Food and Fibromyalgia can be a tricky subject. There is no doubt that diet plays an important role for everyone, but because many people with Fibromyalgia have been told that their diet is the only reason they have symptoms, it becomes a very sensitive topic. I think it is important to recognize that the perfect diet does not “cure” Fibromyalgia, but it can help alleviate some of the symptoms.
For people with Fibromyalgia, diet and supplements can help with combating some of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia including pain, fatigue, brain fogginess, irritable bowel issues, and so forth.
In this article, I’m going to discuss Five Foods that help Fight Fibromyalgia Symptoms. While these tend to be healthy choices in general, you should still check with your doctor before starting a major diet change and should obviously avoid foods if you are allergic or sensitive to them.
All right, I know water is a technically a drink and not a food, but it is still a necessary form of nourishment for us to be healthy. As a result, I’m not only including it as one of my Five Foods that Help Fight Fibromyalgia Symptoms, I’m putting it as the Number 1 most important item.
Water can help combat symptoms of muscle spasms and cramps (especially when caused by dehydration) and can help purify your body overall leading to an increase in oxygen circulation and better absorption of nutrients. All of these are highly beneficial side effects for those of us with Fibromyalgia.
The daily recommended dose of water varies depending on your body makeup, your weight, how lean your body mass is, how strenuous your exercise routine is and what the weather is like can all come into play when determining the proper amount of water to drink. The USDA doesn’t have a specific recommendation for quantity, they simply state that drinking water when thirsty, when sweating profusely, and with meals regularly will ensure sufficient water intake.
*Interesting Side Note: Needing to Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day is a MYTH
For Fibromyalgia patients, this may be a little different. The quantity is still determined the same way, but drinking water at mealtimes should be limited, because it may actually interfere with digestion, potentially leading to an exacerbation of digestive and bowel symptoms.
#2: Lean Proteins and Fatty Fishes
Lean proteins are essential for providing amino acids, which are needed to build and rebuild muscle and connective tissue cells. Lean proteins include foods like white-meat poultry (not fried), fish, legumes, and tofu.
Additionally, fatty fishes (tuna, herring, trout, salmon, flounder) and plant-based oils (olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil) and nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc.) contain Omega 3’s and Vitamin B complex, which helps minimize nerve sensitivity, improve cognition, reduce inflammation, improve heart health and improve absorption of nutrients.
With the SAD diet, many people eat fried chicken and red meats like pork and beef. These are very high in saturated fats, which interferes with blood circulation and creates “bad” cholesterol.
For people with Fibromyalgia, eating more lean proteins and especially items with Omega 3’s will help reduce the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue, brain fogginess, overall inflammation, incomplete digestion of foods, and joint stiffness and pain.
In general, an adult should eat 2 to 3 servings of fish per week or about 1-2 tablespoons of fish oil daily to obtain the benefits from the Omega-3 Fatty Acids found in the fatty fishes and nuts.
#3: Fresh Fruits
Fruits that are particularly rich in antioxidants and vitamins include blueberries, cherries, tomatoes, strawberries, oranges, cantaloupe, apples, pears, bananas, papayas, and plums.
In general, eating the daily recommended serving of fruits entails having a ¼ of each meal dedicated to different types of fruits OR having snacks that focus on fruits. This allows you to visually determine the proper amount for you.
For those of us with Fibromyalgia, eating the typical serving of anti-oxidant fruits can actually help prevent the physical and mental symptoms from getting worse, while strengthening the immune system. Fruits are also high in fiber, so they can help with constipation and IBS symptoms as well.
#4: Fresh Vegetables
Vegetables like kale, spinach and bell peppers are very high in antioxidants. While vegetable like spinach, broccoli, squash and carrots are high in fiber.
Eating fresh vegetables offers the same benefits as fresh fruits and the daily recommended amount to eat is also ¼ of your plate or food intake for the day.
One important note though: for people with Fibromyalgia it might be a good idea to avoid potatoes, bell peppers, and eggplant because they contain solanine, which can inhibit enzymes in the muscles leading to more pain.
Whole grains are filled with vitamins, minerals, and fiber that help improve the immune system and provide energy without inflammation. Eating a diet rich in whole grains is very beneficial.
On the other hand, eating enriched flour, sugary cereals, white breads, donuts, flour tortillas, and other processed snack foods lead to muscle and tissue inflammation and ultimately more pain for people with Fibromyalgia. However, by avoiding these and selecting whole grains, people with Fibromyalgia benefit from additional energy and a stronger immune system.
Some examples of whole grains include whole wheat, barley, old fashioned oats, wild rice, brown rice, and air popped popcorn.
Has anyone else found these food types to be helpful in combating Fibromyalgia symptoms?
Alive.com. “Are you Chronically dehydrated?” http://www.alive.com/articles/view/17570/are_you_chronically_dehydrated
Choose My Plate.com “FAQ’s” http://www.choosemyplate.gov/faqs.html
Livestrong.com, “Proper Foods to Eat for Fibromyalgia” http://www.livestrong.com/article/268002-proper-foods-to-eat-for-fibromyalgia/
National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Fibromyalgia syndrome improved using a mostly raw vegetarian diet: An observational study.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC57816/
University of Maryland Medical Center “Fibromyalgia” http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/fibromyalgia-000061.htm
PubMed.gov “Vegan Diet Alleviates Fibromayalgia Symptoms” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11093597 (Study and Results by Kaartinen K, Lammi K, Hypen M, Nenonen M, Hanninen O, Rauma AL 2000; 29: 308-313)