While some people who suffer from fibromyalgia say symptoms can be alleviated by making dietary changes, there is no specific fibromyalgia diet or medical evidence that supports claims that dietary changes or supplements improve symptoms. However, many individuals swear to have found relief through such changes.
Fibromyalgia Dietary Guidelines
While no one diet is recommended for fibromyalgia patients, the general guidelines for fighting fibromyalgia through diet are based on eating healthy. This includes staying away from foods that cause:
- High blood sugar
- Or aggravate food allergies
- Digestive disorders
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal disorder and the cause is unknown. Symptoms can be similar to arthritis but it doesn't cause inflammation or damage to joints, muscles, or other tissues. Because there is no observable aberration in the muscle tissue, experts have labeled fibromyalgia a syndrome. This means the patient exhibits a group of symptoms and medical problems without finding an identifiable cause. Because of this, diagnosis often takes time.
Fibromyalgia Risk Factors
Symptoms associated with fibromyalgia usually appear in mid-life and often emerge during a time of stress. Here are the risk factors associated with fibromyalgia:
- Gender (80-90 percent women)
- Physical trauma
- Repetitive injuries
- Presence of certain rheumatic diseases
- Genetic predisposition
Symptoms of fibromyalgia are widespread and vary in severity. They can include muscular pain and tenderness to pressure in:
- Upper extremities
- Lower extremities
Other symptoms include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Early morning stiffness
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Temperature sensitivity
- Cognitive and memory problems
Example of a Fibromyalgia Diet
While medical experts don't recommend an accepted fibromyalgia diet, those suffering from the disorder continue to find relief through dietary changes. Nutrition does influence overall health and has been proven to fight:
- Ability to heal
While these dietary guidelines may provide relief for some they may need to be tweaked for others. It's best to ask your doctor for his/her recommendations.
- Refined carbs and replace them with whole grains
- Fried foods
- Red meat
- Skin and fat on meats and poultry
- Processed meats
- Regular cheese
- Caffeine (increases fatigue and may contribute to muscle pain)
- Carbonated soft drinks
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sugar use
- Fat: less than 10 percent of total calories should be from saturated fat and total fat intake should be no more than 20-35 percent of your total calories
- Coffee and tea
- Soluble dietary fiber: (approximately 14 grams per 1000 calories) Your total carbohydrate intake, from all foods, can vary between 30-55 percent of total calories.
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids
- Take in 20-40 percent of total calories in protein
- Whole fruits (In some people citrus fruits aggravate fibromyalgia symptoms)
- Reduced fat or fat-free milk or soy milk
- 8 glasses of water daily (herbal teas are fine too)
Planning Your Diet
One of the hardest things about any diet is making a plan you can stick to. When planning your day for following a fibromyalgia diet, include snacks like chopped vegetables and unsalted nuts or seeds. Fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of chronic diseases. If you have snacks ready to eat, it will help you avoid commercial, high-fat snacks which not only tend to be high in sodium but also contain trans fats.When you know you'll be out and about, try to eat just before you leave. Fast foods are not a good option for those who suffer from fibromyalgia. It's alright occasionally, but in the long run it is not worth the reoccurrence of symptoms. For fibromyalgia patients it is actually best to eat small meals throughout the day and in the evening a light meal is recommended to avoid digestive ailments.
As you make changes in your diet, keep a food diary and monitor your symptoms. This will help you identify your trigger foods so you can eliminate them from your diet and experience better health.