Since we are all so different on a biochemical level and our health conditions might arise from practically different reasons, our diets have to be customized in order to meet our specific nutritional requirements.
People who are dealing with serious diseases like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and thyroid disease must recognize the importance of dietary guidelines in their treatment. A healthy diet is a part of living a healthy life.
Fibromyalgia And Nutrition
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition whose symptoms include muscle and tissue pain, fatigue, depression, and sleep disturbances; it often mimics or appears together with other chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lupus, and arthritis.
In one survey, 42% of patients reported that certain foods aggravated their symptoms. So what are the foods that have an effect on such conditions.
Fibromyalgia is believed to be linked to an imbalance of brain chemicals that control mood, and it is often linked with unrestful sleep and fatigue. Fibro patients may try to ease fatigue with stimulants like caffeine, but they may end up doing more harm than good in the long run.
Caffeine can stay in your system for several hours and keep you awake long after you’ve finished a cup of it, and it’s over stimulating your adrenals.
The nightshade variety—including tomatoes, potatoes, bell pepper and eggplant—are suspected to trigger arthritis and pain conditions in some people. “The thought is that they have components that are neurotoxins. For a small percentage of patients, cutting them out makes a dramatic difference,” says Dr. Holtorf.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon and a variety of fish, have been touted as a heart-healthy food, but they may help with pain, as well. They reduce the inflammation and help brain function.” A 2006 survey of arthritis patients found that daily fish oil supplements reduced pain symptoms in 60% of the patients. Omega-3s have not, however, been tested on fibromyalgia patients specifically.
Yeast and gluten
Consuming yeast may contribute to the growth of yeast fungus in the body, which can contribute to pain. Fibromyalgia patients may also be more prone to gluten sensitivities. Celiac disease is seen in a subset of patients. Avoiding yeast and gluten can help some patients improve.
Dr. Holtorf emphasizes the importance of a low carb and low sugar diet for fibromyalgia patients. This is because about 90% of fibromyalgia patients have low adrenal functioning, which affects the metabolism of carbohydrates and may lead to hypoglycemia. People affecting by this crave sugar, but they also experience the crash that follows the initial energy high. A good rule of thumb is to eat carbs with a mix of protein and fat.
The artificial sweetener found in diet sodas and many sugar-free sweets is part of a chemical group called excitotoxins, which activate neurons that can increase sensitivity to pain. Fibromyalgia patients are already sensitive to pain, and aspartame may heighten their sensitivity.
Food additives including MSG (monosodium glutamate) and nitrates
MSG is an additive or flavor enhancer that’s found in many processed and frozen foods and in some Asian cuisines. Experts say it can intensify pain symptoms in many individuals. Like aspartame, MSG is classified as an excitotoxin and has the same potential for affecting NMDA receptors.
The same is true for foods containing preservatives such as nitrates, commonly found in lunch meats like ham or bologna or in bacon.
Be they low fat or high fat, some experts say, dairy products — particularly, milk — have been known to drive the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Avoiding these products may help some people turn their health around.
Thyroid Disease And Nutrition
For people with thyroid disease — whether hypothyroid (underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroid (overactive thyroid), Hashimoto’s disease or Graves’ disease, or other conditions, there are some important things to know about foods and drinks, and their interaction with your health and medications. Here are a few things to know about thyroid conditions and your diet, food and beverages.
Goitrogens are substances — occurring naturally in certain foods — that can cause the thyroid gland to enlarge, which is called a goiter. Goitrogenic foods can also function like an anti-thyroid drug and actually slow down the thyroid and make it under-active (hypothyroidism).
The main goitrogenic foods are cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage, among others, as well as soy foods. If you still have a functional (or semi-functional thyroid gland), and are hypothyroid, you should be careful not to over-consume raw goitrogenic foods. Goitrogens are partially destroyed by heat, so you can still consume these steamed or cooked.
If you are hyperthyroid, you may want to talk to a nutritional practitioner about incorporating more goitrogenic foods into your diet.
Coconut oil can raise basal body temperatures while increasing metabolism. This is good news for people who suffer with low thyroid function. This saturated, healthy fat is a thyroid-friendly option to replace other fats and oils in your diet.
Soy both acts as a goitrogen, and inhibits thyroid hormone absorption, especially processed and high-phytoestrogen forms of soy, like shakes, powders, soy milk, bars, and supplements. You may want to eliminate soy, or limit soy consumption to fermented forms, like tempeh, in small quantities as a condiment, and not as a primary protein replacement.
It is recommended not to drink coffee until an hour after you have taken the thyroid hormone replacement medication; otherwise, the coffee can affect absorption, and make your thyroid medication less effective.
Calcium fortified orange juice
Calcium fortified orange juice, calcium supplements, or iron supplements, can interfere with your absorption of thyroid medication. So wait at least three to four hours after taking your thyroid medication before consuming these.
In some areas of the world, iodized salt is an essential way to prevent iodine deficiency, cretinism and retardation due to iodine deficiency in pregnant women. About one-fourth of the U.S. population is now somewhat deficient in iodine, and that percentage appears to be on the rise again, after years of stable iodine levels (due to iodized salt intake.) You need enough iodine — but not too much — for the thyroid to function properly.
Celiac, gluten and wheat
A subset of autoimmune thyroid patients have dietary-triggered autoimmunity, due to celiac disease, or a wheat/gluten intolerance. For these patients, going on a gluten-free diet may eliminate antibodies, and cause a remission of their autoimmune thyroid disease. Even for some patients who do not have celiac disease, going on a gluten-free diet may reduce antibodies, reduce bloating, and help with energy and weight loss.
High fiber foods
Many thyroid patients struggle with constipation, and extra weight. One of the key tactics that can help is increasing fiber intake, particularly from foods. However, if you switch to a high-fiber diet, you should get your thyroid rechecked in eight to twelve weeks to see if you need a dosage readjustment, as fiber can affect absorption of medication.
Eating “mini-meals” — or “graze” all day on smaller meals may be the wrong thing to do for thyroid patients who are trying to lose weight. The reason why fewer, richer meals, spaced further apart may be more effective for thyroid patients than mini-meals and grazing is in helping to manage the leptin and insulin levels.
One of the most powerful things thyroid patients can do to help their health and metabolism is to stay hydrated. Water helps your metabolism function more efficiently, and can help reduce your appetite, get rid of water retention and bloating, improve your digestion and elimination, and combat constipation. Some experts even say that we should drink one ounce of water per pound of scale weight.
Incorporating these various tips and discussing them with your doctor may help you take a step towards a healthier life.