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Foods to Avoid When You Have Fibromyalgia

Foods to Avoid When You Have Fibromyalgia post image

If you don’t know what fibromyalgia is, you’re not alone.  Although it affects up to 4% of the population and cases can be found as far back as the 17th century, it has only become defined as a diagnosable set of symptoms within the last couple of decades.  And despite abundant research that allows doctors to recognize the disorder, it is still unknown what causes fibromyalgia or how it can best be treated.  What we do know is this: the syndrome is characterized by a complex combination of symptoms that generally center on increased sensitivity to pain as well as ongoing muscle, tendon and joint pain, and fatigue (all of which may lead to several other symptoms).

  In addition, patients often suffer from low levels of serotonin (which is linked to pain perception) and may have an elevated nerve growth factor (which could increase awareness of pain).  However, these deductions have brought researchers no closer to finding a cure for this mysterious disorder.  As a result, individuals attempting to cope with the debilitation of constant pain have turned to diet as a possible remedy to their situation.  And while there are certainly plenty of consumables that may help to alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia, there are also a few that should be avoided.

  1. Aspartame.  This sugar-substitute is not so sweet for people who suffer from fibromyalgia, as it has been shown to stimulate a pain receptor in the nervous system, leading to more or worsening symptoms for those who are already sensitive to pain.
  2. MSG.  While you would probably avoid this flavor-enhancing additive anyway (since it is a known carcinogen), you should be especially careful when you have fibromyalgia.  This and other nitrates used to boost the flavor of frozen foods can cause the same physical reaction as aspartame.
  3. Caffeine.  While fatigue is a pretty big problem for individuals with fibromyalgia, there are better solutions than sucking down a dozen frappuccinos a day.  You are probably aware of caffeine’s penchant for giving you a short-lived boost before dropping you to a lower level of energy than you had before.  But for people who are already fatigued or depressed, this sedative effect could spell disaster.
  4. Gluten.  Inexplicably, an aversion to gluten products is very common in those who suffer from fibromyalgia, leading some doctors to conjecture that some forms of the syndrome are actually caused by food allergies.  While there is still little evidence to substantiate this theory, those who remove the offending food item from their diet often notice that they feel less fatigued and may experience a reduction of digestive problems.
  5. Trigger foods.  You know when certain food items make you feel bad.  Foods high in processed sugars or fats may make you feel bloated while alcohol and cocoa consumption can lead to migraines.  So if you find that the ingestion of certain foods leads to an increase in symptoms, you’ll just have to learn to avoid those items, even if they were favorites before the onset of your syndrome.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Anita Spector August 4, 2011, 8:38 am

    I am overweight by at least 30 lbs. I like all foods especially bread. Oh, i’m 73. I read the above article but i’m still not sure what foods I must avoid and what foods are
    good for me and will releive the terrible pain I must endure from fibromyalgia. If I
    can get something easy to understand like spcifically what foods NO and what foods
    are YES I would be happy to pay for a bulletin and most appreciative.
    Anita Spector
    Valrico, Fl

    • Betty fitzsimmons November 3, 2013, 11:56 pm

      Please read my comment above.

  • Betty fitzsimmons November 3, 2013, 11:51 pm

    I also have wondered about food being a trigger for more pain from fibromyalgia. I have suffered for years. I love bread and ice cream ,coffee,I know what I should do, but it is so hard to get startedI need someone to hit me in the head and say”JUST DO IT’..I will be seeing my regular MD this week and a specialist later this month. Betty

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