What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. It’s a poorly understood condition and generally treatment involves one or more of the following; antidepressants, painkillers, cognitive therapies, counselling, exercise programmes and relaxation techniques.
What causes Fibromyalgia?
Conventional opinion is that fibromyalgia is caused by emotional or stressful events and the focus of treatment on cognitive behavioural therapies indicates that it is thought of as a psychological rather than a physical problem.
Here at the ethical nutrition company we think a little differently. If someone is experiencing pain throughout the body that is unexplained it’s highly likely that there’s an underlying biological issue at play. We find it quite puzzling that most Fibromyalgia research focuses on dealing with ‘perceived symptoms’ rather than attempting to figure out the multiple underlying issues.
It’s likely that it’s multifactorial condition which could include the following underlying issues:
Recent research has found that something called hypomethylation could be involved in fibromyalgia. This type of hypomethylation could result in a poor stress response impaired cell repair and lower protection against oxidative stress . The nutrients folate and vitamin B12 are incredibly important in reversing hypomethylation.
Inflammation and Oxidative Stress .
These two issues go hand in hand. Oxidative stress is when your body produces too many reactive oxygen species and doesn’t have enough antioxidant capacity to neutralise them. Without enough antioxidant protection this oxidative damage can lead to inflammation as the body tries to repair itself. Put simply, your body doesn’t have the capacity to ‘quench’ the damage that is occurring inside.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction .
Mitochondria are like the batteries of your cells. They provide the energy needed for all cells to function properly. If they’re not working correctly and cells aren’t functioning properly it could explain why fatigue and pain are common symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Metal allergy could be associated with fibromyalgia . The particular metals associated are nickel, mercury, cadmium and lead. These metals could play a role in mitochondrial dysfunction mentioned above .
Altered gut bacteria.
It seems that the gut bacteria could have a role to play. Fibromyalgia patients seems to have a different gut bacteria profile .
Low intakes of iron, magnesium and calcium are associated with Fibromyalgia [6,7].
Please note that this list is not exhaustive and often fibromyalgia is present alongside other conditions which indicates multiple factors at play.
What does all this mean?
To simplify, it means a lot of stuff is happening in body all at the same time which may have led to the development of fibromyalgia. The good news is that there are simple changes you can make! Everyone will have their own very personal development of the syndrome and have different causative factors for their symptoms. By making small, positive changes to your diet and lifestyle you can hopefully reduce the overall physiological stress to allow your body to function better.
As a general recommendation we think most people could benefit from eating less sugar, less refined carbohydrate, less meat, more fruit and vegetables, better quality fats, better quality protein and more omega 3. We recommend most people supplement vitamin D, at least in the winter months and vitamin B12 if eating a vegan diet. In addition to these recommendations the next section will cover some more specific tips for fibromyalgia.
Our Top 8 Nutrition and Health Tips for Fibromyalgia
Eat more anti-inflammatory and antioxidant containing foods.
This means without fail eating your 5-a-day fruit and vegetables but aim for 10-a-day. Foods like berries, green vegetables, turmeric, linseed & peppers have high levels of antioxidants.
Supplement extra folate and B12.
In the UK around half of adults between the age of 19-64 have insufficient folate levels . Research shows B12 and folate could help in fibromyalgia and ME/chronic fatigue syndrome . Choose a daily minimum of 400ug of methylfolate and 10ug of vitamin B12 in the form of methylcobalamin. Choosing the methyl forms helps the hypomethylation process mentioned earlier.
Eat foods rich in iron, calcium and magnesium.
Avocado, kidney beans, chickpeas, seeds, dark leafy veg, whole grains, bananas and dried fruit are all good options. If you choose to eat it, meat and dairy provide high levels of iron, magnesium and calcium. A good multivitamin can also top up these minerals. The best forms to choose are magnesium taurate, magnesium citrate, calcium citrate and iron glycinate. These forms are better tolerated and absorbed.
Avoid sources of heavy metals.
Cut out smoking and be mindful that nickel can be found in cacao products, walnuts, peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts . Mercury can be found in high levels in fish like tuna, if you do eat fish, choose wild fish and avoid tuna.
Eat more fibre.
A simple but effective tip. In particular make sure you’re getting prebiotics from foods like onions, garlic, asparagus, artichoke and bananas (not overripe). Prebiotics and dietary fibre have multiple health benefits but could help to rebalance any potential bacterial imbalances associated with fibromyalgia and get the gut clearing out toxins more effectively.
Easier said than done. Exercise when you can but make sure you don’t over-exercise when you’re feeling like you have more energy, you might get delayed-onset fatigue due to the dysfunctional energy production associated with fibromyalgia . Stretching and moderate aerobics could help .
Use ‘night mode’ or blue light filter on your phone and electronic devices. Read a book before bed rather looking at a phone screen. Expose yourself to dark at least an hour before bed, you’ll start to produce a sleep hormone called melatonin which helps you sleep and also protects your energy-producing mitochondria!
When you except that health will never be perfect you might uncover happiness that was there all along.
Even though this information is specific to Fibromyalgia, remember that many of the points above can relate to general energy dysfunction.
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We really hope you find this information useful and please feel free to share with anyone you think it might help.
Disclaimer. This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Please consult with your doctor before making lifestyle and dietary changes. Due to the medicines act 1968 we are unable to give any advice on the following conditions: Cancer, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, H.I.V and A.I.D.S., Kidney Diseases, Locomotor Ataxia, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Tuberculosis.