It’s safe to say that most fibromyalgia sufferers would love to discover a miracle cure for the illness—or at least something that would provide significant symptom relief. While the medical and scientific communities still look for a surefire cure, following a vegan diet appears to offer substantial relief of fibromyalgia symptoms.
What is a Vegan Diet and What Can You Eat?
Many people define a vegan diet by what you’re not allowed to eat: namely, any products of animal origin. That includes meat, eggs and dairy products, but also less obvious sources like gelatin and honey. Some vegans also avoid white sugar because it is bleached in animal bones.
But a vegan diet is really just one that relies primarily on plant-based matter like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Although it can be challenging to follow such a diet, particularly if you frequently have to travel or eat in restaurants, the popularity and accessibility of products like soy milk and restaurants (such as Chipotle or Subway) where you can customize your own meal make it easier than ever to make a vegan diet very doable.
Health Benefits of Vegan Diets
Plant-based vegan diets have known benefits for many health conditions. Former President Bill Clinton famously adopted a mostly-vegan diet after undergoing emergency heart surgery. Researchers have already seen that vegan diets have positive benefits in managing heart conditions, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome that is a precursor to diabetes.
Vegan diets may be beneficial in treating fibromyalgia because plant-based foods are unlikely to cause inflammation, which can lead to pain and all-over soreness. Vegan, plant-based foods are also more likely to give you energy, which can help to counteract the fatigue that is common in fibromyalgia.
Drs. John McDougall and Dean Ornish have both created comprehensive diet programs that are low in fat and high in plant-based foods. As part of their research and the outcomes of those who follow their diets, they have discovered that a long list of health conditions are substantially improved by avoiding high-fat, animal-based foods.
The Right Kind of Vegan Diet
Following a vegan diet is not just about avoiding animal foods like meat and dairy. Many of us have known “junk food vegans” who still manage to avoid animal foods but don’t include many fruits and vegetables. The wide variety of processed foods means that it is now possible to follow a completely vegan diet that would still be considered unhealthy. If you don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables, a vegan diet can actually be worse for your health than one that includes meat and dairy. While it is entirely possible and realistic to follow a vegan diet and to be much healthier than someone who eats meat and dairy products, the nutrient content in vegan junk foods is usually just as poor as it is in traditional junk foods.
The desired outcome of following a vegan diet is that it can provide the vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Proper nutrition can actually heal your body from many health conditions, including fibromyalgia. Look to the purest foods that nature has to offer and you will almost certainly feel better, even if it’s not a complete cure.