The Connection Between Fibromyalgia & Food
It is commonly accepted, and scientifically proven, that a healthy diet can have a positive effect on overall health. Similarly, what you eat can play a role in how you experience fibromyalgia—possibly triggering flare-ups and/or providing relief. Diet, therefore, is often discussed along with other non-pharmacologic (non-medication) treatments for fibromyalgia.
Although there is no specific diet for all fibromyalgia sufferers, it has been shown that vegetarian diets tend to help fibromyalgia. Researches suspect that this is because such diets are low in fat and protein, and high in fibre, beta carotene, vitamin C, and minerals and antioxidants.
Fibromyalgia Nutritional Research
The following provides an overview of recent research into nutrients that may be beneficial additions to a fibromyalgia diet:
- Antioxidants as part of a diet to help fibromyalgia: Antioxidants are molecules that stop oxidation (a chemical reaction that can produce something called free radicals that can damage cells). The body’s antioxidant system provides defense to keep these free radicals in check. Dietary antioxidants help our bodies to maintain our antioxidant systems. Examples of antioxidants are vitamins C, A, E, and melatonin to name a few. There may be a relationship between higher oxidation and the occurrence of fibromyalgia symptoms, but further research is needed in this area.
- Ferritin and iron as part of a fibromyalgia diet: There has been research into a possible connection between fibromyalgia symptoms and low blood levels of iron and ferritin (the storage form of iron). Iron is important in the formation of serotonin and dopamine, chemicals in the brain that are involved in pain perception. However, there is no evidence at this time that iron supplementation would help in the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms.
- Amino acids in the fibromyalgia diet: Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and make up a large part of human muscles and cells. There has been some research showing that patients with fibromyalgia seem to have lower levels of certain amino acids in their blood.
- Coenzyme Q10 as part of a diet to help fibromyalgia: Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant (see above) that is important for cell function. There is some evidence that including coenzyme Q10 in the diet may improve fibromyalgia symptoms.
Fibromyalgia Diet Food List
Fibromyalgia sufferers should eat a diet that’s high in lean protein and fibre, and lower in carbohydrates. Foods that help fibromyalgia include fruits with a low glycaemic index, vegetables and whole grains. A well-balanced diet can improve energy level and staying physically active can lead to better overall health.
The lists below provide examples of the types of foods that may help fibromyalgia symptoms. However, as people with fibromyalgia often have food sensitivities, what relieves symptoms in one person may trigger a flare-up in others. It’s important to listen to your body and to create your own fibromyalgia diet food list.
FOODS HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTS:
- Kidney beans
- Dark chocolate
- Artichokes (boiled)
- Berries (blueberries, cranberries, blackberries)
FOODS HIGH IN AMINO ACIDS:
- Red meat: lean cuts of beef or pork
- Poultry: chicken or turkey breast
- Fish: halibut, tuna or salmon fillet
- Diary: non- and low-fat cheese, low-fat yogurt
- Plant-based proteins: quinoa, tofu, soybeans
FOODS CONTANING COENZYME Q10:
- Organ meats (heart, liver, kidney)
- Soy oil
- Sardines and mackerel
FRUITS WITH LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX:
- Bok choy
- Collard greens