Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Help Fibromyalgia
Have you discovered that there are some anti-inflammatory foods that can help to ease symptoms, while some other foods are almost guaranteed to increase the propensity for a fibromyalgia flare?
Most people with fibro have at least a short list of foods that seem to kick off a round of fatigue, pain, rashes, or other uncomfortable symptoms. This is because some foods promote inflammation throughout the body while others are known for fighting inflammation. Also, we have to understand our individual root causes which will affect whether a "healthy" food is actually healthy for us individually.
After this short list of common anti-inflammatory foods, see the section on foods less commonly known to be included or salvaged from any short list.
Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods:
- Vegetables – Some of the most powerful anti-inflammatories come in the form of fresh vegetables. Colorful vegetables such as carrots, beets, cucumbers, okra, spinach, (remove seeds to reduce exposure to lectins) and other leafy green vegetables. When working to eat more raw vegetables, try creating vegetable dishes that are 50% raw and 50% cooked. If you feel that eating raw vegetables increases any IBS symptoms, please read more here .. Easing IBS symptoms.
- Not all vegetables will be right for everyone though. Some of us vegetable addicts had to reduce our vegetable consumption to avoid greater exposure to lectins and oxalates. Can you imagine ? Well, I can because it was me, and it helped tremendously. I will go into greater detail in the new book out next year. Also, too much fiber can be irritating to the GI tract, which is the opposite of what you will hear on most TV commercials, but remember, they are selling products, and are playing into the same old mindset that is ultimately working against many people.
- Beets – While this may not rank as one of your favorite foods, it is one of the best anti-inflammatory food options. They’re loaded with potassium and magnesium and are responsible for repairing cell damage caused by inflammation and other problems. Please understand that beets are bile movers though and must be taken slow. Avoid fads like drinking straight beet juice. (See our juicing/blending page on the proper use of beets to avoid stomach upset.)
- Fruits – If you follow here, you might already know that my favorite low glycemic fruit is organic green apples. Many berries and tropical fruits like pineapple are rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients, and they will add some color and sweetness into your diet. Preparation is also key to making some of these more palatable. (with pineapple though, portion size matters)
- Walnuts – Consider this one of the healthiest forms of dietary fat available today. These nuts are included in many diets for diabetics, and they naturally fight inflammation. Read more here about balance of oils and proteins .. walnut oil is also a great option. Walnuts are excellent for the brain, some people even say that shape of the walnut emulates the shape of the brain.
- Salmon – Did you need another reason to take that daily fish oil supplement? Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish are excellent at reducing inflammation throughout the body. If you aren’t eating salmon, sardines, or another fatty fish a few times every week, you could probably benefit from taking a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Flax oil is another option, but we find that salmon is one of the best. Only choose quality tested fish oils. I like Nordic Naturals for the quality and the price point.
- Olive Oil, Avocado oil & Coconut Oil – These are a few of the healthiest dietary fats available today, and they all have many uses in the kitchen and around the home. They have natural anti-inflammatory features, so they are your best options when making stir fry or a healthy spin on fried chicken.
You can also use coconut oil for cleaning the mouth. (coconut oil mouth rinse) However, please note that not everyone does well on coconut oil. It is not right for everyone, specifically some blood type O's. In many cases, I have seen coconut oil over-rated and this is only now coming to light after I have talked about this issue for years.
- Winter Squash (see its own paragraph below)
- Turmeric – This is a versatile spice that contains a powerful anti-inflammatory substance known as curcumin. It’s also loaded with manganese and vitamin B6, which can both help fight inflammation. See the “spices” paragraph below. Be cautious if you have ever had mercury amalgams in your mouth, always do a hair test (not blood test) before using turmeric supplements. If you have high levels of mercury shown in hair test, then turmeric supplements may not be right for you, as they can move mercury around the body and organs)
I use and prefer natural anti-inflammatories like Astazanthin and Boswelia.
If you haven’t paid attention to possible connections between what you eat and how you feel, now is the time to start a food journal. You may notice trends that connect certain fibromyalgia symptoms to foods that you eat daily or even occasionally.
You’re likely to notice that you have fewer or less severe symptoms when you avoid over processed foods that are loaded with sugar, artificial ingredients and chemicals. The more natural your diet, the better. Diet is not a "root cause" to fibro, but it sure can be an "exacerbating factor"
Potatoes, root vegetables, and
If you are a meat and potatoes kind of girl or guy, you might find it challenging to avoid potatoes all together when eating anti-inflammatory, and guess what? You don't have to avoid these all together. For many years, we have utilized the red potato with good success. The red potato even has its place in some of our recipes and menu items.
I don't think it should be unlimited, but 2-3 times per week might be ok if you have a difficult time eliminating potatoes all together. For instance, I might have sweet potato 1-2 times per week, red potato 1-2 times per week, and then I really like root vegetables more of the time, like parsnips, turnip roots, carrots, and winter squash of all kinds.
You see, red potatoes are different. They are not only lower glycemic but easier to digest and will not contribute to inflammation like some white russet potatoes can. By the way, some people are fine with all kinds of potatoes. Don't assume all potatoes are bad for every person.
Working as a colon therapist for many years, I always try to give as much variety as possible, while still staying anti-inflammatory and healing for the body and other conditions like arthritis.
First, be sure they are organic, whenever possible (taste and health value are so much better in organic) Second, choose organic reds when possible. Sweet potatoes are also excellent but will be better when they are not combined with animal protein for optimal digestion .
Reds are best cooked the old fashioned russet way, right in the oven. Put some fork holes in them first. Another great way to use reds is in soups made at home. Slice them and add coconut oil and vegetables to make a very flavorful soup.
Tomatoes are best for blood type O. Green, yellow, and red peppers can be utilized by many. Again, it is best to experiment instead of buying into myths about these foods. I do fine with green and red peppers and like to include them in dishes and soups.
Utilize Winter Squash as much
Squash has become even more of a healthy “comfort” food over the past decade, and rightly so. It is one of the anti-inflammatory foods that goes well in any anti-inflammatory diet. Take advantage of winter squash whenever you can get it. Spaghetti Squash, Delicata, Butternut, and other varieties can bring great health benefits and variety to your table.
You can include so many varieties of squash alone or in recipes. What is your favorite squash? I like delicata and spaghetti squash. See our Recipe page for my favorite, easy and flavorful ways to prepare squash. Believe me, your hands will thank you !!
Oils to Avoid Like the Plague
In the short list above we mentioned oils like olive, avocado, and coconut oil. It is important to not sabotage a healthy diet of anti-inflammatory foods with unhealthy oils that are often still included in many packaged foods, especially chips or crackers.
Avoid oils like corn oil and cottonseed oil. They are toxic, generally unclean and hard to digest, easily causing symptoms in those with IBS. Canola oil would also be another you may want to avoid or at least put limits on.
Another avoid for many people with both fibro and osteo issues is milk protein, otherwise known as casein. The protein of the milk can be the most difficult to digest. Avoid foods like store bought yogurts, whey, and low fat milks which are higher in casein. Choose healing dairy fats like ghee (clarified butter), butter oil, or raw cream. A little goes a long way.
Some of My Favorite Anti-Inflammatory Spices
- Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Just be aware that you want to start slow. Start with the actual spice before using supplements. Mix a tsp. of organic turmeric into water or coconut milk.
- Rosemary is good for inflammation and even headaches.
- Thyme is great for digestion, and goes well made into a tea, add both rosemary and thyme together.
- Ginger Root is excellent and can be used in teas or in raw foods. Try juicing raw ginger root in your vegetable juice for extra benefit.
Try including some of these foods and seasonings in your diet, you can help to reduce inflammation in your body and help reduce flare-ups and feel better.
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