When fibromyalgia strikes, it can put everything on hold. The constant pain, fatigue, and depression that accompanies this condition are enough to send anyone into a tailspin.

This is what happened to Jaya Jaya Myra. She was a researcher in immunology when the pain started, so you would think that her case of fibromyalgia, if curable, could be researched, treated with western medicine, and solved.  But no matter how many doctors she visited or how many western medical treatments she tried, nothing helped. Until she figured out that her main trigger was food, specifically dairy.

Fibromyalgia affects millions of Americans, who often wait years to get diagnosed

Fibromyalgia is not a rare disease. It affects between two and eight percent of the general population, mostly women ages 20 to 55. It was first reported in the 19th century but because biomarkers have not been found, it can take years to properly diagnose, leaving sufferers feeling not just in pain, but alone or misunderstood-- or not believed. according to an article in the medical journal Rheumatologia: 

"Despite the existence of diagnostic criteria for FB, the meantime from the onset of the first symptoms to the diagnosis is six and a half years. Most patients complain of chronic pain of the joints, muscles, head, and sacral area of the spine. These conditions are accompanied by fatigue, problems with falling asleep and cognitive deterioration. Often, patients also report stiffness, leg cramps, hypersensitivity to pressure, tingling and/or numbness, feelings of anxiety and depression, and facial pain." One in five who get it are unable to work, the pain is so debilitating.

The best and worse foods for treating fibromyalgia. For Jaya, dairy was the trigger

Researchers have found that the best foods to help treat fibromyalgia symptoms are high in lean protein and fiber, and lower in carbohydrates such as vegetables and fruits with a low glycemic index, and whole grains and legumes. Foods that fight inflammation are known to help, while foods like simple or processed carbs (bread, muffins, cookies, crackers, and cereal) are known to trigger flare-ups according to Vital Motion. But Jaya had to figure this out on her own since when she was seeking help, hardly any doctors proscribed a healthier diet.

The pain and mental anguish of Jaya's fibromyalgia took over her existence, she says, and "destroyed my life." When western treatments left her worse off than before, she started to look into alternative methods to find relief. "I found ways to heal myself, ultimately, through following an anti-inflammatory diet. I completely eliminated dairy from my diet, since it gave me headaches and brain fog. It made my whole body hurt. I found out through cutting out all kinds of foods that dairy was the primary cause of my inflammation. Even if I had it in small bits–like even in a little bite of dessert–it would trigger my pain and inflammation, which had a big impact on my ability to be physically active. And  being active improves mood, so my mental state was as low as you can imagine."

Once she gave up all dairy for good, she started to realize the importance of diet and its connection to wellbeing. Dairy was the first clue. It was the key that unlocked everything.

How are you going to focus on your goals if you have brain fog?

Jaya found that without dairy, her brain fog lifted and once that happened she was able to focus better, and see that she was not living in alignment with her bigger life goals. She began to understand that her fibromyalgia had impacted her relationships, her job–everything. "It took me two years to get rid of fibromyalgia. And it took an additional 13 years to realize that dairy was my main culprit." Jaya eventually began to examine everything, and it sent her along a journey of mindfulness and meditation. This practice led her to realize how unhappy she was. She quit her career as a research scientist and follow her personal passions. She made a complete change in her life, began to write, give talks, and become self-employed, working as an author and publicist.  She recorded a Ted X Talk: "Is Purpose the Key to Health and Wellness?"

Her new life, which did not resemble her past life, was not only dairy-free, mostly plant-based diet but also free of all the inflammation in her body, which had been the primary cause of her pain. Changing her diet and her career path alleviated the depression and anxiety that had accompanied her constant pain and her fibromyalgia lifted. Ultimately she felt like a new woman. Now she lives pain-free and has written a book about how to find your purpose, through doable steps, to help others find their way out of whatever pain they are in, and find a new more purpose-driven existence: The Soul of Purpose: A Step-By-Step Approach to Create A Purpose-Driven, Healthy Life (published by Simon and Schuster).

The mind-body connection means your mental state impacts your physical health

"Things that make you unhappy compromise your immune system. Things that make you happy boost your immune system," Jaya explains. It's a message she has been spreading ever since she solved her health problems. Her book, website, inspirational speeches, and TV appearances are all dedicated to helping others find their purpose. She has woven together with elements of Ayurveda and Chinese medicine into a 5 elements approach to creating a step-by-step guide to help others find what makes them happy, the source of their purpose.  Her book explains that if a person is depressed, it can lead them to have an unhealthy microbiome and start to have devastating physical symptoms on the body, including pain, which is a depressive, putting you into a tailspin that is hard to recover from.

To fight pain and inflammation in the body is to get rid of junk food and sugar

Her diet advice: Avoid junk food, all processed food, with additives that can cause inflammation, and ditch sugar and get off dairy, all of which can cause inflammation. Her new book outlines the connection between physical and emotional health. "I show people step-by-step how to build synergy between your physical and emotional health, starting with breathing and diet and then helping them "sweep out the garbage" from their lives, so they can start to live healthier. I think people need to know what health looks like in their day-to-day lives."For her, it looks like life without things that make her unhappy –and dairy.

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