Monday, 19 April 2010

Fibromyalgia: Restore Balance To Your Body And Feel Better

image Most people with fibromyalgia realize that it seems like your whole system is unbalanced and it is. Studies have shown that most people with fibro have IBS, many have hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia or both, and most are generally deficient in one or more vitamins and minerals. Combine that with insomnia, not getting enough exercise, the inability to digest properly and failure to remove toxins and it is no wonder the imbalance seems impossible to correct.

Any fibromyalgia treatment has to start with a program of helping the body overcome this imbalance and it must start with your diet. Changing lifestyle and diet habits seems to be the most difficult obstacle for fibro patients to overcome.

It is easy to understand when it seems like your body is starving for energy and is screaming for you to feed it what it needs most for energy, carbs or sugar but that is exactly what is keeping this imbalance in place.

Refined carbs and sugar are damaging your liver, pancreas, brain and adrenals. They are also acidic, forcing your body to regulate ph levels however it can, even if it means leaching calcium from your bones to combat acidity. They also contribute to and cause overgrowths of yeast and mold.


Normally the liver controls blood sugar levels. It makes sugar from stores inside the liver and releases it as needed in a carefully regulated way. Eating excessive sugar or refined carbs can overwhelm this control system and then the liver must dump the excess into the systemic circulation. This results in high blood sugar which damages blood vessels.

Then the pancreas comes in to play by releasing insulin to control these overwhelming blood sugar levels. It does this by shunting the sugar into fat, you will actually create more fat to store sugar which is your body's way of protecting itself. Then a rebound effect can happen when your pancreas releases too much insulin to control excess sugar and your blood sugar drops too low. This is also damaging because then the energy supply to all tissues is impaired. This is hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia often leads to diabetes.

Subconsciously you may eat to alleviate these symptoms of low blood sugar which is your body's natural way of protecting itself but this just leads to a roller coaster effect of rising and falling blood sugars which soon spirals out of control.
Another effective way the liver may react to low blood sugar is to convert short chain fatty acids into glucose.

When the liver and pancreas can't regulate blood sugar properly and sugar levels drop too low the brain begins to panic so to speak because the brain survives on blood sugar, this causes an adrenalin reaction to bring the sugar back up and if it happens at night it wakes you up preventing deep sleep which you need to heal.

This can wreak havoc with the adrenals as your blood sugar dips throughout the day and night. Fibro patients often have low cortisol levels and adrenal fatigue. Simply put your adrenal glands become exhausted.

Next the damaged or fatigued liver or pancreas can not create the needed enzymes for digestion. This leads to or worsens IBS and an inability to digest foods properly.

The inability to digest can cause diarrhea, constipation, IBS.

Also the inability to digest proteins leads to problems which create more of an inability to digest because you need protein and the proper digestion of protein to create enzymes needed for digestion. So this becomes yet another imbalance in fibromyalgia that creates another endless loop of malfunction.

The important role played by amino acids is also reduced. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Proteins when digested properly break down into amino acids. These amino acids are involved in creating enzymes, the growth, repair and maintenance of body tissues, balancing blood sugar, digesting food, the proper functioning of the immune system and the production of hormones.
Your body will actually begin to break down your intestines if it isn't getting the amino acids it needs to function.

Proteins are needed to heal and for a functioning immune system. With the breakdown of the immune system due to an inability to digest proteins you can not fight off yeast, molds, viruses and bacteria. Yeast and mold, bacteria and viruses often afflict fibromyalgia patients more than the general population and this burdens an already overworked immune system even more.

With an inability to digest foods you are not going to properly absorb vitamins and minerals and this along with the diarrhea leads to malnutrition. You also need the proteins and amino acids to carry the vitamins and minerals to your cells.

You need a healthy liver and blood vessels to clear your body of toxins and deliver oxygen to your cells.

Fluid and electrolyte imbalances are also created due to diarrhea.

In addition there may also be hormonal imbalances.

The body will do whatever it takes to control blood sugar, fluid imbalances and ph levels, if it didn't, you would die.

This in the simplest terms describes the overwhelming job that is placed on your body due to the many imbalances involved in fibromyalgia.

What can you do to stop this cascade of imbalances?

• Lower carb higher protein diet

Most doctors recommend this for fibro. There is a known endocrine disorder with fibro and while doctors don't exactly know how this correlation works, they know it exists.

Make it easy on yourself. Don't even try complicated diet plans that seem like an extra job. Incorporate lower carb higher protein into YOUR lifestyle.

Don't bother counting carbs, just eliminate sugar and white flour and if you can't do it seven days a week do it six days a week, if you can't do it six days a week start with five days a week.

If you still can't eliminate them this way, then try this, divide your plate into fourths, one half is covered with non starchy vegetables, one fourth with meat or fish and one fourth with carbs. If you are making pasta for dinner start with a salad with lemon and olive oil. This will help activate digestive juices in your stomach. Have four meatballs instead of two and less pasta and no bread.

If you must have bread look for the smallest rolls possible or just half a slice. Some doctors recommend whole grain instead of white but others say no to any grains for hypoglycemia and IBS. I believe if you take digestive enzymes whole grains shouldn't be a problem for either but they are still carbs so limit them.

If you still must have an occasional dessert then make it cheesecake (a sliver) or get a diabetic cookbook and learn how to make lower sugar/carb desserts and meals.

Watch the rice and potatoes also. And some fruits also have too much sugar like bananas, limit fruit when you are starting, stick to low glycemic fruits.
Eat whole fruits, the fiber is good for you. No fruit juice whatsoever, it is too high in sugar.

No sugar but if you must, Stevia or Agave Nectar in your coffee or tea and limit this to one cup a day. There is also a new stevia out called Truvia. This might be worth checking into. Absolutely no aspartame or Splenda or any sugar substitutes other than stevia. Herbal teas are also good because they don't need much sweetening to be flavorful.

Learn the glycemic indexes of foods. Learn what complex carbs (the ones you should be eating) are.

Little or no processed food. Refined food may very well be the culprit in many of your ills. By the time refined food is cooked and gets to your plate there are practically no enzymes left in it for digestion.

Eat raw foods as much as possible.

Drink plenty of water, add a little lemon to it. Lemon water with distilled or spring water is good for your liver. It will also help you create stomach acids needed for digestion.

Eat only good oils. Cold pressed olive oil is best. Good fats slow the release of glucose.

Eat breakfast (a must), it will help to stabilize your blood sugars throughout the whole day.

Learn what your daily intake of protein should be based on your weight.

Try adding whey protein to your daily meal plans. The kind that weightbuilders use is the best. It is easily digested and gives you extra protein that you may not be getting. Add to milk and drink one glass in the morning and it will give you stable protein for energy. It is also low in sugars. Drink another in the afternoon if you have a mid afternoon slump and drink one before bed, it will create tryptophan which will help you sleep and the proteins can also work to give extra healing while you are sleeping.

If you don't like the whey protein then eat an egg for breakfast and drink extra milk. If you can't tolerate milk then use lactose digestion aids/enzymes.

Eat smaller and more meals throughout the day. Three meals and two snacks daily. Make the snacks higher in protein. A good one is peanut butter on whole wheat crackers.

In short you must do whatever it takes to stabilize your blood sugars. This will give you energy, help your depression, stop your insomnia and help you sleep better. It will also help greatly with your pain.

I have heard people with fibro say that they have tried diet and it doesn't work. Or they are reluctant to even try. It isn't going to work overnight or even in a few days. It will take anywhere from two to six weeks just to get your blood sugar stabilized and then it will take months for the healing to occur. You didn't reach this state overnight, you are not going to get over it in a couple of days but I can guarantee you will absolutely feel better and you will notice improvements in a short time that will make you want to stick to it. And if you fall off the wagon occasionally don't use it as an excuse to give up, just get back on and try again.

Also note that the diet is lower carb higher protein, don't go overboard and severely restrict carb intake or signifcantly increase protein intake if you feel you are meeting the daily requirements for protein for your weight, gender and age.

If you have access to a glucose meter and know how to use it, check your blood sugar levels yourself throughout the day.

See an endocrinolgist to get a complete blood sugar work up. Get checked for hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, diabetes, all of it. If your blood sugars are not normal they will probably recommend a dietitian to help create a diet plan for you, in addition to insulin or other medications if needed.

See your doctor and ask to have your adrenal and liver function tested.

• Use digestive and systemic enzymes. Look for a good formula with Betaine and Pepsin in the digestive, take before meals to help digest food, especially proteins which are the hardest to digest. Papaya Enzymes are also good for digesting proteins.
• Use probiotics. A good formula with at least five beneficial bacteria.
• Use EFA's Essential Fatty Acids. They will help regulate glucose. Take before a meal.
• If IBS does not improve with digestive enzymes try peppermint gels in addition. Drink peppermint tea. If this doesn't help get tested for SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth). You may need antibiotics.
• Try a blood sugar formula but be careful to read ingredients, you don't want to lower insulin just help stabilize it.
• Milk Thistle is good for the liver.
• Licorice is good for the adrenals but check side effects and drug interactions. Some people should not take licorice. Look for other supplements that are good for adrenal fatigue.
• A good multi-vitamin is a must. Look for high quality, higher concentrations at first since you are not absorbing well until your digestion improves.
• Amino Acids supplements may also help you to heal.
• Research all vitamins and supplements before taking. Some cause dangerous side effects and interactions if you are not meant to take them.
• Keep a food diary. Learn what foods cause diarrhea or fatigue or any of the symptoms of hypoglycemia or blood sugar problems for you. Everyone is different.
• Exercise. Go for a walk after meals. This will greatly help to stabilize and normalize blood sugars. It will also help stimulate normal bowel functions.

Remember you must change your lifestyle and diet. You really have no choice if you want to heal.

Supplements are needed and help a great deal to support your overwhelmed body on its way to healthful balance, they help with many functions that your body is just unable to do on it's own for the time being but there aren't enough supplements in the world to replace the millions of functions that a healthy body does naturally and brilliantly.

Note: While not every fibromyalgia patient has all of the above symptoms there has been some research to suggest a link between IBS and varying degrees of hypoglycemia or reactive hypoglycemia. Studies indicate that up to 80% of fibromyalgia patients suffer from IBS. There have also been conclusive studies demonstrating abnormal adrenal function in fibromyalgia patients.

Some studies indicate that fibromyalgia patients have higher degrees of blood sugar problems such as hypoglycemia, diabetes, insulin resistance and pre diabetes than the general population. Many fibromyalgia patients experience fibroglycemia, both high and low blood sugars.

You are the best judge of your fibro symptoms and what treatments might be of benefit to you, as always discuss all of your treatments with your doctor and inform them of all alternative treatments and products that you use.

Mary Ferrari is webmaster of an alternative health site featuring articles, newsletters, products and more related to successful alternative treatments for fibromyalgia. "I have been pain/symptom free from fibromyalgia since 2008 and have helped many people who wish to overcome their symptoms using non pharmaceutical supplements and treatments."

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