In an article entitled "Fibromyalgia the Diet Connection" that appeared on WebMD, Michael McNett, MD, who directs the Fibromyalgia Treatment Centers of America, says that fibromyalgia is not one specific illness. Rather, "Fibromyalgia is more like a symptom complex, and different people appear to have different reasons why they get this symptom complex," he says. "So what works for one person very frequently does not work for another." However, many people are finding relief by changing their diet.
Fibromyalgia affects nearly 4% of the American population, and most sufferers are women. It is typified by muscle and joint pain and overwhelming fatigue. Unfortunately, people who suffer from this disease can never get enough rest to feel relief.
Nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD, who also appeared in the same article on WebMd, recommends eating a diet low in saturated fats. Lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables are also recommended.
The journal of <i>Complementary and Alternative Medicine</i> published a study in 2001 that stated people who ate either a vegetarian diet or a whole foods diet found that their fibromyalgia symptoms decreased.
When following a vegetarian diet, look for alternatives to meat for good sources of protein. Legumes like pinto beans, kidney beans, navy beans, black beans, are all beneficial. Lentils are also recommended.
Other good protein sources include: nuts, seeds, chicken, turkey, seafood, fish, eggs, and whole grains. Eating lean fish and eggs also provides extra omega-3 fatty acids into the diet.
Select vegetables that are dark green like spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, and broccoli for extra nutrients. Other good vegetables include squash, cauliflower, celery, carrots, corn, green beans, wax beans, and peas. Choose fresh fruits like apples, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, cranberries, blackberries, and raspberries.
Sweeteners containing aspartame should be avoided because aspartame can aggravate fibromyalgia symptoms. Aspartame can help to stimulate pain receptors in the nervous system.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG), food additives, and nitrates should not be used. Foods that may contain these substances include some Asian foods, ham, bologna, and bacon. Food additives can also increase the stimulation of pain receptors.
Chronic yeast infections are frequently a secondary symptom of fibromyalgia. Foods that can exacerbate the spread of yeast are sugar, fructose, and simple carbohydrates. Yeasts can also add to chronic yeast infections and should not be eaten by fibromyalgia patients. Sugars in the blood also cause fatigue, a side effect that fibromyalgia sufferers want to avoid.
Foods and beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, sodas, and chocolate, should also be avoided. The quick burst of energy provided by these drinks can turn into a hard crash, leaving the fibromyalgia sufferer extremely tired.
Although tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplants have been associated with arthritis flares, they are high in nutritional value and should be eaten if they do not seem to trigger pain.
Supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids are useful to help relieve fibromyalgia symptoms. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids are fish oil, flaxseed, walnuts, and eggs. Taking a good multi-vitamin is also an important way to relieve symptoms.