Diet and Fibromyalgia


Understanding fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a medical condition characterized by generalized pain and muscle soreness often accompanied by depressed mood, sleep issues, and fatigue. Many approaches to therapy are available for fibromyalgia symptoms, including pharmaceutical medications and natural treatments (e.g., acupuncture, meditation, oral supplements, and diet modifications). Specific emphasis is often directed towards nutritional modifications, including full diet rehabilitation and treatments centered on segregated nutrients or supplements.

Fighting fibromyalgia with nutrition

When dealing with fibromyalgia, it is beneficial to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Vegan diets may also aid in alleviating pain, improving sleep, and boosting overall health. Selecting fresh foods that contain fiber and less added sugars may help with energy levels.

Eliminating or decreasing intake of fried foods, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, processed foods, and red meat may help reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. These foods often cause inflammation and affect the immune system. Oftentimes, removing all sugar from the diet for thirty days is beneficial. Eliminating these food items not only promotes a healthy diet but also helps if specific foods are triggering fibromyalgia symptoms.

Practicing an elimination diet

Although certain foods commonly increase fibromyalgia symptoms, food sensitivity differs from person to person. An elimination diet is useful in systematically determining what foods trigger specific symptoms. Methodically excluding specific foods or food groups from the diet helps detect which foods cause adverse reactions. Foods that may trigger fibromyalgia symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Dairy products
  • Wheat, yeast, and other glutinous grains
  • Refined sugars or artificial sweeteners (e.g., aspartame)
  • Highly processed foods
  • Preservatives, chemical additives, or artificial colorings/flavorings (e.g., MSG)
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine

If symptoms improve when excluding a specific food, this strongly suggests its role in worsening fibromyalgia symptoms. The food is then added back into the diet to determine if symptoms recur. To fully determine whether the food causes severe symptoms, it may be necessary to remove and add foods back into the diet several times.

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