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Fibromyalgia and Nutrition: Is There a Link?

Updated on April 23, 2015

What Are Fibromyalgia Symptoms?

Those who suffer from fibromyalgia (FM) experience muscular pain at trigger points in the body that might also radiate, causing widespread pain. Other symptoms might include headaches, insomnia, brain fog, and depression. So where might nutrition play a role?

Photo credit: allspice1 / Source / CC BY-ND
Photo credit: allspice1 / Source / CC BY-ND

Nutritional Therapy for Fibromyalgia

The National Fibromyalgia Research Association states that nutritional therapy can be helpful in providing nutrients in which the body is deficient, and it can reduce stress, relaxing muscles. It can also assist in detoxifying the body.

Basic approaches might start with adding nutritional supplements of vitamins and minerals that the person with FM may be lacking. Additionally, cutting caffeine, processed sugar, and alcohol can eliminate chemicals causing muscular irritation at the cellular level, creating stress on the system to process and eliminate waste. More intricate nutritional plans include working closely with a nutritionist familiar with fibromyalgia who can combine specific diet changes to add missing nutrition along with cleansing to reduce stress caused by chemicals.

An abstract published by the NIH looks into scientific research regarding fibromyalgia patients and their diets. With further studies needed, it was initially determined that a vegetarian diet may prove to be beneficial due to the antioxidants consumed. Adopting a vegetarian diet was not the point of the study, but rather that consuming an abundance of antioxidant-rich foods might be extremely advantageous in lessening the severity or even helping to alleviate some of the chronic pain of this disease.

In a more recently published abstract, the NIH reported that nutrition is being looked at closely in conjunction with pharmacological treatments, as it is currently believed that a multidisciplinary approach provides the most optimal treatment results.

It was determined that elimination of certain foods to which someone with fibromyalgia may have sensitivity, could provide some additional relief. Certain foods contain excitotoxins, which are agents that attach to the nerve cell receptors, excite the cell, and cause damage to the cell or kill it.

One ingredient being studied closely is gluten, the composite protein found in foods containing wheat, barley and rye grains. Implementing a gluten-free diet and reducing other foods that might contain excitotoxins are two measures that have had a great deal of recent focus because of their potential to yield improvements for those with FM. With the recent influx of gluten-free products in the marketplace, it is easier than it has been in the past to eliminate gluten from the diet to determine if there are any positive effects on symptoms.

Summary

While there is exciting research currently being conducted regarding the effects of nutritional changes on clinical improvements in patients with fibromyalgia, nutritional science involves a myriad of factors that should be studied independently. Yet, there’s great promise that by incorporating dietary changes into a treatment plan, much needed relief may be found for those suffering from this debilitating disease.

If you have fibromyalgia and are interested in exploring nutritional therapy as part of your overall treatment program, it is recommended that this be done under the care of a medical team. Work closely with your medical provider and a nutritionist familiar with FM when considering these changes.

If you have tried a number of approaches, including diet changes, and still have pain due to FM, then you might want to consider a medical re-evaluation and/or a medical research study.

Sources:

http://www.nfra.net/fibromyalgia_nutrition.php

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20358204

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25786053


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