Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that can lead to widespread bodily pain, fatigue, and cognitive issues? Are there benefits of following the paleo diet for fibromyalgia sufferers? Can this trendy diet actually help reduce symptoms associated with this condition?
What’s included in the paleo diet for fibromyalgia?
People suffering from fibromyalgia, a not-well-understood disease in which sufferers experience widespread pain, sleeping problems, depression, and anxiety, may be able to find some relief by following the paleo diet. The paleo diet involves focusing on foods that humans ate back during the days of caves and fireside cuisine. It focuses on:
- Grass-fed meats
- Some fruits
- Some nuts
- Healthy oils, such as olive and coconut
The paleo diet is less focused on calorie-counting, and more focused on an approach to food that mimics our body’s natural tendencies. It’s naturally higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates.
What to avoid?
Foods to avoid on the paleo diet include:
- Carbohydrates, such as cereal grains and legumes
- Any gluten
- Starchy vegetables, like potatoes
- All refined sugars
According to paleo diet followers, our ancestors ate much more potassium than sodium. Because of that, sodium is thought to contribute to a host of health problems including heart disease and stroke. Potassium, on the other hand, can supports bodily functioning.
What are the benefits of paleo diet?
Reported benefits of the paleo diet include:
- Improved mood
- Increased energy levels
- Weight loss
- A diet lower in processed foods
- Reduced bloat and gas
- Improved satiety and blood sugar levels
- Mental clarity
Of course, there are also downsides to this diet. These include:
- It can be expensive
- It’s not well-suited to vegetarians
- It’s often not enough energy for athletes
- It increases the amount of red meat you eat
Does the paleo diet for fibromyalgia work?
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough research done on the paleo diet and fibromyalgia to understand if it really works to relieve symptoms. Simply put, we don’t know yet.
If it does work, however, the key to the paleo diet’s potential powers to help alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms lies in its focus on anti-inflammatory foods. Fibromyalgia is partially considered a disease of inflammation, even though researchers still aren’t sure how and why people develop the illness.
Although clinical studies on the paleo diet’s exact benefits for people suffering from fibromyalgia are inconclusive, studies have shown that other measures to reduce inflammation–such as exercise–do help alleviate fibromyalgia-related pain. The paleo diet could work simply because it reduces the amount of potential pain triggers you’re eating during your day.
The fibromyalgia paleo diet could also work because it could be related to its effect on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which over 80% of fibromyalgia patients suffer from.
You can learn more about fibromyalgia and potential treatments for it in the video below.
While this is not scientifically-valid evidence, some patients have reported success by trying the paleo diet for their fibromyalgia pain.
For example, many patients have shared anecdotal evidence that the paleo diet helps to reduce their symptoms. One woman wrote on a blog that the diet has all but eliminated her fibromyalgia pain. She notes:
“No one could help me. I lived with this pain for 10 years. It wasn’t debilitating and didn’t prevent me from doing anything I wanted to do. The pain was a pressure sensitivity issue. If I bumped into something or tried to scratch an itch it would cause a lot of pain. About a month ago, I realized that I didn’t hurt anymore. I have been pushing on all of my tender points for the last month trying to find a spot that is sensitive and can not find any sensitivity. The only thing that has changed is my diet. I believe in my heart that the food I am eating now, has taken my pain away.”
Sarah writes that:
“Where I am today: I have lost 39 pounds. Headaches that were almost a constant are rare to non-existent. A chronic cough that seems to have been caused by the food I ate, and exacerbated by exposure to allergens and chemicals, is mostly gone. The pain that racked my body is under control. I walk up the stairs at work (two flights, which always left me breathing hard and feeling like my lungs were on fire) as if it’s a walk down a hallway.”
Other patients have said the diet has:
- Made them feel more energetic
- Diminished their respiratory problems
- Alleviated their aches and pains
Some people have even claimed that they’ve been able to stop taking prescription medication. You can see even more of these testimonials on PaleoHacks.com.
Trying a new fibromyalgia diet
The food you eat can make a world of difference for fibromyalgia sufferers. This doesn’t have to be focused on only the paleo diet. Any changes to reduce your intake of added sugars and processed foods can help fight inflammation.
Track your symptoms
Because your body’s reaction to a changed diet does not happen overnight, expect to wait about two months before you can say with certainty if switching to the paleo diet has helped with your fibromyalgia.
Also, tracking your symptoms is a great way to see if the paleo diet is working for you. Track both what you eat, and any symptoms you’re experiencing. You can easily do this in the many pain tracking apps available. If you have a cheat day and a pain flare up the day after, it may indicate that the foods you eat are leading to pain. However, it could also show that your pain is more influenced by stress or other triggers.
Talk to your doctor
Talk to your doctor before switching up your diet for their take on it for your exact symptoms. Every person’s body is different, and what works for one person may not work for you. Additionally, you may need to add or subtract foods to customize the paleo diet and account for your body’s specific needs.
And remember, trying the paleo diet for fibromyalgia is only the first step in managing your pain. Exercise, stress-reduction, and interventional procedures may all be included in your fibromyalgia treatment plan. If you want to learn more about if the paleo diet for fibromyalgia could work for you, click the button below to talk to a pain specialist.
Feature image by jules via Flickr