Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition mainly affecting the muscles and joints in various parts of the body, causing pain and stiffness. Other symptoms include fatigue, lethargy, depression, anxiety, brain fog and often digestive issues. Up until quite recently there was no diagnosis of fibromyalgia and sufferers were, unfortunately, often dismissed as imagining symptoms or termed depressed.
However, it is now recognized by doctors and treated with a variety of medications prescribed to relieve relevant symptoms. Fibromyalgia is thought to be an inflammatory condition, and as with most health conditions, positive nutritional and lifestyle changes can often get to the root cause of fibromyalgia and help to relieve many of the symptoms. Below are some of the most beneficial foods and supplements for those with fibromyalgia.
Recent studies support what nutritional therapists have long preached, that the antioxidant content of brightly colored fruit & vegetables, such as blueberries, offer protection against inflammatory conditions like fibromyalgia. Yet another reason to ensure you’re getting 5+ portions of brightly colored fruit & vegetables per day as part of your anti-inflammatory diet.
Brussel sprouts, like all dark leafy greens, are packed with health-promoting nutrients, including sulforaphane; a phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables which has been shown to have beneficial effects on joint cartilage and to help reduce the inflammation associated with fibromyalgia.
Chia seeds are a great vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids that have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on the body, including the joints. To help relieve the pain and stiffness of fibromyalgia, use a dessert spoon of chia seeds sprinkled on cereals, poached fruit, into soups and in baking.
Flaxseeds are a fantastic vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids that have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on the body, including the joints and muscles. To help relieve the pain and stiffness associated with fibromyalgia, use a dessert spoon of ground flaxseeds sprinkled on cereals, soups, desserts and in baking.
As fibromyalgia is an inflammatory condition, anti-inflammatory foods should be high on your “to eat” list. Ginger is prized for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and has proven to help relieve joint pain. Ginger is also well known for its digestive soothing properties, so will help if digestive issues are one of your fibromyalgia symptoms.
Oily fish such as salmon, especially wild salmon, are high in omega-3 fatty acids that have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on the body, including the joints. To help relieve the pain and stiffness associated with fibromyalgia, include at least 3 portions of oily fish per week in your anti-inflammatory diet.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a tried and tested remedy for joint pain. One of the reasons for this is that it improves digestion of foods by increasing levels of HCL in the stomach, thus helping prevent food intolerances, which may be a trigger factor in fibromyalgia. Take 1 tablespoon of “live” apple cider vinegar before each meal to enhance digestion and see if your symptoms improve.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are packed with antioxidants that exert an overall anti-inflammatory effect on the body, including the joints. Amongst other vitamins and minerals, they contain large amounts of vitamin K, another anti-inflammatory nutrient, which also promotes connective tissue and bone health. All of which are needed to help alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms.
5-HTP is a precursor to the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, low levels of which have been linked to fibromyalgia. In a recent study, patients with fibromyalgia were given a supplement of 5-HTP three times a day and noted a significant decrease in associated symptoms.
Many people with fibromyalgia find great relief from pain and stiffness by rubbing a gel or cream containing arnica onto affected areas. Arnica acts as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent and seems to be a very effective natural remedy for reducing pain and inflammation.
Some cases of fibromyalgia have been linked to inflammation of the gut that can result in an imbalance of healthy gut flora and increased gut permeability. When this happens undigested food particles and bacteria can cross the intestinal barrier into the bloodstream, causing a widespread inflammatory response. Probiotic supplements will encourage healthy gut flora, which is incredibly beneficial to one’s health and will help reduce the inflammation associated with fibromyalgia.
Adequate vitamin D levels are essential for a properly functioning immune system, strong bones and overall good health. In a recent study, participants with fibromyalgia who were given vitamin D supplements were shown to have a significant reduction in levels of pain and fatigue. When researching vitamin D the two things that stand out are the incredible importance of the vitamin and the fact that vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic proportions. The time needed varies depending upon skin type but if you’re not getting at least 15 minutes of sunshine every day, it’s highly recommended that you supplement with a quality vitamin D supplement.