Fibromyalgia can be hard to diagnose as the symptoms are variable. However, it is generally characterised by chronic aching and stiffness of the muscles of the back, neck, shoulders, chest, thighs, arms and legs.
Other symptoms may include headaches, irregular sleep patterns, digestive problems, brain fog, food intolerances, depression and dizzy spells. There are similar links between fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
It is unknown as to exact causes of fibromyalgia, but contributory factors may include gut dysbiosis, increased gut permeability, food intolerances, previous or current viral infections, stress, heavy metal toxicity, acidity, blood sugar problems, history of a diet low in nutrients and imbalanced thyroid function.
Treatment needs to be tailored to the individual as no two sufferers will have the same history or set of imbalances. Further research is needed into the effects of diet and lifestyle on fibromyalgia, but in the meantime the following should be noted:
- Avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed foods, caffeine, alcohol and additives. These all challenge the body and offer little in the way of nutrition.
- Avoid anything to which you are intolerant. Some foods and environmental chemicals may be challenging the immune system and exacerbating symptoms (2). Food intolerance tests may help to identify offending foods.
- Eat lots of fruit, vegetables and vegetable juices. These contain anti-oxidants needed by the immune system. Oxidation is thought to be part of the disease process (1)
- Eat foods rich in essential fats such as oily fish, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and their cold pressed oils for their anti-inflammatory effects (1).
- Avoid processed and heated fats such as those found in margarines, heated vegetable oils and burnt or fried foods. These may all increase oxidation in the body which can lead to inflammation.
- Drink 8 glasses of water a day plus herbal teas.
- Consider including acupuncture, herbs, massage, diet and exercise which are all designed to get the body’s or energy flowing more freely (3).
- Move and exercise the body daily. Yoga, tai chi and walking are all good for getting the circulation going.
For more information and support on Fibromyalgia, visit www.fibromyalgia-associationuk.org where you will also be able to find support groups. Always consult with your GP or medical doctor.
1. Ozgocmen S, Ozyurt H. Sogut S, Akyol O. Current concepts in the pathophysiology of fibromyalgia: the potential role of oxidative stress and nitric oxide. Rheumatol Int. 2006 May;26(7):585-97
2. Miller CS, The compelling anomaly of chemical intolerance. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001 Mar;933:1-23
3. Zheng L, Faber K. Review of the Chinese medical approach to the management of fibromyalgia. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2005 Oct;9(5):307-12