Top 4 Ways to Heal Your Gut and Reduce Chronic Pain

Did you know that certain bacteria can have extremely positive effects on your health? You may be surprised by how a few changes to your diet can improve the presence of good bacteria in your microbiome and your well being.

Especially if you are someone who suffers from chronic pain or fibromyalgia (FM).

You live everyday with symptoms of widespread pain throughout your body, a haze of fatigue draining every ounce of your energy, difficulty in thinking clearly and foggy memory. These are just a few side effects of one of the most elusive diseases that affect more than 5 million Americans age 18 and older, with a 3 to 1 female to male ratio.

Beyond these significant physical symptoms may be the chronic shame that accompanies those who suffer from FM. This disease reveals no abnormal blood tests or X-rays in its patients, which may can lend to feeling questioned by your doctors and peers about the reality of your disease. I understand the frustrations that those with “invisible illnesses” face and it is my objective to help you discover the root cause for these conditions and find healing from them.

Emerging evidence now shows us critical information that can reshape the way we approach healing for those with chronic pain and FM. Studies suggest a link with fibromyalgia to a microbiome imbalance and insulin resistance.

What Is Insulin Resistance?

The hormone insulin helps your body control the amount of glucose (simple sugar) in your blood. When you have insulin resistance, your body’s cells do not respond normally. The glucose cannot enter your cells as easily, so it builds up in your blood. As this resistance develops, your body fights back by producing even more insulin. In time, this vicious cycle can lead to Type 2 diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which puts you at risk for liver damage and heart disease.

While your set of genetics, age, ethnicity can play a role in developing insulin resistance (IR), the driving factors behind it include excess visceral body fat, poor nutrition, smoking, a lack of exercise, and even deficient sleep.

The Link Between Fibromyalgia and Insulin Resistance

As current research tries to identify risk factors and changes in the normal mechanical, physical and chemical processes that occur in the body in the face of this disease, a recent study revealed some amazing insights.

Fibromyalgia is considered a pain disorder characterized by abnormal processing of painful stimulus. Detections of increased connection in certain neural structures show how FM can make the brain vulnerable to increased perceptions of pain and lead to a chronic pain state.

Insights from recent studies demonstrate that most patients with FM have markers of IR due to elevated HbA1c (measures of blood sugar levels). And incidences of FM were found to be higher in patients with Type 2 diabetes, suggesting a link between these two disorders.

And that brain fog that often tags along with FM?

Prior observations have indicated that insulin resistance causes dysfunction in the vessels responsible for transporting blood away from organs, such as arteries and veins. This can lead to decreases in blood pressure, or volume of blood being pumped by the heart which can create a rapid onset of a temporary loss of consciousness, and motor control, with a spontaneous full recovery.

With IR as a link to FM, the study went on to show that by improving glucose metabolism, and the presence of good gut flora versus disease-causing bacteria in the microbiome-improvements in chronic pain associated with FM can occur! So, by working to heal issues of insulin resistance, you promote healing from the chronic painful symptoms of fibromyalgia.

While there is no known specific cause for fibromyalgia, we know of the connection between FM and small fiber neuropathy, which plainly put, means severe pain attacks that usually start in the hands or feet and can affect the whole body, especially as a person ages. And one of the most common causes for this? Diabetes.

Are you starting to see the link?

Alter Your Gut to Promote Healing from Fibromyalgia

So now that we have insight into IR as an underlying condition for FM, you can begin to promote your body’s natural healing abilities with my Integrative Functional Medicine steps below. Even if you currently do not have insulin resistance or fibromyalgia, an unhealthy lifestyle is a main factor for becoming the 1 in 3 Americans who have IR.

As an Integrative Medicine MD, I spend time helping my patients find healing from various chronic diseases. Many times, imbalances in their microbiome can set off an array of symptoms and disease. As I specialize in working with issues of the gut, these set of steps are derived from my years of experience and research in the medical field, as well as the proven results from hundreds of my patients.

  1. Eat a Mediterranean diet to increase your intestinal short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) levels and Eat Prebiotics such as, kiwifruit. SCFA’s are the signature hormones of your gut which are the product of bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates and proteins. They are anti-inflammatory and important for maintenance of your intestinal mucosal barrier. This reduces issues with inflammatory molecules, in turn improving your body’s fat metabolism, controlling fat storage, and regulating levels of blood sugar. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil are all great options within the Mediterranean diet.

         As a great prebiotic, kiwifruit has been noted for its promotion of gut health by increasing beneficial bacteria, immune function and stool frequency, and it is a great producer of essential SCFA’s such as butyrate.

         Ensuring that your microbiome is optimally balanced and producing SCFA’s, especially butyrate, which is produced from a high-fiber diet, can improve your brain health and general wellbeing. 

  1. Enrich your microbiome with probiotics and probiotic-rich foods. By stimulating levels of helpful bacteria such as akkermansia muciniphila, with probiotics and probiotic-rich foods like kombucha, you can improve your glucose metabolism, or the process where the carbohydrates you eat get broken down into glucose (simple sugar) which then works to signal insulin production. The higher abundance of good bacteria also improves the mucin layer that lines your gut, furthering the efforts of the SCFA’s, as mentioned above.

         Studies have also shown that those who have FM, Crohn’s disease, chronic                   fatigue syndrome, asthma, and depression, have low levels of helpful bacteria,             F. Prausnitzii. This bacterium helps to reduce pain, inflammation, and enhances           the intestinal barrier by metabolizing dietary fibers through butyrate (a SCFA)               production.

         (It is important to know that probiotic species alone do not result in a clinical               effect, rather, they enable the function of the microbiome and its activity by                 influencing an immune response, yielding beneficial end-products such as                   SCFA’s.)

  1. Choose a low animal-based protein diet. With the consumption of animal-based proteins, comes elevated levels of harmful bacteria to your gut. Choosing plant-based proteins, such as pea protein extract, has been reported to increase microbiome health while decreasing harmful bacteria. 
  1. Use relaxation and imagery techniques as pain coping strategies. Whether it is yoga, meditation, or EFT, cognitive-behavioral pain management has been shown to be very effective in treating chronic pain and FM. This happens because your brain is elastic, meaning, these treatments can change your brain’s processing of pain through altering the way it sends signals, emotions and cognition throughout, which leads to an increase in your ability to reassess your pain.


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To Your Health,

Kiran Grewal MD

"My goal is to share my knowledge with the world. I believe in delivering valuable and ethical content that changes the lives of my patients." -Kiran Grewal MD

















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