Fibromyalgia and Food

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a disorder that affects everyone a little differently. Therefore, promoting a one diet approach for every FM patient doesn’t make a lot of sense. However, according to Ginevra Liptan, MD, medical director of the Frida Center for FM in Portland, OR, it is clear that what is included in a diet vs. what is eliminated makes a big difference for many FM patients. It has been reported that 42% of FM patients surveyed indicated their symptoms worsened after eating certain foods. Here are some recommendations about diet to consider:

  1. Pay attention to how food makes YOU feel. Many FM patients have sensitivities to particular foods, but this is highly variable from person to person. Sensitivity to MSG, certain preservatives, eggs, gluten, and dairy are quite common. Keep a daily food journal for at least 2 weeks and write down the foods eaten and any associated symptoms like headaches, indigestion (irritable bowel syndrome irritation – IBS), or fatigue.
  2. Try Eliminating Certain Foods. Many FM patients have irritable bowel symptoms, and using an elimination diet can help determine which foods to cut out. Try it out for no less than 6-8 weeks in order to get the best results. Then, add it back into your diet and pay attention to how it makes you feel. The most commonly eliminated foods are dairy and gluten and the most common improvement is in fatigue reduction and reduced IBS symptoms like bloating and constipation.
  3. If you think you might have food sensitivities or allergies, talk with us. Sometimes it is best to obtain an evaluation from an allergist for food allergy testing. Dietitians can also assist in assuring that you don’t eliminate essential nutrients when foods are eliminated from the diet.
  4. Make it easier to Eat Healthy. Everyone, including the FM sufferer, should try to eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains (if not gluten sensitive), and lean meats or protein. A well balanced diet will give you more energy, which in turn, can improve your overall health. When pain and exhaustion are present, choose healthy foods that do not require a lot of preparation such as buying pre-washed vegetables, or purchase pre-prepared foods like beet salad and quinoa.
  5. Use Food to Help Fight Fatigue. Consume foods in a way that increases energy levels and prevent fatigue. Anecdotally, FM patients have reported that eating small meals frequently vs. restricting themselves to 3 meals a day can keep blood sugar levels more even and prevent the “hypoglycemic lows.” A snack high in protein around 3pm can prevent mid-day fatigue.  Make sure your breakfast includes some protein and whole grains (again, assuming there is no gluten sensitivity). Focus on getting enough sleep and staying active during the day as these can also prevent fatigue during the day.
  6. Check on Your Supplements. Some supplements have significant side effects and can interact with medications. Talk to the prescribing doctor or pharmacist about this. For example, antidepressants and certain supplements can interact.
  7. Focus on Your Overall Well-Being. A multiple approach to managing FM symptoms works better than a single approach. Things like yoga, massage, and deep breathing exercises, as well as routine chiropractic treatments can improve the overall quality of life. Increasing the quality of life is the ultimate goal for managing the FM patient. Going to bed at a consistent time, not eating too late, and exercising regularly are key components.

How to keep your brain healthy- some natural secrets from Denver Chiropractic Center and featured guest Mike Roizen MD…

Repeat the mono mantra. Choosing monounsaturated fats instead of saturated fats for protection against brain damage from silent strokes. So, spread peanut butter (or the more sophisticated walnut, avocado, almond or cashew butter—note, yes we know walnuts have 6 times more omega-3’s than any other nut) instead of cream cheese on some celery or apple slices; olive oil and vinegar instead of Ranch or bleu cheese dressing on your salad; and a small handful (6 to 12 halves) of walnuts and a crunchy apple instead of snacking on chips or ice cream.

Catch some omega-3s, even if you don’t love fish. Three 3-ounce servings a week of non-fried fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids – like salmon, trout, haddock or sardines – can make your brain younger. Not into fin food? Take omega-3 capsules. We like the DHA form of omega-3s (and prefer algae-based supplements to fish oil) and recommend 600 to 900 milligrams a day.  I (Glenn) take 900 mg of DHA omega-3s a day (I actually take a purified fish oil available by prescription). Why so much emphasis on DHA? DHA is the healthy fat your brain needs — it is not a storage fat but a structural fat.   Only 2% of ALA (a healthy omega-3 in avocados and walnuts) makes it to EPA, the omega-3s thought to be healthiest for your heart. Only 2% of EPA goes to DHA.  But, DHA readily goes to EPA, so for the healthiest brain and heart, you want 900 mg of DHA a day. We eat avocados and walnuts too.

Focus on produce for brain-pampering vitamins. Drive-through dining with a multivitamin chaser won’t cut it. Aim to eat a rainbow of brightly-colored produce for your vitamin C. Get your B’s here: B6 from baked potatoes, roasted skinless chicken breast and chickpeas; seafood, yogurt or nutritional yeast for vitamin B12; and folate (yep, it’s in the B family) from spinach, lentils, papayas and asparagus. Add almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach or hazelnuts for your dose of mixed tocopherols (known as the active component of vitamin E). Top it off with a vitamin D supplement (1,000 IU of vitamin D before age 60, 1,200 after).

Enjoy lean, free-ranged (not fatty, feedlot or corn-fed) meats, and watch your sweets white carbs. Limiting these also helps protect your thinking ability.  Treat foods with saturated and trans fats and added simple sugars and syrups like criminals (they are). They steal your memories (and increase your risk of other bad things). Choose grass fed beef (way less artery-clogging saturated fat than corn fed); fruit veggies. Try to minimize grains (you don’t have to completely avoid them, I shoot for no more than 50 grams of carbs a day from grains. Sometimes, a guy just wants a sandwich).

Use Curcumin (or tumaric) as a seasoning spice for food.   Cheap mustard?  Yes, the yellow cheap stuff apparently is made with tumaric to give it taste rather than the more expensive mustard seed.   The amount in an average teaspoon is 17 mg. But, enjoy two to be sure, every day.

Do exercise with (as a bare minimum) 2 minutes of very intense exercise at the end of 30 minutes of walking or whatever a day, if your doc says you can. Impressive new research reinforced exercise’s importance as a secret sauce against Alzheimer’s. The study didn’t just do the usual memory tests. Most of my readers do more than this. It tracked the results against scans of brain sizes. In this case, a bigger brain means a better memory. Try kettlebells or CrossFit, or train for a triathlon.

Easy fat loss by going gluten-free

I decided to get strict with the gluten free diet about 4 weeks ago. I simply cut all wheat out of my diet, like I’ve suggested to so many of my Natural Treatment Program patients. I dropped about 6 pounds of fat since then without doing anything else differently. Granted, I’m still training for the Xterra Lory triathlon, and still working with my Russian Kettlebells.

For the record, I give myself one cheat meal per week.

Many people misunderstand gluten. Gluten is a type of protein found in certain grains. For some reason, some people are not able to digest this protein. They lack an enzyme – called transglutaminase – that breaks down gluten. The deficiency of the enzyme usually correlates with the severity of symptoms. The less you make, the worse you feel.

Since lab testing for gluten intolerance is inaccurate, the simplest way to assess yourself is to stop eating gluten containing grains – primarily wheat, and avoid processed foods. After about 2 weeks, take note of how you feel. Many people drop fat without trying, improve thier digestion, sleep better, are less moody, etc.

I’ve tried going gluten-free before, but this is the most effort I’ve ever put into it, and I feel a difference. By the way, the blood test I had at my MD’s office said I had no problem with gluten. So who’s right?