Eat yourself better?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition causing symptoms that may include:
- widespread pain
- extreme tiredness
- sleeping problems
- memory problems
- irritable bowel.
Estimates suggest that 1 in 20 people are affected by fibromyalgia, and it is known to affect roughly 7 times more women than men.
Cause of fibromyalgia
The NHS acknowledges that the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but the symptoms are thought to be caused by chemicals in the brain changing the way the nervous system processes pain messages.
It is widely accepted that the digestive system and brain ‘communicate’ with each other via the nervous system, or hormonal and chemical signalling. While this does not prove a link between food and fibromyalgia, it’s enough to raise the possibility that there is a link.
Despite this, the medical consensus continues to be that food does not have a role to play in the development or management of fibromyalgia, despite acknowledgement that the exact cause is unknown.
Management of fibromyalgia
Current management centres around medication, alongside talking therapies and exercise or relaxation techniques. The focus is on managing symptoms, with little to no consideration given to the role food may play. This is because there is no evidence of a “one size fits all” diet for fibromyalgia. But instead of dismissing a dietary role, the possibility of an individualised dietary approach should be considered.
You are the best person to determine if food helps or aggravates your symptoms. And there is a way to find out – by trying an elimination diet. This diet includes eating a limited range of foods that are least likely to cause symptoms, while cutting out foods that contain food substances with the most potential to trigger symptoms in susceptible individuals. If you experience a notable reduction in your symptoms, this suggests that food does have a role to play in your condition. Next, you will reintroduce and ‘test’ foods that you had excluded, one at a time, and monitor your symptoms. If your symptoms get worse, you will have identified a food trigger. In this way, you are using your personal experiences to manage your symptoms.
If you have fibromyalgia and continue to suffer despite best medical management, contact me for a no-obligation conversation so you can make an informed decision about whether this is an approach you might want to try.