Fibromyalgia is a condition that consists of a complexity of symptoms that can include but are not limited to joint and muscle pain combined with a fatigue that is simply overwhelming. It does not matter how much rest and sleep you get, the fatigue plagues you continuously.
Up to 4% of the population is affected by fibromyalgia and while most sufferers are female, there have been cases of men who have the condition.
As of now, there is no known cause and furthermore there is no single treatment that is effective on everyone. As a result, many people have turned to their diet as a way to try to find some relief.
In all actuality, there is very little evidence (scientifically speaking) that supports any type of diet that deals with the condition effectively and across the board. That said, all you have to do is check the internet and you ill find a plethora of dietary treatments for the condition.
Why Doesn’t it Work?
Some people may find that changes in their diet helps with the symptoms and some do not. Experts say that is because one of the earmarks of the condition is the diversity of it.
It is not a single specific illness but rather a symptom complex. Just as different people seem to have different reasons that they get it, what works as a treatment for one person often has no affect on another person.
Fibromyalgia and your diet
There are rheumatology experts ho believe that the incredible diversity of the dietary approaches that people take in trying to treat their symptoms has little to do with fibromyalgia itself and a lot to do with treating a secondary illness that may be undiagnosed. They think that when you take care of this second “mystery condition”, you not only take care of the symptoms but you will just feel better in a general way.
There are a number of health conditions that co-exist. These have a tendency to be prevalent in people who suffer from fibromyalgia. Many of these conditions have symptoms that overlap.
Some of these are things like intolerance to gluten (gout) and even RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome). There are many doctors who are of the opinion that the cause of fibromyalgia is a sensitivity to certain foods. They say that because these secondary conditions react to different types of foods and avoidance of differing foods, it is easy to see why patients report various dietary restrictions having a good effect or none at all.
These same doctors feel that fibromyalgia is even often the incorrect diagnosis. They say that is a contributing factor to the inconsistency in the results of treatment in a dietary fashion They say that if you pay attention to which foods cause a significant response in a patient, it can be used as a trail of breadcrumbs in locating the true source of the patient’s condition and many times it is NOT fibromyalgia.
While there are no set dietary guidelines that will assist every single fibromyalgia patients, there are food groups or even individual foods or ingredients that do seem to make a significant difference in the symptoms of many people. That said, remember what you read above: not all dietary changes will help every single person. At this point though, it couldn’t hurt to try, right?
In a large number of people, aspartame seem to play a major role in the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is found in many sodas and foods. Aspartame stimulates the opening of a pain receptor called the NMDA. This receptor is located in the nervous system and it has to do with pain turning from acute pain into chronic. People who suffer from fibromyalgia generally already have an over active NMDA and therefore are more susceptible to the sort of stimulation that aspartame causes the NMDA to have.
There was a study done and published in 2006 where experts found that patients who suffer from fibromyalgia do indeed have an increased activity of the NMDA receptors found in the skin. This indicated that there is an overall increase of that same type of activity in the peripheral nerves.
Aspartame may play a huge role in the stimulation of those same nerve pathways. For some people, cutting aspartame out of the diet completely can have dramatic results in the pain levels.
A different study done in 2001 had the same findings. This study found that MSG as well as aspartame caused people with fibromyalgia to have increased pain while the avoidance of these two things had an effect of lessening the pain by a large degree.