Fibromyalgia is a syndrome of unknown cause, occurring more commonly in women than men. It is characterised by long term pain felt in the joints, muscles and tendons, varying from mild, to severe and in some cases even debilitating. There is typically no obvious trauma causing the pain but suggested triggers include physical or emotional trauma, infections, allergies and stress. Pain is often accompanied by fatigue, headaches, depression and sleep disturbances. Some people suffering from Fibromyalgia also complain of symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
There are no specific treatments available for Fibromyalgia. Treatment is designed to help manage symptoms and includes fitness programs, stress relief techniques, acupuncture and acupressure, developing good sleep routines and improving nutrition. In terms of nutrition, establishing a well balanced diet is vital. A dietitian will be helpful in assessing the current dietary regimen and looking for areas requiring improvement. The following are some nutritional avenues that may offer benefits to those suffering Fibromyalgia.
Glycaemic Index (GI)
High GI foods are those that are absorbed rapidly, causing a rapid increase followed by a rapid decrease in blood sugars. Intake of high GI carbohydrates leads to spikes in energy levels with corresponding lows, or slumps. Low GI foods are absorbed slower, leading to a more stable rise and fall in blood sugars, thus a more stable energy level. Replacing high GI carbohydrates with low GI options can help to stabilise blood sugars. Consuming relatively constant amounts of low GI foods at each meal will allow the body to maintain a relatively constant blood sugar level, and thus a relatively constant energy supply throughout the day. This will prevent low blood sugars which can help fight fatigue and prevent headaches.
Omega-3’s have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects in the body, particularly in the joints. In addition, adequate Omega-3 intake has been linked to decreased rates of depression. Incorporating Omega-3 sources into the diet, via fresh fish or supplement, may help relieve some of the pain associated with Fibromyalgia and may play a role in preventing and treating depression.
The pain, fatigue, depression and sleep disturbances involved in Fibromyalgia will most certainly be compounded if accompanied by overweight or obesity. Being overweight or obese is detrimental to health in many ways, without adding the effects of Fibromyalgia. Carrying excess weight will automatically place excess stress on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, inducing fatigue with light exercise or even simple movement. Excess stress is also placed on the skeletomuscular system, greatly impacting the joints. Sleep is often affected, as getting comfortable can be difficult and sleep apnoea is a common issue. Being physically healthy is paramount when suffering from Fibromyalgia. Keeping the body physically fit and the mind mentally fit will give the upper hand during times when symptoms are debilitating.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Some Fibromyalgia sufferers complain of IBS symptoms as a part of their condition. A dietitian will be best qualified to assess symptoms and offer dietary advice. A food and symptom diary will offer a great insight into IBS related pain, and may also pick up on other areas that could use improvement, such as energy distribution. It is not wise to self diagnose IBS and begin eliminating foods or food groups without dietetic input. This may further affect Fibromyalgia symptoms if energy intake is not sufficient or the diet is lacking in particular B vitamins and minerals.
Caffeine is commonly used to fight fatigue, but can in fact compound the issue for chronic fatigue sufferers, such as those with Fibromyalgia. Caffeine may induce an initial energy surge, but the drop off will likely lead to a greater feeling of fatigue and exhaustion. In addition, caffeine can effect sleep and sleep patterns. Avoiding caffeine in all forms, such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks and large amounts of chocolate is recommended. Choose caffeine free alternatives.
If you are concerned you may be suffering from a chronic fatigue syndrome such as Fibromyalgia it is important to seek help from your doctor. Whether you are officially diagnosed with the condition or not, seeking advice from a dietitian about ways to manage fatigue like symptoms and boost the immune system will be beneficial.
Added to site on : Tuesday, 18 September 2012