Foods To Avoid With Fibromyalgia...

Never Underestimate The Importance Of Diet...

Foods To Avoid With Fibromyalgia

We’ve already looked at What Is A Fibromyalgia Diet and those foods you should try to eat so now we consider if there are any foods that you absolutely should try not to eat to prevent risking a fibromyalgia ‘flare’.

And on the same basis as there are foods thought to be good for reducing the symptoms of fibromyalgia, so there are foods to avoid with fibromyalgia.

These basically split into two key areas – foods that further inhibit serotonin production and foods that could be described as pro-inflammatory.

Remember in a previous article ‘What Is Fibromyalgia’, we covered the importance of Serotonin on fibromyalgia symptoms and the inescapable link between low levels of Serotonin and increased pain.

Given that fibromyalgia itself can’t be cured as a condition, all your doctors and yourself can work towards is finding ways to control your symptoms.

Reducing Serotonin Production

As a result, we will look specifically at foods that might inhibit your serotonin production.

And as we also discussed, although fibromyalgia is not an inflammatory disease (like rheumatoid arthritis for example), there is inflammation present in many sufferers and this is likely to exacerbate your symptoms.

Reducing Inflammation

As a result, we will consider which foods may increase that inflammation and therefore make your symptoms a lot worse.

Finally we will consider which food/ drink additives may cause further irritation of your fibromyalgia, as some are clinically proven to aggravate your symptoms.

Smoking And Drinking

Before we go any further, these two warrant a section all of their own. 

If you suffer with fibromyalgia (or most chronic pain conditions for that matter), I cannot overstate just how bad smoking and drinking are for your symptoms.

Drinking in very small amounts (4 to 6 units per week and never on the same night), has actually been found in some trials to have a relaxing effect. 

However, as soon as you go over that, the negative impacts on your ‘deep sleep’ (the regenerating phase) and your sensitivity to light/ pain gets exponentially worse (a lot, lot worse).

The same is basically true with smoking. It destroys your already low immune system leaving you weaker and feeling your symptoms much more acutely than those that dont.

Of course this is a lifestyle choice, and no-one should ever tell you how to live your life, just realise that drinking and smoking comes with a hefty price if you have fibromyalgia.

About Us

Foods That Inhibit Serotonin Production

It has long been considered (and noted) that fibromyalgia sufferers typically have very low levels of serotonin. A study in 2017 by ‘Frontiers In Medicine’ linked the level of symptoms to a sufferers metabolism. It is one of the leading studies that connects low serotonin levels with worsening symptoms.

Serotonin levels derive in part from an amino acid known as ‘Tryptophan’ and tryptophan is adversely affected by fructose (a type of sugar). It follows then that if you want to boost serotonin levels naturally you need more uninhibited tryptophan, which can be achieved if you cut down on the fructose in your diet.

In actual fact, there a number of foods that might have an effect on your serotonin levels, and cutting back on each will have a very positive effect on reducing your chronic pain. These foods include –

1. Fructose.

The most obvious based on it’s very close link to serotonin. Reducing fructose, commonly found in bread, some fruit (especially ripe fruit) and sweets.

2. Aspartame.

Avoid Aspartame altogether. It’s an artificial sweetener commonly found in diet soft drinks. It has a whole range of negative impacts on your health, but the one relevant here is its propensity for interrupting the serotonin in your brain.

3. Lactose.

This is found in milk and other high protein products. Try to avoid this as again it has negative effects on serotonin.

Foods That Promote Inflammation

Just as we produced a long list of foods with anti inflammatory properties, so we can find a pro inflammatory food list of foods that we know have properties that actually promote inflammation.

  • Saturated Fats.
  • Refined Sugar.
  • Soybean and Vegetable Oil.
  • Processed Meats.
  • Sugary Drinks.
  • Process Snack Foods. Crisps, Crackers etc.
  • White Bread/ White Pasta.
  • Excess Alcohol.
  • Gluten.
  • Deserts.
  • Dairy

For more information on why each food should ideally be avoided, see our article on ‘an anti inflammatory diet plan’

Additives To Avoid

In addition to the two main lists of foods above, there are certain additives that also should be on a list of foods to be avoided with fibromyalgia.

1. Excitotoxins.

The Arthritis Foundation identified a group of additives known as ‘excitotoxins’ as being linked with improvements in symptoms.

Unfortunately, the limited overall research in to the effect of removing these from your diet is at best somewhat limited, with the results also very mixed.

Avoiding excitotoxins seemed to work really well for some and not at all for others.

Some examples of additives in this group are….

  • Aspartate
  • Glutamate
  • L-cysteine

Ironically these are often added to Asparatane (a substance already in the Fibromyalgia symptom hall of shame) to make sugar substitutes.

An image of four different glasses of diet fizzy drink - something to avoid at all costs by fibromyalgia sufferers

2. MSG or Monosodium Glutamate.

Try to avoid MSG at all costs – because it has been clearly linked to exciting your central nervous system. The problem here is that MSG may actually make your boy more sensitive to the signals of pain, thus heightening your feeling of pain.

3. Fermentable Oligo-Di-Mono-Saccharides and Polyols (FODMAPs!).

FODMAPs as they are fondly known are a type of carbohydrate often associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Most people need never even know what one is, but if you suffer with IBS as part of your fibromyalgia symptoms, then you should seriously consider testing life without them. If they are irritating your insides and seriously aggravating your IBS, then the relief is likely to be very much worth it.

FODMAPs are not all carbohydrates – they are only certain carbs that are known to draw water in to your gut that then ferments, causing bloating and irritating you.

A typical list of FODMAPs might include –

  • wheat
  • Apples
  • Artichokes
  • Ice cream
  • Mushrooms
  • Pistachios
  • Cauliflower
  • Beans
  • Cashews
  • Dried fruits
  • Apples
  • Barley
  • Garlic and onions
  • Watermelon
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey

The Final Word –

Diet has now been proven over and over again to have a significant effect on both your health and your general well-being. It has also been shown that it can, it many individuals, have a significant impact on your symptoms.

Just as there are some foods that might have a very positive effect on your symptoms, so there are foods to avoid with fibromyalgia.

And while changing diet cannot be said to work for every individual (no treatment is universal in it’s success), it does certainly appear to work for some.

“Perhaps the key point however is that whenever you are assembling a ‘team’ of treatments to tackle your fibromyalgia, then cutting out something from your diet (providing you still get the overall required nutrition), has very few risks or serious consequences.”

If a particular diet does not have the required effect, you just go back to normal and maybe try a different one.

It’s also worth remembering that a diet can be a matter of degrees – so if you just reduced the amount of aspartame you consumed by 75%, then your symptoms are likely to lessen slightly – it’s not 100% or nothing.

If there are foods that you absolutely cant go without, then don’t go without them. Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition so it is important that the decisions you make are realistic and can be kept to over the longer term.

Even small changes, cutting out just a few of the foods to avoid with fibromyalgia, can make a huge difference.

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References Used –

1. Silvia Maria Lattanzio. (2017) Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Metabolic Approach Grounded in Biochemistry for the Remission of Symptoms. Frontiers In Medicine

2. Kerry Ludlam and Mary Anne Dunkin. Fibromyalgia And Nutrition. The Arthritis Foundation.

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