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How to Obtain Relief for Fibromyalgia – Part 3: Nutrition and Exercise

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Fibro Patient Education & Support is a Chicago organization devoted to spreading awareness of fibromyalgia and providing education through cable television.  In this four-part series, Founder Necie Edwards offers tips on how to feel better with fibromyalgia. 
Dealing with chronic pain can drag you down physically and emotionally; it can make your quality of life much less than it should be. 
Necie offers these suggestions about nutrition and exercise.   

  1. Engage in exercise. It has been scientifically proven that mild to moderate physical activity can lessen the feelings of chronic pain. It can strengthen your muscles, lubricate your joints, and improve your mental outlook so that you can tolerate the pain for the rest of the day. Try a mild to moderate exercise like walking or bicycling that can engage your muscles without putting a lot of pressure on your joints. Additionally, a recent study showed that short bursts of daily movement throughout the day helps improve chronic pain, like that seen in Fibromyalgia. This means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking more and anything that involves short periods of movement throughout the day. Find out more in Exercise for Fibromyalgia.

  2. Eat healthy. Foods like fruits, vegetable, whole grains and lean meats are simple choices that keep you from eating processed foods that cause inflammation in the body that promotes chronic pain. A healthy diet filled with whole food has been associated with decreased inflammation and a relief of chronic pain symptoms. Foods that Ease the Pain and Fatigue of Fibromyalgia may provide additional information, as well as Can the "MIND Diet" Reduce "Brain Fog" Due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia?.

  3. Avoid processed foods. Foods that have been made in factories have trans fats and other preservatives that can build up in your system, worsening your pain, weighing you down and causing weight gain that makes chronic pain worse. They also prevent you from maintaining a healthy weight, which helps your joints be less stressed. Always read product labels and look for foods that are free of fat and preservatives.

  4. Maintain a healthy weight. Keeping your body mass index between 19 and 25 is associated with less pain and an easier time of getting around to perform activities of daily living. You can achieve a healthy weight with calorie restriction and exercise. Sue Ingebretson offers tips in Why Fibromyalgia Makes It Hard to Lose Weight.


  5. Reduce your alcohol intake. Alcohol can interfere with a normal sleep patterns so that you may suffer from insomnia or wake up too early in the morning. Good sleep is essential to dealing with chronic pain. Keep your alcohol intake down to about 1-2 alcoholic beverages per day and try not to drink right before bedtime.

  6. Stay hydrated. Experts believe that if you are dehydrated, it can interfere with your perception of pain. Keep a water bottle close by and constantly sip some all day long. Drink until your urine is a light straw color. Water is the best hydration method to use. Do not use anything that contains caffeine as this ultimately causes dehydration and will not help you stay hydrated.

  7. Limit inflammatory foods. There are some foods that can enhance your perception of pain. These include nightshade vegetables (eggplant and tomatoes), junk food, citrus fruits, high fat meat, wheat, red wine, coffee, tea, and soda. Instead, stick to foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, like fish containing omega 3 fatty acids, whole grains (except wheat), dark leafy greens, nuts, soy products, and low fat dairy products.

  8. Eat more turmeric. This spice is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Use it in recipes so you can have less pain. Turmeric contains curcumin, which decreases the amount of inflammation in your body. Look up recipes that contain turmeric or make up some recipes of your own. It really is a very versatile spice.

  9. Practice daily stretching. Stretching exercises can improve your circulation and can lessen the tension in your muscles. Try stretching each morning before you get out of bed in order to start your day off right. Stretch also before you do any type of exercise to avoid getting any kind of injury during the exercise.

  10. Go swimming. Swimming is the best exercise for people who have chronic pain it provides very little impact on the joints and yet strengthens the muscles. You can swim every day, so join a health club, but make sure to choose one with a warm pool that will be easier on your joints. 

Fibro Patient Education and Support is the only organization of its kind in the Chicago metro area devoted exclusively to spreading awareness of Fibromyalgia and providing education via cable television through their flagship program, Fibromyalgia Talks
Fibro Patient Education and Support is focused on providing programs that educate patients and caregivers about Fibromyalgia, including causes, symptoms, treatments, and how it interacts with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, migraine, insomnia, multiple chemical sensitivity and Gulf War Syndrome.  

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