Indian Diet Plan For Fibromyalgia Management
Table Of Content
Living with fibromyalgia can be progressively crippling and also reduce the quality of life. While some days can feel good, most often, clients struggling with fibro and bound to being on bed rest.
The occurrences and confirmed reports of fibromyalgia have seen a steady rise globally. As per the latest stats, its estimated to be affecting about 7% of the world's population, and close to 90% of the people affected are women.
But having worked with clients globally, I have come across various science- backed protocols that can minimize the progression of this auto- immune disease and even bring it to remission.
But first, if you are unsure about what an auto- immune disease is, read this:
Scientifically backed research continues to shed light on the positive effects of a healthy lifestyle and nutritional intervention for disease management. An ever-growing mountain of evidence also proclaims the use of alternative therapies such as:
- ozone therapy
- medicinal cannaboids
- peptide therapy etc.
for pain relief. We will explore all of them in this blog.
In this article, we explore what exactly Fibromyalgia is, its symptoms, and alternative treatments.
Further, let's also educate on the benefits of adopting a whole- food diet and examine its impact on inflammation markers and overall wellness.
Find out the top foods to include and avoid. Lastly, I will be providing you with a comprehensive Indian Diet Plan for Fibromyalgia Management.
The insights shared in this article are not only backed by the latest scientific research in this field, but also experience of many clients of mine globally.
Understanding Fibromyalgia and Its Impact.
Fibromyalgia (FM), is a chronic, auto- immune disorder. It is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed and has become a growing concern in the Indian health landscape.
The debilitating symptoms such as
- persistent and widespread pain,
- gut issues, etc
are just a few, associated with this condition.
It affects a significant number of individuals with over 2.5% of India’s population diagnosed with this condition. Many more living with this condition and not diagnosed.
Fibromyalgia is when the brain and spinal cord are processing pain messages incorrectly, causing pain to be experienced at far more intensely than it really is.
Imagine you have a slight headache. Now most of us will ignore the symptoms and continue to work. But for people with FM, the headache is like a banging brick to the skull, leaving them incapacitated.
In the words of FM warriors – “This condition is relentless and feels a bit like having a pain monster come along with you everywhere that you go. Your pain tolerance is almost non-existent. Impacts and bumps that would barely faze a normal person feel excruciatingly painful”
Vikram Bhatt, a renowned Indian filmmaker and screenwriter, has been candid about his personal battle with fibromyalgia, shedding light on a condition that often remains shrouded in mystery.
His experience with fibromyalgia has been a profound journey of resilience and determination. Bhatt has openly shared how this chronic pain disorder has affected his life, causing widespread muscle pain, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties.
Demystifying Fibromyalgia: Unveiling Its Symptoms, Causes and Misconceptions.
Fibromyalgia is a complex and often misunderstood condition, and there are several misconceptions associated with it. Here are a few of the most common ones:
It's All in Your Head: Only someone struggling with FM knows that this is not a psychological condition. However, people around a patient can be quick and easy to judge. Just like with any other chronic disease, FM is a severe disease and requires medical intervention. This is not an attention seeking behavior, but rather an autoimmune disorder.
It's Just About Pain: While pain is a significant symptom of fibromyalgia, it's not the only one. Many individuals with fibromyalgia also experience a range of other symptoms, including fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive difficulties (often referred to as "fibro fog"), and emotional symptoms like depression and anxiety.
It's an "Old Person's" Disease: As our lifestyle and nutritional choices continue to get worse, more and more people are being diagnosed with auto- immune conditions younger and younger. In my personal practice, I am seeing patients as young as 30 with crippling pain from FM. Anyone, at any age can be affected with Fibromyalgia and must seek professional help.
It's the Same as Arthritis: Fibromyalgia is often confused with arthritis, but it's very different. Arthritis involves inflammation and soreness to the joints, while fibromyalgia primarily involves widespread pain and tender points on the body. Fibromyalgia is a neuro- muscular disorder, impacting the neural circuit, arthritis affects the joints.
It's Not a Real Medical Condition: Some people believe that fibromyalgia is not a legitimate medical condition, which can lead to skepticism and stigmatization. However, fibromyalgia is recognized by medical professionals and organizations worldwide, and extensive research has been conducted to understand its causes and treatment options.
There's a One-Size-Fits-All Treatment: Another misconception is that there's a single, universally effective treatment for fibromyalgia. While there might be some common strategies that helps everyone, in reality, treatment plans must be highly personalized. In my practice, we spend nearly 2 plus hours on the initial consultation call alone to understand individual patient needs. This is beside the hour long call with our functional medicine doctor to help get to the root- cause of the disease.
Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia.
If you have not been diagnosed yet, I highly suggest working with an expert before diagnosing yourself. FM patients can share similar traits to various diseases such as Lupus, Lyme's Disease, Depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, etc. If you have one of the other conditions, you do not want to receive the wrong treatment protocol.
However, if you do suspect you have FM, here are some identifying symptoms of FM.
Widespread Pain: The hallmark symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread, chronic pain. This pain often affects multiple areas of the body and is typically described as a deep, persistent ache. Intensity of pain can vary on various factory and even change everyday for the same client.
Fatigue: People with fibromyalgia often experience profound fatigue, even after a full night's sleep. This fatigue can be overwhelming and interfere with activities of daily activities.
Sleep Disturbances: Fibromyalgia can sometimes be associated with sleep disturbances, including difficulties falling asleep, lethary and prolonged afternoon naps, and experiencing incomplete sleep.
Cognitive Issues (Fibro Fog): Cognitive difficulties, often referred to as "fibro fog," are common in fibromyalgia. This can manifest as memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and mental clarity issues.
Stiffness: Morning stiffness is also a common symptom, and it can last for several hours. I know clients who had difficulty just getting out of the bed on some mornings. But as we started making lifestyle changes, these symptoms got much better.
Headaches: Frequent tension-type headaches and migraines or even cluster headaches are often reported by individuals with fibromyalgia. Headaches can be triggered by light, loud noises or even certain smell's.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Many people with fibromyalgia also experience gastrointestinal symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel habits, which are characteristic of IBS. This is one reason we have a gastero on board with us to help with auto- immune disease management. Our experience tell that all clients with auto- immune diseases also need attention to the gut and bowel movements.
Sensitivity to Touch and Pressure: Individuals with fibromyalgia often have heightened sensitivity to touch, pressure, and temperature changes. Light touch or pressure can be painful, and clothing or even a gentle breeze on the skin can sometimes be uncomfortable.
Depression and Anxiety: It's common for people with fibromyalgia to experience depression and anxiety, either as a result of their chronic symptoms or as co-occurring conditions. We have a mental health expert on board with us working with our clients. I find this to be a game- changer. Auto- immune diseases can sometimes manifest from past trauma. It is worthwhile exploring the same.
Tender Points: In the past, diagnosis often involved identifying tender points on the body. While this approach has evolved, tender points can still be present and are areas on the body that are particularly sensitive to pressure.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
While the root cause of fibromyalgia is not currently known, the most prevalent cause is a malfunction in the way the brain and spinal cord respond to pain signals. Many occurrences could lead this malfunction to.
Auto- immune conditions are most commonly triggered by a combination of various factors including environmental exposure to toxins, poor nutritional choices, having a genotype for a certain disorder, traumatic life experiences and poor lifestyle choices.
In our practice, we further dive deep into the seven core physiological processed stated by the father of function medicine, Dr. Jeffary Bland.
In his book "The Disease Delusion," Dr. Jeffrey Bland identifies seven core physiological processes that are essential for health:
- Assimilation and elimination: This process involves the digestion and absorption of nutrients from food, as well as the elimination of waste products from the body.
- Detoxification: This process involves the removal of toxins from the body.
- Defence: This process involves the body's immune system protecting itself from infection and disease.
- Cellular communications: This process involves the cells in the body communicating with each other to coordinate their activities.
- Cellular transport: This process involves the movement of nutrients and other molecules into and out of cells.
- Energy: This process involves the production and use of energy by the body.
- Structure: This process involves the maintenance and repair of the body's tissues and organs.
Dr. Bland argues that disease is the result of an imbalance in one or more of these core physiological processes. When these processes are functioning properly, the body is able to maintain health and resist disease. However, when these processes are imbalanced, the body is more susceptible to disease.
Dr. Bland also believes that the seven core physiological processes are interconnected. When one process is imbalanced, it can affect other processes as well.
For example, if the detoxification process is impaired, toxins can build up in the body and disrupt other physiological processes, such as cellular communication and energy production.
By understanding the seven core physiological processes, Dr. Bland believes that we can better understand the root causes of disease and develop more effective strategies for prevention and treatment.
Here are some examples of how the seven core physiological processes can be imbalanced and contribute to disease:
- Assimilation and elimination: Malabsorption of nutrients or constipation can lead to malnutrition and other health problems.
- Detoxification: Exposure to environmental toxins or impaired liver function can lead to a buildup of toxins in the body, which can damage cells and tissues.
- Defense: A weakened immune system can make you more susceptible to infection and disease.
- Cellular communications: Inflammation can disrupt cellular communication, leading to a variety of health problems.
- Cellular transport: Nutrient deficiencies or impaired cell membrane function can interfere with the movement of nutrients and other molecules into and out of cells, disrupting cellular metabolism.
- Energy: Mitochondrial dysfunction can impair the body's ability to produce energy, leading to fatigue and other health problems.
- Structure: Oxidative stress can damage cells and tissues, leading to a variety of degenerative diseases.
By addressing the underlying imbalances in the seven core physiological processes, we can promote healing and restore health.
Is Fibromyalgia an Autoimmune Disorder?
Autoimmune disorders manifest when the body begins to attack itself.
The immune system incorrectly recognises healthy cells as dangerous cells. In response, the body produces defense cells that then attack and destroy those healthy cells. This attack has damaging effects, causing inflammation at the location of those cells.
Fibromyalgia is classified as an autoimmune disorder as the body attacks the central nervous system and muscle cells. Thus, a person experiences pain. The standard approach for treatment of any auto- immune disease is to shut down the immune response by administrating steroids'.
With adequate lifestyle and nutritional modifications though, we have successfully helped clients reach remission.
Fibromyalgia and COVID-19.
FM by itself doesn’t increase the possibility of COVID-19.
However, I had to mention in the increase in the severity of symptoms among many clients of mine post taking the vaccine. This could be due to the rise in spike proteins post the vaccine or some other reason.
If you struggle from FM, it is bets to work with your doctor to understand your condition better.
That being said, people with FM definitely do stay protected form the infection if they are vaccinated.
What is the best Diet help with Fibromyalgia?
A whole- food plant forward approach is the best nutrition plan for fibromyalgia management. This means, saying no to processed foods containing food colouring, added flavours, emulsifyers, high- fructose corn- syrup, processed meat etc.
According to numerous studies, like this one – Vegetarian and Vegan Diet in Fibromyalgia: A Systematic Review - PMC (nih.gov) a plant- based diet high in phytonutrients further plays a role in disease- reversal and symptom management.
There are significant improvements in biochemical parameters, quality of life, quality of sleep, pain at rest, and general health status when following a plant- forward dietary patterns.
These studies also advocate for the adoption of a high- raw diet as a means of achieving remission from fibromyalgia, promoting a marked improvement in the overall quality of life.
A notable Survey, conducted in 1991, involving ten fibromyalgia patients following a vegetarian diet for three weeks demonstrated significant reductions in:
- oxidative stress,
- inflammation (pain), and, even,
- cholesterol levels.
Importantly, the majority of the participants reported an amelioration of their pain status, underscoring the potential benefits of a meat and dairy free diet for managing fibromyalgia symptoms.
A pivotal Study, conducted in 2000, in Helsinki shed light on the effects of a dairy- free diet, particularly a high- raw diet, on fibromyalgia symptoms. The compelling findings indicated a remarkable decrease in pain at rest, improved quality of sleep, and reduced morning stiffness among participants adhering to a high raw diet.
Personally, my clients follow a dairy, meat and wheat free diet with a lot of fresh fruits, leafy greens, vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains and pulses. Clients see an improvement in symptoms in as little as 2- 4 weeks!
This is not surprising considering dairy is highly carcinogenic and inflammatory. Plants on the other hand reduce inflammation, alkalize the body and reduce oxidative stress. Plants are also naturally high in fiber, thus, healing the gut and improving absorption of micronutrients.
Now I do want to clarify that a diet such as mentioned above is in no way restrictive, but inclusive of 400+ varieties of plants and combination of flavours from different herbs and spices. My clients do not feel deprived or restrictive at all, on the contrary they enjoy the natural flavours of plants once they stop eating man- made hyper- palatable foods.
Alternative Therapies for Fibromyalgia Management.
At my clinic, we generally combine a series of alternative therapies to best help clients with fibromyalgia management. The combination of these treatments naturally help patients without the need to depend on allopathy medication.
Here are various alternative therapies that personally recommend.
Ozone therapy entails the entry of ozone gas into the body, usually in the form of injections or infusions. These then start to activate the immune system and boost the body's defensive actions.
This mode of healing has tremendous potential in minimising pain, elevating circulation, and enhancing tissue re-building. By regulating stress and promoting cellular metabolism, ozone therapy presents a holistic approach to managing the multifaceted symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Peptides are essentially chains of amino acids that accelarate healing. The latest advancement in the field of functional medicine is peptide therapy. Peptides work alongside our body’s mechanisms to regulate physiological operations. Peptides are a promising anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving therapy modality, making it an important option to consider for fibromyalgia patients seeking alternative therapies.
By targeting the underlying mechanisms contributing to fibromyalgia symptoms, peptide therapy offers a personalized and targeted approach to addressing the complexities of this condition.
Also referred to as whole-body cryotherapy, this involves a short, rapid exposure to beyond-freezing cold temperatures, ranging between -110 to -140 degrees Celsius!
This type of cold exposure is referred to as being a "hormetic stress", this controlled exposure triggers the release of ‘feel good hormones’, endorphins, and the reduction of inflammation, thereby offering temporary pain relief and improved physical well-being.
By harnessing the power of extreme cold to stimulate the body's adaptive and reparative mechanisms, cryo-chamber therapy presents an innovative approach to enhancing the quality of life for individuals with fibromyalgia.
An ancient Chinese practice that remains just as relevant today. It involves the insertion of thin needles at specific points on the body. By stimulating these points, acupuncture aims to restore balance and act as a lymphatic drainage. This helps reduce inflammation.
Its potential to regulate pain perception and boost relaxation, makes it a practical, effective, non-medicinal approach to managing Fibromyalgia symptoms.
A comprehensive mind-body practice. Yoga combines physical postures, functional movements, balancing, breathing techniques, and meditation.
Regular practice of yoga has been linked to:
- decreased pain intensity,
- enhanced sleep quality, and,
- better emotional well-being
in individuals with fibromyalgia, making it an accessible and holistic approach to fibromyalgia management.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR):
Studies have shown us that MBSR interventions can improve pain coping mechanisms, enhance psychological well-being, and empower fibromyalgia warriors to take charge of their healing journey.
By fostering a compassionate, non-judgmental approach to one's thoughts and sensations, MBSR reduces stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, which are often go hand-in-hand with fibro.
Also known as water therapy. It can help alleviate FM symptoms by increasing blood circulation, reducing pressure on the joint and inflammation. In addition to it being just so relaxing to get into the water!
My top five food recommendations to include in your diet:
Food plays a very crucial role in healing from any auto- immune conditions. Your kitchen has the answer to all your pharmacy needs. Unfortunately, as our dependency on drugs is increasing, we are moving away from using food as our medicine.
However, here is a list of my top 5 favourite additions when customizing a meal plan for my clients.
Widely recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties. The best way to consume turmeric for healing is to make a simple, blended shot of turmeric, black pepper and water. Black pepper helps boost the bioavailability of turmeric in the body.
I also suggest my clients make a simple fresh turmeric pickle. This can be done by chopping fresh turmeric into small bite- sized pieces and dipping it in lemon or vinegar water for a few days. Keep this in the fridge for a ready meal time pickle to include daily.
Leafy Green Vegetables:
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients can help reduce inflammation in the body, which is often associated with fibromyalgia symptoms, such as pain and stiffness.
They are also excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, and various B vitamins. These nutrients play essential roles in maintaining overall health, supporting the immune system, and promoting energy production, which can be beneficial for individuals with fibromyalgia.
I suggest my clients consume upto 100 grams of leafy greens a day in the form of smoothies, salads, soups and sabzi's.
Rich in healthy fats, protein, and vitamin E, use them as a nourishing on-the-go snack option on its own. I do suggest my clients avoid roasted almonds or the hyper- palatable forms that we often see in the market now like BBQ and other flavored almonds. I simple mean munching on a handful of raw almonds when hungry.
Almonds are also an excellent source of magnesium, which is a mineral that plays a crucial role in muscle and nerve function. Many people with fibromyalgia experience muscle pain and cramping, and a magnesium deficiency can exacerbate these symptoms. Including almonds in your diet can help ensure you get an adequate intake of this mineral.
The best way to consume and get the maximum benefits of these is in a crushed/powdered form. Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, this powder can be added to just about anything, while offering anti-inflammatory benefits and supporting digestive health.
Flaxseeds must also be had raw and not in the roasted form. Flaxseeds are a good source of antioxidants, which can help protect cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress may contribute to the symptoms of fibromyalgia, so including antioxidant-rich foods in your diet is beneficial.
The most basic nutritional change you can get back to is eating fresh fruits. Not juices, but whole fruits. All fruits have various phytonutrients that heal the body. Aim to bring in diversity of fruits in your diet.
Personally, my clients consume 3-5 servings of fruits per day and have shown unbelievable progress in their symptoms. I suggest starting the day with a big glass of leafy greens and fruits smoothie. Then, aim to have a serving of fruit before lunch and dinner. This way, eating fruits can be a lifestyle changes.
Foods to Avoid if you Have Fibromyalgia.
On the other hand, certain foods may exacerbate symptoms of fibromyalgia and should be limited or avoided.
Here are my top food groups to avoid when managing fibromyalgia:
Excitotoxins are substances that overstimulate nerve cells, leading to their exhaustion or death.
Common dietary excitotoxins include monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame, which are frequently found in processed and packaged foods, flavor enhancers, and artificial sweeteners.
You may have heard of MSG, but what is Aspartame?
Used for its ‘calorie saving’ properties, Aspartame is a widely used artificial sweetener. Especially added in many processed and packaged foods.
A study titled "Aspartame-induced fibromyalgia, an unusual but curable cause of chronic pain" conducted in 2010, sheds light on the adverse effects of aspartame consumption. As the consumption of aspartame increase, fibro cases also increased.
The most commonly used product with aspartame is diet soda's, including diet pepsi, coke etc.
A study titled "Relief of fibromyalgia symptoms following discontinuation of dietary excitotoxins," conducted in 2001, revealed a notable improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms upon the removal of dietary excitotoxins.
Found in almost all types of processed snacks and fried foods, these contribute to inflammation and should be eliminated from the diet. They are a type of unhealthy dietary fat that, primarily associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions.
These fats are often found in partially hydrogenated oils and in many processed and fried foods. The consumption of trans fats has been linked to inflammation and an increased risk of autoimmune diseases.
One of the most widely forms of stimulant consumed, worldwide, is caffeine.
And it doesn’t take more than a cup of coffee, tea to disrupt sleep patterns and enhance the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Caffeine consumption must be limited if you struggle from insomnia and sleep disorders.
Indian Diet Plan.
It is essential to understand that a meal plan must be catered to individual needs and goals. When it comes to autoimmune diseases, genetic principles work, but a generic meal plan will not work for all.
However, here is a sample one day plan to help you understand the food groups to include in different meals. For a customized plan, please reach out to my team and we will help you further:
Nurturing Hope with Resilience.
I can’t emphasize enough just much of a difference changing your lifestyle can make to fibromyalgia progression. By embracing the transformative power of nutrition and making informed choices, you too can embark on a transformative journey toward better health and well-being.
My team & I remain dedicated to empowering you, by providing you with the necessary support, guidance, tools, and resources to embrace an active, healthy, and happy life of wellness.
Register for a complimentary consultation call with me today!
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