There is a consensus in the medical community that diet can affect fibromyalgia and its symptoms, but there is insufficient scientific evidence to distinguish one single eating plan as the most effective for all patients. There are some general recommendations, however. For example, there are specific foods and food groups, such as caffeine, yeast, gluten, aspartame, dairy and fatty meats that, if avoided, are believed to positively impact the majority of fibromyalgia patients. An effective diet for fibromyalgia can vary significantly from patient to patient in part because the condition has different causes and manifests different symptoms in each sufferer.
An effective diet for fibromyalgia generally should not include aspartame, an artificial sweetener known to aggravate symptoms. Aspartame is an excitotoxin that stimulates a specific pain receptor to open. The pain receptor affected by aspartame is believed to be overly stimulated in fibromyalgia patients.
Caffeine is a stimulant that fibromyalgia patients may want to avoid as well. Soda, chocolate and caffeinated teas and coffees should be limited or excluded in a diet for fibromyalgia. Although caffeine can temporarily increase energy, it will eventually increase fatigue as the effect wears off. Caffeine consumption can produce a painful cycle of spiking and crashing in people with fibromyalgia.
A diet for fibromyalgia may also involve reducing or eliminating yeast, gluten and dairy. Milk in particular has been linked to fibromyalgia flareups. Some medical professionals believe that yeast encourages the spread of a yeast fungus already present in the body that exacerbates joint pain. Since some fibromyalgia patients also have gluten intolerance, doctors may recommend eliminating both yeast and gluten when possible.
Fatty meats are often substituted with lean meats, such as poultry or fish, in a diet for fibromyalgia as well. Fibromyalgia patients may also be told to avoid alcohol, tobacco and fried foods. In addition, white sugar and flour can trigger symptoms in some patients.
Although many fibromyalgia patients have shown improvement by eliminating or reducing certain foods from their diets, it is equally important to eat healthy and balanced meals. Patients should not eliminate healthful and vitamin-rich foods from their diets if these foods do not trigger any symptoms. Many patients searching for a diet for fibromyalgia may find it useful to keep a food diary. By recording what they eat and any change in symptoms, patients can determine what foods trigger or soothe their condition. What is effective for one fibromyalgia patient can be detrimental to another. In addition, the food a patient responds to can provide insight into the identification of underlying health problems other than fibromyalgia.