OXIDATIVE STRESS AND FYBROMYALGIA
Fybromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is generally characterized by systemic unexplained pain; it can also be accompanied by various psychological symptoms that include depression, anxiety, and fatigue. While the cause or causes for this disease still eludes researchers, there are many theories about what they are. Some believe the disease is genetically inherited. Others point to neurotransmitters as the culprit. Still others believe that several chemicals or substances may play the part.
Another area gaining increasing interest is the role of oxidative stress in the initiation and progression of fibromyalgia and its related symptoms. Oxidative stress is a complex condition that is characterized by the release of highly unstable products called free radicals. Free radicals are considered unstable because they are missing an electron; this gives them the ability to disrupt normal cellular function. Oxidative stress is a constantly occurring process within the body, but our bodies have developed to limit the levels of these ‘reactive oxidants’ and the damage they inflict. Specific enzymes act directly to inactivate these potentially harmful products. However the consumption of dietary antioxidants also provides an effective defense mechanism by donating an electron to the free radical, rendering it harmless and thus removing it from the circulation.
OXIDATIVE STRESS AND FOODS
In fybromyalgia, issues arise when the body’s store of these specific enzymes is depleted, or if the diet contains low levels of antioxidants. Obviously, a healthy person has the proper ratio of these enzymes to combat the free radicals that come into the body. Those with fybromyalgia have lowered levels of these enzymes, thus increasing the free radicals in the body, which may result in FMS.
However, if the increase of antioxidant foods will decrease the free radical levels of the body, it stands to reason that this will also decrease the pain and other symptoms of fybromyalgia. Here are 10 foods that are good antioxidants to combat the free radicals.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are brimming with the antioxidant lycopene which is more potent in cooked tomatoes. To get the most lycopene out of your fresh tomatoes, turn them into gazpacho, tomato sauce or jam. Antioxidants: Vitamin A, vitamin C, lycopene.
- Berries: Berries like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are overflowing with antioxidants called anthocyanins. Antioxidants: Vitamin C, anthocyanin, quercetin.
- Peaches: The antioxidant lutein gives this stone fruit its gorgeous hue. Lutein helps keep your heart, skin and eyes healthy. Antioxidants: Vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin.
- Kale: One cup (chopped) of this powerhouse veggie has 206% of your daily recommended dose of vitamin A and 134%of your daily recommended dose of vitamin C. Antioxidants: Vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein.
- Plums: Stone fruit like plums are bursting with all types of good-for-you phytochemical antioxidants. Antioxidants: Beta-carotene, vitamin C, neochlorogenic acid, chologenic acid.
- Bell Peppers: Did you know that a bell pepper has more vitamin C than an orange? Red peppers have even more vitamin C than the green ones. Antioxidants: Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E.
- Cantaloupe: The bright orange color of this melon comes from the antioxidant beta-carotene. Antioxidants: Beta carotene, vitamin C, zeaxanthin.
- Corn: This summer favorite has a handful of antioxidants including zeaxanthin, which helps protect your eyes. Antioxidants: Vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin.
- Spinach: This green leafy bunch of goodness is one of the top sources of the antioxidant lutein, which helps protect your eyes. Antioxidants: Beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin.
- Cherries: These babies are high in two inflammation-fighting phytochemicals: anthocyanin and quercetin. Antioxidants: Vitamin A, vitamin C, anthocyanin, quercetin.
OTHER FOODS HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
There are other foods high in antioxidants. Those containing Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and beta-carotene (which convert to Vitamin A in the body) are some of the best antioxidant foods available to you.
Vitamin C can be found in other foods such as citrus fruits, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, peas, and potatoes.
Vitamin E is also contained in vegetable oils, wheat germ, whole grains, sunflower seeds and nuts, especially almonds, and sweet potatoes.
Beta-carotene (which converts to Vitamin A in the body) can be found in foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apricots, and are dark green leafy vegetables such as leaf lettuce and broccoli.
In addition to obtaining antioxidants from the food we eat, there are many high quality antioxidant supplements available. A good multivitamin will not only give you a balanced vitamin and antioxidant supply but will provide your body with the trace minerals needed to keep the body processes in good working order.
Clearly, oxidative stress plays a role in diseases of all sorts, including fybromyalgia. Numerous clinical studies show reducing oxidative stress can retard or diminish disease progression. In addition, increasing antioxidants in the diet will provide overall health and may improve the symptoms of fybromyalgia.