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Controlling Fibromyalgia Symptoms With The Right Diet

healthy foodThose of us that suffer from a chronic pain illness, such as fibromyalgia, have probably spent time looking for alternative treatments that may ease the symptoms. As Kathleen Holton, PhD, MPH, lead author of Potential Dietary Links in Central Sensitization in Fibromyalgia explains:

“Fibromyalgia symptoms are only about 30% amenable to current pharmaceutical strategies on the market”.

With this in mind, we decided to investigate the relationship between diet and fibromyalgia. Although there is no firm evidence to prove that certain foods can affect your symptoms, Ginevra Liptan, MD, Medical Director of the Frida Center for Fibromyalgia in Portland (Oregan) advises that:

“I think we can gather a lot from anecdotal evidence — from what patients tell us… A lot of people with fibromyalgia have sensitivities to particular foods, but it varies from person to person. They might be sensitive to MSG, certain preservatives, eggs, gluten, dairy, or other common allergens.”

So, whilst changing your diet is no guarantee to improve your fibromyalgia symptoms, the experts are all in agreement that a healthy diet and lifestyle should be an important part of your overall treatment plan. As Lynne Matallana, Founder and President of the National Fibromyalgia Association, explains:

“with fibromyalgia, one of the most important things is to improve your overall health and well-being.”

So, what’s hot and what’s not, according to the experts, when it comes to diet and fibromyalgia:


Additives are often used in processed food, some of the common ones that you may have heard about includes

  • Sweeteners
  • MSG
  • Artificial colours

Links have been made between additives and aggravated fibromyalgia symptoms. For example, you may have noticed a flare in your symptoms after eating a chinese takeaway (if it contains MSG), or drinking a fizzy drink.

What’s the healthy option?
Eat as much freshly prepared food as you can. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that we all eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Low in calories and high in fibre, natural foods lack the additives that can act as an irritant to fibromyalgia symptoms. Most fruit and veg are packed with anti-oxidants that can help to fight free radicals and give your body a great natural energy boost.


Whilst caffeine might seem like the natural solution when it comes to giving yourself that extra energy boost, consuming too much of it has been known to cause the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Muscle tremors
  • Depression

What’s the healthy option?
If you are craving a hot drink, why not consider a soothing herbal tea such as chamomile or peppermint. Green tea is particularly well known for its antioxidant and immune boosting properties.


Sugar is a type of carbohydrate, which provides energy for the body.  Whilst it’s tempting to fill up on sugary foods if you are feeling a little fatigued, eating too much sugar can cause it to be stored in the body as fat – which may in turn have a negative effect on your symptoms, including:

  • Increased pain
  • Stiffness
  • Disruptions to your sleeping pattern.

What’s the healthy option?
If you are in need of a sugar fix, why not reach out for something that contains natural sugars instead, such as a healthy piece of fruit.

Other healthy tips:

  • Omega-3
    Known as a source of “good fat” Omega-3 can be found in walnuts, flax seeds, some fortified cereals and eggs, and is said to have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Vitamin D
    As vitamin D deficiency has been linked with bone and muscle pain, according to Kathleen Holton:
    “vitamin D deficiency can mimic some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia” and she suggests that “all patients should be screened for deficiency”.
    The good news is that we can get most of the vitamin D that our body needs from sunlight, however, if you are out in the sun remember to take care to cover or protect your skin to avoid getting burnt.The NHS also recommends the following foods as good sources of vitamin D to try:
    • eggs
    • oily fish – such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
    • fortified fat spreads
    • fortified breakfast cereals
    • some powdered milk

Do remember that it’s really important to consult your GP before making any changes to your diet!

Have you found that certain foods seem to affect your fibromyalgia symptoms positively or negatively? Do you have any tips for healthy eating? We’d love to hear your thoughts…

We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.

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