Fibromyalgia (FM) is a common condition that affects about five million Americans, often between ages 20 and 45 years old. FM is very difficult to diagnose primarily because there is no definitive test like there is for heart, liver, or kidney disease. Equally challenging is the ability to effectively treat FM as there are frequently other conditions that co-exist with FM that require special treatment considerations. Typically, each FM case is unique with a different group of symptoms and therefore, each person requires individualized care.
Fibromyalgia symptoms can include generalized pain throughout the body that can vary from mild to severely disabling, extreme fatigue, nausea/flu-like symptoms, brain “fog” (“fibro-fog”), depression and/or anxiety, sleeping problems and feeling un-refreshed in the mornings, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, morning stiffness, painful menstrual cramps, numbness or tingling (arms/hands, legs/feet), tender points, urinary pain or burning, and more!
So, let’s talk about ways to improve your FM-related symptoms through dietary approaches. When the FM symptom group includes gut trouble (bad/painful gas, bloating, and/or constipation), it’s not uncommon to have an imbalance between the “good” vs. the “bad” bacteria, yeast, and problems with digestion or absorption. Think of management as a “Four Step” process for the digestive system:
- REMOVE HARMFUL TOXINS: Consider food allergy testing to determine any foods the FM patient has a sensitivity for. Frequently, removing gluten, dairy, eggs, bananas, potatoes, corn, and red meat can benefit the FM patient. The use of anti-fungal and / or anti-bacterial botanicals (as opposed to drug approaches such as antibiotics) can be highly effective. A low allergy-potential diet consisting of fish, poultry, certain vegetables, legumes, fruits, rice, and olive and coconut oil is usually a good choice.
- IMPROVE DIGESTIVE FUNCTION: The presence of bloating and gas is usually indicative of poor digestion, and the use of a digestive enzyme with every meal can be highly effective!
- RESTORE THE “GOOD” BACTERIA: Probiotics (with at least 20-30 billion live organisms) at each meal are often necessary to improve the “good” gut bacteria population, which will likely also improve immune function.
- REPAIR THE GUT: If the gut wall is damaged, nutrients like l-glutamine, fish oils, and n-acetyl-d-glucosamine may help repair it.
This process will take several months, and some of these approaches may have to be continued over the long term. Doctors of chiropractic are trained in nutritional counseling and can help you in this process. As an added benefit, many FM sufferers find the inclusion of chiropractic adjustments to be both symptomatically relieving and energy producing.