Maintaining a good healthy diet and ensuring that you are getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals is an essential part of managing your fibromyalgia.
While there is not much in the way of concrete research evidence in this area, there is a huge amount of anecdotal evidence that suggests that there are many foods that can affect fibromyalgia symptoms. According to the journal Clinical Rheumatology, around half of fibromyalgia patients reported that their symptoms worsened after eating certain foods. Eating well, and where necessary, taking supplements, will help with your quality of life, not just with fibromyalgia, but all aspects of your health and well-being.
A lot of benefit can be gained from improving your diet, particularly in terms of the reduction in pain levels, fatigue and gastric complaints like IBS and bloating. Studies have shown the increases in body weight leads to increases in the severity of fibromyalgia symptoms. As well as watching the quality of your food intake, it is very important to balance your calorie intake with the amount of energy that you are expending to avoid weight gain.
Maintaining a well balance and healthy diet is important for everyone. If you have fibromyalgia it is a good idea to pay attention to how what you eat and drink makes you feel. As well as making sure that you eat healthy food, many people find that they are intolerant to certain food types, or that certain foods affect their fibromyalgia symptoms.
Foods that fibromyalgia patients are commonly intolerant to include MSG, preservatives, like sulphur-dioxide in wine, food additives, eggs, fatty foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, red meat, 'gassy' foods like cabbage and onions, gluten, dairy, chili, and the nightshade family (potatoes, tomatoes etc.).
- Aspartame: an artificial sweetener found in a large percentage of foods, even ones that you wouldn't normally associate with sugars. Also known as Equal and NutriSweet. Ingesting too much aspartame can cause similar symptoms to fibromyalgia.
- Caffeine: It may seem like a good idea to drink a lot of coffee when you are tired all the time, but caffeine is known to reduce the quality of sleep, which can make your fibromyalgia symptoms worse.
- Dairy: Many people are lactose intolerant. People with fibromyalgia who have food intolerances often find that they compound the severity of their symptoms.
- Fats: As well as causing increase body weight and therefore symptoms, many people with fibromyalgia find that digestive symptoms are worsened by eating fatty foods, particularly foods with dairy fats.
- Gluten: Intolerance to gluten, found in wheat, barley and rye products, is common with fibromyalgia patients. Whilst you may not need to eliminate gluten all altogether, you may find benefits to reducing your intake. There are tests available to check for illnesses like Coeliac Disease.
- Preservatives and Flavor Enhancers: Most processed foods contain flavor enhancers, like MSG, and preservatives, as well as large amounts of salt and/or sugar. It may be a good idea to avoid pre-packaged foods that contain these substances.
- Salt: Salt can cause increased pain and swelling in some fibromyalgia patients.
- Sugar: Like caffeine, you may think that sugar will give you more energy. However, sugar is a type of carbohydrate and can cause weight gain. This is a big issue with fibromyalgia patients due to the reduced ability to exercise. Sugar can lead to weight gain, which in turn leads to increased severity of symptoms.
Many fibromyalgia patents also have irritable bowel syndrome, which brings into play a whole new selection of food issues. Things that clog you up. Things that do the opposite. Things that bloat you. An elimination diet can help narrow down suspect foods.
If you suspect that your symptoms are aggravated by certain foods, keep a 'food diary'. That is simply a diary of everything that you eat and the effects, or symptom changes, that you experience. You will soon see patterns emerging. Another option is to do an 'elimination diet'. Stop eating certain foods completely and see if your symptoms improve. Again, you need to keep track of everything in a diary. There are many diets that are popular with people who have fibromyalgia. The "FODMAP" diet is one here
There are also foods that may improve your fibromyalgia symptoms. Fish that is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, dark green leafy vegetables and fruit that is high in vitamins A, E and C, lean meat that is high in iron and B12, and colourful vegetables that are high in anti-oxidants.
Eating too much of anything can also trigger fibromyalgia symptoms. Whether it is spices like chili, onions or garlic, fat, sugar, caffeine, moderation can help a great deal. By paying close attention to what you eat and how it affects your symptoms can lead to big improvements in the quality of your life.
Common Fibromyalgia Supplements
Supplements can benefit many areas of your life and help with some fibro symptoms. Here are some of the supplements that fibromyalgia patients commonly take…
Magnesium is taken to help reduce cramps, leg pain and restless legs. It is also credited with keeping the heart, kidneys and bones strong. Magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Magnesium oil is another way of getting magnesium into your system. Rubbed into muscles that are about to be exercised, or into painful areas,can help reduce pain.
Vitamin B Complex taken in conjunction with magnesium, can reduce pain levels. Recent studies have shown that a lack of Vitamin B may contribute to fibromyalgia. B-complex contains folic acid, riboflavin and thiamine. They help reduce the risk of inflammation, increase the metabolism, enhance the immune system and maintain muscle tone. There are different forms of vitamin B. B12 can be adminsitered in many ways and levels can be checked by blood tests. Vitamin B12, vitamin B12 or vitamin B-12, also called cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. It is one of the eight B vitamins.
Vitamin D is essential for building good, strong bones. Studies have shown a strong correlation between fibro and low vitamin D. Low vitamin D is also associated with depression, anxiety and muscle pain. Because of trends to reduce exposure to harmful UV rays from the sun, it has been found that many Australians are vitamin D deficient.
Anti-oxidants including Omega 3 Fatty Acids – neutralise chemical byproducts of medications and foods that you put into your body. Studies have shown that anti-oxidants reduce the risk of cardio-vascular disease, and can reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia and other illnesses including depression and arthritis. Krill oil is becoming a very popular way to take anti-oxidants. You only need to take a single gel-cap per day instead of the six to eight old fish oil capsules.
Calcium is also important for strong bones and teeth. Generally, our calcium intake is reduced because of our tendency to cut down on dairy products to reduce our calorie intake.
Melatonin can help you get into a good sleep rhythm. It acts like a calmative.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is utilised in every cell of the body in the production of energy. Fibromyalgia patients often have low levels. Taking statin medications to reduce cholesterol levels blocks the production of CoQ10 as wll. It's important to talk to your phamasist or doctor about CoQ10.
S-adenosymethionine (SAMe) is a compound that the body naturally produces to aid the immune system. It also helps maintain cell membranes and assists in the production and breakdown of neurotransmitters. It also plays a role in the formation of cartilage and DNA. It is obviously very important to our systems. Studies have shown that taking it helps decrease pain, fatigue, depression, morning stiffness and helps with mood and general fibro symptoms. There are quite a few contraindications, so make sure that you check with your doctor on this one.
5-HTP is a molecule that the brain absorbs and converts to serotonin.
Some supplements can interact with medications, affecting how they work, and causing side effects. Make sure that you check with your medical professional before taking them. SAMe, 5-HTP, melatonin and tryptophan are just some that can interact with anti-depressants and cause serious side effects.