Last Friday I decided to start a series that explored some of the foods that may be helpful for those of us who live with Fibromyalgia, which I’ll try to post each Friday. I called it For the Love of Food because not only do I want to talk about some of the foods that can help us in our quest to feel better, I want people to actually enjoy eating well and not have a love/hate relationship with food. If you missed the first installment, you can catch up here.
I’ll be featuring some foods that have the potential to be particularly helpful, but a well-balanced diet should consist of a variety of fresh, whole foods. The more colorful your plate, the better (Trix and Skittles don’t count ha ha).
The first stop on our “tour” was real food. This week’s star:
When we talk about leafy greens, often our first thought is of lettuce, which certainly is one of the leafy greens, but this group also includes things such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, arugula, collards — pretty much any of the greens whose leaves are the edible part of the plant.
Leafy greens are great sources of Vitamins A, E, and Folic Acid (B9). They also contain iron, magnesium, and manganese, and the dark leafy greens contain calcium as well.
Leafy greens, as well as other fruits and vegetables, are an important source of antioxidants, which are substances that help your body neutralize free radicals (those nasty little chemical compounds that can damage cells and contribute to arterial plaques). See, they’re just loaded with good stuff!
Why They May Be Helpful For Fibromyalgia
Because of their antioxidant properties, the leafy greens may help mitigate some of the effects of oxidative stress.
Why is that important? There is a theory that oxidative stress (defined by dictionary.com as “a condition of increased oxidant production in animal cells characterized by the release of free radicals and resulting in cellular degeneration”) causes a dysfunction in the mitochondria of the cells of fibromyalgia patients. The mitochondria are the “power plants” of our cells, and if they’re not working optimally, our energy is reduced.
The vitamins in leafy greens contribute to good brain function, and we all know about the infamous fibro fog! Anything we can do to combat that is definitely a plus.
The minerals I talked about earlier are another reason they’re good for us. Magnesium aids in the function of nerves and muscles, manganese is important to energy production, and calcium aids in muscle contraction and nerve conduction. If fibromyalgia is a Central Nervous System problem as some studies suggest, these nutrients could have the potential to lessen some of the symptoms associated with nerve dysfunction.
Last but certainly not least, leafy greens are a great source of dietary fiber. This fiber helps slow down the digestive process, which can help keep us from having those drastic blood sugar drops so many of us with fibromyalgia experience.
How To Get Them In Our Diets
Salads would be the most obvious way to get a lot more greens in our diets, especially during the summer months, but here are a couple of other suggestions also:
- Use leaf, romaine, or bibb lettuce to make a wrap instead of having a sandwich.
- Throw a handful of spinach in your smoothie.
- Put chopped kale in soup – it’s especially good in lentil soup.
- Saute spinach and a little minced garlic in olive oil – this makes a quick, easy, and delicious side dish.
Please share some of the ways you incorporate leafy greens into your diet!
** Vitamin and Mineral information taken from The Johns Hopkins White Papers Nutrition and Weight Control, 2015, Lawrence J. Cheskin, M.D., F.A.C.P, Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., and Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.