For those who may be unfamiliar, fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain and spinal cord process painful and nonpainful signals. Fibromyalgia is tough to diagnose because it encompasses so many different symptoms that some medical professionals refuse to acknowledge its validity.
Fibromyalgia is a real condition that millions of people suffer from, some of who we help in our clinic! For everyone, but especially people with fibromyalgia, what you fuel your body with is incredibly important and has a direct effect on your health and quality of life. Here are some foods you should make sure to include or to avoid if you have fibromyalgia or any of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia:
Vitamin D is a common deficiency among adults, including those with fibromyalgia. But getting enough of the nutrient is especially important for people with this disease, as it has been found to help reduce pain. Vitamin D can be found naturally in some breeds of fish, particularly those that live in cold water environments, such as swordfish, tuna, and sockeye salmon. These foods aren’t the only way to up your vitamin D intake, though. Sun exposure is also an excellent source, although it’s important to be mindful about always protecting your skin with SPF against harmful rays. Not only do fish contain vitamin D, but they also have Omega-3 fatty acids. This is important for people with fibromyalgia because it may reduce levels of oxidative stress, as well as lower levels of inflammation, and boost immunity. This is found in more wild-caught fish, like salmon.
- Beans, nuts, and seeds!
Fish are not the only source of Omega-3 fatty acids, these can be found in seeds and nuts as well! This is another great place to get the healthy fats our bodies need. Not only that, but much like vitamin D, magnesium has also been found to reduce pain in those with fibromyalgia. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of foods that are rich in this mineral. Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are among the best sources. Magnesium can also be found in beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, avocados, bananas, dark chocolate, and fatty fish. Eating three servings of magnesium a day could potentially help ease fibromyalgia symptoms!
- Colorful foods!
Why does it matter what color our food is? Well, color is a great indicator of how nutrient rich our food is! If it’s a beige color, chances are it did not grow in nature and is deep fried or processed. Colorful foods tend to contain antioxidants, like berries, peppers, beets, carrots, spinach, and kale. Earlier, we mentioned the term ‘oxidative stress,’ which is defined as “…when the body doesn’t produce enough antioxidants to battle cell-damaging free radicals in the body.” How do you combat oxidative stress? But increasing your intake of foods that are rich in antioxidants! Fortunately, they can be found in abundance in a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Now that we’ve talked about the nutrients that are important to a fibromyalgia diet (and the sources in which to find them), let’s delve into the foods you should avoid. The #1 ingredient that people with fibromyalgia are sensitive to is MSG. Sensitivity to a certain ingredient can cause intestinal inflammation. Inflammation is the protective response of body tissue to irritation or injury that may be acute or chronic and is mediated by multiple chemical messengers including taglandins, histamines, and cytokines. This causes discomfort, pain, low energy levels, among other symptoms. To reduce or eliminate your intake of MSG it’s best to avoid prepackaged foods as much as possible and instead focus on consuming whole foods like those we mentioned earlier. It’s also important to take note of restaurants that have chosen not to use MSG in their preparation.
This one is a bummer because so many of us rely on caffeine (to an unhealthy extent) to get us through the day. This is not just in coffee, but also in any other caffeinated beverages you consume throughout the day, including tea, energy drinks, and soda. Why? Because caffeine can contribute to commonly experienced fibromyalgia symptoms like restless sleep and insomnia, anxiety, muscle tremors, and depression. You should be mindful of places in which it may be hidden, such as over-the-counter pain medications, chocolate bars, diet pills, and even some processed foods. These are symptoms you do not want to enhance or exacerbate if you can avoid them!
- Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners include aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose—as these additives can act as excitotoxin molecules, a chemical group that has the ability to activate neurons that increase sensitivity to pain. Marketed as a ‘healthy’ alternative to sugar, aspartame can be found in a wide array of foods and beverages, including diet drinks, yogurts, and chewing gum. Artificial sweeteners have also been linked to certain cancers and other physiological problems and are best to be steered away from all together!
The food we eat is extremely important for many reasons. If you are someone with fibromyalgia, the food you eat could be adding to or worsening your symptoms. It’s responsible for the energy we have, the sleep we get, all of the things that keep us surviving and thriving! Your body’s cells change very often and it’s good to think of the food you eat as the bricks you are laying for your body. This is the motivation that I need to put good things into my body, I may want to eat fast food but I don’t want my cells to be made from fast food!
Overall, eat healthier!
Take these tips into consideration next time you are deciding what to eat. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our office in Cranston, RI! We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Despres Published on May 22, Rachel, and Health Check Certified By: Julie Ching. “Fibromyalgia Diet: Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid.” ActiveBeat, 31 Aug. 2020, www.activebeat.com/diet-nutrition/fibromyalgia-diet-4-foods-to-eat-and-8-to-avoid/?segment=active3&s1aid=6470481511&s1cid=12345830125&s1agid=117742671245&s1kid=dsa-430580951228&utm_source=adwords&category=Health&gclid=Cj0KCQjw9YWDBhDyARIsADt6sGaJEb4Q7FtZlPtc-ruXrLRyrQMpd6bf06YoSbOFfAVh4IdT4l_aEeMaAtWGEALw_wcB.
“Fibromyalgia.” Physician’s Diagnostics & Rehabilitation Clinics, pdrclinics.com/2018/12/fibromyalgia-self-care/.
Liptan, Ginevra. Figuring out Fibromyalgia: Current Science and the Most Effective Treatments. Visceral Books, 2011.
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