What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic inflammatory disorder characterised with symptoms such as joint pain, chronic fatigue, stiffness, sleep issues, depression, reflux, cognitive issues such as difficulty concentrating, brain fog and memory issues, multiple chemical sensitivities as well as gastrointestinal issues.
Basically, you can feel exhausted all the time or feeling like you’ve spent an entire day lifting heavy weights, when you’ve done no such thing. The pain of fibromyalgia can be dull, throbbing, burning or stabbing. Some people find that these symptoms usually flare up in times of emotional and/ or physical stress1, they can change depending on the weather, hormonal fluctuations, and overexertion as well as when an infection is present (bacterial or viral)2.
How Many People Does it Affect?
Fibromyalgia (FM) affects women more than men, with a ratio of 7: 1. It affects up to 5% of the population in developed countries and often starts during the peri-menopausal years. FM is a disease of description, rather than one that can show up on lab tests. It can mimic the diagnosis of other diseases such as lupus, lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome and arthritis, so it can easily be misdiagnosed. Many people with FM have to give up work because their condition is so debilitating.
What are the Causes of Fibromyalgia?
The conventional medical community doesn’t yet know the cause(s) of fibromyalgia, or agree on how to remedy it. You will most likely be told to exercise, be prescribed anti-depressants, anti-inflammatory medications (or muscle relaxants) and that’s about it. The average Fibromyalgia patient uses 3-4 different drugs daily to control symptoms. Unfortunately this approach only focuses on treating the symptoms (the Band-Aid solution), rather than understanding and getting to the REAL root cause of it.
A New Approach to Treating Fibromyalgia
I’m sure you’ve heard the famous Hippocrates quote “All disease begins in the gut” by Hippocrates. Research now demonstrates a direct relationship between fibromyalgia and bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, a condition known as SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)3. The degree of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine will directly dictate the severity of fibromyalgia4. In addition to SIBO being connected to FM, other research is also showing that infections, leaky gut and dysbiosis are also the underlying causes of fibromyalgia.
Now that we’re aware of this, there is so much we can do to restore the balance of the gut flora. This is one of the reasons why I recommend and refer many of my clients to get a comprehensive and digestive stool analysis (CDSA) to determine what state their gut health is in. You can contact us here, if you need a referral.
The results will indicate how much good and bad bacteria is growing in your gut, whether there are any pathogens, parasites or yeast infections which will enable you to implement gut healing remedies right away.
Here are a few steps you can begin with:
1. Remove Harmful Toxins and Stressors to the Body
Eliminate all chemicals – environmental as well as food related. Eliminate all inflammatory foods (gluten/ wheat, refined sugar and vegetable oils, corn, soy, factory farmed and raised meat, eggs and seafood, excess alcohol and processed foods), as they can all irritate the gut 4, 5.
2. Feed the Good Bacteria in Your Gut
Probiotics and probiotic rich foods are essential to consume to maintain a healthy gut. Fermented foods are rich in pre-biotics, probiotics and enzymes which help to support the healthy microbes in the digestive tract, crowding out the bad bacteria and yeast strains. Fermented foods are essential in helping to repair a leaky gut, replenishing good bacteria in your gut, improve digestive health and boost your immune system. Add fermented foods such as coconut yoghurt, coconut water kefir, sauerkraut, kim-chi and other fermented vegetables to your daily diet.
3. Consume an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Focus on consuming healing and nourishing REAL foods from nature. Grass-fed and/or organic meats, fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables (especially green vegetables), fresh seafood, coconut oil, Changing Habits Inca Inchi oil, ginger, and turmeric which contain loads of anti-inflammatory properties, as well as herbs, spices and pastured eggs (if tolerated). Quality fats are also absolutely essential to include. You can read more about the many benefits of fat here.
4. Manage Your Stress
If stress is not managed, it weakens the immune system over time, which doesn’t allow the body to fight off bad bacteria and viruses which leads to systemic inflammation and leaky gut. When we are stressed, we turn down (or off) our body’s innate healing processes. To reduce stress in your life, choose to do more activities that you love. Some suggestions are: meditate, sing, dance, take an art class, go for a long walk in nature, read a book with a cup of tea or have a relaxing Epsom salt bath.
Links to Other Gut Healing Information/Resources
- 6 Easy Ways To Support Your Gut Health
- 12 Fun Facts About Probiotics
- 12 Ways to Utilise More Bone Broth in Your Diet
- Why You Need to Eat Fermented Foods
We’d love to hear from you… have you noticed any improvements in your symptoms after taking steps to heal your gut, reduce inflammation and manage your stress levels?
Nutritionist & GAPS Practitioner