Fibromyalgia is a complex pattern of symptoms that include muscle and joint pain accompanied with crushing fatigue. Many people with Fibromyalgia have sought ways to cope with the pain by changing their eating habits. Research has not definitively shown any connection between certain foods and flaring fibromyalgia. Why? “Fibromyalgia is more like a symptom complex, and different people appear to have different reasons why they get this symptom complex,” says Michael McNett, MD. McNett directs the Fibromyalgia Treatment Centers of America. “So what works for one person very frequently does not work for another.” Medical researchers have discovered dietary measures can help, but there is no one diet that can help everyone.
Foods That May Trigger Pain
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – MSG is known as an additive and food enhancer that has been popular in China and Japan since the 1900’s. When MSG is consumed at a high rate, your nerves can fire excessively causing neurotoxicity. Medical experts found it can intensify pain symptoms in many individuals. MSG is found in just about every packaged or canned food in the market. MSG has been found to not only trigger pain but causes burning sensations, tingling in extremities, nausea, headache, chest pain, weakness, drowsiness and more. If it doesn’t say “MSG Free,” MSG is likely in the product under a pseudonym name.
Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup – Fibromyalgia patients often experience general hypersensitivity. Consuming sugar and high fructose corn syrup products can cause a spike in blood sugar resulting in increased sensitivity. Cutting back on sugar can also reduce the occurrence of chronic yeast infections. Yeast infections are considered a secondary contribution to fibromyalgia because it feeds on sugar.
Caffeine – Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia. Your first thought may be to consume caffeinated coffee, tea, soda or even chocolate for a boost in energy. Though caffeine provides a temporary boost, it is no substitute for sleep. After receiving a spike in energy, your fatigue will most likely be amplified. Caffeine can also keep you awake when you actually want to sleep.
Dairy – Dairy products have been known to flare up fibromyalgia. Dairy (milk) does contain calcium which is great for your bones, but you can try milk alternatives. Try lactose-free
milk, coconut or almond milk. There are also cheeses and yogurts with lower lactose amounts.
Nightshade Plants – Try to avoid tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, tomatillos, tobacco, cayenne pepper and paprika. Nightshade plants contain a compound called solanine that can cause pain in the joints and muscles and weakness. If you are sensitive to nightshade plants, a reaction may occur quickly or within days. Sometimes the pain can be crippling.
Trans Fats and Fried Foods – These types of foods can cause inflammation. Instead, consume omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats have been shown to be a heart-healthy option and can reduce inflammation.
Simple Carbohydrates, Yeast and Gluten – Try to eliminate baked goods such as cake, donuts and bread. Eliminating yeast and gluten has been shown to decrease the possible overgrowth of yeast fungus. Overgrowth may cause joint and muscle. Gluten has been associated with fatigue in fibromyalgia patients. Excluding simple carbohydrates can prevent hypoglycemia. About 90 percent of fibromyalgia patients have a low adrenal functioning, which affects the way their metabolism breaks down these carbohydrates.
Artificial Sweeteners – You’ve been told to eliminate sugar and high fructose products, so your first thought is to reach for artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners can exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms. These sweeteners are often found in diet sodas, light juices and popular sugar substitutes like Equal and Splenda. These sugar-free alternatives contain excitotoxins, which activates neurons that increase your sensitivity to pain.
Identify Your Personal Triggers
As stated previously, everyone reacts to these foods differently. Certain foods on the list may not trigger your fibromyalgia. It is always best to keep a food diary to keep track of what you ate and how you felt after consuming it. There is no overnight fix to alleviating pain or discovering your triggers. Eating healthy is a start towards living an overall healthier life.