer from other types of muscle and joint problems such as:
So, if you suffer from fibromyalgia, try this diet to help the pain in your muscles and joints.
- Wholefoods are best. Processed foods can be full of fats and salt – they may be quick and easy to prepare but are not giving your body the nutrients it needs to keep going. The nearer what you eat is to what it looked like originally, the better it is likely to be for you
- Give up ‘white’ for ‘brown’. Brown bread, brown pasta, brown rice. Short grain brown rice cooks quickly and is easy to chew. For breakfast, try oats instead of toast or cereal. Porridge is particularly great on cold mornings and full of useful nutrients
- Five a day is the modern mantra. Two fruit, three veg; three fruit, two veg; or any permutation. It is very important for anyone who suffers from fibromyalgia, or any other form of rheumatic pain, to avoid citrus fruit as these are thought to exacerbate symptoms – this means cutting out oranges, grapefruit, lemons and tangerines. However, non-citrus fruits should be encouraged, particularly those containing digestive enzymes beneficial to the gut such as pineapple, papaya and guava
- Leafy green vegetables, oats, dried fruit, seeds and beans are all rich in magnesium and help your body put calcium to good and proper use
- Can’t stand cooked greens? No problem – try cauliflower or cabbage. Much tastier. Or there’s turnip, squash, carrots, celeriac – organic if you can get them. If fresh vegetables are difficult to manage, use good quality frozen vegetables instead and have two portions with dinner. Or make a large pot of vegetable soup – a flask-full makes a healthy, tasty and quick lunchtime meal no matter where you are
- There’s no need to turn a complete vegetarian. Fish is easier to digest than red meat and full of useful oils so try them in your diet a couple of times a week. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna are good choices and will have positive effects on inflammation if you have fibromyalgia
- If you are an inveterate nibbler, dried fruit makes a great alternative to sugary snacks. Pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds are bursting with dietary nutrients
- Eating lots of dairy products is not a wise thing to do if you suffer from fibromylagia. Not only do they contain lots of fat but also large amounts of calcium, which the body may find hard to assimilate properly. This means that instead of the calcium being used to make healthy bones, it gets dumped in the wrong places and creates more inflammation and contributes to lessened mobility
- Other foods to avoid in your diet if you suffer from fibromyalgia are those from the deadly nightshade family – e.g. potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and aubergines. Interestingly, tobacco also falls into this category. This family of plants contains a group of alkaloids that have been shown to inhibit the repair of collagen in those with rheumatic pains and will help create inflammation and therefore pain
- When it comes to drinking, the best is also the simplest – still water. One and a half litres a day sounds a lot but it is only about 6 full tumblers. It can be done – easily
- Caffeine rich drinks such as coffee and some fizzy drinks are best avoided in your diet as they upset the system and can add to stress and anxiety, recognised as factors in fibromyalgia. Replace them with one of the vast variety of herbal or fruit teas, or a natural coffee substitute. And, try to limit alcohol intake. It’s not necessary to cut it out altogether – just be sensible!