May 12th is International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases, including Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; so I thought it was a good day to talk about these common diseases and how they are linked to your diet and lifestyle choices.
In particular, I wanted to bring up the connection seen with these pain and fatigue-related diseases to blood sugar problems, insulin resistance and diabetes since so many of my community suffer from these health issues.
While the actual root cause for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue appears to be some kind of abnormality in the pain-related chemical makeup of the brain, there are many common triggers that are found during their diagnosis, including:
- Other underlying conditions such as diabetes, pre-diabetes (Research has found that Fibromyalgia is commonly found in people with diabetes, especially Type 1 diabetes)
- Inflammation (due to food allergies, poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, etc.)
- Poor adrenal function (low cortisol and DHEA)
- Trauma due to an injury
Fibromyalgia literally means pain in the fibrous tissues. Symptoms can vary, but include:
- Widespread musculoskeletal pain: muscle burning, aching, stiffness
- Extreme fatigue: Sleep can be disrupted by pain and many people with Fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.
- Cramping, tingling, numbness in stomach and limbs
- Cognitive impairments such as inability to focus; “brain fog”; memory issues
- Sensitivity to bright lights, noises and odors
- Facial/TMJ pain
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
What is the connection between Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and Your Blood Sugar?
First, in order to understand the connection, refer to my previous blog on Blood Sugar and Insulin Resistance. About 50% of my patients have an issue with their blood sugar and are insulin resistant, so understanding what is going on with your blood sugar is YOUR first step to understanding the possible connection to your pain and fatigue symptoms!
Once you read this earlier info you’ll see that it’s all about the insulin!
Insulin is produced by your body to move sugar from your bloodstream into your cells where it can produce ENERGY for all the things your body needs to do! A certain amount of insulin is needed, but problems can occur if your body produces too much. This occurs when you eat foods that are high in carbohydrates or when you eat at the wrong times – like grazing all day! It can also happen during periods of chronic stress, when you're exercising too hard, etc.
If you keep pumping out insulin, your cells become fatigued by the stimulation and insulin resistance results. When this happens, your blood sugar remains high for too long, which can lead to diabetes.
The excess insulin can cause inflammation in pretty much every organ in your body. This inflammation can lead to other symptoms , like high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attack, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia and even cancer!
Elevated insulin is also known as hyperinsulinemia.
People can have hyperinsulinemia for some time and may not be aware of it. Symptoms include weight gain, sugar cravings and intense hunger even after eating. There may also be issues such as poor concentration and anxiety. Symptoms will often escalate before diabetes is diagnosed, to include sweating, weakness, nausea and even blurred vision.
The important thing to remember is Insulin Resistance and associated disease is all treatable by your diet and lifestyle choices!
Some things you can do right away to improve upon blood sugar issues and insulin resistance (and reduce the inflammation that can cause or aggravate Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue) include:
Diet – Remove processed foods, simple sugars and carbohydrates and get the majority of your calories from low glycemic foods. Read about the top ten foods that can reduce inflammation.
Exercise – Any movement is better than being sedentary! Burst training has been shown to be more beneficial with respect to blood sugar balance than aerobic or intense lengthier exercise. Burst training is short intervals of high intensity exercise followed by rest. It elevates your growth hormone and decreases your blood sugar.
If you have Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue, even just a short walk every day or when you feel able will help to improve insulin function.
Replenish Key Nutrients – Nutrients that restore your body’s cell receptivity to insulin include: chromium, magnesium, glutamine, zinc, and the B vitamins. DHA is also good; it is an omega 3 fat that’s important for insulin sensitivity. Talk to your practitioner about supplements that might help with your adrenal hormone imbalance and increased oxidative stress levels, and the benefit of including antioxidant rich foods and supplements.
Improve Your Gut Health – Eat probiotic rich foods or take a daily probiotic. Investigate for food sensitivities, and talk to your practitioner about whether you might have leaky gut.
Stress Reduction – Stress can have a huge impact to developing and maintaining insulin resistance. Use stress reduction techniques like HeartMath, meditation, yoga or just focusing on a favorite hobby or recreation. You can talk to your practitioner about having your body's response to stress actually “measured” using an adrenal stress test (tests cortisol and DHEA levels).
Switch Out Your Omega’s – Cut down on the inflammatory Omega-6 family of foods . They are found in commercially raised meats, dairy products, eggs, and in most vegetable oils. Our typical Western diet is very heavy on Omega-6 fats and low on the healthier Omega-3's. Eat a fresh diet loaded with green vegetables, sea vegetables, and omega-3 rich chia, flax, and hemp seeds.
If you follow some of these steps you will improve your blood sugar and insulin resistance issues, as well as pain and fatigue caused by the inflammation you will be reducing!
Take my insulin resistance quiz to determine whether you are at risk.
Become your own health detective. Purchase a glucose meter and test yourself for a week or so. Try testing in the morning, before and after breakfast (as indicated in my earlier blog). In my B4 Be Gone Blood Sugar Balancing Program we teach you exactly how to test and interpret your results, then put together a customized protocol to reverse insulin resistance,
You might be very surprised with your results?