In 2017, a study was conducted in North Carolina to investigate the potential effects of a meat-free raw foods diet on the physical and psychological well-being of individuals with fibromyalgia.
Less pain, more gain
Fibromyalgia patients are afflicted with chronic pain that affects muscle tissue and joints across the body. Historically, the syndrome was sometimes known as “rheumatism,” a disease that was typified by inflammation of the joints and tendons, and a decrease in mobility. As a syndrome, the condition is a long list of body parts that can be effected, including the muscular control of internal organs, such as and bladder and bowels.
The tissues develop a sensitivity that can make normal contact with their environment painful. Their quality of life is greatly reduced because it is nearly impossible to get away from the pain even for a short time. People with fibromyalgia are also faced with a self-reinforcing cycle of exhaustion, where the painful nerve stimulation disrupts the quality of sleep, which cannot be restored. Lower activity levels can reinforce itself by causing painful stiffness. The impact of the chronic pain increases stress and can lead to depression and increased anxiety.
The treatment of these symptoms is largely limited to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and pain killers. Currently, known treatment is limited to mitigation of the symptoms paired with physical therapy to keep the muscles in use. The cause is unknown, which makes addressing the problem complicated.
Why would eating raw foods help?
A very high portion of fibromyalgia patients have sought out alternative medical therapies to mediate their symptoms, indicative of a failure in traditional medicine to adequately combat the symptoms of the condition. The raw foods diet is based on the principal that heat destroys nutrients in the food, and makes the body need to process a greater amount of food to get the same amount of nutrients. Essentially, the diet contains a higher concentration of nutrients. The diet was vegetarian to avoid the risks involved with consumption of raw animal products.
Thirty individuals were placed on a controlled diet that focused on raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, salads and juicing. The diet that was used for this study was comprised of common staples in the raw food diet in order to optimize the external validity of the study. During the course of the study, the participants continued to take their medications to limit variability.
The raw foods diet versus fibromyalgia
The study lasted seven months and investigated the impact of the raw diet on several fronts. Participants were asked to respond about their symptoms, sleep quality and other health details. Improvement was seen in pain levels, both when at rest and active, as well as increased flexibility and range of motion in the joints and spine. There was no change seen in muscular endurance exercises. Participants were absent from their workplace less often and reported a drastic increase in the number of days where they reported being very pleased with their quality of life. This study demonstrates that a raw food diet can help ease the extreme discomfort of fibromyalgia patients.