This is STEP 2 – my Fibromyalgia Food Map (FMFM) which is a more detailed food plan based on common FM symptoms.
Since pain is the foremost symptom of fibromyalgia, it is very crucial to eat and fortify our diet with anti-inflammatory foods. These foods are those which contain omega oils, phytonutrients, anti oxidants such as vitamins A,C and E, vitamins B and D and also minerals like magnesium and potassium.
- The tomato has been referred to as a “functional food,” a food that goes beyond providing just basic nutrition. Due to their beneficial phytochemicals such as lycopene, tomatoes also play a role in preventing chronic disease and deliver other health benefits – read more on tomatoes here. It is a good idea to see the effects of tomatoes on your system, because although tomatoes are excellent, certain health challenges including fibromyalgia may be aggravated by tomatoes.
- Coconuts are highly nutritious and rich in fibre, therefore helping to reduce pain
- Olives and olive oil – the phytonutrient, oleocanthal, mimics the effect of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation.
- Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards are nutritional powerhouses.
- Nuts like almonds and walnuts are high in Vitamin E and Omega 3 and 6 which help to prevent inflammation
- A marker of a food chock-full of antioxidants is its deep color, and beets are a prime example! The umbrella category of antioxidants includes a great deal of substances. In general, they fight to repair the cell damage caused by inflammation. In the case of beets, the antioxidant betalain gives them their signature color and is an excellent anti-inflammatory.
- Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, trout and sardines which are rich in Omega 3 again working as an excellent anti inflammatory agent
- Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries (see below). I am dedicating a full post to strawberries because they are an amazing inclusion to your dietary plan.
- Turmeric – and its primary compound, curcumin, is its active anti-inflammatory component.
- Brown seaweed extract – personally, I am yet to include this is my recipes or in my dietary plan, so I am not ready to comment on this.
- Ginger – Rhodiola Rosea increases ATP function which then reduces muscle fatige and stiffness. Ginger, used fresh, dried, or in supplement form and extracts, helps reduce inflammation caused by overactive immune responses.
- Avocados – there is everything superb about this gift from the heavens! (but I admit, I do not like avocados!!!)
- Pineapple – the enzyme bromelain reduces inflammation and also is known to help in the reduction of tumours.
Another common symptom is stiffness, especially in the morning. This is similar to having arthritis and rheumatism. Foods to help ease stiffness and arthritis pain include
- Cruciferous veggies – broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. These veggies contain sulforaphane which slows down cartillage damage.
- Fatty fish – also mentioned as an anti inflammatory for pain
- Allum – includes garlic, onions and leeks. Vegetables from this family contain diallyl disulfide which are also said to be beneficial in slowing down cartillage damage.
- Tart cherries – Some people with arthritis have found relief from products made from tart cherries. The ingredient in cherries that helps with joint symptoms is the same one that gives this fruit its red color—anthocyanin
- Berries and fruits – strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, or cantaloupe. The antioxidants in vitamin C may slow the progression of OA, research finds.
Yet another tiring symptom! Pun intended!!
Reduction of fatigue has often been connected to increasing the amount of protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins A and E, magnesium and Omega 3. Foods that will definitely boost your energy are
- Nuts – such as almonds and cashews are rich in everything that helps reduce fatigue.
- Cruciferous veggies – as above
- Dark Chocolate – which has less sugar than the lighter varieties, therefore less prone to causing a sugar spike but instead has the potential to boost energy.
- Herbs – Spicy herbs can help rev up your metabolism and give you an energy boost. For example, peppers contain the compound capsaicin that can increase your metabolism
- Dark green leafy vegetables which contain high levels of iron which promotes red blood cell circulation, thus helping you feel more alert.
- Pineapple – it has high amounts of thiamin, a B vitamin that is involved in energy production.
Generally speaking what we are looking for to increase our energy levels are complex carbohydrates. There is nothing all the wonderful proteins, minerals and vitamins can do unless accompanied by carbs. Select (in moderation of course) from the below to pick up your afternoon inertia:
- Low fat dairy products
- Whole grains such as quinoa and barley
- Citrus fruit
- Sweet potatoes
A little bit of a science lesson is required here. There is a a sort of a chain reaction to help alleviate depression which requires 5HTP. It ONLY comes from Griffonia simplicifolia, an African woody shrub – which is not easy to get! So in order to make 5HTP we need an amino acid known as trytophan. This tryptophan will create the much needed serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical nerve cells produce. It sends signals between your nerve cells. Serotonin is found mostly in the digestive system, although it’s also in blood platelets and throughout the central nervous system. Serotonin is pretty much responsible for regulating your mood, your sleep and it also affects your anxiety levels.
Let me also add at this point that tryptophan is not capable of producing serotonin on its own. It needs to be fortified with carbohydrates and magnesium.
There is more, in order to produce serotonin, the body also needs sunshine, exercise and it helps to have a positive outlook towards life!
There is also another amino acid called tyrosine which produces the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is believed to play a role in cognitive function, reward, motivation, and allowing us to feel pleasure.
So, what then will help to provide all these nutrients? There is a pretty long list
- Eggs – please include the yolk because it is the yolk which is high in tryptophan and tyrosine.
- Cheese – are rich is both tryptothan and tyrosine. Cheddar is a good choice but as an alternative to standard types of cheese, many people like to eat cottage cheese because it has lower fat.
- Pineapple – contains high amounts of vitamin C and manganese. These tropical treats are also a good way to get important dietary fiber.
- Coconut – the water contains high amounts of magnesium.
- Tofu and vegan protein
- Nuts and seeds = as above
- Fatty fish – the high content of EPA and DHA in the fish oil play a big part in helping brain function.
- Turkey – yes it contains tryptophan but seriously, is it really as super as it is made out to be?
Being tired and yet not being able to get proper sleep is a very, very common complain of most fibromyalgiacs. Melatonin is an essential hormone in promoting sleep and just like depression, it needs serotonin. Serotonin is used to make melatonin in the pineal gland.
To get the best results of food, eat more chicken and turkey, milk and dairy as well as nuts and seeds. Combine these with rice, pasta or potatoes to help the body get the most benefits from tryptophan.
This is basically a memory problem which manifests itself in the form of cognitive problems, lack of focus, forgetfulness and confusion. Increasing food rich in magnesium and vitamin D will be beneficial. In addition to this, taking measures to improve sleep and reducing depression will also lessen fibro fog. Food rich in vitamin D are:
- Egg yolks
- Fatty fish
- Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals.
- Beef liver
Digestive problems which include but are not limited to irritable bowel syndrome, general reflux and stomach ailments, leaky gut and dysbiosis, tend to be a very common symptom for fibromyalgia patients.
A recent study conducted by Cedar Sinai Medical Centre in LA showed that a 100% of FM patients also have SIBO. SIBO the the acronym for is small intestine bacteria overgrowth. I am not sure if I agree with this because I personally do not have SIBO or any other GI problems but we will take it to be common even if not definite.
Foods that help reduce gastro-intestinal problems are:
- Fermented foods -There are a number of ways to ferment foods, including acetic acid fermentation, alkaline fermentation, and more. However, fermented foods are usually (but not always) produced using one of these two methods:
- Fermenting sugar with yeast to produce sugar alcohols; OR
- Using lactic acid-based bacteria (e.g. lactobacillus) to act on dairy products or vegetables, which aids in their preservation and increases their good probiotic content. (In the case of Candida, this second method is particularly useful).
These foods are the most potent detoxifers available. These foods assist in detoxifying mercury, lead, aluminum and arsenate by holding on to these minerals until they are released via the stool. Fermented foods can play a really important role in rebalancing the gut flora and recovering from gut imbalances like Candida. Candida has been known to be present in a large number of people having fibromyalgia.
- Foods high in fibre – beans, whole grain and whole meal, skin on potatoes and oatmeal.
- Acidophilus – and lactobacilus, which are probiotics, available in yoghurt and other cultured dairy products. These aid in creating good flora.
So as you can see, there are many food options which are repeated twice and more. These are the foods that people with fibromyalgia need to increase in their daily meals.
I have actually written this article as part of my research and I find myself refering to it very often. I hope that you too will gain some insight on your food choices from here.
Your thoughts are always welcome.