Unlike those medical conditions that medical discovery is able to trace backward to causes of origin with some degree of certainty, fibromyalgia today is considered an idiopathic condition, which means, in essence, that we are highly unsure where it starts.
It is estimated that between 3 – 6% of the world’s population suffers from fibromyalgia, and approximately 90% of those diagnosed with the condition are women.
There is a great deal of conjecture about whether fibromyalgia is genetic, psychological, neurobiological—or a wicked combination of the three—but one point upon which people seem able to agree is that certain foods aggravate its common symptoms, which include widespread, chronic pain and heightened, painful responses to pressure in muscles, tendons, joints and other soft tissues.
Food elements to avoid if you suffer from fibromyalgia
At the top of every list of foods that sufferers of fibromyalgia should avoid is anything that contains aspartame. In fact, many medical researchers attribute the cause of the condition itself to aspartame, naming it a type of aspartame poisoning.
People with fibromyalgia already have sensitive responses to visual and audio stimulators.
Aspartame is already known to stimulate this type of receptor, so for people who suffer from fibromyalgia, the effects are much more intense.
Aspartame causes instances of decreased vision that can lead to permanent blindness, buzzing or ringing sensations in the ears, and other physical reactions, like swelling, bloating and higher risks of infection.
Aspartame also causes a wide range of neurological reactions, like migraines, extreme drowsiness, restless leg syndrome and other types of serious hyperactivity. It can also incite depression and anxiety, even irritability and aggression.
Foods and beverages that have aspartame and should be avoided include diet soft drinks that use NutraSweet and saccharine in lieu of real sugar to minimize calories, flavored coffee syrups, soft drink powder mixes, sweetened tea, and flavored water drinks.
Aspartame is also present in a great number of popular candies and chewing gums, fat-free yogurt products, sugar-free desserts, and some condiments like fruit spreads, barbecue sauces and breakfast syrup.
We thought that all vegetables were good for us, didn’t we? Not so for the fibromyalgia sufferer. Certain solanaceae—commonly referred to as nightshade vegetables—exacerbate the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
These foods include eggplants, green peppers, tomatillos and even some household staples like potatoes and tomatoes.
Though nutritious foods, certain nightshades cause allergic-type reactions and increased discomfort and pain to people with fibromyalgia.
The same foods are seen as especially troublesome to people with arthritis because they tend to cause arthritic flaring to sufferers of either condition.
Refined Sugars and Simple Carbohydrates
Sugary food products and white breads intensify the fibromyalgia symptom of fatigue and drowsiness, but can also lead to incidents of chronic yeast infection.
The fungus causing the infection is believed to thrive on the unnatural sugars in the blood, and when heightened blood sugar levels out after a spike, sufferers of fibromyalgia crash harder than most, and suffer a nearly unbearable sense of fatigues.
A protein found in barley, rye and wheat, called gluten can be another exasperator of fibromyalgia symptoms.
Gluten intolerance, also called celiac disease, is when the body mistakenly takes defensive action against the lining of the small intestine when glutens become present, causing abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation and vomiting.
It can also intensify joint tenderness and pain, fatigue and continued loss of body weight.
People with fibromyalgia may become very susceptible to celiac disease, so they avoid amplifying the symptoms related to their condition by staying away from baked food products like pastries, cakes and breads.
Fatigue is among the most prevalent symptoms of fibromyalgia. Many of us try to counter our feelings of tiredness and fatigue with coffee and other beverages and foods high in caffeine.
It is a poor solution that backfires in the end, leaving sufferers of fibromyalgia feeling even more exhausted than ever when the initial caffeine rush finally diminishes.
Avoiding heavily caffeinated beverages and foods—coffee, tea, dark sodas, chocolate, etc.—can actually increase energy levels at a noticeable level within a short amount of time.
People with fibromyalgia who eliminate caffeine intake report markedly fewer headaches and greater energy in as little as one week.
One of the most effective ways to treat and cope with fibromyalgia is with appropriate attention to diet.
After reviewing the list of foods that seem to aggravate symptoms of fibromyalgia, we start to wonder what kinds of foods, then, are wise, healthy selections.
Doctors recommend a diet that includes fresh, colorful vegetables and fruits, packed with minerals and particularly high in antioxidants.
Some such favorable plant foods are broccoli, kale, spinach, mustard greens, asparagus, string beans, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and carrots as well as pears, apples, plums, papayas, cantaloupe, fresh berries and citrus fruits.
Your body can be strengthened and joint pain minimized with the right combination of regular exercise and foods that are rich in protein, like legumes and tofu, lean meats, fish and poultry.
Fatty fish like flounder, tuna, mackerel, salmon, herring and halibut can help to reduce joint and tissue inflammation in fibromyalgia sufferers and lend to a healthy cardiovascular system overall. Beans, peas and lentils are high in fiber and protein.
Whole grains—grains not stripped bare from natural fiber, minerals and vitamins during processing—are healthy in general, but are especially recommended for fibromyalgia sufferers.
These foods and food products should be free of any yeast that will cause or intensify joint pains.
They include old-fashioned, steel cut oats, barley, whole wheat, wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, spelt and air-popped popcorn.
Check the labels on food packages to be sure that the primary ingredients are in fact whole grains.
Nuts, seeds and plant-based oils help to support the operation of cells for healthier hair, skin and cognitive function.
People dealing with fibromyalgia may enjoy modest measurements of olive oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds.