Fibromyalgia vs. Mostly Raw & Mostly Vegetarian Diets

Fibromyalgia vs. Mostly Raw & Mostly Vegetarian Diets
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How plant-based does one’s diet need to be in order to effectively treat fibromyalgia?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

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.

FIQ 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, there were significant improvements in each one of these measures. So, less physical impairment; they were feeling better; less absenteeism; less pain, fatigue, stiffness, anxiety, depression. 

“In summary, a diet intervention using a mostly raw, pure vegetarian diet produced dramatic improvements in [fibromyalgia syndrome symptoms].” When this study was reviewed by Current Rheumatology Reports, the editor noted that it “had the most impressive results” of any recent fibromyalgia treatment study—for example, nearly three times the improvement that the Mayo Clinic reported 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 switch to a vegan diet.

So, raw vegan diets worked; mostly raw vegan diets worked. Even just eating vegetarian seemed to help. What about just eating mostly vegetarian? That was the one tried most recently. Fibromyalgia symptoms put on a mostly vegetarian diet for two weeks, and did not see any significant improvement. Maybe if they gave it more time? We don’t know.

Bottom line is that the best available science to date suggests eating plant-based diets, whether vegetarian or vegan, may help people with fibromyalgia. Just because it’s the best science we have doesn’t mean it’s necessarily very good science, right? These were all very small, poorly controlled, relatively short-term studies. But, what’s the downside of 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. So, 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Snowflakesarewhite and Jenessa Read via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

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.

FIQ 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, there were significant improvements in each one of these measures. So, less physical impairment; they were feeling better; less absenteeism; less pain, fatigue, stiffness, anxiety, depression. 

“In summary, a diet intervention using a mostly raw, pure vegetarian diet produced dramatic improvements in [fibromyalgia syndrome symptoms].” When this study was reviewed by Current Rheumatology Reports, the editor noted that it “had the most impressive results” of any recent fibromyalgia treatment study—for example, nearly three times the improvement that the Mayo Clinic reported 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 switch to a vegan diet.

So, raw vegan diets worked; mostly raw vegan diets worked. Even just eating vegetarian seemed to help. What about just eating mostly vegetarian? That was the one tried most recently. Fibromyalgia symptoms put on a mostly vegetarian diet for two weeks, and did not see any significant improvement. Maybe if they gave it more time? We don’t know.

Bottom line is that the best available science to date suggests eating plant-based diets, whether vegetarian or vegan, may help people with fibromyalgia. Just because it’s the best science we have doesn’t mean it’s necessarily very good science, right? These were all very small, poorly controlled, relatively short-term studies. But, what’s the downside of 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. So, 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Snowflakesarewhite and Jenessa Read via flickr

Nota del Doctor

If you missed the first half of this topic, see 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 (see Preventing Cataracts with Diet), obesity (see Thousands of Vegans Studied), hypertension (see Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death), metabolic syndrome (see Metabolic Syndrome & Plant-Based Diets), and diabetes (see 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.

For additional context, check out my associated blog posts: Plant-Based Diets for PsoriasisPlant-Based Diets for Fibromyalgia, and How Probiotics Affect Mental Health.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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