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Fibromyalgia, or FMS, generates chronic pain in multiple areas of the body. The medical establishment has yet to agree on a cause or cure for the disorder. Many researchers disagree on its origins and are divided on the best options for treating the pain associated with FMS. This is an ongoing issue for FMS sufferers who need conclusive research and solutions to avoid living a life in constant pain.

What is a Fibromyalgia Diet?

Taking on a fibromyalgia diet means taking on a balanced diet and avoiding certain foods has been proven to help sufferers reduce their painful symptoms. The fibromyalgia diet has become a popular option among individuals afflicted with FMS. A successful fibromyalgia diet should be customized to the FMS sufferer.

Indications of Existing Research

In decades past, many doctors didn’t recognize FMS as a real disorder. Understanding the mechanisms of the disease generates controversy among medical practitioners, but most experts agree: good nutrition can relieve pain and prevent FMS, or fibro, from growing worse.

Studies have found that Traditional Chinese Medicine and its emphasis on treating mind, body, and spirit can improve quality-of-life for most victims of the disorder. In fact, the best prognosis seems to come from using a multiple-treatment approach of:

  • Exercising for 30 min of moderate-to-vigorous activity a day
  • Eating a nutritious & well-balanced diet
  • Dealing with high-stress levels
  • Mindful techniques such as meditation & yoga

The Link Between Diet & Chronic Pain

Each victim of this disease experiences pain in a unique way, so it’s logical that people would also respond to nutrition in different ways. Some people have ingrained sensitivities to certain foods, so the best practice for designing a fibro-friendly diet is to keep a journal and write down how different foods make you feel.

A person writing in a notebook.

Foods That May Aggravate Fibromyalgia Pain

Eliminating foods that generate additional disorders--such as irritable bowel syndrome--can eliminate other troubling symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and indigestion. After six to eight weeks, reintroduce the foods and see if your symptoms return or worsen. That will help you to plan the best diet based on your personal nutritional profile.

As a fibromyalgia sufferer it is possible that you could be more sensitive to ingredients such as:

  • Foods high in MSG
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Preservatives
  • Gluten
  • Other allergens

A woman holding her painful stomach.

Diet Considerations for Fibromyalgia Sufferers

The following fibromyalgia diet suggestions can help FMS sufferers minimize uncomfortable symptoms. The fibromyalgia diet involves cutting out irritable foods, introducing healthy alternatives, and recording your diet choices and symptoms carefully. Below are a few considerations for people afflicted with FMS.

1. Eliminate Common Allergens

Hidden food intolerances could be generating some of your pain. Gluten and other allergenic foods often generate toxic reactions and unwanted immune responses. One study found that 7 percent of fibro patients had food allergies or intolerances. 1

2. Prep Your Meals

Making last-minute decisions at mealtime can be stressful, which exacerbates pain and generates mental issues. Planning your meals makes it easier to prepare food, get it on the table, and stick to your planned fibromyalgia diet.

3. Manage Glucose and Insulin

Healthy foods can reduce glucose and insulin levels until they’re in a healthy range. This helps to control the physical damage that free radicals cause while boosting energy and reducing inflammations throughout the connective tissues.

4. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity exacerbates any kind of health problem and intensifies pain. Too many people deal with their pain by overeating, which only aggravates the problem.

5. Reduce Sugar and Caffeine Intakes

Sugar and caffeine stimulate the body, but this often results in greater fatigue, weight gain and increased pain after the “rush” subsides. Both these popular substances can lead to weight gain or loss while generating insomnia and increasing pain and joint stiffness.

6. Cut Preservatives and Chemicals from Your Diet

Preservatives and flavor enhancers usually contain lots of salt and other chemicals that can aggravate your pain and produce inflammation in the soft tissues. Aspartame, the active ingredient in low-calorie sweeteners, has been anecdotally linked to the development of the FMS and increasing its pain for victims of the disorder.

7. Manage Your Supplements

Victims of FMS often take supplements. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about which supplements can best address your symptoms. Some supplements--such as vitamin D--can reduce pain in the joints and spine by strengthening bone health.

8. Go Vegetarian or Vegan

Many people support the premise that vegetarian and vegan diets are beneficial for relieving fibro-related pain and symptoms. 2 Researchers suggest that raw or lightly cooked vegetables can relieve oxidative stress, reduce pain, and improve general health because these vegetables are nutrient-rich. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are present in nuts and fatty types of fish, can also prevent cardiovascular problems, promote better circulation and reduce stiffness in the joints.

Benefits of Eating Nutritionally Balanced Foods

Eating the right foods - after a period of adjustment - helps to maintain your energy level throughout the day and fight fatigue. About 42 percent of people with fibro report that their symptoms intensify or worsen when they eat certain foods. 3

Well-balanced diets promote overall health, reduce stress, and make it easier to deal with everyday aches and pains. Combined with a healthy lifestyle, exercise and mental stimulation, the FMS diet can improve your quality of life, reduce your pain, jump start your energy and prevent other health disorders from aggravating your condition and compromising your well-being.

There might not be a cure for FMS, but you can relieve the symptoms with exercise, meditation, good nutrition, lifestyle adjustments and the techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Nutrition is the rock on which all these efforts depend for success. Find out more in the comprehensive article "Fibromyalgia: This is Everything You Need to Know."

 

Click to learn more about digestive health, or about treatment of fibromyalgia.

More Fibromyalgia Content and Information

Fibromyalgia: This is Everything You Need to Know

Fibromyalgia Causes: Where Did This Pain Come From?

Fibromyalgia Causes: Evidence That It’s Not Just In Your Head

Fibromyalgia Symptoms: How Do I Know If I Have Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia Diet: What to Eat & What to Avoid as a Fibromyalgia Sufferer

Fibromyalgia Exercises: Work Out Chronic Pain

The Fibromyalgia Exercise Plan

Fibromyalgia Tender Points: Where Does It Hurt?

Why is Fibromyalgia More Common In Women?

Sources:

  1.  Everydayhealth.com: Fibromyalgia: What to Eat, What Not to Eat. Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/fibromyalgia/fibromyalgia/what-to-eat-what-not-to-eat.aspx
  2. Webmd.com: Fibromyalgia and Diet: What's the Link? Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/features/fibromyalgia-the-diet-connection#1
  3. Prevention.com: Eating Vegetarian. Retrieved from http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/diet-tips-fibromyalgia
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