Foods that trigger fibromyalgia pain vary from one person to the next, and what may worsen your symptoms may not have the same effect on someone else. To figure out what foods to avoid, you may want to try an elimination diet and keep a detailed food diary to track your symptoms.
Processed foods often have a lot of additives (excitotoxins) that can worsen some symptoms of fibromyalgia. Excitotoxins include:
Research has shown that fibromyalgia patients who stopped consuming MSG and aspartame experienced great reduction in painful symptoms. The symptoms returned when substances were reintroduced in their diets.
Studies have shown that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be an underlying cause of fibromyalgia. Patients who followed a gluten-free diet reported improvements such as pain reduction and quality of life.
While there is little evidence linking sugar to fibromyalgia pain, reducing intake of refined carbohydrates such as white rice and bread can help reduce symptoms.
Refined carbohydrates can aggravate pain because these foods are digested very quickly, causing blood sugar levels to spike and then drop. The body converts refined white flour into sugars, which promote fatigue, disrupt sleep patterns and increase pain. Eating foods made of refined flour can also contribute to weight gain, placing additional stress on the joints and muscles. Whole wheat or almond flour are great alternatives to white flour.
Oily, fried foods
Because corn oil, sunflower oil and other vegetable oils often have inflammatory effects on the body, foods fried in these oils may worsen fibromyalgia symptoms. It’s important to avoid foods containing unhealthy oils and fats, including pizza, cheese, cookies, doughnuts and other junk foods.
Saturated fats in red meat interfere with proper circulation and increase pain sensitivity. They also contribute to fatigue, making it difficult for patients with fibromyalgia to get the exercise they need to promote muscle flexibility and range of motion.
Nightshade fruits and vegetables
Studies have shown that 74%-90% of people with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia experienced increased inflammation and pain after eating nightshade family fruits or vegetables. These include tomatoes, bell peppers, white potatoes, eggplant, chilies and paprika.
Many people with and without fibromyalgia are lactose-intolerant and experience bloating and gas after consuming milk or other dairy products. Eating a dairy-free diet may help reduce some of these symptoms.
What are treatment options for fibromyalgia?
- These range from familiar over-the-counter drugs, such as Tylenol (acetaminophen), to prescription medicines (even narcotics) for those with severe muscle pain.
- Continued painkiller use poses a risk of physical or psychological dependence.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Examples include Advil, Motrin (aspirin, ibuprofen) and Anaprox or Aleve (naproxen sodium). NSAIDs work by inhibiting prostaglandins, a substance that plays a role in pain and inflammation.
- They can help relieve muscle aches of fibromyalgia as well as menstrual cramps and headaches often associated with the disorder.
- These drugs help elevate levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the central nervous system and can help with depression, in addition to pain and fatigue.
- Tricyclic antidepressants taken at bedtime in doses lower than those required to treat depression can help promote restorative sleep, relax painful muscles and heighten the effects of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers).
- Other antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can reduce fatigue and some other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia if taken in low doses.
- A combination of the tricyclic and the SSRI fluoxetine may relieve symptoms more effectively than either drug alone.
- Valium may be prescribed to help relax tense, painful muscles and stabilize erratic brain waves that can interfere with deep sleep.
- These drugs can also relieve symptoms of restless leg syndrome, which is common in people with fibromyalgia.
- Because of the potential for addiction, doctors usually prescribe benzodiazepines only when other drugs have not worked.
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Fibromyalgia and Nutrition: http://blog.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/fibromyalgia-diet/