Bugs And Fibromyalgia
You know that feeling after doing something physically demanding, when you are so exhausted that you can barely move? Your muscles are sore, even tender. You may even have a headache from being over-tired, and you may have trouble sleeping, even though that’s all you want to do. Imagine feeling this way for weeks and months at a time. That’s pretty much how I felt around the time I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, around 17 years ago.
Millions of people in developed countries are now experiencing auto-immune disorders in record numbers. Recent reports indicate that around 5 million Americans may have fibromyalgia, an auto-immune condition that is characterized by muscle pain, fatigue, and “tender points” at the base of the neck, back and several particular places. When I saw the endocrinologist, I was told that the best thing I could do was to rest a lot and take a prescription medication from then on to manage the pain. I was told that my condition would deteriorate for the rest of my life, which should be normal length.
Even then, I knew enough about nutrition and alternative health practices to know that I would not sign up for a lifetime of pharmaceuticals until I had explored the options. I knew I could do a lot to improve the way I was eating, and I also knew I had been under a lot of stress. I loved being a mom, but taking care of 5 kiddos under the age of 11 was running me ragged! At the time, I did not realize the strong connection between the health of my gut and my immune system, but I was having a lot of digestive distress, on top of everything else.
What we eat, what we think, and what we do impacts our health, but so does our environment. Although I worked on improving my diet and figuring out my digestive issues, the biggest single boost to my health happened when my family and I moved from the Midwest to Colorado – a much drier climate. I could literally feel my body relaxing as the pain diminished on the long drive across Kansas. When we would go back the other direction, I could feel the aches and pains setting in again. That said, I’m sure I’d still be suffering if I had not navigated my gut issues.
You may have heard that 80% of your immune system is actually in your gut. There’s a kind of battle going on in the guts of people in modern society that has developed as a result of our modern eating habits. The battle is between the “good bugs” and the “bad bugs.”
Ever since the refrigerator came on the scene, we’ve been losing touch with the traditional practices of fermentation, also called “culturing.” At the same time, we are eating more denatured foods and we are surrounded by toxic substances. I recently heard a health expert warn against the toxic exposure we are all getting from our receipts. That’s right! There is BPA, a toxic plastic, in our register receipts from the gas station, grocery store, and most other places that give them out. It seems we are being bombarded from every angle!
The battle that goes on in our guts can determine, to a great degree, our overall health. I’ve known people who have fully recovered from fibromyalgia simply by eliminating wheat and gluten. For me, it took more than that, but I’m not sure I even have fibromyalgia any more. Donna Gates has been writing about the connection between a healthy gut, fermented foods and a healthy immune system for many years. Click here to see a helpful page on her website.
There is a lot to building a healthy immune system, especially if you are dealing with a chronic health condition already. Many times, however, much can be accomplished by nurturing the good bugs in your gut while minimizing the bad ones. I hope to have my new eBook about this topic finished this spring, and you will be able to find more information as well as recipes there. Until then, check out this link to a recipe I posted earlier, or this website I recently found. This page is all about cultured foods (& recipes).
I plan to post more (much more!) on each of these 2 topics (bugs/gut health & auto-immune issues) in coming posts. I hope you’ll join me if you or a loved one is affected by these things. I welcome your comments or feedback, as always.