Fibromyalgia is a disease which is characterized by constant chronic physical pain in certain areas of the body, called trigger points alongside persistent fatigue which doesn’t seem to go away even after a good night’s rest. Those who suffer from this condition generally have very sensitive bodies and need to take extra care when moving around in order to minimize the pain and stress to their body. The disease is caused by a chemical imbalance in the patient’s central and peripheral nervous systems, and its symptoms — which are present during most of his or her waking hours — can be exacerbated by physical and emotional stress, as well as several other factors of the subject’s lifestyle.
Diet, in particular, can play an important role in the fibromyalgia patient’s well-being, as some of the foods they consume might trigger the symptoms or worsen them, should they already be present. In this sense, people who suffer from fibromyalgia will also need to keep a close watch on the meals they consume, especially if they are eating food that is prepared by someone else, such as in a restaurant or when sharing lunch with a friend.
But Which Meals Should I Avoid?
As a general rule of thumb, people with fibromyalgia will want to steer clear of any artificial meals, including those that are prepared with those seasonings which are replete with chemical flavor enhancers. For this reason, those that are struggling with the disease must learn to take certain precautions when shopping for food and ingredients and learn to choose the ones that will benefit them the most in the prevention of its symptoms.
Read the Labels!
In other words, fibromyalgia patients must become label readers in order to avoid the unnecessary consumption of items that, while inoffensive to healthy individuals, may help to trigger their symptoms. As many people would agree: prevention is often the best cure. In this sense, learning to identify harmful ingredients is a very effective way to offset fibromyalgia symptoms, at least where nutrition is involved.
When it comes to choosing the best items for a healthy diet, please note that when label states ‘all natural ingredients’, this doesn’t always translate to healthy food. The problem with all-natural foods revolves mainly around the Food & Drug Administration’s definition of the term, which states that certain foods may be labeled in this manner as long as they have no synthetic or artificial substances to enhance their flavor. For some time, this definition has helped to identify chemically-enhanced foods from their natural counterparts. However, with the arrival of genetic engineering and modified foodstuffs, the line between natural and synthetic ingredients has been blurred considerably. While these ingredients may be all-natural indeed (at least to some extent), it’s difficult to tell which processes were used in the creation of said ingredients. In this sense, it’s better to take the all-natural label with a grain of salt, and read the label in case there are signs of any artificial additives or at least any notes which explain the process through which the product was created.
For meats and poultry, on the other hand, the labels are generally truthful when they claim that the product is organic. However, when it comes to fruit and vegetables, it’s another story. The United States Department of Agriculture’s definition of organic fruits and veggies references that said products are sown and grown without any type of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or any artificial products to aid their development, which is actually pretty good and truthful. However, the real problem behind this definition lies not in the growing of the product itself, but in its shipping and packaging for sale. Fruits and vegetables that read ‘100% organic’ are usually safe for consumption, as they contain no additives or chemicals to preserve extend their shelf lives. However, products that only have a simple ‘organic’ label, while usually grown and harvested by natural means, might be supplemented with preservatives, or other potentially harmful substances. Those who suffer from fibromyalgia might also benefit from reading the labels, should they be present, and always opt to buy 100% organic products.
There’s also a tricky play on words with products that reference their origin as “made with organic ingredients”. While they certainly may contain several organic ingredients, this label doesn’t necessarily rule out the presence of other non-organic products, which definitely defeats the purpose of choosing said foodstuffs. Some unscrupulous companies might take advantage of this simply loophole to sell their consumers ‘organic’ items while maximizing their profits by actually selling products that are only partly organic.
Fibromyalgia and Gluten
Gluten-free is a term which, in recent years, has gathered momentum among the circles of nutritionists, clinicians, and the general populace. Gluten is used to refer to a small group of proteins which are mostly present in flour grown in drylands. Said proteins are mostly present in products such as wheat, though they can also be found in ingredients such as barley, rye, and oats. In general, gluten is not a substance necessary to humans, as it is a form of ‘empty proteins’ which contains little amounts of essential amino acids. For this reason, there are seldom consequences when replacing this ingredient from the diet of any person, especially when said individuals must adopt a gluten-free diet as a consequence of certain conditions; fibromyalgia being one the most important reasons, given that most individuals that suffer from it often develop sensitivity to said protein.
Fortunately, gluten awareness due to their ill effects on people who suffer from celiac disease has prompted manufacturers to create gluten-free versions of several popular products, such as bread, flours, and pancake mix, to name a few. However, some products might not be available in their gluten-free versions at times, and this is where the user’s label reading skills will come in handy: Since we know that gluten usually comes from wheat, oats, and other types of flours, we know which ingredients to steer away from when gluten-free alternatives are not an option. Regrettably, sellers are already aware of this fact and have already taken measures to hide the fact that their products contain gluten in order to take advantage of misguided consumers. In this sense, always be aware of ingredients such as maltodextrin, which usually supplements certain products as a preservative and thickener and is made from corn, potatoes, or wheat.
Monosodium glutamate is another common product which is used as an additive in certain foodstuffs to enhance their flavor. While this product does not contain gluten, it is also an ingredient which sellers strive to hide, as it might trigger the symptoms of those who suffer from fibromyalgia or celiac disease.
When it comes to food-triggered fibromyalgia and celiac disease, the elimination of both gluten and monosodium glutamate has reported eliminating their symptoms in a natural and organic manner; without the need to consume medication or follow treatments.