Fibromyalgia is a disease that afflicts men and women in disproportionate numbers. This condition affects pain transmission in the central nervous system by skewing neural pathways. This culminates in chronic pain, along with a host of other symptoms.
Fibromyalgia patients develop secondary symptoms, including fatigue, sleep deprivation, irritable bowel syndrome and memory disturbances. This disease stems from a number of contributing factors, including genetics, environment, and psyche, as well. As it turns out, chronic pain is not merely a sensory problem, but rather, a cognitive-emotional one, as well.
How Is Fibromyalgia Generally Treated?
Research has uncovered a link between fibromyalgia and low serotonin. For this reason, antidepressants are always the first prescribed course of treatment for fibromyalgia patients. Antidepressants are often followed by additional remedies, including anticonvulsants and muscle relaxers.
Healthy serotonin production can improve mental acuity, pain perception and pain management, as well. Muscle relaxants and anticonvulsants simply treat the resulting muscle tension and stiffness of this condition. Furthermore, localized pain treatments, such as steroids, are injected at the site for temporary relief.
Medication alone will not suffice, in terms of yielding long-term comfort and wellness. A safe and professional medical regimen must be counterbalanced with a nutritious diet that excludes problematic food sources. While neither diet nor medication can cure this condition, a varied approach can lessen symptomatic responses.
Why Diet Is Important
A healthy diet can leverage the fight against this fibromyalgia. Many foods have been known exacerbate the symptoms of this condition. Hence, patients are encouraged to plan their meals methodically, while selecting the best sources of nutrition. Many foods can alter mood state and increase the excitability of the nervous system. This, of course, never bodes well for fibromyalgia patients.
The medical community does not recognize fibromyalgia as an inflammatory disease. However, recent studies seem to invalidate this widespread consensus. An inflammatory issue may actually complicate pain perception for fibromyalgia patients. This phenomenon is known as central sensitization, a natural result of inflamed spinal cells. Cell damage is believed to cause this state sensitization, and therefore, disrupt pain perception.
This brings us to the central importance of maintaining a healthy diet, and a selective diet at that (as some conventionally healthy foods appear to worsen symptoms). Many chemically based foods encourage the synthesis of neurotransmitters involved in central sensitization. With this said, it is important to exclude foods that heighten sensitivity of the central nervous system.
Sugar is the nemesis of all fibromyalgia patients. When sugar is consumed, it alters the glycemic index, spikes insulin levels, and intensifies pain beyond measure. The endocrine system of the body may be loosely correlated with central sensitivity, which underscores the importance of a low sugar diet. Even fresh fruit juices should be avoided. Whole fruit juice is the preferable choice for those with fibromyalgia.
Obesity, diabetes and hypertension present an additional risk factor for such patients. These individuals must exclude gluten from their diets entirely. Both sugar and gluten based products are processed similarly in the body. Hence, gluten can increase spinal sensitivity and pain, as well.
Fibromyalgia patients routinely exclude caffeine from their daily diets. As noted, the central nervous system is very reactive to stimulants such as caffeine. And when stimulants interact with the central nervous system, they cause sleep deprivation and intense pain.
A raw, organic diet containing unprocessed foods is ideal in most cases. Fibromyalgia patients should eliminate additives, preservatives, and other food products from their diets. Vegetables are a viable source of nutrition for anyone suffering from this condition. However, there is one exception. Nightshade vegetables, such as tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes, amplify pain symptoms.
Choose your fats very selectively. In the realm of nutrition, there are both healthy, life sustaining fats, and unhealthy fats. For example, omega-3 fatty acids aid pain management, as they improve the functional capacity of the nervous system. Unhealthy fats merely worsen symptoms.
Yeast, a common food additive, exposes patients to pain-inducing yeast fungus. So, try to avoid this as much as possible. Dairy is another food source that should be strictly avoided by sufferers of this condition. Fibromyalgia patients suffer from digestive issues and never respond favorably to processed dairy products. Raw dairy products are the recommended alternative in this case.
As noted, sugar intensifies fibromyalgia pain. Even aspartame-based sweeteners must be averted at all costs. Aspartame is an excitotoxin that stimulates the nervous system and increases pain sensitivity. It also appears the MSG, a common additive in unhealthy foods, produces the same effect. In essence, these foods are a toxic source of muscle irritation, fatigue and discomfort.
Managing Your Diet
Most people characterize diet regimens as tedious and time-consuming. However, you can streamline your diet plan with a food journal and pre-made meals. Journaling your food consumption will prevent you from overeating or consuming aggravating foods, such as soda and chocolate. Furthermore, pre-made meals will facilitate the process of eating healthy on the go. Your pre-prepared meals should contain a number of foods designed to fight fibromyalgia.
Your meals should contain a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables, minus the nightshade veggies. Fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals and antioxidants, which mitigate irritable bowel syndrome and other symptoms of this disease.
Try to incorporate more fish and walnuts into your diet, as omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and improve cognitive clarity. Lean protein is another invaluable means of sustainable health and wellness. The right protein source can help stabilize your insulin levels and prevent lethargy.
Studies have revealed that a vegan or vegetarian diet permits the most pain relief. Vegetables supply the body with an influx of disease-fighting components. Of course, this is an individual choice that may not suit the personal preference of every patient.
While not the most appetizing food options on the menu, broccoli, beans, tofu and oatmeal can provide a natural source of energy. As discussed, fibromyalgia patients must avoid caffeine, in spite of their lethargy. However, various foods can provide an instant boost throughout your day.