By Sue Ingebretson
Healing nutrition for fibromyalgia centers on how food can help to repair the body at the root level. The focus begins with the fundamental macronutrients – healthy fats, healthy proteins, and healthy carbohydrates. Getting back to the basics is always a great place to start.
Healing fibromyalgia begins from the inside out. One way to get a great start is to add healthier foods to your regular mealtimes. For more information on macronutrients and the foods that can help you begin a wellness plan, check out this popular article, “The Fibromyalgia Diet: Help! I Don’t Know What to Eat!”
The tips in this article add to the basics of nutrition by focusing on one food in particular. And because it just so happens to be extremely tiny and easy to use makes it all the more practical.
Let’s take a look at the tiny but mighty Chia Seed
Chia’s nutritional benefits span to more than one macronutrient. I love it when one food multitasks as a superfood. Another example is the nutrient-rich avocado. Avocados are known for their healthy fats, but they contain healthy carbohydrate too and even a smidgen of protein.
Plant-based superfoods are nature’s complete bundle. They often boast a combination of nutrients specifically designed to help us absorb their macro- and micro-nutrients with the greatest efficiency.
When it comes to efficiency, seeds in general rank high on the list. Yet, they’re easy to overlook. If you think of your dinner plate, what comes to mind? You probably visualize vegetables, greens, meats, and fruits. It’s possible you also think of nuts, but did you picture adding seeds to your recipes?
Seeds are simply amazing. Consider the fact that one seed contains the miracle of the entire plant in one tiny and super-efficient bundle. Seeds are miniature nutrient-packed morsels of nourishment. They provide sustenance for the plant to grow, mature, and sustain life.
They can do that for us, too!
I love flax seeds and add them to my smoothies. I enjoy pepitas (pumpkin seeds), hemp, sesame, and sunflower seeds in my salads and snacks. But the seeds I consume the most are chia seeds.
I have an affinity for efficiency. They’re easy to use and perform so many different functions in recipes. They’re high-nutrient and low calorie, which makes them abundant and sparse in all the right proportions.
Chia nutrition at a glance
Chia seeds contain the following:
- Omega 3s
- Healthy Protein
- Healthy Carbohydrates
- Vitamin C
- Vitamins B1 and B3
- and more …(1)
Nutrient-rich chia is an energy powerhouse
According to the food documentary makers at Food Matters, here are a few fun and remarkable nutrition facts about chia: (2)
- Chia seeds contain eight times more OMEGA 3 FATS than salmon
- By weight, they contain about 20% PROTEIN
- Chia seeds have four times the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) ANTIOXIDANT score of blueberries
- Regulate BLOOD SUGAR levels (great aid for diabetes)
- Contain five times more CALCIUM than milk
- Contain twice the POTASSIUM of a banana
- Healthy benefits for skin, hair, and nails
Of course, chia seeds have no gluten and therefore don’t contribute to digestive dysfunctions such as bowel inflammation, IBS, and leaky gut. In fact, consuming chia seeds significantly improves digestion and enables effective digestive relief.
Fiber to the rescue
Chia seed’s high fiber content is the secret to its digestive benefits. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber meaning that they can help the body absorb liquids in the digestive tract, easing symptoms of IBS, and then assist with getting everything moving.
The soluble fiber in chia seeds binds with cholesterol to help remove it from the body (3) and to move foods effectively through the intestines for improved waste elimination.
For more information on the digestive health benefits of fiber, including sources, hints, and usage tips, check out these articles:
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Interesting Chia Seed Uses
I know what you’re thinking.
Many of us remember the late night commercials with the jingle that sang, “Ch-ch-ch-Chia Pets!” Chia seeds are used in these fun, iconic products to create sprouts that grow on shaped terra cotta planters. They’re sure to get some giggles as a gift, but who knew there were practical (even edible!) uses for the seeds?
It may surprise you to know that chia seeds can be used as thickening agents for soups, smoothies, sauces, and even puddings. Add chia seeds to your favorite recipe and let it sit for a bit to thicken. Don’t miss the simple Almond Cinnamon Chia Pudding recipe included below.
The soluble fiber in chia seeds expands in liquids, creating a gelatinous result. This can be useful for those who are allergic or reactive to egg proteins. Create your own egg replacement recipe by swapping out 1 TB ground chia seeds to 3 TB water for each egg you’d like to substitute. (4)
Chia Seeds for Weight Loss?
The fiber content of chia seeds also benefits potential weight loss or weight management goals. Chia seeds can be stirred into water, vegetable juice, smoothies or any healthy drink or recipe to increase the fiber content and increase satiety. That means it helps us feel full and satisfied. By contributing to a sensation of fullness, chia seeds can help reduce hunger pangs and prevent overeating.
When added to healthy foods, chia slows the absorption of foods creating sustained energy and improves the overall digestion process. (5)
How to Use Chia Daily
As mentioned, I use chia seeds regularly and find it easy to incorporate them into my meals. I stir them into smoothies, soups, sauces, dressings, chili, eggs, quinoa dishes, dips and more.
Simply adding them to your everyday drinks makes even water or tea a dynamic nutrient-rich beverage. I’m not the only one who champions these little dynamos. I happened to read a comment in a nutrition blog the other day that caught my attention. The author referred to chia as tiny vitamins.
What a great way to think of them!
I hope you enjoy “taking your vitamins” as you add chia to your mealtime recipes.
Why not start with this one today? Enjoy!
Almond Cinnamon Chia Pudding
1 Cup coconut or almond milk, unsweetened
3 TB chia seeds
Raw organic honey, to taste
Cinnamon, to taste
- Stir all ingredients together in a bowl.
- Cover and refrigerate for a few hours until it reaches desired consistency.
- Stir before serving and top with slivered or chopped almonds, and if desired, add an additional drizzle of honey and berries.
Like variety? Try these alternative simple add-ins: almond or vanilla extract, fresh fruit, cacao nibs, cacao powder, coconut flakes, protein powders, dried berries, etc.
Want even more ideas for chia puddings? Here’s a link to 45 more recipes — sure to boost your creative juices!
Sue Ingebretson (www.RebuildingWellness.com) is an author, speaker, certified holistic health care practitioner and the director of program development for the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Center at California State University, Fullerton. She is also a Patient Advocate/Fibromyalgia Expert for the Alliance Health website and a Fibromyalgia editor for the ProHealth website community.
Her #1 Amazon best-selling chronic illness book, FibroWHYalgia, details her own journey from chronic illness to chronic wellness. She is also the creator of the FibroFrog™– a therapeutic stress-relieving tool which provides powerful healing benefits with fun and whimsy.
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