Fibromyalgia Diet: Food to Eat and Food to Avoid (Including Fibromyalgia Flare-up) – Science Based

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Fibromyalgia Diet: Food to Eat and Food to Avoid (Including Fibromyalgia Flare-up)

The fibromyalgia diet includes foods that help to reduce chronic pain, tender points, fatigue, and other symptoms of fibromyalgia. Whole foods, plenty of vegetables, and healthy fats are all part of the foods to eat on a fibromyalgia diet. There are also some supplements like omega-3, D-ribose, and turmeric that are good for fibromyalgia sufferers.


The fibromyalgia diet can also help to reduce the frequency and intensity of fibromyalgia flare-ups. Many doctors are of the opinion that some foods trigger fibromyalgia flare-ups. That is why the fibromyalgia diet also avoids certain foods containing sugar, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and other foods known to cause inflammation.

In this article, you will learn about the fibromyalgia diet and how eating the right foods can help manage your symptoms. At the end of the article, you will find out about natural ways to help prevent frequent fibromyalgia flare-ups.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic condition that causes widespread muscle pain, joint pain, and fatigue.

The journal Biomedicines describes fibromyalgia as a complex long-term disorder that has no known cause. Many researchers say that fibromyalgia could be caused by an abnormality in the way the brain processes pain. (1)

Signs of fibromyalgia include widespread pain with no discernible cause, sensitivity to touch, extreme fatigue, brain fog, mood disorders, and trouble sleeping.

Research into fibromyalgia reveals that almost all FM sufferers feel muscular pain, joint pain, facial tenderness, and headaches. Many people with fibromyalgia also have signs of impaired memory, difficulty concentrating, and nervousness. (2)

Doctors from WebMD say that fibromyalgia can feel like you have pulled muscles even though you haven’t been exercising. Sometimes the fibromyalgia muscle pain feels as sore as deep aching or burning, or the pain may feel light with some muscle twitching. (3)

With fibromyalgia, you may also feel like you have stiff, aching joints that make walking, sleeping, or exercising sore and painful.

Fibromyalgia pain can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). Chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia can last for many weeks and can greatly impact on your quality of life.

What is a Fibromyalgia Flare-Up?

Fibromyalgia flare-ups describe a sudden worsening of your symptoms that are usually caused by a trigger.

Fibromyalgia flare-ups can happen without warning; however, doctors from the National Health Service say that sometimes flare-ups can happen when you are exposed to something you are sensitive to. (4)

Many FM suffers say that a fibromyalgia flare-up can feel like a sudden increase in the intensity of your muscle or joint pain. During a fibromyalgia flare-up, you may feel that it is difficult to concentrate (fibro fog) and your mood drops significantly.

During fibromyalgia flare-ups, you may feel as if you don’t want to do anything at all, and even the simplest of tasks become difficult.

Signs of a fibromyalgia flare-up

The chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia usually comes and goes. However, flare-ups are inevitable and can leave you feeling depressed and discouraged.

The journal Pain Medicine reported that fibromyalgia flare-ups feel like as if you have the flu. Signs of a fibromyalgia flare-up include achy joints, extreme fatigue, sharp pain, and exhaustion. (5)

Fibromyalgia sufferers report that getting enough rest, resolving stress, and physical activity can help to feel better during a flare-up. (5)

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The Connection Between Fibromyalgia and Diet

Although there is no specific diet for fibromyalgia, there is a connection between the food you eat and symptoms of fibromyalgia.

To know which foods to avoid with fibromyalgia and which food to include in your diet, you should keep a food diary.

Doctors from WebMD warn that certain foods can aggravate fibromyalgia symptoms in some sufferers. For example, some foods that some people with fibromyalgia avoid are eggs, dairy products, gluten, and MSG. (6)

Foods to include on a fibromyalgia diet should include lean protein, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains (choose gluten-free grains such as quinoa, oats and brown rice). These types of foods help to give you energy and are good for your overall health.

For example, if eggs don’t aggravate your fibromyalgia symptoms, an egg in the morning with wholemeal bread can give you energy and prevent blood glucose spikes.

You may also want to add supplements like D-ribose, melatonin, turmeric, or omega-3 to your fibromyalgia diet.

Fibromyalgia Diets Should Include a Lot of Vegetables

A diet that helps you cope with chronic pain needs to include plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fresh vegetables are a storehouse of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that will boost your health.

Scientific research has also shown that the best diet for fibromyalgia should include vegetables.

The International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research reported that polyphenols (antioxidants) in fruits and vegetables can help manage fibromyalgia symptoms. One study involving 35 women with fibromyalgia found that increasing the number of polyphenol-rich foods help to reduce the number of tender points and improve quality of life. (7)

Another study showed that consuming a diet consisting of raw vegetables helped to improve chronic pain among fibromyalgic women. The fibromyalgia diet consisted of vegetable juices, grain products, nuts, seeds, and raw fruits. The women reported significant improvements in pain, morning stiffness, and quality of sleep. (8)

Other studies have shown that a strict vegan diet can help to prevent many symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. (9)

If you can’t go vegan or vegetarian, try to increase the number of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Also, try to reduce your intake of red meat and get as much of your protein as you can from nuts, lentils, beans, and quinoa.

Find out about more meat-free sources of protein that can help keep you healthy and may even reduce the number of fibromyalgia flare-ups.

Consume Whole Foods on the Fibromyalgia Diet

When choosing the best foods to eat if you have fibromyalgia, you should eat foods that have gone through as little processing as possible.

According to research published in 2015 on how to alleviate chronic arthritic pain, scientists found that whole foods can help improve the quality of life by helping to relieve pain. The study found that a whole-foods, plant-based diet was most effective. (10)

Doctors from WebMD say that a whole foods diet should include whole grains rather than refined grains. You should try to get your fiber, vitamins, and nutrient content from legumes, vegetables, and fruits. (11)

If you choose to eat meat, then opt for skinless chicken breast or other lean protein with fresh vegetables rather than processed, pre-prepared meat.

Consuming foods that have been processed as little as possible helps to ensure you get enough nutrients, fiber, and healthy fats in your diet.

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Learn more about the dangers of hidden sugar, sodium, and trans fats that are in processed foods and which aggravate chronic inflammation.

Include low-FODMAPS on the Fibromyalgia Diet

Depending on your symptoms, your fibromyalgia diet should contain foods that don’t cause a lot of fermentation in your digestive tract.

The term FODMAPS stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are a collection of simple and complex carbs that aren’t absorbed effectively in your gut and may cause digestive problems.

Fibromyalgia is associated with gastrointestinal upset that can cause irritable bowel syndrome. (12)

Research from 2017 found that a low-FODMAP diet can help alleviate digestive problems associated with fibromyalgia. One study found that overweight people with fibromyalgia on the low-FODMAP diet not only lost weight but their symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome greatly improved. (13)

Following the low-FODMAP diet for fibromyalgia involves eliminating all foods in the FODMAPS list and then gradually re-introducing them into your diet. This helps to identify foods that may aggravate your fibromyalgia symptoms.

Eat Magnesium and Calcium-Rich Foods on the Fibromyalgia Diet

Some of the best foods to eat if you have fibromyalgia should be rich in minerals like magnesium, calcium, manganese, and iron.

Scientists have discovered that people suffering from fibromyalgia tend to have lower levels of important minerals. Researchers from Korea found that people with fibromyalgia tend to have lower than normal levels of iron, calcium, magnesium, and manganese. (14)

These minerals are important to prevent muscle spasms, muscle pain and twitching, muscle weakness, and weak bones. Many of these symptoms are symptomatic of fibromyalgia. (14)

Learn more on how to prevent a magnesium deficiency naturally and where you can find the best sources of calcium from non-dairy products.

A healthy diet for fibromyalgia should also include natural sources of iron.

Choose Dairy Alternatives in the Fibromyalgia Diet

Many websites suggest that lactose found in dairy products can aggravate fibromyalgia symptoms. Although there is no direct research to support this, if diary consumption worsens your condition, then opt for dairy alternatives.

Some research actually points to the fact that moderate amounts of dairy products can benefit fibromyalgia suffers. One study involving over 480 women found that other good dietary habits that benefit fibromyalgia include eating vegetables and fish daily. (15)

However for some fibromyalgia sufferers, eliminating dairy from the diet has led to an improvement of their symptoms, whereas for others, dairy doesn’t seem to worsen fibromyalgia.

If you have fibromyalgia and also have a lactose intolerance, then avoiding dairy will help to alleviate many of your gastrointestinal symptoms. (16)

Fibromyalgia Diet Needs to Limit Refined Carbohydrates

It is good to avoid foods containing refined carbs if you have fibromyalgia. Foods containing added sugar and refined grains (white flour) are not recommended on the fibro diet.

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Research published in 2017 found that restricting some carbohydrates and eliminating others can help to put many fibromyalgia symptoms into remission. Simple carbs can disrupt the microbiota in the gut that leads to low serotonin levels. Scientists say that this can trigger fibromyalgia flare-ups. (17)

Other studies indicate that consuming fewer carbohydrates and getting more energy from protein in the diet can benefit fibromyalgia sufferers. You will also find that you lose weight at the same time. (18)

Learn more about the function of carbs and how healthy, complex carbohydrates can be a good source of vitamins and fiber.

Switch to Healthy Fats on the Fibromyalgia Diet

One way to help prevent inflammation in your body that can lead to chronic pain is to include healthy fats in your diet.

A healthy, well-balanced diet should include fats because they are a source of energy and help to absorb vitamins and minerals.

Studies into the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil have found that it can help prevent oxidative stress if you have fibromyalgia. The study involved women who consumed 50 ml of extra virgin olive oil daily for 3 weeks. Scientists noted a significant improvement in their blood samples showing that olive oil helps prevent oxidative DNA damage. (19)

Many researchers have noted that oxidative stress markers are often present during fibromyalgia flare-ups. (20)

Learn more about the amazing anti-inflammatory properties of extra virgin olive oil.

Supplements for Fibromyalgia

As well as choosing the right foods for a fibromyalgia diet, you could also supplement your diet with nutrients to help prevent flare-ups.

Some research suggests that supplements can help deal with the long-term symptoms of fibromyalgia. (21)

D-Ribose for Fibromyalgia

D-ribose is a type of sugar that can help prevent muscle pain, cramping, and stiffness in people with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.

One clinical trial found that supplementing the diet with D-ribose helped fibromyalgia sufferers get more energy, remove fibro fog, sleep better and reduce pain. (22)

Learn more about the benefits of D-ribose supplements in your diet if you have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.

Add Omega-3 Supplements to a Fibromyalgia Diet

Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation in your body and can improve your cardiovascular health.

Research published in 2018 found that a fibromyalgia diet plan should contain omega-3 supplements. Chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain and joint inflammation are common in fibromyalgia. Low levels of omega-3 EPA are often symptomatic with chronic fatigue and muscle pain. (23)

Learn more about the many health benefits of adding omega-3 to your diet to help reduce pain and inflammation.

Turmeric for Fibromyalgia Diet

Turmeric is good for fibromyalgia because it helps reduce and manage chronic pain and inflammation. This is mainly due to curcumin which is the main active ingredient in turmeric.

Although there is little research on the effects of turmeric on fibromyalgia symptoms, doctors from WebMD say that curcumin helps relieve pain. (24)

Turmeric can also help to relieve brain fog, improve mood, reduce fatigue, and prevent oxidative stress. (25)

Find out more about this amazing spice that can help to transform your health.

Creatine

Supplementing your fibromyalgia diet with creatine can help to improve muscle function in fibromyalgia.

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One randomized placebo-controlled trial found that over a 16-week period, creatine supplementation helped to improve upper and lower-body muscle function in people with fibromyalgia. (26)

Melatonin

Taking melatonin supplements along with foods for fibromyalgia can help deal with chronic pain and make you sleep better.

Various studies have shown that melatonin has an analgesic effect in helping to alleviate chronic fibromyalgia pain. (27)

Also, melatonin supplements can help improve sleep patterns in people with fibromyalgia. (28)

Co Enzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

This nutrient acts as an antioxidant, which protects cells from oxidative damage and plays an important role in metabolism. However fibromyalgia sufferers seem to have lower levels of CoQ10 (39, 40).

A study published on PLoS One on 2012 found that 20 fibromyalgia patients that receive CoQ10 supplementation had a significant improvement in clinical and headache symptoms. (41)

In another study, fibromyalgia patients received 100 mg CoQ10 per day for 12 weeks and this improved chronic fatigue scores. (42)

Foods to Avoid with Fibromyalgia

One way to help lessen the frequency and intensity of fibromyalgia flares is to avoid foods that can cause inflammation and aggravate chronic pain.

Avoid Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners if You Have Fibromyalgia

Sugar and “hidden sugars” are some of the foods that can trigger fibromyalgia pain.

The journal Frontiers in Medicine explains why most fibromyalgia diets recommend the exclusion of sugar from the diet. Sugars like fructose, sucrose, and glucose cause changes in the gut that can affect hormones in the body. This can lead to low serotonin synthesis and trigger fibromyalgia symptoms. (29)

Many artificial sweeteners also contain sorbitol which affects serotonin hormones in a similar way to sugar. (29)

Learn how to add sweetness to your foods and drinks naturally by using fresh or dried stevia leaves.

Try Cutting Out Gluten on the Fibromyalgia Diet

Some researchers have found that there is a link between gluten and fibromyalgia.

The journal Rheumatology International reported in 2017 that gluten sensitivity may be an underlying cause of some fibromyalgia symptoms. Scientists observed that fibromyalgia symptoms in some patients who didn’t have celiac disease improved when gluten was removed from the diet. (30)

Other studies seem to confirm the link between fibromyalgia and gluten, as many fibromyalgia patients also show signs of gluten sensitivity. (31)

Do you know how to spot the signs of suffering from gluten sensitivity? Learn how you can add quinoa to your fibromyalgia diet to avoid gluten and increase your protein intake.

Fibromyalgia Diet Needs to Avoid Foods that Cause Inflammation

Just as there are some foods that help to reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia, so there are other foods that can cause fibromyalgia flare-ups.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School report that inflammatory foods include fried foods, sugary sodas, margarine, refined carbs, and red meat. (32)

These unhealthy foods may not only aggravate your fibromyalgia symptoms but also have a detrimental impact on your health.

Stay Away From Foods With MSG

Make sure that foods in your fibromyalgia diet don’t contain the food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG).

One study involving 57 people with fibromyalgia found that removing MSG and aspartame from the diet resulted in a significant improvement of their irritable bowel symptoms. (33)

The journal Future Medicine also reported that MSG has been linked to chronic pain in fibromyalgia sufferers. (34)

Find out more MSG and some of the other dangerous ingredients that can be lurking in your food.

Natural Treatments for Fibromyalgia

It is important to find ways to manage your symptoms and fibromyalgia flare-ups. A fibromyalgia diet plan specific to your dietary needs and condition can help to alleviate many of the symptoms.

Let’s look at what scientific research says about other ways to treat fibromyalgia and chronic pain naturally.

Exercise

A meta-analysis of trials involving the benefits of exercise for fibromyalgia showed promising results. Most studies show that increasing physical exercise can help to reduce chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia. Increasing physical activity can have an overall positive effect on general health and improve feelings of well-being. (35)

Researchers recommended exercise regimes specific to each person with fibromyalgia, as FM patients may be in pain or poor physical shape.

Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential to prevent aggravating your fibromyalgia condition and lessen the number of flare-ups.

Scientists have found that poor sleeping habits can increase pain in fibromyalgia sufferers and healthy persons alike. Sleep dysfunction can be a cause of chronic widespread pain and also reduce a person’s ability to cope with pain. (36)

Researchers also noticed that sleep deprivation can be a fibromyalgia trigger.

Relaxation techniques

Stress is a well-known fibromyalgia trigger and therefore, knowing how to relax is an important tool for managing chronic pain.

The Clinical Journal of Pain reported that yoga techniques can be a beneficial way to alleviate stress and learn how to relax. 31% of patients who practiced yoga experienced improvement in their symptoms. (37)

Other ways to treat fibromyalgia

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend spending extra time relaxing to cope with fibromyalgia flare-ups better. Some ways to help fibromyalgia naturally can include deep-breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and visualization. (38)

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