In choosing to follow a fibromyalgia diet, a person stricken with this painful condition can decrease the amount of pain suffered and even reverse their fibromyalgia symptoms over time. Doctors, researchers and fibromyalgia patients all agree that a fibromyalgia diet, complemented by good sleep habits and exercise, are among the most critical components of fibromyalgia treatment. In learning about using diet for fibromyalgia treatment, it is helpful to gain a basic overview of what fibromyalgia is, what causes it and to discuss some of its symptoms.
Many wonder what fibromyalgia is, because it is sometimes manifested differently in different people. A basic definition, however, is that fibromyalgia is a chronic, very painful arthritis-related condition.
The exact cause of fibromyalgia has yet to be determined. However, research suggests that certain genetic factors predispose some to be at higher risk for developing it. Also, researchers believe that it may be triggered by extreme emotional or physical stress, or by an infection from an earlier illness.
Another theory about its cause is that people with fibromyalgia have an abnormally low pain tolerance due to an increase in neurotransmitters and extra-sensitive pain receptors. This, researchers believe, is caused by repeated stimulation of the nerves, which prompts changes in the brain.
Fibromyalgia symptoms can vary according to each individual and are often affected by the time of day, weather, stress levels, or even certain physical activities. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Dull or aching muscles
- Poor sleep habits
One of the key characteristics of fibromyalgia symptoms is the presence of tender points throughout the body. When pressure is applied to these points, a person with fibromyalgia feels intense pain. Some of these points include:
- Area between the shoulder blades
- The top of the shoulders
- The back of the head
- The front sides of the neck
- The upper region of the chest
- The outer region of the elbows
- The sides of the hips
- The upper region of the hips
- The inner portion of the knees
It is also not uncommon for people with fibromyalgia to suffer with other conditions, such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Restless legs syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Irritable bowel syndrome
In mainstream medicine, fibromyalgia treatment generally involves prescription medications for varying symptoms and complementary treatments, such as diet and exercise. However, prescribed medications are only used to treat symptoms and often more than one medication is needed to treat varying symptoms. To avoid the side effects associated with medications, it is important for a person afflicted with fibromyalgia symptoms to do their best in terms of managing it through diet, sleep, and exercise.
Research has been slow in helping to introduce a single fibromyalgia diet, yet many who suffer with this condition have reported individual success by determining their own fibromyalgia treatment through actively controlling their diet. By avoiding certain foods and increasing the consumption of other foods, people with this condition have discovered that a fibromyalgia diet dramatically reduces the amount of pain suffered and increases their quality of life, overall.
Some specific foods that should be avoided on a fibromyalgia diet include:
- Fried foods
- Processed foods
- Junk foods
- White sugar
- White flour
- Foods with preservatives or additives (especially MSG or nitrates)
- Artificial sweeteners (especially aspartame and high fructose corn syrup)
- Dairy products that are high in fat
- Red meat
- Smoked meats or meats that have been cured with salt
- Products containing yeast
- Products containing gluten
For some fibromyalgia sufferers, turpene foods (also referred to as nightshade plants), such as bell peppers, chili peppers, spinach, eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes, can sometimes trigger fibromyalgia symptoms. However, these foods are generally very healthy contributors to a good diet and should only be avoided if they are known to trigger symptoms in an individual.
Specific beverages that should be avoided are:
- Coffee and other caffeinated beverages (such as tea and colas)
- Sodas and carbonated beverages
As a general rule, people with fibromyalgia symptoms should also avoid prolonged sun exposure and all tobacco products.
Beyond eliminating certain foods, a good fibromyalgia diet also involves increasing certain other foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as:
- Oily fish (such as tuna and salmon)
- Flax seeds
- Dark, leafy, green vegetables (such as kale, mustard, or turnip greens)
- Bok choy
People with fibromyalgia should also take Omega 3 fatty acid and magnesium supplements. Specific herbs that should also be a part of a fibromyalgia diet are turmeric and ginger.
With diet being a major component in fibromyalgia treatment, people with this condition are also urged to decrease daily stress as much as possible and increase the amount of daily exercise. Also of critical importance is to get a minimum of at least eight hours of sleep per night. People with fibromyalgia tend to sleep far less than is recommended, which adds to their daily stress, physical pain and leaves them feeling fatigued throughout the day.
Generally speaking, a diet that focuses solely on eating whole foods and strictly eliminating all processed foods is going to build a healthier, stronger body that is better equipped to fight off a variety of ailments, especially fibromyalgia symptoms. While a fibromyalgia diet may appear to be restrictive, natural cures and home remedies such as this one have been celebrated throughout generations because they work. Creating good health and reversing symptoms of poor health is an enormous, but highly effective, effort that must be taken seriously and performed consistently in order to change one’s quality of life for the better.