fibromyalgia and ibd

Worst Foods and Management

Managing chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) involves a holistic approach, often including modifications to diet to mitigate symptoms. Certain foods can exacerbate inflammation, leading to increased discomfort and flare-ups, while others have properties that may help to soothe and manage inflammation. In this article, we will explore the best and worst foods for inflammation, discuss what both IBD and fibromyalgia are and the link between these two disorders. We will also look at treatment options for IBD, including Inflectra, which is used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Worst Foods for Inflammation

1. Sugar and High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Both of these sweeteners trigger inflammation and can worsen symptoms in people with fibromyalgia and IBD. They prompt the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines and can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut.

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2. Fried Foods

Fried foods are high in trans fats and omega-6 fatty acids, which, in excessive amounts, can lead to inflammation. These foods are also difficult to digest, placing additional stress on the digestive system, which can be particularly problematic for IBD sufferers.

3. Refined Carbohydrates

Foods like white bread and pastries rapidly convert to glucose in the body, spiking blood sugar and insulin levels and promoting an inflammatory response. For IBD patients, these foods can also be irritating to the gut lining.

4. Alcohol

Excess alcohol consumption can lead to a leaky gut, where bacteria and toxins enter the bloodstream, leading to inflammation. Moderation is crucial for those with fibromyalgia and IBD to avoid exacerbating symptoms.

5. Processed Meats

These meats contain nitrates and sulfites, which have been linked to increased inflammation and potentially pose a higher risk of colon cancer.

Foods that Fight Inflammation

1. Tomatoes

Rich in lycopene and antioxidants, tomatoes can reduce inflammation and are particularly beneficial when cooked, as heat increases the bioavailability of lycopene.

2. Olive Oil

Olive oil contains oleocanthal, which acts similarly to anti-inflammatory drugs. Incorporating extra-virgin olive oil into your diet in place of other fats can be advantageous.

3. Green Leafy Vegetables

Spinach, kale and Swiss chard are loaded with antioxidants and flavonoids, which aid in reducing inflammation and are gentle on the digestive system.

4. Nuts

Almonds and other nuts are full of healthy fats, fiber and vitamin E, supporting a healthy inflammatory response while providing sustenance that won't aggravate IBD.

5. Fatty Fish

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish such as salmon and mackerel can reduce inflammation. For IBD, the digestion of these fats tends to be easier than red meats.

6. Berries, Cherries and Oranges

These fruits are high in antioxidants and vitamin C, which support the immune system and may help to modulate inflammation.

Understanding Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease encompasses two primary conditions: Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. These conditions are characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, with the exact cause being unknown. However, contributing factors may include an abnormal immune response, genetics, environment and an imbalance of intestinal bacteria.

Symptoms of IBD vary, but can include the following:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping.
  • Diarrhea, which can be severe and frequent.
  • Bloating and gas.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Blood in the stool, which may not always be visible.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Fatigue, which may result from inflammation or anemia.

Understanding Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Though the exact cause is not known, factors that may contribute to fibromyalgia include infections, genetics and physical or emotional trauma. Fibromyalgia affects the way the brain processes pain signals, leading to amplified painful sensations.

Common signs of fibromyalgia include:

  • Muscle pain and tender points.
  • Persistent fatigue.
  • Face and jaw pain, including disorders like TMJ.
  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Digestive problems resembling IBD.
  • Bladder issues.
  • Cognitive difficulties, sometimes called "fibro fog".
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders.

The Link Between Fibromyalgia and IBD

Emerging research suggests a correlation between fibromyalgia and IBD, possibly due to shared mechanisms of chronic pain and inflammation. Both conditions may result from an overactive immune system and are often managed through similar lifestyle and dietary changes.

Treatment Options for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Treatment of IBD focuses on managing inflammation and decreasing symptoms. Here are some common therapies used for IBD.

Aminosalicylates (5-ASAs): These anti-inflammatory drugs are typically the first step in treating mild to moderate IBD.
Antibiotics: They can help manage infections and imbalances of bacteria in the intestines, reducing symptoms.
Biologics: Targeting specific pathways in the immune system, biologics can help control inflammation.
Corticosteroids: These are used for more severe flare-ups to quickly reduce inflammation but are not suitable for long-term use.
Immunomodulators: These drugs modulate the immune system over the longer term, reducing its inflammatory response.
Inflectra: Inflectra (Infliximab-dyyb) is a biosimilar to the biologic infliximab. It operates by inhibiting the harm caused by excessive tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). Inflectra attaches to TNF-alpha, preventing its interaction with receptors and specific activating mechanisms and thereby decreasing inflammation.
Surgery: Sometimes necessary in severe cases, surgery may involve partial or full removal of affected areas of the GI tract.

Chronic Challenges

Those suffering from fibromyalgia and IBD must be vigilant about their diets. Avoiding inflammation-promoting foods and incorporating anti-inflammatory foods can make a significant difference in symptom management. Coupled with appropriate medical treatment, these dietary adjustments can help individuals lead more comfortable lives in the face of these chronic conditions.