Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition where sufferers experience widespread pain that can be significantly debilitating. The pain is worse in certain parts of the body called tender points.
According to the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA), 10 million people in the United States alone suffer from the condition. As much as six percent of the world’s population suffers from fibromyalgia. At least three percent of the entire world’s population is affected by this syndrome.
Women are the highest demographic group to get the condition, according to the NFA, with approximately 75 percent to 90 percent of those afflicted being female. Men can also get fibromyalgia and children have also been diagnosed with the syndrome.
There is no known cause of fibromyalgia. It’s a difficult condition to treat since symptoms can vary drastically among those who have it.
Fibromyalgia can’t be cured, but the symptoms can be treated to make life more manageable and fulfilling.
There are a variety of fibromyalgia medications. Those who have the condition can also try alternative therapies and make lifestyle changes to help manage the symptoms. One of the biggest and most effective lifestyle changes is diet.
There’s no scientific evidence that proves a single diet plan will eliminate or reduce fibromyalgia symptoms.
The medical director of the Holtorf Medical Group Center for Endocrine, Neurological and Infection Related Illness in Torrance, California, Dr. Kent Holtorf, says that the medical community is aware that diet plays a role in the syndrome and severity of the symptoms. Unfortunately it’s not clear exactly how and not every diet will help everyone in the same way.
That said, there are certain foods and food groups that seem to make a difference in the severity of fibromyalgia symptoms for a large number of those who have the condition.
Here are the top five foods that seem to make symptoms worse. Eliminating them from your diet may reduce the severity of the fibromyalgia symptoms you experience.
This artificial sweetener seems to stimulate NMDA pain receptors which increase feelings of pain.
A 2006 study published in the Journal of Rheumatology showed that fibromyalgia patients already had more NMDA receptors in their skin and generally more activity in their peripheral nerves which made them more susceptible to experiencing pain.
The artificial flavor enhancer MSG seemed to have similar results according to a 2001 study published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy.
2. Simple Carbohydrates and Sugar
White bread and sugary foods seem to impact the severity of fibromyalgia symptoms as well as associated conditions like chronic yeast infections.
It is thought that the fungus that causes yeast infections thrives on sugar and that sugar causes a spike in blood sugar. When the spike drops dramatically, the fatigue experienced by all fibromyalgia sufferers appears worse.
3. Food Additives
The chemical properties of any artificial flavor enhancer seem to also increase sensitivity in NMDA pain receptors and intensify pain symptoms.
Flavor enhancers can be found in a variety of canned foods, canned soups and even cold meats like bologna or ham lunch meats. Flavor enhancers are added to bacon and even some frozen foods.
Many pre-made types of Asian foods contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), one well-known flavor enhancer that negatively impacts the health of both fibromyalgia patients and non-fibromyalgia patients.
4. Nightshade Plants
Some medical experts say that nightshade plants trigger fibromyalgia flares and even arthritis flares. The reason why isn’t known, but many doctors have seen an improvement in fibromyalgia patients who have cut or reduced food from these types of plants from their diet.
Foods that come from nightshade plants include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers and chili peppers.
Many fibromyalgia sufferers make the mistake of turning to caffeine as a pick-me-up to fight fatigue. The caffeine high is usually followed by a period of time where fatigue seems worse, which leads the sufferer to drink more caffeine. Medical experts say that in fibromyalgia sufferers, caffeine can cause deeper and longer-lasting fatigue.
Cut chocolate, tea, coffee and colas from your diet and you’ll likely notice a change in your fatigue level within a week.