What causes fibromyalgia

What causes fibromyalgia

What do we know about the causes of fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that causes pain throughout the whole body. It involves fatigue, memory and concentration problems, sleep issues, and other symptoms.

There has been an increase, in recent years, in research on the causes of fibromyalgia. It is thought that a combination of different factors play a role in its development.
Doing this research must be difficult. One reason for this would be that a lot of people who have fibromyalgia also have other medical conditions such as thyroid conditions, lupus, other pain disorders or depression. So it would not be easy to decide which symptoms are caused by fibromyalgia or one of the other conditions. 
Fibromyalgia is thought to be caused by changes in the way that pain messages are processed in the brain. Researchers think this is set off  by a combination of genetic factors and physical or emotional stress.
Many people feel that their fibromyalgia symptoms developed after a physically or emotionally stressful event.  Others feel it was not one specific distressing or traumatic event but long term exposure to stress for many years. 
A fibromyalgia gene has not yet been discovered but fibromyalgia does certainly run in some families. Through research certain types of genes have been found to be more common in people who have fibromyalgia than in control groups. These genes play a role in the nervous system's response to pain. Some of the same genes are associated with depression and anxiety, which may be the reason why certain antidepressant medications help reduce fibromyalgia symptoms.

central nervous system in fibromyalgia

Pain processing
Many experts agree that fibromyalgia is the result of an abnormality in the central nervous system that increases sensitivity to pain. 
"Most researchers accept that fibromyalgia is caused by increased sensitivity within the pain-related nervous system. The majority of clinicians — myself included — believe that the condition is “top-down” in that it is driven by a change in the modulating factors of the brain." Dr G. Littlejohn
Sleep problems
This is a bit of a case of which came first the chicken or the egg because researchers aren’t sure if this is a symptom or a cause of fibromyalgia. Problems getting to sleep and getting into the deepest stages of sleep are common in Fibromyalgia. 

"Some people who have disorders affecting sleep, such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome (RLS), are more likely to have the condition." Healthline

People with Fibromyalgia live in the hope that research, into the cause of this condition will enable them to treat it properly and prevent others from getting it.

You may also be interested in my other article on The causes of Fibromyalgia 


Association between endometriosis, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases

Association between endometriosis, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases

Women with both endometriosis and fibromyalgia have a higher risk of having autoimmune diseases, anxiety, or depression as well as more hospitalizations, a study reports.
Evidence for an association between endometriosis, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases, was published in the American Journal of Reproductive Immunology in January 2019.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal chronic pain and many symptoms including painful menstrual cycles.
Endometriosis is a painful condition that affects a woman's reproductive organs.

Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks healthy organs and tissues within the body. There are over 80 autoimmune diseases
The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of and the association between endometriosis, fibromyalgia and autoimmune disease (AID) in a large population.
To investigate the prevalence of and the association among endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune diseases, a group of researchers did a retrospective analysis of data from the Maccabi Healthcare Services (MHS), a large healthcare plan in Israel.
The analysis included women diagnosed with endometriosis and/or fibromyalgia and a control group of women without either of the conditions.
In total, 781,571 adult women were considered eligible for the study, of whom 6,647 had endometriosis and 25,425 had fibromyalgia. Existence of both conditions was detected in 401 of the cases.
Women with both fibromyalgia and endometriosis had:
  • a high prevalence rate of AID compared to women with no diagnosis of endometriosis/fibromyalgia 
  • an increased healthcare resource utilization (HCRU)
  • an increased history of depression or anxiety
  • inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in 6.2% 
  • other autoimmune diseases including systemic lupus erythematosus and Sj√∂gren syndrome.

Interestingly many of the women with both conditions were diagnosed with fibromyalgia before endometriosis. 
The existence of fibromyalgia was significantly higher in women with endometriosis than in the control group.
Women with both conditions had a higher rate of hospitalizations, than the control group, highlighting the negative impact of these disorders on quality of life.
This study shows that the existence of autoimmune diseases is higher in women with endometriosis and fibromyalgia. These findings support the hypothesis that both endometriosis and fibromyalgia have an autoimmune component.
Hopefully these results contribute to developing a more thorough approach to managing the complex needs of these women.

Diagnosing either or both conditions should raise the possibility of the existence of autoimmune diseases. 


Co‐occurrence of endometriosis and fibromyalgia is associated with a high burden of autoimmune disease, anxiety/depression, and HCRU.


The Thyroid-Fibromyalgia Connection

The Thyroid-Fibromyalgia Connection

The thyroid is a small but incredibly influential gland located in the front of the neck. Those who are familiar with this powerful piece of anatomy know that it has a significant impact on numerous regions including the metabolism, brain, and weight regulation. Because of the thyroid’s broad influence, dysfunction of this system can result in the development or continuation of many serious conditions such as fibromyalgia.

Unfortunately, the relationship between the thyroid and fibromyalgia is frequently overlooked. 
Thyroid dysfunction shares many similarities with a hypothalamic condition known as fibromyalgia. Those suffering from hypothyroidism, and to a lesser degree hyperthyroidism, frequently develop fibromyalgia or at the very least exhibit symptoms similar to it.

Is the HPA Axis the Missing Link?

The connection between thyroid disease and fibromyalgia is an important part of understanding both conditions. Fibromyalgia is caused by dysfunction of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus exerts substantial influence over essential bodily functions including sleep, hormone balance, temperature, and autonomic nervous systems that regulate blood pressure, blood flow, and the transport of food through the gut. As part of the HPA axis, the hypothalamus works together with the pituitary, adrenals, and the thyroid to regulate hormones throughout the body.
The components of the HPA are closely interrelated meaning that malfunction in one area can have a significant negative impact on the others. Dr. J. Teitelbaum, MD, is an expert in chronic conditions, specifically chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. He believes that hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia are linked through the origin of the dysfunction.
The thyroid is highly influential over the hypothalamus and pituitary. Therefore, reduced thyroid activity can contribute to fibromyalgia-like symptoms and may increase the risk of developing the condition itself. Many symptoms are shared between hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia including fatigue, exhaustion, depression, brain fog, and a variable severity of muscle and joint pain. Regardless if thyroid malfunction is a co-factor of fibromyalgia, a prominent component of its symptoms is reduced thyroid function. When thyroid disease is left untreated, already reduced tissue levels of thyroid hormone can continue to decrease resulting in greater symptom severity.
Thyroid hormone, specifically T3, is an essential part of maintaining cellular energy level and activity. Inhibited levels of thyroid hormone contribute to reduced mitochondrial energy levels resulting in poor cellular activity. Both the hypothalamus and pituitary are particularly sensitive to cellular fatigue. As cellular energy levels decrease, the risk of developing fibromyalgia increases. Therefore, it is important to assess properly assess the thyroid and provide treatment as necessary if a patient is suffering from fibromyalgia.

Supporting the Thyroid to Resolve Fibromyalgia

The link between hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia is strong. Therefore, if you are a thyroid patient experiencing symptoms of fibromyalgia it is quite possible that your thyroid is malfunctioning or is not being treated effectively.
Dr. John Lowe, one of the leading practitioners in the field of fibromyalgia research, found that the chronic symptoms associated with hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia were partially or entirely due to lack of or undertreatment of the thyroid. If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia but have not had your thyroid assessed or treated, speak with your doctor about testing and optimizing your thyroid.
Want to learn more about the thyroid Fibromyalgia connection, or do more medical research into the topic? Here are some additional resources: 
Fibromyalgia in patients with thyroid autoimmunity: prevalence and relationship with disease activity. 2017 PUBMed article 


Over 25 Fibromyalgia Facts

Over 25 Fibromyalgia Facts

These are random Fibro facts that I have collected over the years and shared on my twitter account
I thought it would be good to put them altogether in one place
  • Fibromyalgia is a disorder with widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and sleep and memory disturbance.
  • Fibromyalgia (FM) is a medical condition characterised by chronic widespread pain and a heightened pain response to pressure.
  • Fibromyalgia can cause significant pain and fatigue, and interfere with a person’s ability to carry on daily activities.
  • The word fibromyalgia comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek ones for muscle (myo) and pain (algia).
  • Although fibromyalgia is often considered an arthritis-related condition, it is not truly a form of arthritis (a disease of the joints) because it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints.
  • Symptoms of Fibromyalgia most usually arrive between the ages of 35 and 45.
  • Diagnosis of fibromyalgia use to be made on specific tender points in certain areas of your body. Now diagnosis is: widespread pain lasting three months, fatigue and/or waking up feeling unrefreshed, problems with thought processes like memory and understanding.

  • Neurological symptoms of fibromyalgia include: dysfunctions of muscles, ligaments and joints; numbness, tingling; muscle twitching, muscle cramps, muscle weakness; headaches, generalised weakness, dizziness, and sensory overload.
  • People with Fibromyalgia can be hypersensitive to external stimuli such as smells, lights and sounds.
  • Fibro Fighters often suffer from abnormalities in reaching deep sleep.
  • Fibromyalgia symptoms may change throughout the day while - for many 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. tends to be when they feel the best.
  • Arthritis Research UK suggests that as many as one in every 25 people suffer from the condition in the UK!
  • Fibromyalgia is a long-term (chronic) condition that can cause widespread pain and tenderness over much of the body. It's quite common – up to 1 person in every 25 may be affected. Arthritis Research UK.
  • Fibromyalgia affects about 2 percent of people in the US by age 20, which increases to approximately 8 percent of people by age 70.
  • Cognitive Fibromyalgia symptoms include: impaired concentration, short-­term memory problems, inability to multi-­task, slow mental performance, easily distracted, feeling overwhelmed, difficulty finding words.
  • Disrupted sleep, insomnia, and poor quality sleep occur frequently in FM, and may contribute to pain by decreased release of IGF-1 and human growth hormone, leading to decreased tissue repair.
  • Three medications are FDA-approved to treat fibromyalgia: Cymbalta (duloxetine) Lyrica (pregabalin) Savella (milnacipran)
  • Non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be an underlying cause of fibromyalgia symptoms but further research is needed. A 2015 review revealed potential benefit of specific dietary interventions in FM
  • Stiffness is part of Fibromyalgia - when we wake up or after sitting for long periods of time.
  • The sensations of pain experienced by patients with fibromyalgia are thought to result from multiple levels in the central nervous system. (CNS) The CNS is part of the nervous system and consists of the brain and the spinal cord.
  • Fibromyalgia should be considered as a diagnostic possibility in all cases of persistent, significant musculoskeletal pain, fatigue or sleep disturbance, particularly when such symptoms seem out of proportion to the severity of any background chronic illness. Guymer & Littlejohn
  • It is estimated that about 10 million Americans have Fibromyalgia.
  • Research has shown that people with Fibromyalgia who participated in gentle yoga classes experienced improved mood, less pain and fatigue.
  • Fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat. Not all doctors are familiar with fibromyalgia and its treatment, so it is important to find a doctor who is.


Physical Activity and Sleep in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Physical Activity and Sleep in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

Physical Activity and Sleep in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Syndrome: Associations with Symptom Severity in the General Population Cohort LifeLines. This study was done at The University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Department of Psychiatry, Groningen, Netherlands and published online 2018 Nov 4.

Functional somatic syndromes (FSS), including chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), are common, disabling, and costly health conditions without known underlying organic pathology.

The main strength of this study is the large population cohort. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that evaluates physical activity and sleep duration in patients with CFS and FMS in one large population cohort.


The aim of the current study was to compare physical activity and sleep duration between patients with CFS, patients with FMS, and controls and to examine the association between physical activity level and sleep duration with symptom severity within these patient groups.


This study used data of LifeLines, a general population cohort in which 1.0% reported CFS, 3.0%  reported FMS, and 95.7% reported neither CFS nor FMS. 
Physical activity, sleep duration, and symptom severity were assessed by questionnaires and analysed using ANCOVA and regression analyses, adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, smoking, and educational level.


Patients with CFS and FMS had significantly lower physical activity scores than controls. 
Patients with CFS had the longest sleep duration compared to patients with FMS and controls. 
A linear association between physical activity, sleep duration, and symptom severity was only found in controls, in whom higher physical total activity scores and longer sleep duration were associated with a lower symptom severity. In contrast, quadratic associations were found in all groups: both relatively low and high physical activity scores and relatively short and long sleep duration were associated with higher symptom severity in CFS, FMS, and controls.


This study indicates that patients with CFS or FMS sleep longer and are less physically active than controls on average. 
Both low and high levels of physical activity and short and long sleep duration are associated with higher symptom severity, suggesting the importance of patient-tailored treatment. 


6 Foods That Could Be Tied to Fibromyalgia Pain: they are not what you expect

6 Foods That Could Be Tied to Fibromyalgia Pain
The standard treatment for fibromyalgia usually doesn’t involve dietary changes, yet some patients have found that certain types of food exacerbate their sensitivity to pain or pain symptoms.

We’ve consulted with experts to find the foods that could possibly trigger fibromyalgia pain even if science has yet to distinguish a concrete connection between the two.

Potato Chips  Grabbing for that bag of potato chips, will likely contain one key ingredient that could be linked to pain—glutamate. 
The additive is often used as a harmless flavor enhancer that you’ll commonly find in its salt form, monosodium glutamate (MSG). 

“Some patients notice that their symptoms, specifically musculoskeletal pain, increase when they’re consuming foods that have a lot of MSG,” says Tarah Venn, a registered dietician with the Stanford Pain Management Center. “Glutamate and pain have been linked in studies, which have reported higher concentrations of glutamate in some fibromyalgia patients compared to healthy controls.” 

This may be because glutamate acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter that sends messages within the brain and nervous system. If your pain is sensitive to glutamate consumption, always check the product labels at the grocery store for words like monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and yeast extract. 

Despite its incredible nutritional value, the edible fungus may trigger pain in fibromyalgia patients because it’s rich in the naturally-occurring form of glutamate. In just a 100-gram serving, 180 milligrams of glutamate are packed into a mushroom, according to the Glutamate Association. Shitake and enokitake mushrooms are the richest in glutamate. 

Other healthy favorites like tomatoes, grapes, and green peas are also good sources of glutamate. But before you entirely cut any foods, especially fruits and veggies, out of your diet, talk to a healthcare professional who will ensure you aren’t missing out on key nutrients. 

Aged cheeses
Sorry cheeseheads, but cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, and Roquefort cheese all contain glutamate. In fact, one 100-gram serving of Parmesan cheese packs a whopping 1,600 milligrams of glutamate. But keep in mind that glutamate may not be your issue, dairy could be an irritant as well, at least anecdotally

Fried chicken
All of that butter, saturated fat, and vegetable oil may give a plate of fried chicken the savory flavor your taste buds crave, but it could wreak havoc on your body and cause inflammation. 

Even though fibromyalgia is not necessarily categorized as an inflammatory condition, inflammation can still cause pain-like symptoms, which is why it’s best to avoid any type of fried foods as much as possible.

Flavoured yoghurt
You may think that your strawberry yogurt is a healthy start to your day, but in reality, it’s packed with loads of sugar from the syrups used for the flavoring. And some low-calorie yogurts even contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
Even though there’s no evidence stating that sugar makes fibromyalgia pain worse, some patients have found that cutting out refined sugars improved their fibromyalgia symptoms.

Are these the foods you expected to see listed when you read the title 6 Foods That Could Be Tied to Fibromyalgia Pain? Do these foods aggravate your fibro pain? i would love to hear from you... leave a comment please.



Simple stress management tips at Christmas

Simple stress management tips
There is inevitable and unavoidable stress associated with the holiday season and add this to a life living with a chronic illness, which usually means chronic pain, and the stress is compounded.

I am glad you are here and reading this and I hope you find something helpful and worthwhile to help you or a loved one cope with the added stress at this time of the year.

Remember to take care of yourself. 
The words self care make me cringe but we just must look after ourselves to even feel vaguely normal at the best of times so this is even more important now in the holiday season.

Whenever you remember take 3 deep breaths. Breathe in the good and let go the bad...
I do this whenever I get in my car to drive anywhere and at other times when I feel overwhelmed and it has become a helpful habit very quickly. It sounds stupid but just 3 deep breaths and I can feel the tension subside.

self care ideas

Choose to see the good stuff.
Try and stay on positive topics and with positive people. When I am feeling overwhelmed gossip and bad news and drama and negative talking really drags me down further. 

Laughing and humor and comedy shows make me feel good especially if enjoyed with others. In some strange way laughter reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort.

Also listen to your own ‘self-talk' because often we can be in a habit of saying negative things in our heads that just add to our stress. This is unhelpful so try and realize what you are doing and change the tape you are playing  - instead of saying ‘I can't cope' say 'it's time to take a break' or 'calm down' or 'others can help do this too'.  

Nature and being outdoors really can be a breath of fresh air. Being in nature has been proven to help us humans.

Sometimes I am so low I don't want to go out and see people but I have found that going for a walk at dusk or at night is also a great way to rejuvenate. There is no one around where I live, they are all in their houses, and no bright sunlight (which does affect my eye health) and I feel better after just a 5 minute walk. It is also calming to look at the sky, the clouds, the stars and the moon and feel the breeze or even the gentle rain. 

Nature and less stress

Find your own joy.
Let go of the shoulds and the old traditions and do what makes you feel good.  Create new traditions that are simple and easy to maintain within your life and your capabilities. As an example, at Christmas do we really need to send christmas cards, when we can send a group email? Do we really have to have all the relatives over for lunch when we could make a new tradition of meeting for Christmas Carols at the local Christmas event or church? 

Work out what is really important to you and your family and simplify your Christmas. We live in Australia where it is warm and sunny in December so having a turkey with all the trimmings just does not make sense. This year we are letting go of the old English traditions brought to Australia and enjoying seafood, ham and pavlova. I am happy to say that this menu has been approved by all the family.

So my suggestions are
Take care of YOU as well as everyone else
Do a simple deep breathing technique.
Choose to stay positive.
Choose laughter and comedy (on TV and in real life)
Delegate more.
Take nature breaks.
Work out the basics of what is important to you and create simple traditions around that.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and holiday season from Lee.

Simple stress management tips at Christmas

You might also find the following helpful:


What Works For me To Help Fibromyalgia

What Works For me To Help Fibromyalgia

This question was asked though FIBRO CONNECT the Fibro Blogger Directory newsletter - What Works to Help Your Fibromyalgia? and this is my answer. You can view this on video or read the transcript below the video.

Transcript of video:
On a day to day level the things that help me cope with fibro and all of it's myriad symptoms are:

1. Pacing myself - I can usually do any activity for about 15 minutes - e.g. sweep, or tidy things away or clean, - and if the pain increases I change activities. I use to try and push on through but have realised it does not help in the long run. Pacing has really been a breakthrough for me. The house may suffer but I try and keep the main areas clean and clear so that I can have less pain and fatigue.

2. Gentle stretches - like sitting on the floor and trying to touch toes and holding for 2 minutes. My worst pain is in the stiff ol' hips, so this helps. I also do a few exercises and stretches lying in the bed, usually before I go to sleep.

3. Hot spa of bubbling water or a hot bath or hot shower. It does not last long but it is the only thing that works for me when I am at my wits end and have already taken pain killers and they are not working.

4. Connecting with others who have fibromyalgia on facebook and twitter and through their blogs is a great source of distraction. When I am on the computer I tend to be in my brain and not in my body which means I am not focusing on pain.

5. Taking a constant minimum painkiller helps reduce the pain levels a little.

6. Distracting myself with a book or a TV show, a movie or the computer or suduko takes my mind off my symptoms, as long as I can find a comfy position (which is sometimes difficult).

7. Keeping dairy and wheat out of my diet, as much as possible, helps to reduce my joint pain so, hey, any less pain is good don't you think?

I hope these suggestions of mine help you. Everybody is different. Why not add your suggestions or a link to a blog post about the same topic. What works for you when coping with Fibromyalgia?

LINKED UP AT FIBRO FRIDAY and Your Fibro Questions Answered
You can sign up for the Free FIBRO CONNECT newsletter here


Top tips for healthy eating – The Lucky 13

Top tips for healthy eating

Today we have guest sharing about her tips on healthy eating. It's Em from FIBROMYSTORY.COM Managing Chronic illness with weight training - yes Em is amazing in many ways and one way is that she does weight training while living with Fibro. This is very impressive to me, so I am interested to see what she says about food - the fuel for her body and exercise program.

Top tips for healthy eating

Hello, welcome to you. I hope you had a good week?

I also hope you’re reading this entry because your thinking about making some dietary and/or life changes. It’s easy to underestimate how the foods and fluids we put into our bodies affect the way we feel and function. That was certainly true for me. Before I started working out, I described myself as ‘skinny fat’ – I was slim but also really unfit. In fact, because of my illness, activity terrified me, so I did no more than I had to. Consequently, I had a very little muscle tone and often felt fragile.

Yet because I was a size 10, I thought I could eat what I wanted and did! Not only that, as I struggled with the effects of lots of medication and fatigue, I would often reach for those ‘quick fix’ energy boosts: namely fat, sugar and caffeine. 

So for today, I decided to stick with my ‘back to basics’ theme offering you some of my….

TOP TIPS ON HEALTHY EATING – 13 ‘Lucky’ tips to healthier eating.

#1 First and foremost: Be clear on your goals. Do you want to lose weight? Gain weight? Increase muscle mass, manage symptoms, or simply feel better. The more clear you can be on your goals, the easier it is to figure out how to reach them. Picture your goals in your mind.

#2 While you’re busy imagining your future self, FEEL the emotions you experience and that time. Do you feel excited and motivated, or are you thinking of previous attempts that left you feeling defeated and fearful? If it’s the former; Great! just don’t race out of the blocks. For those of us living with a chronic illness, it’s better to be the tortoise than the hare! If it’s the latter, consider why you didn’t succeed. We’re you bored? Did you feel deprived? Were you stressed and feeding your emotions? Don’t forget the acronym for FAIL – First Attempt In Learning. Use that experience to inform this one and helps you prepare in advance for the challenges ahead. After all, worthwhile change often comes with challenge. The harder the challenge the sweeter the victory! 

You might be wondering what’s this got to do with diet? The answer is: probably not a lot, but it has a lot to do with change. If you’re planning to make dietary changes, mindset and planning are important ingredients to success. Who you are you are, your aims, needs and lifestyle are all important considerations to achieving successful lifestyle changes. You have to make it work for you, otherwise it won’t work.

#3 Ultimately though, when it comes to change I bluntly ask myself “how badly do you want it?” Be honest with yourself about how ready you are for change. Are you ready for it, or are you doing it because you should? If you’re not ready for change, see if you can figure out what’s holding you back and work from there. 

#4 Don’t change everything all at once. We’ve all been there; downloaded the diet plan, bought the ingredients. Set off with gusto on Monday, struggling by Wednesday, justifying our unhealthy ‘reward’ come Friday and feeling like you failed by Saturday. Don’t put yourself under so much pressure. Every time to choose a healthy meal over an unhealthy one you are one step closer to forming new tastes and habits. The more you do it the easier it becomes. The more you tell yourself you have to do it, the harder it will feel.

#5 Track your current diet and calorie intake for a few days to see how many you typically consume. It’s a good idea to understand where you are. Apps are an easy way to achieve this. I’m not advertising but personally I use My Fitness Pal to track my calories. It has a handy barcode scanner saving you from typing in each food. 

Don’t forget of course, that eating 2000 calories of cake per day is very different from eating 2000 calories of lean meats, vegetables and fruits. The good news is you can eat way more of the good stuff than the bad stuff! Leading me nicely into…..

Top tips for healthy eating

#6 Understand how we fuel our bodies.

Protein: When you exercise, your muscles are broken down and then use protein to rebuild themselves stronger while recovering. Protein should be a part of every meal. Sources of protein include chicken, eggs, beef, pork, fish, nuts, tofu, quinoa, and most dairy products.

Carbohydrates: For those of us living with a chronic illness, energy feels like a prize so eating enough carbs is a must for us. Carbohydrates get converted to glucose (sugar) in your system, which is then used to provide energy. Vegetables and/or fresh fruit, pasta, rice, oats and grains are good sources of carbohydrates. There are certainly bad carbohydrates (processed foods etc) and those are the ones to cut out if possible.

Fat: Not all fat is bad for us. In fact, our bodies need fat in order to function. However, what it needs is good fats. Avocados, almonds, olive oil, walnuts, peanut and almond butter are excellent sources of healthy fat (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) Cream cake = bad fat. Avocado = good fat!

Still with me? Great. So, now we’ve committed to change, learnt how many calories we currently eat and where we get them from and learnt that our bodies need a combination of good carbs, proteins and fats to function and feel well.

#7 Next is figuring out how many calories you need to reach your goals and how much of you’re daily calorie intake should be divided into carbs, proteins and fats, often referred to as macro nutrients or ‘macros’ for short. Knowing how much we eat of which can be confusing so again not advertising but I use an app. The macro nutrient calculator at feels easy to use and straight forward. You type in your height, weight, target weight and activity levels and it does the science bit for you. 

Again don’t put too much pressure on yourself – it’s a guide not an instruction.  

#8 Spice up your life! I still say it chicken and broccoli is boring but it doesn’t have to be. Using trusty Google and a range of fresh and dried herbs and seasoning, I’ve learnt lots of different marinades to add variety to chicken and recipes. We’ve also had plenty of disasters too, mostly with hot spices! I read that certain spices are also recommended to help manage chronic illnesses too. Do your research about what might work for you and add it in. Win, win!

#9 Hit the recipe books. Ensuring that you eat a varied diet  means you won’t get bored, resentful and rebellious! I’m no chef so I use recipes, again mostly online. I have my iPad propped beside while I have a go at something new. Meanwhile, my husband and son look rather nervous! Learning the recipes has promoted my knowledge of healthy foods and in time made it easier to naturally choose and prepare healthy meals.

#10 I also find substitutes for things I like and will miss, namely dessert! Treats like a banana and peanut butter smoothie with skimmed or almond milk hits my sweet tooth and fills me up! Not a daily event though.

#11 Don’t go hungry or you’ll likely get hangry and cheat! I eat little and often, approximately every two hours. Doing this means I maintain my energy levels and also means I won’t get too hungry and get tempted to eat crap “oh I’ll just have a biscuit (or two) to keep me going”. I’ve learnt once I eat junk food, I want more. Yet when I’m full and satisfied I don’t look for it. One tip I have to resist junk food is telling myself “ there is nothing nutritious in there for you”. My body deserves more, it’s been through a lot. That’s not to say I’m perfect, I still have some biscuit days but way less than I used to so that’s ok. 

#12 Check out my previous post on fatigue and meal prep. I work Monday to Friday and with the gym too, preparing meals can be tricky. I’m lucky I have a supportive husband but he has the same routine and gets tired too. So on Sunday’s we meal prep a quantity of mid week meals. Other quick meals are omelette (mostly egg whites), pasta, soups, fish etc. It really doesn’t take long to cook something like chicken and vegetables with sweet potato.

#13 Experiment, try new things and congratulate yourself on your efforts. 

Finally, please don’t think I’m suggesting never have that piece of cake. My birthday is coming soon and I’m not missing out on a slice! It’s OK, I stick to my aims for the most part. 

Good Luck


Top tips for healthy eating


Fibromyalgia brain study: Findings bring comfort and hope to Fibromyalgia fighters

New Fibromyalgia brain study

This research is so important because researchers have found proof that inflammation is happening in Fibromyalgia. It opens many areas for treatments, for validating current treatments and hope for a cure.
"Finding an objective neurochemical change in the brains of people who are used to being told that their problems are imaginary is pretty important," said Marco Loggia, associate director of the Center for Integrative Pain Neuroimaging at Harvard Medical School.

Researchers compared the brain scans of people with fibromyalgia to a healthy control group, and found more inflammation in the immune cells of the brain in people with fibromyalgia.

As Fibromyalgia, does not manifest any structural damage in any organ it is often difficult to prove.  It causes chronic, widespread pain in muscles and soft tissues accompanied by fatigue and sleep disturbances. So this research provides proof that there are physiologic changes that can be found. 

The study used a test called positron emission tomography (PET) which images the brain.

The study and report were quite complex but the findings can be summarized as follows:

1. This research shows that brain levels of the glial marker, TSPO, are elevated in the cortex of FM patients relative to healthy controls. 
This marker of glial activation was increased in several brain regions implicated in FM pathology from previous neuroimaging studies.
2. It also found an association between the TSPO PET signal and fatigue, a predominant FM symptom. 
Various studies have found that patients with Fibromyalgia had elevated levels of  fractalkine and interleukin-8 (IL-8) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) (Backryd et al., 2017, Kadetoff et al., 2012, Kosek et al., 2015). Both are implicated in neuron-glial communication and have been associated with central sensitization and pain. But no study had clearly demonstrated that glial activation occurs in the brain of FM patients. Confirming this neuroimmune dysfunction in FM would open the exploration of glial modulation as a therapeutic option for this condition.
Future studies will need to test whether glial modulation may be a viable therapeutic strategy for FM.

Marco Loggia said the results could lead to better ways to see if fibromyalgia treatments, reduce the inflammation that they found. 
These findings may also be an important step in discovering the cause of Fibromyalgia.
It could also help with developing new treatments as the study supports glial modulation as a potential therapeutic strategy for Fibromyalgia.
So this report definitely brings comfort and hope to all of us with Fibro.

Brain in Fibromyalgia