If you have fibromyalgia, the solution to your pain, fatigue, sleep problems, brain fog, headaches and other common symptoms can be as close as your kitchen!
Eight years ago I was obese, had joint pains, fatigue, depression, high blood pressure, chronic headaches, allergies, memory and concentration problems, hot flashes, and sleep problems. Although I was never diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I think that I was just a pizza, cookie, or ice cream cone away from this diagnosis. All of these conditions or symptoms have gone away since I started eating a diet of raw food eight years ago.
I’ve been a nurse for 37 years. I know many individuals suffering with fibromyalgia who relieved their symptoms and returned to a functional life by changing their diet. How does it work?
Let’s look at the likely causes of this devastating chronic illness. Then I’ll show you how a diet of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds can reduce the inflammation and provide nutrients to heal the body.
As scientists delve into the causes of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, asthma, overlapping conditions of fibromyalgia, and arthritis, they have started to see links between these disorders and an immunological defense mechanism called inflammation, which is a lifesaver most of the time. Doctors are finding evidence that inflammation plays a greater role in chronic diseases than they thought.
One of the most potent weapons produced by inflammatory cells are free radicals. These free radicals destroy or damage anything that crosses their path. There are antioxidants in foods that can neutralize these free radicals and heal the body with phytonutrients. There are hundreds of phytonutrients, but the benefits of the following have been well researched.
- Flavonoids found in apples, grapes, cranberries, strawberries, and grapes eliminate carcinogens, inhibit blood clots, and guard against heart disease and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
- Carotenoidsfound in carrots, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, dark leafy greens, corn, pumpkin, and beets are also excellent for combating inflammatory conditions. Lycopene is a type of carotenoid that can prevent skin and lung cancer. Luten, another carotenoid, can reduce the risk of blindness or macular degeneration.
- Turpenesfound in citrus, spinach, and tomatoes eliminate cancer-causing free radicals and reduce blood levels of LDL cholesterol, lowering heart- disease risk.
- Allyl sulfides found in garlic, chives, leeks, and onions reduce blood cholesterol and help the liver eliminate cancer-causing free radicals. They also have antibacterial properties.
- Isothiocyanates found in cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, kale, turnips, mustard greens, and chard trigger enzymes that suppress cancer- related DNA damage.
Why does a diet of raw food decrease inflammation?
When cooked food is eaten, leucocytosis occurs. Individuals experience a rise in the white blood count, the body’s natural immune response. Check your temperature before eating and again 30-40 minutes after eating a meal of cooked food as the immune system goes into overdrive. This constant defense mechanism of the body has been proven to cause inflammation to many organs of the body. Many people eating a junk food diet have a chronic low-grade temperature.
A raw food diet consists of organic uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It is more desirable to eat them uncooked because heating these foods above 110 destroys most vitamins and all of the enzymes, and deranges the caloric nutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates).
All fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds contain varying amounts of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Calories are not changed by heat, but fats are transformed to trans fatty acids. Carbohydrates are caramelized, and proteins, which are made up of amino acids, are coagulated—making them difficult to digest and assimilate. The immune system then has to treat them as foreign invaders. This can exhaust the immune system.
The Body Can Heal Itself
The body can heal itself. A raw food diet gives the body nutrition, but not food that’s difficult to digest and assimilate, which can cause problems or toxicity. Physicians agree that most chronic diseases can be prevented, overcome or improved by a change in the diet.
The more raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds added to the diet, the healthier the person will become. Cooked foods have low nutrients in comparison to the calories they contain. Raw food is high in nutrients and enzymes compared to the calories.
A raw food diet eliminates items such as pasta, potatoes, bread, sugar, unhealthy fats, meats, and dairy. When I have gone back to eating cooked food, many of my symptoms recurred. I was addicted to cooked food, but now I am addicted to feeling good and being able to live life to the fullest. It is my passion to teach as many people as possible the benefits of a raw food diet.
There are some side affects to the raw food diet...such as weight loss, more energy, smoother, glowing, more youthful skin and shinier hair. This lifestyle also reverses aging: eyesight improves, blood pressure drops, sinus problems and snoring disappear, digestive problems go away, breast lumps disappear, blood sugar normalizes, depression lifts, aches and pains are diminished or disappear, and thinking becomes clearer.
I know, because I experienced all these changes after going on a diet of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. These are good side effects; compare them to some of the bad side affects of medications.
How do you establish a raw food diet?
First, get rid of all processed junk food in your diet. Eliminate sugar and trans fatty acids, colas, caffeine, alcohol and preservatives. Eat only whole foods.
Add as many uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds as possible to your diet. It can be as simple as eating fruit and salads. To prevent boredom and a return to cooked foods, I developed many recipes that can substitute for just about every cooked food. You can have raw pie, cake, cookies, nut loaf, pizza, lasagna, tacos, and many other delicious recipes all made with raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
The following are quick and easy ways to get more raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds into your diet:
- Blend your favorite fruits together for a breakfast fruit smoothie
- Eat fruit for breakfast
- Blend a bunch of your favorite vegetables for a lunch vegetable smoothie or soup
- Eat a big salad for lunch
- Make salad dressing from a lemon and olive or flax oil
- Take a bunch of your favorite vegetables, fresh fruit, a mix of organic raisins, dates, figs, and apricots, or a mix of raw nuts and seeds with you for snacks on the go
- Drink plenty of water.
- Drink a fresh (not pasteurized) vegetable juice every day.
- The more raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds you add to your diet, the better you will feel.
Some may think this is too restrictive. But being sick with a chronic, debilitating disease like fibromyalgia is more restrictive. Go to the market and eat your way back to health!
NOTE: Consult with your doctor before initiating any dietary changes.
Jackie Graff, RN, has 37 years of experience in patient care and education. She is a gourmet living foods chef, educator, health consultant, and a 100% live foodist. She opened the country’s first raw food café, learning center and organic market in June 2002 in Atlanta. In 2003, she established Sprout Raw Food, to provide education to people interested in the raw food lifestyle. Jackie is currently working on a comprehensive raw food lifestyle and recipe book to be published later this year.