Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose, which makes it even harder to treat. Over-the-counter medications may provide short-term relief, however they reportedly reduce symptoms by only 30 to 50 percent. As a result, many patients are making changes in their lifestyle and diet to combat the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Here are ten food tips to fight fibromyalgia:
Fighting Fibromyalgia - Dietary Tip #1: Buy Fresh
Nearly half of patients living with fibromyalgia also suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disorder that causes abdominal pain. To alleviate symptoms brought on by fibromyalgia and IBS, doctors recommend eating plenty of fresh foods, and avoiding those that have preservatives and additives. According to rheumatologist, Dr. Daniel Arkfeld, “Foods that irritate your bowel will trigger the body to send a message to the brain that signals fibromyalgia symptoms.” So the next time you’re at the store, head to the organic section and stay away from any foods that have pesticides or harmful chemicals.
Fighting Fibromyalgia - Dietary Tip #2: Energy-Boosting Foods
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia. Patients often experience disturbances in sleep and have very little energy to carry out daily functions. Energy-boosting foods can help patients overcome this obstacle. Protein-rich foods such as chicken, beans and almonds can give you an extra boost of energy, making it easier to carry on with your day.
Fighting Fibromyalgia - Dietary Tip #3: Avoid Caffeine
Patients living with fibromyalgia often suffer from extreme fatigue. To combat the loss of energy, people often turn to coffee or caffeinated soft drinks to help them get through the day. While this will surely give you a temporary boost of energy, caffeine can disrupt your sleep, which ultimately worsens your fatigue long-term. If you are unable to cut out caffeinated products altogether, be sure to consume them during the first half of your day.
Fighting Fibromyalgia - Dietary Tip#4: Manage Sugar Intake
Sugar is a carbohydrate found in most American foods. In fact, along with salt, most people get too much sugar in their diet. Much like caffeine, sugar appeals to those who feel fatigued. However, too much sugar can cause weight gain, which may worsen pain in patients living with fibromyalgia. Studies show that symptoms brought on by fibromyalgia are more severe in obese patients. To satisfy your sweet tooth, try eating fruit, which contain natural sugars.
Fighting Fibromyalgia - Dietary Tip #5: Cut Out Dairy
Do dairy products leave you feeling bloated and gassy? If so, you may lactose intolerant, which is the inability to digest the sugar in milk. Patients with fibromyalgia who are also lactase-deficient may feel more fatigued if their diet includes lots of dairy products. Try eliminating dairy products from your diet for a week and monitor you symptoms to see if there is any noticeable improvement. Parting ways with dairy products is not the end of the world, as there are many delicious alternatives including soy milk, broccoli, tuna, and more.
Fighting Fibromyalgia - Dietary Tip #6: Avoid MSG and Sodium Nitrate
MSG and sodium nitrate are flavor enhancers and preservatives found in many processed foods. They high levels of salt found in these substances can cause swelling in patients with fibromyalgia, which can aggravate pain. When buying food, be sure to always read the ingredients listed on the packaging. A good rule of thumb to eliminate these preservatives from your diet is to avoid cheap, prepackaged food altogether. Replace these microwaveable meals with whole foods such as lentils and fish.
Fighting Fibromyalgia - Dietary Tip #7: Get Your Vitamin D
Patients recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia should be screened for a vitamin D deficiency, as it can mimic the symptoms of the chronic condition. Bone and muscle pain are common in those who are suffering from vitamin D deficiency, which may lead to misdiagnosis of fibromyalgia. Most of us get our daily dose of vitamin D naturally from the sun. However, the grey months of winter can make this difficult. Consider picking up a supplement from your local health store to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D.
Fighting Fibromyalgia - Dietary Tip #8: Avoid Certain Vegetables
While vegetables are often part of a well-balanced diet, certain vegetables may actually aggravate the symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia. “Nightshade” vegetables, which include tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants, can exasperate pain in patients. Try cutting these vegetables out of your diet and monitor your symptoms to take note of any improvement.
Fighting Fibromyalgia - Dietary Tip #9: Avoid Yeast
There appears to be a small link between patients with fibromyalgia and celiac disease, which is characterized by the inability to digest gluten. Consuming too much yeast or gluten can cause yeast fungus to grow on the body, which can worsen pain in patients. Patients who cut foods out of their diet that include gluten may notice an improvement in their symptoms.
Fighting Fibromyalgia - Dietary Tip #10: Get Omega-3s
While there is no hard evidence to suggest inflammation is what causes pain in patients with fibromyalgia, inflammation has been identified as the culprit for other chronic pain conditions such as arthritis. To reduce inflammation, doctors recommend eating foods with omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, tuna, and a variety of other fish provide these healthy fatty acids. According to Dr. Kent Holtorf of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, “The fatty acids are great. They reduce the inflammation and help brain function.”