For the last couple of weeks we’ve started taking a look at some foods that may be helpful for fibromyalgia. If you missed the first two posts, you can find them here (Part 1) and here (Part 2). I’m highlighting some foods because of the specific nutrients they contain that may help with fibromyalgia, but these are definitely just some of the foods we may want to include in our diets (and whenever I reference diet, I’m just talking about what we eat, not a specific diet). A healthy diet should include a variety of foods. As I mentioned in For the Love of Food, we don’t yet understand how food works synergistically in our bodies to give us all the nutrition we need, and our best bet for getting those nutrients is to eat an array of real foods, foods closest to their natural state.
This week, let’s take a look at
NUTS AND SEEDS
Nuts and seeds are little nutritional powerhouses! That really makes sense, if you think about it, since that’s where the actual plant comes from. I mean, if you want to grow a pecan tree, you plant a pecan, right?
You can get your nuts whole or in the form of nut butters. When shopping for nut butters, just make sure you don’t get one with a lot of added sugars. Nuts are good sources of Vitamin E, Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin(B2), Niacin (B3), and Vitamin B6. They also provide us with quite a few minerals: copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, and selenium, and contain healthy fats that not only act as antioxidants, they keep us feeling full longer. That’s always a plus in my book!
One caution: Remember that the serving size for these is usually pretty small. Although the fat they contain is good fat, they are pretty calorie and fat-dense and should be enjoyed in moderation.
Why They May Be Helpful For Fibromyalgia
Remember the oxidative stress we talked about last week and how it can reduce the energy our cells can produce? Nuts contain Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant, and selenium, which is part of some enzymes which work in the body as antioxidants, so they can help combat the oxidative stress, and hopefully, help with our lack of energy. Thiamin (B1) and Riboflavin (B2) help convert carbohydrates into energy, so that should be helpful for our energy levels as well.
Since they contain omega-3 fatty acids (especially walnuts and flaxseed), antioxidants, and B vitamins, nuts and seeds may help combat brain fog as well.
Copper helps keep bones, nerves, and the immune system healthy, and as we discussed last week, if fibromyalgia is due to nerve dysfunction, eating foods that contain nutrients that benefit the nervous system could potentially improve our symptoms.
Like the leafy greens, nuts provide important fiber, which can slow down the digestive process to keep us feeling full longer. It would be wise, however, not to try to increase your fiber intake too much at one time. Increasing your fiber intake too quickly can cause intestinal distress, and since one of the co-existing conditions many of us with fibromyalgia have is IBS, we definitely don’t want to do anything that is going to cause problems. If you are trying to get more fiber in your diet, increase very slowly and drink lots of water.
How To Get Them In Our Diets
Nuts and seeds are really versatile, and can be used in lots of different ways:
- You can buy ground flaxseed, and add it to anything from smoothies to oatmeal, to bread, even stir it into yogurt if you want.
- Toss some walnuts, sliced almonds, or pecans on your salad for a nice crunch.
- Use pine nuts or walnuts in homemade pesto
- Use them to make a pretty healthy treat: Melt dark chocolate (I use Ghiradelli dark chocolate melting wafers) in the microwave or in a double boiler, then stir in your choice of nuts and dried fruit (My husband I love walnuts and dried cherries). Use just enough chocolate to coat the nuts and fruit well. Drop them by a tablespoonful onto a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet and let cool until firm.
Do you eat nuts and seeds? If so, how do you incorporate them 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.