Do and Don’t Foods for fibromyalgia and chronic pain

Fibro is a complex cluster of complaints – not just chronic pain and stiffness but sleep issues, irritation and complications with neurotransmitters and hormones that effect mood and energy levels. There can be allied symptoms from irritable bowel to tinnitus. Give a questionnaire to five different fibro sufferers and you may get some similarities in pain sensitivity spots and in triggers to flare ups but you will also get a diversity of responses too. Some seem to have clearly identified food intolerances, others are sporadically triggered. So there is no ‘one fits all’ diet but in terms of the more common denominators here is what you might consider avoiding and what you might consider including.

Five foods to avoid

1. Artificial sweeteners and particularly Aspartame can increase activity/sensitivity of peripheral nerves – hence there designation as ” excitotoxins”. These ” excitotoxins” are also know to stimulate the NMDA pain receptor in the nervous system and some people with fibromyalgia have an increased expression of NMDA receptors in their skin – so more agitation spots to be triggered.

2. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is also an excitotoxins with the ability to activate neurons, stimulate NMDA receptors and increase sensitivity to pain. the fact that it is found predominately in takeaway food means that your exposure to it is linked to a junk food meal which is not the ideal anyway – not moralizing – it is just that fast foods are common triggers to fast flare ups.

3. Cheese and dairy can triggered the flare ups of the ancillary conditions of fibromyalgia in some people – the migraines and the stomach upsets but also dairy can impact upon episodes of joint pain. Not in every case so try soya for a week or so and if no radical changes occur then you can phase it back in.

4. Breads and wheat products – as Gluten intolerance and yeasty issues can overlap with fibromyalgia in some sufferers you might want to try an elimination experiment to see if you are one. Lessening bread and cakes and biscuits is as much about lessening the additives that can also excite complications and diminishing the carbs and sugar spikes too. The gluten free movement is not for everybody and so healthy wholesome homemade bread or artisan breads with simple ingredients may be an option.

5. Sugary snacks – any health issue is better for the cutting out of simple carbohydrates and sugary snacks. Blood sugar spikes just glitch our immune system and can trigger pain sensitivity flare ups and fatigue episodes but also feed candida and other chronic yeast infections that can be a secondary condition of fibromyalgia. Better glucose contol helps neurotransmitter do their job properly and so lessen episodes of misfiring pain signals.

Five foods to favour

1. Cherries – sweet or sour – have anthocyanins that are protective of cell and nerve damage, display some natural pain desensitizing and also are lauded for inhibiting the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes associated with inflammation and pain signalling. The more sour cherries are a rare food source of melatonin (the sleep inducing hormone) and so are very beneficial to address sleep cycle disturbance.

2. Sweet potato and other Orange coloured foods contain the potent antioxidant Beta-cryptoxanthin which prevents free radical damage your cells and nerves. There is also a growing link between low antioxidant intake and depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Bright foods are cheery and can improve mood and appetite but even more importantly Sweet potato is an alternative to potatoes and other foods of the Solanaceae family which can trigger fibro flare ups.

3. Omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in oily fish, walnuts, and flaxseed are a natural ibuprofen. Known to alleviate arthritic pain of the neck and back and morning stiffness. Omega-3 fatty acids also reduce inflammation in joints, connective tissue and muscles..

4. Mushrooms are a natural source of vitamin D – if pain is keeping you from a walk in the sunshine then here is your natural supplement. Vitamin D is not only a precursor of your ‘happiness hormones’ (lifting mood and alleviating depression and insomnia) but Vitamin D deficiency can trigger bone and muscle pain. People with a D deficiency also require nearly double the dose of painkillers as those adequately stocked up.

5. Alkaline Veg – the dietary fiber in veg is great to detox the body of excess sugars and lingering “excitotoxins.” and there are plenty of healthy minerals beneficial to nerve health and cellular regeneration contain within but there is also a connection between an alkaline diet and reduced levels of muscle spasm and chronic pain.

Five herbal teas to have around.

1. Chamomile is long associated with restful sleep at night and daytime relaxation, traditionally utilized to alleviate the symptoms of insomnia, depression, stress and anxiety; it is also relieving of digestive problems. Its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and tranquilizing properties are great to soothe fibromyalgia flare ups.

2. Mint contains Pain relieving menthol – great to numb tension and migraine headaches. It is also soothing the blood vessels and nerves and beneficial to many of the sensitivity pain points of fibromyalgia. Beneficial to easing neck tension and soothing stomach problems.

3. Rosemary promotes concentration levels perfect to deliver some well needed alertness to counter the fibro fog. It is also a tea traditionally used with cluster headaches and migraines and to ease trapped muscle tension and inflammation. It is a natural analgesic, long used to relieve arthritic and joint pain symptoms.

4. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and pain numbing but excellent for the ancillary problems of fibromyalgia being traditionally utilized to combat nausea, upset stomach and irritable bowel syndrome. It can also help manage glucose levels and slow weight gain.

5. Green tea contains theanine an amino acid which prompts a non-drowsy relaxation response in mind and body, reducing physical tension and psychological stress, and known to have a knock-on effect of improved sleep. Tea also contains a phytochemical know as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which suppresses inflammation of the connective tissues and inhibits joint pain.

About The Holistic Gardener

author of wellness books, columnist, keynote speaker.
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