Fibromyalgia: Seven foods to avoid
While there may not be a single set of dietary guidelines that are right for all fibromyalgia patients, there are certain foods, or food groups, that appear to make a difference for a significant number of people. But remember, avoiding these foods is not a guarantee that your symptoms will change. Also, avoiding one group may offer benefit while another may make no difference at all. Nevertheless, the experts WebMD talked to agree that eliminating at least some of these foods is worth a try.
1. Aspartame (NutraSweet). All the experts WebMD talked to agree that for a large majority of people with fibromyalgia, foods sweetened with aspartame could exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms.
"There is a pain receptor in the nervous system known as NMDA," says McNett. "When pain turns from acute to chronic, it involves opening the NMDA pain receptor. Aspartame, which is classified as an excitotoxin, helps to stimulate this event." He also says people with fibromyalgia appear to already have overly active NMDA pain receptors, making them more susceptible to the stimulation.
In one study published in the Journal of Rheumatology in 2006, experts found patients with fibromyalgia did have an increased expression of NMDA receptors in their skin. This indicated a general increase in activity of peripheral nerves.
Researchers found that, when patients with fibromyalgia avoided aspartame as well as the flavor enhancer MSG, they felt better overall.
Other artificial sweeteners such as stevia do not appear to have the same effect as aspartame.
2. Food additives including MSG (monosodium glutamine) and nitrates. MSG is an additive or flavor enhancer that's found in many processed and frozen foods and in some Asian cuisines. Experts say it can intensify pain symptoms in many individuals. Like aspartame, MSG is classified as an excitotoxin and has the same potential for affecting NMDA receptors.
"A lot of people who don't have fibromyalgia can't tolerate nitrates or MSG very well. But one of the hallmarks of this condition is that it amplifies unpleasant reactions,"
3. Sugar, fructose, and simple carbohydrates. There is no clear evidence that cutting out simple carbohydrates -- like sugar, cake, or white bread -- will have an impact on fibromyalgia. What it can do, though, is reduce symptoms of chronic yeast infection -- a fungus that thrives on sugars and may be a secondary condition contributing to the pain of fibromyalgia. This theory, however, is still being debated by experts.
"Cutting out sugary foods, particularly high fructose corn syrup, can make a difference in these patients,". "And that's independent of any weight loss that might occur when they stop eating these foods."
Cutting out carbonated beverages sweetened with fructose may yield even more noticeable results. That's because the carbonation, he says, causes a metabolic reaction. This reaction results in much more sugar pouring into the blood much more quickly.
4. Caffeine -- including coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate. Because it is considered a stimulant, many fibromyalgia patients turn to caffeine-rich beverages as a source of energy. But McNett says the boost you get is false -- and can quickly exacerbate fatigue.
"The problem with caffeine is that the 'up' is relatively brief and transient," "And it's followed by substantially longer and deeper sedative effect."
Because people with fibromyalgia are already tired,those sedative effects can be much more powerful. "They are starting off from a point of fatigue, so the sedative qualities are amplified -- leading to a much deeper and long lasting sense of fatigue."
The good news is that cutting out caffeine can make a difference within less than a week. "Most patients begin to see a difference in their fatigue level almost right away"
5. Yeast and gluten. Although these are two separate food substances, they frequently appear together -- particularly in baked goods like cake, donuts, and bread. For this reason, cutting out one, usually means you are cutting out both. That can actually yield two separate benefits for people with fibromyalgia.
In the case of yeast, some doctors say it fosters the overgrowth of the yeast fungus in the body. This overgrowth may cause or exacerbate much of the joint and muscle pain experienced by people with fibromyalgia. Research, though, has yet to confirm this link.
Gluten can exacerbate a condition known as gluten intolerance. Gluten intolerance, frequently results in a variety of stomach ailments and other digestive problems. It also is associated with fatigue in patients with fibromyalgia.
"I have seen people with and without fibromyalgia experience enormous positive changes in their health by simply cutting out gluten products,"
6. Dairy. Be they low fat or high fat, some experts say, dairy products -- particularly, milk -- have been known to drive the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Avoiding these products may help some people turn their health around.
7. Nightshade Plants: Tomatoes, chili and bell peppers, potatoes, and eggplant. There are over 2,000 species of plants that that can be listed under the category of "nightshade." Those which are edible comprise a group that some say can trigger flares of various types of arthritis, including fibromyalgia.
"I have seen clients who do much better when they cut these foods out of their diet,". We're not sure why, but it seems to work in a significant percentage of fibromyalgia patients." At the same time, these vegetables are among the most nutritious. So if they don't trigger your fibro pain, don't ban them from your fridge.
A final word - Nutrients and the power of a healthy diet
Avoiding certain foods may help individual patients better cope with their disease. however, that most can also benefit from an overall heart-healthy approach to good eating.
"When you are eating a heart-healthy diet - one low in saturated fat, high in the fresh fruits and vegetables that don't cause you problems, your body is going to work in a more healthful way, ".
And while, she says, this won't necessarily reduce your fibromyalgia symptoms, it can help to reduce the risk of other ailments that can only compound your health issues.
"When your body is healthier overall," "you may be better able to cope with any disease, and better able to respond to even small changes you make."
One small study published in the journal Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2001 found that patients who ate a vegetarian diet consisting of mostly raw whole foods did see a reduction in their fibromyalgia symptoms.
What can also help, he says, is a high potency vitamin supplement as well as supplements containing omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids -- which are also found in foods such as fish oil, flax seed, walnuts, some fortified cereals, -- are the "good fats" that have been shown to have an impact on inflammation.
The following clip is from the documentary "Living With Fibromyalgia" (http://www.LivingWithFM.com) and includes some basic tips on how to live with this chronic pain condition.
Tomato Chickpea Soup, Easy Vegan Soup for Stove Top or Slow Cooker
4 - 6 Servings:
The chickpeas can be soaked overnight, brought to a boil and finish cooking in the crockpot. If you use canned beans, use organic**drain and rinse them first. This thick, rich.
Serve with Rice Sesame Crackers
* 1 cup dried garbanzo beans, OR 2 16 oz Organic cans, drained & rinsed
* Bean cooking directions below
* 6 ripe plum tomatoes
* 2 - 3 large carrots
* 2 stalks celery
* 2 celery stalks, diced
* 2 cloves garlic
* 2 tsp cumin
* 2 tsp spicy paprika
* 2 large bay leaves
* 1 Tbsp raw cane or turbinado sugar
* 1 Tbsp tahini
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 organic can tomato paste
* 4 Tblsp olive oil
* 2 Tblsp dried basil, or 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
* 2 Tblsp Braggs liquid aminos
* 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley or cilantro
How To Cook Garbanzo Beans*
1. Sort and clean the dried beans
2. Soak the beans in hot water for four hours, or overnight in cold water
3. Drain and rinse
4. Place in medium saucepan, cover with cold unsalted water
5. Bring to boil uncovered, boil for ten minutes, skim the foam
6. Stove Top: Cover and simmer for 2 hours
7. Pressure cooker: 9 minutes at high pressure
8. Slow cooker or crock pot (large size):
After boiling and skimming the beans, cook for 6 - 8 hours covered on low.
1. Dice tomatoes, carrots and celery
2. Add to beans and bean stock with bay leaves, basil, salt,
tomato paste,tahini, and sugar
3. If using organic canned beans, drain and rinse, then add 4 cups water
and 2 veggie cubes
4. Heat olive oil on medium low
5. Peel, core and mince the garlic cloves, and brown in the oil
6. Stir the cumin and paprika into the oil and heat for five minutes
7. Add 1/2 cup hot water to the spice mixture to make a smooth paste,
then transfer to the beans and veggies
8. Stovetop: Bring to boil, simmer covered for one hour
9. Crockpot: Turn heat to high, cook for 2 hours
10. Blend soup with a blender stick, or in batches in a blender
11. Add Braggs, fresh minced herb, more salt and pepper to taste
Serve with Rice or Barley! YUM !
Veggies with Lemon Sauce
The original recipe designated Brussels sprouts, but I'm sure many veggies would be good with this.
* 3 cups Veggies
* 3/4 cups Vegetable broth
* 1 tsp Olive oil
* 1 clove garlic
* 2 Tbs Vegetable broth
* 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch (tapioca, arrowroot?)
* 1/2 tsp finely shredded lemon peel
* 1 Tbs lemon juice
* 1/8 tsp pepper
* 2 tsp snipped fresh dill weed
1. Wash and trim veggies.
2. In a medium saucepan combine veggies, 3/4 cup broth, olive oil and garlic.
3. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.
4. Simmer, covered, for 7 to 10 minutes or until veggies are crisp-tender.
5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a serving bowl.
6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the 2 Tbs broth, cornstarch,
lemon peel, juice, and pepper.
7. Gradually add lemon mixture to hot broth in saucepan.
8. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is thickened and bubbly.
9. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.
10. Stir in fresh dill weed.
11. Pour lemon sauce over veggies.
Makes 6 side dish servings.
Fried Tofu with Bok Choy
This dish can be adjusted for mild to spicy taste buds and tastes great no matter how you season it!
* 1 package extra sprouted firm tofu
* 1 bunch bok choy - Chinese celery
* 1 egg replacement
* splash water
* 1/2 - 1 cup sorghum flour
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1/2 cup white wine or water
* 1/2 dozen fresh garlic cloves
* 1 fresh jalapeno
1. slice the tofu into approx. 2" x 1" x 1/2" squares
2. Follow the instructions for the egg replacement with splash of cold water
3. soak tofu pieces in vegan egg wash
4. coat in sorghum flour
5. get skillet very hot, add all but 1 TB of olive oil
6. slice garlic and fry in oil till tender, remove to side
7. fry floured tofu in hot oil until brown, turn and remove when done
8. wash and slice bok choy, add to hot skillet with wine or water
9. cover tightly and reduce heat to simmer
10. after bok choy is parcooked remove cover and simmer until juices reduce
11. put cooked bok choy in serving platter with fried tofu and garlic on top
12. rinse skillet, turn heat up high and cook off the water droplets
13. slice jalapeno, add TB of oil and fry quick till browned
14. serve jalapeno on the side - frying this way removes most of the heat
15. wash hands thoroughly after handling raw jalapeno
Tofu is a fat free rich source of calcium. It A big hit.
Homemade VEGETABLE PESTO PENNE PASTA
( or Elbow, Or Fusilli Any Brown Rice Pasta shape will do )
12 oz. Tinkyada brown rice penne
1 jar of gf sun-dried tomato pesto or use homemade (it only requires a couple tablespoons)
1 cup of fresh green beans
2 or 3 new potatoes, medium sized, diced
Directions: Prepare the green beans and potatoes. Boil together for about 12 minutes or until tender. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Toss the green beans, potatoes, and pesto together in a large pot or dish. Serve with soy parmesan and red pepper flakes if desired.
NICE and EASY
Add the spaghetti sauce.