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Fibromyalgia Diet

Nutritional Factors Helpful for Fibromyalgia Treatment


 Read my disclaimer and terms of use.  

Related Pages:

Fibro Diet Part II - Some general guidelines I follow.

Allowed Foods - list of specific foods that seem to help or prevent my symptoms.

Foods to Avoid - list of specific foods that seem to make my symptoms worse.

Fibromyalgia Treatment - using moist heat, trigger point therapy and stretching for episodes of acute pain.

Sample Menus

 

My Fibromyalgia Story

I've probably had fibromyalgia to some degree for my whole life, though most of my life I didn't know it. The problem is that when you are born with a condition like that you don't know anything different. You don't know what it is like to feel "normal".

I knew I was always going to see different doctors. I was easily injured. I liked to exercise and enjoyed sports, but I often seemed to get sore or injured from everything I tried. After I was married, I noticed over time that my husband's medical file was paper thin, while mine would always be a couple of inches thick with records from doctor's visits and insurance claims.

When I was in my late thirties, after having two children, my pain and injury problems increased dramatically. This was the first time I was technically diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I'd never heard of the condition before. I also had other problems with:

There was a time when I felt like my body was falling apart. I was in so much pain I had trouble sleeping. I could not work. I could not go to school. I never knew what condition I was going to get diagnosed with next. I always knew when Thanksgiving was coming--not by looking at the calendar--but because I would start to develop signs of pneumonia around that time every year.

It was then that I finally decided to make a full time job out of researching what was wrong with me. Logically, it seemed like there had to be a common denominator to all these health problems. In the end it turned out there was. Partly they were due to genetics, but one major reason I had these problems was my diet.

Thanks to the Internet and a local rheumatologist , I eventually found out I had Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a genetic disorder that explained many of my diverse symptoms. A little further research helped me to link many of the EDS symptoms not just to genetic factors, but also to various nutritional deficiencies.

I may have a genetic predisposition to have EDS and fibromyalgia, but genes were not the only cause. My diet also played a big role. Since I changed my diet, I've been much better. I am working again and I can even ride my bike, go hiking and do aerobic videos these days. I've come a long way since it hurt to just chop vegetables or turn my head around when backing my car out of my driveway.

Fibromyalgia seems to be a common condition to people with EDS and other connective tissue disorders, but many people with fibromyalgia do not have EDS. The diet tips below are focused on the things that I did that helped my fibromyalgia and general pain problems.

If you have EDS, or common symptoms related to EDS such as bleeding problems or stretch marks, you may also want to check out my page on Ehlers-Danlos Diet.

Recommended Books:

Super Nutrition for Women book cover

Super Nutrition for Women: A Food-Wise Guide for Health, Beauty, Energy, and Immunity. I realized after reading this book that I had a lot of the nutritional deficiency symptoms described by the author, and that these were causing my fibromyalgia pain.

 

My Fibromyalgia Diet Changes

I get email from time to time from my web site readers telling me that one food or another on this list is not good to eat and I should take it off. The important thing to note is that this diet is what works best for me based on trial and error over the years. I've tested it out and, along with yoga and trigger point therapy, it is a big component of what has gotten me out of constant, chronic pain.

Ten years ago my husband and I thought we were going to have to move because I was barely able to get up and down the stairs of our two-story home. These days I am relatively pain free each day. I can work again, ride my bike, go hiking and do gentle exercise videos. I've even taken up archery and golf as hobbies. Therefore, I would not change my diet simply because a health expert has conflicting information on a different web site or in his/her book. There are relatively few natural foods in the world where there is a consensus among health experts as to which ones are the best to eat.

Also keep in mind that what works for me may not be right for everyone due to each person's unique biochemical individuality, allergic reactions and current nutritional status.

Even among my family members, we each benefit by emphasizing different types of food. So please view the diet below as general information in that it works for one person's fibromyalgia, and that the best diet for others may or may not be precisey the same.

The diet changes that helped my fibromyalgia are:

  1. Daily doses of homemade, low salt soup made with magnesium rich vegetables, some beans, a little meat and vegetable or bone broth. When I'm short on time I use a pre-made broth from the store called Kitchen Basics that I dilute with water to cut down on the salt content. When I have more time I make my own broth from vegetables and sometimes whole parts of the chicken including bones, tendons, and ligaments. I call this my anti-fibromyalgia soup. I think eating this broth with connective tissue from chickens has similar nutrients that help regenerate my own connective tissue. It is also high in vitamin B12 which our nutrition testing shows my family and I are frequently low in compared to the general population. Studies show vitamin B12 deficiency may be a factor for fibromylagia in others as well.

    The nearer the bone, the sweeter the meat.
    English Proverb

  2. Eating a little red meat each day, especially for iron and zinc.

  3. Cutting back on wheat and dairy, especially whole wheat products.

  4. Improving my digestion by eating organ meats occasionally and taking supplements or eating yogurt with beneficial bacteria. (Liver has a very high vitamin A content so experts caution that it is not good to eat in large quantities and some people should avoid it altogether. However, organ meat has many important micronutrients not easily found in other foods.)

  5. The yogurt that I currently find the most helpful is a brand called Mountain High. I find it is best to eat it in small amounts, and it is especially helpful if I have an upset stomach. (If I eat too much of it I get an over-acid stomach.)

  6. Eating more fat, especially some saturated fat. (Fat helps with nutrient absorption). While too much saturated fat is not healthy, I had been very thin and eating a very low fat diet when my fibro was at its worst. In hindsight, I realize now my very low fat diet contributed to many of my health issues.

  7. Increasing the amount of magnesium in my diet.

  8. Reducing the amount of magnesium antagonists in my diet, especially excess dairy, coffee, tea, alcohol, and whole grains.

  9. Avoiding whole grain foods, especially whole wheat. For me, I believe this may be because the phytic acid prevents mineral absorption.

  10. Avoiding multivitamin pills that do not contain any magnesium. Magnesium is often not included in multivitamin pills due to a lack of space - so the manufacturers often just leave it out! If you feel the need for supplements, usually powders or fortified snack bars are more likely to have appreciable amounts of magnesium, but you still have to check the labels to make sure. An article in the New York Times reviewed the dangers that may be associated with multivitamins.

  11. Avoiding eating too many fortified cereals as they often have an unbalanced mix of artificial vitamins and minerals and seldom contain any appreciable magnesium.

  12. Reducing the amount of sweets in my diet. A little honey seems okay, but any kind of regular sugar or fructose seems to make my symptoms worse.

  13. Avoiding foods with yeast.

  14. Eating a wide variety of homemade, whole foods without preservatives.

    No one has ever come into my office with disorders caused by eating too many fruits and vegetables.
    Bernard Jensen, You Can Master Disease

  15. Limiting the amount of salicylates in my diet. Salicylates block vitamin K and can cause bleeding issues if eaten in excess. Some alternative health experts believe salicylates contribute to ADD. I suspect this may be true, but mainly indirectly because of their ability to cause a vitamin K deficiency.

  16. Avoiding water that has been filtered or distilled. These processes can remove magnesium and other minerals.

  17. Avoiding foods supplemented with large doses of vitamin C. One of my sons gets severe leg pains if he drinks a lot of juice that has been fortified with vitamin C.

  18. Avoiding foods with caffeine - sodas, chocolate, tea, coffee, etc.

  19. Eating assorted nuts daily really has helped my aches and pains, but they are also high in fat so they have contributed to an unwanted weight gain. So lately I try to watch my calories and try to limit my intake of nuts such as almonds, pistachios and cashews to one ounce a day or less.

  20. I try to get some natural sunshine each day for vitamin D.

  21. I have had problems with iron deficiency anemia over the years, and recently found that cooking in iron pots has markedly improved my energy levels after a few days of continual use. These days I make my soup in a cast iron Dutch oven.

    If you think you might be anemic, you should consult your doctor who will most likely order a blood test. Severe anemai can be very serious and will most likely require iron supplements or other medical measures to correct.

  22. Initially I tried switching out refined grains for whole grains, My fibromyalgia did get better with this change, but then I developed insulin resistance. So I ended up having to go on a low glycemic diet. I still eat some grains, but I have to limit how much I eat.

I don't know if this diet will help everyone with fibromyalgia, but it has helped me to lead a more normal, pain free life.

"Connective tissue is 70 percent water, so being well hydrated is essential for the health and pliability of the tissues. "
Nancy Swayzee, Breathworks for Your Back

Proper hydration may be another good reason why soup may be helpful for tight connective tissue.

There are two books by Louise Ann Gittelman that I highly recommend for diet changes to help fibromyalgia. They are Super Nutrition for Women: A Food-Wise Guide for Health, Beauty, Energy, and Immunity and Your Body Knows Best. If you've found the information in my site interesting, then you'll like these books. I read a lot of health and nutrition books, but Ms. Gittelman's books are the only ones I've read where I agree with almost everything she says. She is one of the few nutrition authors around who understands that there is no one universal diet that is optimal for everybody. Your Bdy Knows Best is one of the few books I've read that that helps people to determine if a higher fat, higher protein diet might be best for their unique individual needs.

I changed my whole family's diet to eat more fat and red meat after reading the Super Nutrition for Women book. After we changed our diets, we had a lot less colds and much less fibromyalgia aches and pains.

Continued at:

Fibromyalgia Diet - Part II

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Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie.

Shakespeare

Recommended Links:

The Role of Magnesium in Fibromyalgia - if you like the information in my web site, you'll like this page, too. Lots of good references and lots of logic on the role magnesium deficiencies play in fibromyalgia.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME, CFIDS) and Fibromyalgia - some possible helps by Charles Weber, MS. Includes information on the role of potassium.

The Truths and Myths of the use of Guaifenesin for Fibromyalgia - An interesting article by Mark London.