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As fibromyalgia is a syndrome with no one cause or symptom there is no evidence to support that any single food or eating plan can help in dealing with the condition. As people appear to have different causes or triggers, different remedies can apply. For this reason, what works for one person may not work for another. That said, despite the lack of large-scale studies, some patterns are emerging.
Although excess weight does not cause fibromyalgia, it can exacerbate the condition. Losing a few pounds, or achieving a healthy body mass index for your height will not only help relieve fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain but will also decrease the risk of developing heart disease in women, diabetes and high blood pressure, all health issues associated with obesity. A balanced diet such as a Low GI plan, helps people lose weight in a healthy way and also stabilizes blood sugar levels. This helps to maintain better levels of energies (important for those with fibromyalgia fatigue). Research shows that people with fibromyalgia tender points also benefit from regular low-impact aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming or aqua-aerobics.
Foods To Avoid
Although you are unlikely to alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms entirely by avoiding certain foods, studies indicate that it may be possible to reduce pain and improve quality of sleep.
Aspartame (artificial sweetener, most common brands NutraSweet and Equal): Aspartame is classified as an excitotoxin which can cause pain to turn from acute (once off) to chronic (ongoing). A limited study by the Annals of Pharmacotherapy in 2001 found that when patients with fibromyalgia excluded aspartame from their diets they reported feeling better. Aspartame is found in over 6,000 foods, including popular soda drinks like Diet Pepsi, iced teas, cereals, chewing gum and a wide range of 'sugar-free' reduced calorie dieters versions of cakes and cookies.
MSG (Monosodium glutamate): A chemical regarded as a flavor enhancer which is added to many frozen entrees and Asian food. Like aspartame, MSG is classified as an excitotoxin and can exacerbate pain. If you are in a restaurant, tell your waiter that you are allergic to MSG, this is more likely to be heeded than just saying you do not want it in your food. People with fibromyalgia may also have problems with nitrates, a common preservative added to luncheon meats like ham, bacon, and bologna.
Caffeine: Although caffeine drinks can give an instant boost of energy, this energy is considered false and may in fact worsen fatigue in the long run. Caffeine drinks include coffee, sodas, chocolate drinks. Alcohol also acts as a depressant.
Dairy: Some people with fibromyalgia report feeling much better when they avoid dairy. This may however be because they also happen to be lactose intolerant. Avoiding dairy in this case will make them feel much more energized and healthy. If you have tried giving up dairy without experiencing any benefits, then listen to your body. A glass of skimmed milk a day is a great source of calcium and helps to keep bones strong and build muscle tissue. Although some people turn to soy milk as an alternative, they may find they are equally allergic to soy products.
Sugar & Simple Carbs: Avoiding sugar and simple carbs (white bread, cakes, cookies) can help reduce symptoms of a chronic yeast infection (potentially a secondary cause of fibromyalgia pain). Sugar can also cause inflammation and low blood sugar levels (which plays havoc with energy levels).
Certain Vegetables: Any food to which a person has intolerance will make fibromyalgia symptoms worse. Perversely, it is usually the foods you crave most which are the ones you are most intolerant to. Nightshades vegetables can trigger symptoms in both fibromyalgia and arthritis patients. Most commonly these include tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, bell peppers and chilies.
Foods To Include
Fish: Fish rich in omega-3 essential fats, including organically farmed salmon, herring, mackerel and trout. This will help reduce inflammation. Although fibromyalgia is not strictly an inflammation condition like rheumatoid arthritis, any anti-inflammatory products/foods will help to reduce stress on the pain receptors. See cause of arthritis.
Flour Alternatives: Avoid white flour and wheat which tend to irritate the gut. Instead replace with millet, quinoa or buckwheat.
Vitamins: Take a multi-vitamin appropriate for your age with plenty of B-vitamins.
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