The Paleolithic diet, also commonly referred to as the Caveman diet, is one that has been sweeping the country in the last few years. By definition, this diet considers “the environment of evolutionary adaptedness for our species and to view it as the shaper of the latest draft of our genome.” Therefore, the idea is to avoid any food products that were not available to humans during the Paleolithic era like processed grains, oils, and refined sugars.
Before the domestication of animals and food industrialization, humans adapted their diet to the food that was available in their region, which of course kept them nutritionally healthy, strong, and energized enough to hunt and gather. Scientists believe that the human metabolism has not been unable to evolve as fast as the change in our diet, nor have our bodies been able to adequately absorb the chemicals used to make foods in modern agriculture. This has lead not only to nutritional deficiencies, but a great number of medical problems like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, fibromyalgia, and even some psychological disorders like depression.
So the real question is, can the Paleo diet help with fibromyalgia symptoms?
While there is no definitive clinical evidence that the Paleo diet is beneficial to those with fibromyalgia, some favorable surveys and observations have shown that this is likely a good starting point in the consistently changing treatment regimens for fibromyalgia.
Dr. Chris Kresser, a naturopathic physician and one of the pioneers of implementing this diet with his fibro patients, has seen a significant improvement in his patients’ symptoms. The diet mainly consists of fatty and grass-fed meats, fermented foods like sauerkraut, bone soups and broths, and lots of vegetables. Dairy, gluten, and grains are eliminated from this kind of diet. Additionally, nightshade foods like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes are eliminated from the diet. These vegetables seem to be responsible for a lot of fibromyalgia symptoms.
The Paleo diet is similar to what is done in the Elimination diet (see previous posts or my book Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), in that it pretty much takes out every type of food that is considered “new” or part of the agricultural revolution that took place at the end of the Paleolithic era 10,000 years ago. The elimination diet is the process of removing all allergenic-type foods, like gluten and dairy, and slowly reintroducing them for a short period of time in order to note any reactions. With the Paleo diet, however, there is no reintroduction, although you can certainly do it if you choose; however, consider this: after a month on the Paleo diet and proper treatment regimen, if you are feeling significantly better, why introduce the other foods?
While it’s nice to know which foods actually trigger fibromyalgia symptoms, some people simply don’t want to bother with the detail and time it takes to do the Elimination diet. In that case, starting immediately on the Paleo diet and sticking to it is the best option, so long as there are no adverse reactions.
Fibromyalgia symptoms are not so easily satiated, however, so be sure you are taking a quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, and any other supplements that are specific to your individual level of disease. I recommend the Fibromyalgia Jump Start package of supplements.
My CFS/Fibro formula supplement is a good place to start if you are just beginning on the alternative treatment journey. It’s part of my Jumpstart Package that will help you get your symptoms under control so you can live a higher quality life. The formula consists of a quality multivitamin and mineral, fish oil, magnesium/potassium aspartate, malic acid, and magnesium citrate.
There several excellent books on the Paleo Diet. I recommend The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat by Loren Cordain. The book is available at most bookstores, libraries, and of course, Amazon.