More than four million people in the United States have fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is characterized by pain all over the body, chronic fatigue, sleep, memory problems, and mood swings.
Although doctors don’t usually include dietary changes in fibromyalgia treatment, some people report that certain foods can actually worsen their pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia.
It’s essential to know patterns and find out what affects you and do an elimination diet. Keeping a food diary will help you track which foods might provoke your fibromyalgia symptoms. But some types of food tend to worsen pain in most fibromyalgia patients. Let’s look at them:
1. Fried chicken
A plate of fried chicken can have unpleasant effects on your body and provoke overall inflammation. Although fibromyalgia is considered an inflammatory condition, that inflammation can still increase pain-like symptoms. That’s why it’s a good idea to eliminate any type of fried foods from the diet as much as possible.
Consider getting fats from healthy foods that contain unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and a variety of plant-based oils. These fats are known to combat inflammation and boost overall health. The good sources include nuts, seeds, avocados, fatty fish, and oils like safflower, sunflower, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado.
Foods rich in refined carbs, such as cookies, breads, pastries, and pasta might taste good, however, their high glycemic index can lead to blood sugar spikes which causes inflammation as well.
Unlike foods made of whole wheat that are digested much more slowly, refined carbs break down quickly, making your blood sugar rise and drop quickly. Those aggressive fluctuations can exacerbate fatigue and pain linked to fibromyalgia. Start with quinoa and brown rice. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are also good sources of complex carbohydrates that can be used.
3. Potato chips
Potato chips or any other processed foods possibly contain one key ingredient that’s often linked to pain — glutamate. This additive is often used as a harmless flavor enhancer that you can find in its salt form, known as monosodium glutamate (MSG). some people report that their symptoms, especially musculoskeletal pain, get worse when they’re eating foods containing a lot of MSG.
Glutamate and pain have been linked in studies, which have found higher levels of glutamate in some fibromyalgia sufferers compared to healthy controls. This could be due to the fact that glutamate acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter that sends messages within the brain and nervous system.
If your pain increases as you eat glutamate-containing foods, always check the product labels at the grocery store for words like monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and yeast extract.
4. Aged cheeses
Cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, and Roquefort cheese are other known sources of glutamate. One 100-gram serving of Parmesan cheese contains 1,600 milligrams of glutamate. But remember that glutamate might not be your culprit, dairy can be to blame as well. Try replacing cheese with avocado. Though it doesn’t work for every recipe, it’s a great option for breakfast sandwiches. Plus, you’re getting healthy fats and crucial minerals.
5. Flavored yogurt
Many people still believe that various flavored yogurts are a healthy option. But in reality, flavored yogurts are full of sugar from the syrups used for the flavoring. Some low-calorie yogurts even have artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.
Although there’s no evidence that sugar can exacerbate fibromyalgia pain, some people have noticed that cutting out refined sugars lessened their fibromyalgia symptoms. Sugar aggravates blood sugar spikes and adrenal issues, yeast (Candida) overgrowth, and nutritional deficiencies that can make fibromyalgia worse.
The Bottom Line
Healthy dietary choices may improve fibromyalgia, but there is no guarantee they help for sure. If you find your symptom is getting worse but nothing seems to help, talk to a pain doctor or physician to try other available options. Pain due to fibromyalgia can be overwhelming, so don’t stop looking for other treatments that might help you feel better.