Welcome back to For The Love Of Food! When I started my quest to live well in spite of my fibromyalgia, one of the first things I started looking at were dietary interventions. As I’ve mentioned before, prior to fibro, I worked as a personal trainer and health coach, so I knew what a huge impact the food we eat can have on our bodies.
When I started doing research about what to eat to help me feel better, I found that there’s a lot of information about what not to eat, but not so much about what we should eat to make us feel better. Personally, knowing what foods to avoid has been extremely helpful, and has really helped manage my pain, but it’s also helpful to know what’s most beneficial. We can only eat so much, so why not eat the foods that give us “the most bang for our buck”?
This series is just a look at some of the foods that are healthy for all of us, but may be especially good for those of us who deal with fibromyalgia. As I’ve said before, I’m just highlighting a few of the foods that may be particularly helpful, and the best thing we can do for our bodies is to eat a varied diet consisting of real foods (see Part 1).
Let’s take a look at today’s superstars:
BERRIES AND CHERRIES
These guys are small but mighty! Their superpowers lie not just in their vitamin and mineral content — which includes Vitamins C and A, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium — but in the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds they contain.
According to Jonny Bowden, PhD, C.N.S. in his book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth to Eat, blueberries have one of the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) of any food on earth. The ORAC rating basically tells us how much protection and value we’re getting from the antioxidants and phytochemicals working synergistically in a particular food. According to the Johns Hopkins White Papers Nutrition and Weight Control, “Phytochemicals have no nutritive value–that is, they are not vitamins or minerals–but they may have positive effects on the body over the long term.” For an explanation of the benefits of antioxidants, please check out Part 2.
Cherries contain a flavonoid called quercetin, which shows high levels of anti-inflammatory activity, and cherries, raspberries, and strawberries contain compounds called anthocyanins that seem to be key to helping the body reduce inflammation.
Why They May Be Helpful For Fibromyalgia
Because berries and cherries are such a great source of antioxidants, they can help combat oxidative stress and hopefully, improve our energy levels.
The anthocyanins they contain have the ability to inhibit a compound called cyclooxygenase. This compound’s “job” in the body is to signal pain and inflammation. If the signals are “short-circuited”, we may not experience so much pain. Cherries and raspberries are great sources of these anthocyanins.
Potassium, Calcium, and Magnesium are all important for proper nerve function, and if there is a dysfunction in the Central Nervous System for those of us who have fibromyalgia, this could prove helpful in reducing current issues or preventing new ones.
Berries and cherries are a great source of dietary fiber. I know I talk about this almost every time, but it’s important for helping us feel full longer and avoiding those drastic blood-sugar drops so many of us experience. See the precaution about increasing fiber intake in Part 3.
How To Get Them In Our Diets
These may be the easiest of all foods to get into our diets. Most of them need very little preparation, which is always a plus. Here are a couple of ideas:
- Eat them as a snack – if you add a serving of nuts, you’ve got a nice little snack that will hold you over for a while.
- Put them in your yogurt. I like to make yogurt parfaits with Greek Yogurt and berries, topped off with homemade granola. I use vanilla yogurt, but if you’re watching your sugar intake closely, you can use plain yogurt instead.
- Drizzle them with some high-quality balsamic vinegar and have that as dessert
- Toss them in your salad – if you haven’t tried it, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.
Do you like berries and/or cherries? What are your favorites and how do you eat them?
- The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, Jonny Bowden, PhD, C.N.S., Fair Winds Press, Beverly, MA
- 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.