How plant-based does one’s diet need to be to effectively treat fibromyalgia?
Raw vegan diets seem to really help reduce fibromyalgia symptoms, but what about just a mostly raw diet? That was tried next. Fibromyalgia engulfs patients in a downward, reinforcing cycle of unrestorative sleep, chronic pain, fatigue, inactivity, and depression, so they tested whether a mostly raw and actually vegan diet would significantly improve fibromyalgia symptoms. And boy did it. This is the standard survey designed specifically to measure the impact of fibromyalgia on a person's life. At the beginning of the study they were doing pretty bad. By two months though they were doing significantly better. And by the end of the study, at seven months the whole curve had entirely shifted. Significant improvement in each one of these measures. In summary, a diet intervention using a mostly raw, pure vegetarian diet produced dramatic improvements in FMS symptoms. When this study was reviewed in Current Rheumatology Reports, the editor noted that it had the most impressive results of any of recent fibromyalgia treatment study, for example 3 times the improvement that the Mayo Clinic was reporting for their fibromyalgia program. Yes it was not a double blind placebo controlled study, but, as they note, it's difficult to design such a study when it comes to diet, since people tend to notice when they've been switched to a vegan diet. Raw vegan diets seemed to help; mostly raw vegan diets seemed to help. Eating vegetarian worked; what about just eating mostly vegetarian—that was the one tried most recently. 14 fibromyalgia sufferers put on a mostly vegetarian Mediterranean diet for 2weeks and did not see significant improvement. Maybe they didn't give it enough time? We'll never know. Bottom line is that the best science to date suggests a plant-based diet in it's many forms, may help people with fibromyalgia. Just because it's the best science we have doesn't mean it's necessarily very good science. These were all small, poorly controlled, relatively short-term studies—but what's the downside to giving it a try? Turns out that people with chronic widespread pain syndromes tend to eat pretty crappy diets, perhaps explaining their higher rates of other chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Even if a healthy diet doesn't help their fibromyalgia symptoms, at least it may prevent them from falling ill with something else. The last thing someone who feels miserable all day needs is another disease.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Jonathan Hodgson.
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If you missed the first half of this topic, see my last video Fibromyalgia vs. Vegetarian & Raw Vegan Diets.
Other inflammatory conditions have been successfully treated with semi-vegetarian "flexitarian" diets. See Dietary Treatment of Crohn’s Disease. Cutting down on meat may also help reduce the risk of cataracts (Preventing Cataracts with Diet), obesity (Thousands of Vegans Studied), hypertension (Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death), metabolic syndrome (Metabolic Syndrome and Plant-Based Diets), and diabetes (How to Prevent Diabetes) though there does appear to be a stepwise drop in risk as one's diet gets more and more centered around plant foods.
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