Chronic inflammation is a part of life for many of us, including myself. A major symptom of fibromyalgia, there comes a point when the body just gives up on you and you have to stop and stand still. For some it’s on a daily basis, weekly or monthly, and sometimes a sudden surprise attack in the middle of nowhere.
The past few months of completing a project, miles away from home and working continuously without much break, tasting at least 20 dishes a day, heavy on spices, sugars and fats has aggravated the body functioning, pain and allodynia. Moreover, the countless late nights, early mornings, sometimes eating far too much and on some days skipping meals, excess indulgence on the night cap accompanied with fritters can most definitely take a toll.
After periods like this, I opt to go 5 days of less or no dairy, lentils and whole grain to detox the gut and body and give rest and time to heal – this also means no activity, but staying in bed, indulging in leisure activities and spending time with loved ones. I include all high doses of anti-inflammatory foods, and cook in various ways to ensure maximum nutrition and absorption. I’m sharing some of the dishes that have helped me over the years along with some information that may prove useful to you or someone you know.
(Just remember, during moments of pain, we may act different, we may not respond, we may not make sense – forgive us, we’re just going through a lot of pain)
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Every research has shown that foods with high omega-3 fatty acids have very good anti-inflammatory properties and a supplement is usually prescribed for treatment of fibromyalgia and chronic illness and fatigue syndrome.
The foods that have this powerhouse are:
Walnuts, avocado, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, seaweed, soybeans, fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies
Ayurveda urges you to start with a mono-fruit – i.e. a single variety of fruit to ensure best digestion and benefits for your body. Pineapple is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory fruits and has high dose of Bromelain – a protein-digesting enzyme which has anti-inflammatory properties and helps decrease tenderness and join pain. This enzyme also helps in digestion of food, and thereby ensuring the much needed nutrients and trace minerals your body needs.
Start with a bowl of pineapple slices every morning, or add them into your smoothies or juices.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
Extra virgin olive oil has a natural chemical called oleocanthal, which shares similar properties with the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen. Some researches have shown that EVOO “significantly reduced oxidative stress markers, had a greater reduction in levels of protein carbonyls, and decreased lipid peroxidation levels”
Reminder to not cook in extra virgin olive oil but to always drizzle on top of the food – example replacing butter with EVOO, on top of salads, soups, pasta, rice and so on
Yes! Chocolate!!! Chocolate has flavonoids, which are nutrients that research shows may curb inflammation – and I’m sold with just that! Add unsweetened cocoa powder or dark chocolate bars to smoothies or hot milk, melted dark chocolate drizzled on top of fruit or oatmeal or even a piece of whole grain toast! Tea and red wine have similar flavonoids, but I do avoid alcohol has much as possible during moments of severe attacks
Cherries are superfoods for pain, inflammation and sleep. This fruit contains anthocyanins with known natural anti-inflammatory properties, which can alleviate the muscle and joint soreness of Fibromyalgia pain. Anthocyanins is known to block inflammation as effectively as NSAID’s like Ibuprofen, Naproxen, or Aspirin. Cherries are also a natural source of melatonin– the sleep hormone – which means better sleep – and hence a better rested body
Research shows bananas reduce inflammation and has an antioxidant effect, which helps keep immune cells functioning optimally – thereby improving overall health and body functioning. Bananas also have more potassium – which helps relieve pain. This fruit also helps with regulating digestion
Most fibromyalgia sufferers end up with lower levels of magnesium. Magnesium is vital for relieving pains, swelling and soreness for chronic pain patients. Foods that are high in magnesium include – almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, dark chocolate, avocado, black beans and other legumes, tofu, seeds – flaxseed, pumpkin, chia, oats, barley, buckwheat and quinoa, bananas, spinach.
A wellness tip – take a 20-minute long warm bath soak with Epsom bath salts to help replenish the magnesium levels in your body and reduce swelling and body pain
You can check out the two varieties of bath salts with Epsom salts @naturetherapyindia
Overall, I have found that eating slow cooked warm food has been more beneficial to me over raw and cold foods. This is entirely a personal, and everyone’s body reacts differently to food habits. Perhaps it’s the age that has played a factor here, slowing down of the metabolism and hormonal changes – who knows, but over time I have learnt to listen to my body, scrutinize the cravings I get, observe even the slightest changes to note factors or triggers that increase body pain or interfere with sleep cycle.
Seen here is a pumpkin and red pepper soup, with some grilled broccoli florets.
Pumpkin is a high source of carotene and vitamin C – giving you energy and helps with internal healing.