Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal disorder characterized by widespread muscle and joint pain, fatigue and sleep irregularities. It generally affects women, though the symptoms and severity can vary in different individuals. Not all patients experience symptomatic relief when they avoid certain foods, especially since fibromyalgia symptoms are diverse. However, fibromyalgia patients should eliminate certain food types from their diet for overall relief.
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, NutraSweet and saccharine can worsen fibromyalgia symptoms. Fibromyalgia sufferers tend to have highly active NMDA, or N-methyl-D-aspartic acid, pain receptors which cause the intense pain that they experience. Aspartame is an excitotoxin that stimulates the NMDA pain receptors in fibromyalgia patients. In a study published in the 2001 "Annals of Pharmacotherapy," researchers discovered that fibromyalgia patients who avoided aspartame experienced a general feeling of well being.
Food Additives and Preservatives
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, and nitrates are food additives used to enhance flavor and preserve many processed and frozen foods. MSG appears in some Asian food products, while nitrates act as preservatives in cold cuts like ham, bologna and bacon. Fibromyalgia sufferers have low tolerance levels towards MSG and nitrates, which are classified as excitotoxins that stimulate the NMDA pain receptors.
Vegetables from the nightshade family like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and green peppers can cause allergic reactions, and increase pain and discomfort in some fibromyalgia patients, according to a report from the Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey Institute for Wellness and Recovery Initiatives. Since nightshade vegetables are also very nutritious, you should identify the nightshade foods that cause allergies or pain. Start by eliminating all the nightshade foods for a period of two months, then slowly reintroduce them after this period, one at a time, to observe if the fibromyalgia symptoms return. If the foods do not trigger an allergic reaction, go ahead and eat them.
Yeast and Gluten
Yeast and gluten exacerbate yeast infections and gluten intolerance, respectively, in fibromyalgia patients. Yeast and gluten are generally found together in baked food products like bread, cakes and other pastries. Yeast aids fungus growth in the body and may result in joint and muscle pain, while fibromyalgia-related fatigue may lead to digestive disorders including gluten intolerance. A study in the April 2014 issue of "Rheumatology International" notes that gluten sensitivity or intolerance may be an underlying cause of fibromyalgia syndrome.