What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes a broad spectrum of symptoms.
- Memory issues, including brain fog
- Sleep problems, including poor sleep quality and restless legs
- Stiff joints, especially on waking
- Lower abdominal cramping,
- Numb or tingling extremities
- Heightened sensitivity to noises, bright lights and temperature changes
What causes Fibromyalgia?
Even though there is no definitive cause of Fibro, there are a number of potential possibilities such as;
- Food sensitivities or allergies
- Chemical sensitivities or allergies
- Viruses including; Epstein-Barr, Ross River, influenza, hepatitis B & C, Herpes, Lyme
- Hormonal imbalances (such as hypothyroidism)
- Poor digestion
- Candida overgrowth
- Spinal misalignments
- Stress; physical or emotional
- Drugs; pharmaceutical and recreational
- Neurotransmitter deficiencies
- Being female (80 – 90 % of sufferers are women!)
- Family history
- Genetic defects including MTHFR
- Rheumatoid conditions such as; R.A and Lupus
- Excess blood vessels and extra nerve fibres known as Arteriole-Venule (AV) Shunts in the hands, legs and feet. AV shunts regulate body temperature and blood flow. In sufferers of fibro, there are not only up to 2-8 times more nerve fibres but the AV shunts are up to 4 times larger. This may be why fibro sufferers feel worse in the cold.
There is no definitive test for Fibromyalgia, but 100% of sufferers have pain at multiple sites (see diagram). Other specific symptoms for diagnosis include; 87% have general fatigue, 76% suffer from stiffness, 72% have sleep disorders, 62% feel they hurt everywhere, 60% feel anxiety and stress and 52% feel swelling in tissues.
How to Treat Fibromyalgia;
- Address previous virus issues.
- Remove any foods that may be causing sensitivities. If these are unknown, I recommend a hair analysis test by Naturopathic Services which tests for 500 foods and household items. For more information check out this article; https://equilibriumnaturalhealth.com/2016/11/23/nightshades-food-sensitivities-pain-autoimmune-disease-ibs-and-leaky-gut/
- Avoid foods that cause inflammation, check out this list; https://equilibriumnaturalhealth.com/2015/06/17/inflammation-and-how-foods-and-drinks-can-exacerbate-it-or-improve-it/
- Improve digestive function, particularly if there’s bloating and excess wind.
- Improve gut bacteria with a practitioner only brand probiotic.
- Repairing gut lining.
- Support liver function as well as adrenal function and work on stress reduction techniques.
- Natural supplements that may help to reduce the severity of the symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia. These will be assessed on an individual basis, but may include; Acetyl L-carnitine, magnesium, EFA’s, vitamin D, anti-inflammatories, herbs for pain and inflammatin and to address any virus infection.
- Address lifestyle changes such as; exercise, massage (including Lymphatic drainage as well as Remedial, depending on the individual), acupuncture.
- 1 cup oats, rolled or cracked – NOT the quick cooking kind, but the ‘old fashioned’ whole oats (organic is best)
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 Tblespns plain whole milk yogurt, whey, kefir or buttermilk
- 1 cup water
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 Tblespns ground nuts & seeds such as; Brazil, almonds, walnuts, pepita’s, sunflower seeds & flax seeds.(Don’t use these if diverticulitis is an issue)
- Adding psyllium husks, chia seeds and slippery elm will increase the fibre content. (Don’t use chia seeds if diverticulitis is an issue)
- Coconut sugar, rapadura sugar, raw honey or real maple syrup (not maple flavouring) to sweeten.
- Touch of butter, ghee, cream or milk, optional, but especially good for the kids
- Other nice optional additions include; grated apple, chopped dried fruit such as; sulphur-free apricots, figs, sultanas or cranberries.
Mix the oats with warm water and whey or yogurt, cover and leave out (preferably not in the fridge unless the nights are hot) for at least 7 hours or overnight. In the morning, bring an additional cup of water to a boil with the sea salt. Add the soaked oats, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for several minutes. Remove from heat, stir in optional flax seeds and other fibre and let stand for a few minutes. Serve with the ghee, butter or cream and sugar, honey or real maple syrup.
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- 1 head cauliflower, riced
- 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella or a hard Goat’s or Sheep’s milk cheese
- 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly minced garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly chopped basil
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese (or grated Goat’s or Sheep’s milk cheese)
- Preheat oven to 220C
- Chop the cauliflower florets into chunks and steam them in a steamer or on the stove until slightly soft for 15 minutes. Grate or process in a blender to resemble rice. Alternatively, grate cauliflower or process cauliflower and cook as cauliflower rice. See recipe here; https://equilibriumnaturalhealth.com/2017/04/04/cauliflower-rice-paleo-g-f-low-carb/
- One large head should produce approximately 3 cups of riced cauliflower.
To Make the Bread:
- Place baking paper over a baking tray or pizza stone
- Wring out as much water from the cauliflower rice as possible
- In a medium bowl, stir together the cauliflower, Parmesan, Mozzarella (or Goats or Sheep’s milk cheese) and egg. Add basil, parsley, oregano, crushed garlic and salt & pepper and mix together to combine.
- Transfer to the baking tray or pizza stone, and using your hands, pat out into a large rectangle
- Bake at 220C for 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and turned golden.
Remove from oven.
- Slice and serve!
- 2 kg of bones – (beef and lamb knuckle bones or marrow bones, chicken necks, whole or carcass from a roast. You can have different bones together or separate, depending on the flavour of stock you’re after)
- 8 litres of filtered water
- 1 x whole bulb of garlic; cloves, separated, peeled and crushed
- 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (organic, unfiltered)
- 2 x carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 x celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 2 x onions, halved and peeled
- 1 x can whole, peeled or diced tomatoes (optional)
- 2 x bay leaves
- 1 x bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ½ bunch fresh or dried thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place all ingredients in a large crockpot or slow cooker and set the heat to high.
- Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat setting to low.
- Allow the stock to cook for a minimum of 4 hours and up to 24-48 hours or more, (depending on the size of the bones, chicken will need less, lamb and beef can cook for longer). The longer the bones brew the better! Remember to keep topping up the water you as you don’t want it to boil dry.
- Turn off the cooker and allow the stock to cool slightly.
- Strain the stock through a fine mesh metal strainer and throw away all the debris (I often keep the chunks of meat if they’re easily removed, and add them into a soup)
- Place the cooled stock into glass jars for storage in the fridge (for up to a few days) or pour into freezer-safe containers for later use. I also freeze some in ice-cube trays so that I can add a couple of cubes to cooking as needed.
When the broth is fully cooled, look for a gelatinous consistency. That means your broth is gelatin-rich! Sometimes the gelatin breaks down if the cooking is longer or hotter and your broth won’t appear gelatinous, but it is still full of gelatin and other wonderful minerals. I don’t skim off any of the fat, I heat my broth and drink it warm. If you like, you can skim off any fat that has risen to the top and solidified – this is lard – don’t throw it away use it in your savoury cooking in place of cooking oil. It has been proven not to form cancer causing aldehydes when heated, whereas vegetable oils such as sunflower, safflower, canola and to a degree, olive oils do.
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HOW TO SURVIVE THE SILLY SEASON!
It’s here again, that time of year when indulgence and excess becomes the norm and we eat more, drink more and socialise more than at any other time of the year.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the festive season. The excitement for the kids (and adults!), family get-togethers, family and religious rituals, Xmas morning with presents and such great food is like no other time of the year. The only trouble is it can easily go from lots of fun to exhaustion and stress and all of a sudden, you’ve undone all the hard work of the last year in one hit!
It is very easy to overdo it, so here are a few tips:
• Keep well hydrated, and no, that doesn’t mean more beer!! If you’re not drinking enough water, hot weather combined with alcohol is a guarantee for dehydration (and maybe even a hangover the next day). Try to always have a glass of water for every alcoholic drink.
Make up a jug of plain water or soda water and add a wedge of lemon or lime and a squeeze of its juice with a sprig of mint for a refreshing and cleansing drink. Or have a fermented drink like Kefir or Kombucha instead of alcohol.
• Reduce refined carbohydrate intake. Excess carbs will put the digestive system under more strain than fresh salads, vegetables and protein. Minimise pasta, cakes and pastries, and of course always keep sugar to a minimum.
• Don’t overeat! Pace yourself if you know there’s going to be a lot of food. Or if you know the food isn’t going to suit your digestive system, eat something at home before you go. That’s also a good idea if you’re not sure when you’ll be eating and don’t want to drink too much on an empty stomach or you get so hungry end up overeating!
• Nurture your liver, it’s going to go through a lot at this time of year! Liver supportive and digestive herbs taken before a large meal or regularly throughout the festive season may help your liver process the excesses more easily and will help lessen digestive irritability. I’m happy to make you up a mix for you to take.
• Probiotics. Alcohol, sugar, processed foods and even the stress of the season can be very detrimental to your digestive flora and result in bloating, poor bowel health and general sluggishness. Make sure you get a good quality probiotic supplement that provides a range of different strains and take daily. I’ve got plenty in stock.
• Exercise the outer body as well as the internal organs! Get involved in the family game of cricket or football, go for a swim or take a walk along the beach. It will help your digestive system as well as giving those extra calories a job to do!
• Keep stress to a minimum and don’t say “yes” to everything! If you know you’re overdoing it, step back and take a break. Remember to relax and laugh as much as you can!
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This is a great list of prebiotic-rich food and probiotic-rich food. Prebiotics are mostly soluble fibre that feed the probiotics that are already inhabiting your gut. Probiotics actually introduce probiotic strains, some of which may be non-existent or in short supply.
An interesting fact about prebiotics is they actually enhance the absorption of calcium and therefore improve bone density!
Prebiotic foods not on the list above include; dandelion greens, chicory (a coffee substitute) and bananas. Raw food are higher in prebiotics than cooked.
The trouble with prebiotics is they can exacerbate problems for anyone with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) as they will feed the wrong type of bacteria as well as the good and that will not be comfortable! Also anyone following a FODMAP diet for IBS or other symptoms, may react with more symptoms using prebiotic foods.