Gut Health and Fibromyalgia

The CDC estimates that around 5 million adults in the United states have fibromyalgia, which is an estimate of 2 percent of the adult population. It is also noted that the most common age group affected are middle-aged women at the rate of 90%.

Honestly, the last two weeks have been quiet debilitating for me, and John as well. So this post hits home to me and the millions of Americans who suffer with this disorder. I understand what it’s like to suffer through daily pain, even more so when it becomes excruciating. Scientists, doctors, and researchers say there is no cure for Fibromyalgia. However, I am that stubborn person who will keep searching until I find the answers.  Now, I can look back and pinpoint to when the symptoms began (many, many years ago), and relate it to a ‘fad diet’ I followed in hopes of losing a few extra pounds. Little did I, nor anyone else, realize at that time what I had done to my gut and how what I ate was the precipice to my current condition. So let’s start.

If you already follow my posts, then you know that I’m a HUGE advocate on gut health. My personal beliefs and experiences are that there is a need to keep the gut healthy and running at maximum support for the entire body to be healthy. In my earlier post on Inflammation and You, I talk about the food we consume affects our gut microbiome, and in such, the positive and negative affects that it plays on our overall wellbeing. The gut is often overlooked as the center focus of our health.  Our entire body depends on us to give it the proper nutrition it needs to carry out its functions for our normal lives


The CDC defines Fibromyalgia as a condition that causes pain all over the body, sleep problems, fatigue, and often emotional and mental distress. Furthermore, people with fibromyalgia may be more sensitive to pain because of the abnormal pain perception processing. The cause of fibromyalgia is not known, but it can be effectively treated and managed.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

John Hopkins Arthritis Center relates theses common symptoms.

  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Non-cardiac chest pain
  • Depression
  • Poor concentration
  • Pain

And is associated with the following health problems such as:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Mood Disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

“This is supported by studies showing multiple physiological abnormalities in persons with FM, including: increased levels of substance P in the spinal cord, low levels of blood flow to the thalamus region of the brain, low levels of serotonin and tryptophan and abnormalities in cytokine function. ref 5.”

Cytokines are a broad and loose category of small proteins important in cell signaling. Cytokines are peptides and have been shown to be involved in autocrine, paracrine, and endocrine signaling as immunomodulating agents.

Fibromyalgia and Gut Microbiome

A Canadian study, Gut microbiome: pertinence in fibromyalgia, PMID:32116215, Feb 23, 2020, by researchers at McGill University, has revealed a link between fibromyalgia and alterations in gut bacteria, identifying 19 species of gut bacteria that were either increased or decreased in patients with fibromyalgia.

Researchers are not yet clear whether the changes in gut bacteria in fibromyalgia patients are markers of the disease, or the cause. But there is still hope, as this information is an incredible step forward to understanding more about this disease.

Accordingly, the abstract states that gut bacteria are involved in the pathogenesis of numerous medical conditions in a variety of medical fields including gastroenterology, metabolic, rheumatologic, neurologic, and psychiatric disorders, as well as play a role in chronic pain and specifically fibromyalgia (FM).

The key markers I want to point out here are these: “The putative mechanisms which could allow these bacterial species to affect pain, fatigue, mood and other symptoms include entry of short-chain-fatty-acids, bile acids, neurotransmitters and bacterial antigens into the host circulation.”

Gut microbiome in multiple sclerosis: The players involved and the roles they play, pub Nov 2, 2017, PMID: 28696139. This study suggests that Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients have gut microbial dysbiosis (altered microbiota) with depletion of some and enrichment of other bacteria. The majority of gut bacteria are associated with certain metabolic pathways, which in turn help the maintenance of immune homeostasis of the host.

Let’s consider the possibilities.

Gut Microbiome is the combination of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microscopic living things in your gut.

“The microbiome contains trillions and trillions of microbes and microorganisms,” states Dr. Rudolph Bedford, a gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. “The gut microbiome essentially helps to train the immune system in childhood and adulthood, recognize and react to various harmful microbes that may enter the body also helping to the immune health. The microbiome is a very important aspect of our general health.”

“The [gut] bacteria themselves, they do a lot of things,” said Bedford in an interview with Healthline. “They protect us against various pathogens or microbes or things of that sort. They help to convert our foods into energy packets. They essentially are a real necessity in terms of human health and growth as we get older.”

In a new study published by the American Society for Microbiology, Chinese researchers found that from age 30 and up, the microbiota of older subjects were similar to those who are decades younger. Chinese researchers collected and analyzed the gut microbiome from over 1,000 healthy Chinese people, who were all between 3 years and over 100 years old.

Gut Microbiome and Inflammation

From an MDVIP article, What’s the Connection Between Gut Biomes and Inflammation? “Between 70 and 80 percent of your immune system resides in your digestive tract. Small masses of lymphatic tissue in the small intestine, known as Peyer’s patches, protect the mucus membranes by releasing white blood cells and monitoring the bacterial population in the intestines, preventing an overgrowth harmful gut flora.

High numbers of toxic gut biomes may cause inflammation, compromise your immune system and lead to a variety of diseases.”

The article goes on to say that although more research is needed, a lack of gut biome diversity might be a tie to inflammation. Studies have also suggested that low gut flora diversity is a culprit in allergies, eczema, and allergy-induced asthma. While other studies have found less gut microbiome diversity in patients with heart failure diabetes and obesity.

“Gut microbiome research is still in the early stages. Although researchers don’t have all the pieces in place yet, it seems that controlling inflammation will eventually become a part of disease prevention and management,” says Bernard Kaminetsky, MD, medical director, MDVIP.

In this study, Long-term dietary patterns are associated with pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory features of the gut microbiome, researchers identified dietary patterns that consistently correlate with groups of bacteria with shared functional roles in both, health and disease. Specific foods and nutrients were associated with species known to interfere with muscosal protection and anti-inflammatory effects.

A recent study posted on GUT  states: “The gut microbiome directly affects the balance of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses in the intestine. Microbial competition for nutrients plays a key role in controlling this balance.1 Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the archetypical disease in which the homoeostasis between the gut microbiota and the intestinal immune system is lost. Beyond the local immune responses, the gut microbiota also affect systemic immune components and are implicated in a growing number of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs), ranging from diabetes to arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.2 Gut dysbiosis and associated inflammation have also been implicated in cancer and cardiometabolic disorders.3 4 Epidemiological studies uncovered several dietary factors associated with the onset of these diseases. However, the mechanisms underlying this relationship remain largely unknown.

As microbes rely on dietary substrates in the intestine, the gut microbiome is often proposed as a mediator through which foods exert their pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects. For example, animal experiments demonstrated that foods containing high levels of saturated fats,5 dietary heme,6 sugar,7 salt8 and low levels of fibre1 induce inflammation and autoimmunity through microbial mechanisms such as induction of T-helper 17 (TH17) cells. Other studies in mice and humans implicated that ingredients added during food processing including dietary emulsifiers,9 antimicrobial additives10 and artificial sweeteners,11 promote gut permeability and intestinal inflammation through an increase in mucolytic bacteria and endotoxins. In contrast, a high intake of tryptophan12 and fibre13 generally leads to immune states associated with colonic health.”

In short, HIGH SATURATED FATS, INGREDIENTS IN PROCESSED FOOD and ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS damage the gut which causes a leakage in the gut, which eventually can, may and will lead to some chronic inflammatory diseases, based upon the studies above.

Proper Nutrition for Gut Health

As of now, the importance of proper nutrition which means eating the right foods that contain Prebiotics and Probiotics are extremely beneficial to gut health and your overall health.  Both are found in food.

Prebiotics are fiber which help the growth of good bacteria. These include almonds bananas, apples, vegetables like Jerusalem artichokes, wild yams, jicama, leeks, asparagus, chicory, garlic, onions, soybeans, whole wheat, whole-grain oats, corn, and whole grains.

Probiotics include Yogurt, Pickles, kimchi, Sourdough Bread, buttermilk, Cottage Cheese (Swiss, Provolone, Gouda, Cheddar, Edam and Gruyere), Tempeh, Sauerkraut and Miso Soup.

Consuming a diet that includes more plant-based foods, whole foods, whole grains, fermented foods, homemade sourdough bread, and limit red meats is the best for not only our gut health, but our lives. Also restricting HIGH SATURATED FATS could be a good step forward to a healthy gut and healthier body.

Again, the ingredients in processed foods has been proven by the studies above to damage our guts, which in turns leads to a variety of chronic diseases that have no cure. However, studies have also shown that by eating a healthier diet there is potential to reverse the effects caused by an inflammatory gut.

Diets…no. My personal belief is that we (as a people in whole) need to stop with diets—period. Our goals should be to eat healthy foods and allow our bodies to heal.

Health, YOUR HEALTH is the utmost important thing and starting with what you eat can affect your life forever.

I hope you stay tuned because I have so much more information to share! Let’s stay healthy together.

As always, stay safe and eat healthy! Much love to you all. John and Tracey.

Published by John and Tracey Create

Your Food. Your Health. Join us on a journey to health through nutrition and food.

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