Fibromyalgia's myriad symptoms are often challenging and unpredictable. Healthy eating is one area where the individual can take control to help relieve symptoms.

See Characteristic Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Choosing the best diet for an individual is a balancing act—foods should not cause inflammation, worsen other symptoms, or conflict with food sensitivities common in fibromyalgia. Once those hurdles are cleared, the food must still taste good.

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Focus on Adding These Healthy Foods

Individual experiences will vary, but these steps can help with the transition to healthier food choices:

  • Add vegetables to the diet. Researchers have found evidence that increasing the proportion of vegetables in the diet can have a positive impact. Specifically, some research has shown a reduction in pain from switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet.7,8

    See What Are Anti-Inflammatory Foods?

    One small study found a vegan diet, which does not include any animal products, and a mainly vegetarian Mediterranean diet both helped reduce symptoms.9 A Mediterranean diet usually features fresh fruits and vegetables; healthy fats, such as olive oil; and fish and poultry rather than red meat.
  • Boost Omega-3s. A group of foods classified as omega-3 fatty acids have a strong anti-inflammatory effect. Cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, bass, and swordfish are good sources of omega-3s. Dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and broccoli are also good options.
  • See An Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Arthritis

  • Eat more fiber. Beans, fruits, vegetables, lentils, and brown rice are healthy choices. People who are not eating enough fiber should increase fiber levels gradually and drink extra water to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • See The Ins and Outs of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

  • Switch to healthy fats. Not all fats are to be avoided. Olive oil is a healthy and versatile choice. One medical study found that using olive oil improved both physical and psychological functioning.10

Other Foods to Consider

Anti-inflammatory foods come in many forms. These are other food choices to emphasize:

  • Almonds, macadamia nuts, and walnuts
  • Celery, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and onions
  • Dark green vegetables
  • Whole grain foods, such as wheat, rice, barley, oats, and quinoa
  • Fresh or frozen fruit
  • Flaxseed oil and olive oils
  • Flaxseeds, tofu, and chia seeds

See Turmeric and Curcumin for Arthritis

Completely changing dietary habits can be a challenge. If major alterations are needed, it may be less disruptive to add new foods gradually. Once the transition has been made, it may take several weeks for a person to notice a difference in symptoms.

References:

  1. Kaartinen K, Lammi K, Hypen M, Nenonen M, Hanninen O, Rauma AL. Vegan diet alleviates fibromyalgia symptoms. Scand J Rheumatol. 2000;29(5):30813.
  2. Baranowsky J, Klose P, Musial F, et al. Qualitative systemic review of randomized controlled trials on complementary and alternative medicine treatments in fibromyalgia. Rheumatol Int. 2009;30(1):1-21.
  3. Michalsen A, Riegert M, Lüdtke R et al. Mediterranean diet or extended fasting’s influence on changing the intestinal microflora, immunoglobulin. A secretion and clinical outcome in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia: an observational study. BMC Complement Altern Med 2005;5:22.

Complete Listing of References

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