About 4 million American adults suffer from fibromyalgia, a chronic condition that can cause widespread aches and pains, fatigue, sleep issues, memory problems, and even depression. Although there’s no cure for fibromyalgia, there are ways to treat it, including making dietary changes.
At Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation in Pembroke Pines, Florida, David Berkower, DO, uses a patient-centered approach to help patients manage fibromyalgia. In addition to medical therapies, he often recommends making dietary changes aimed at relieving uncomfortable symptoms.
Even though fibromyalgia affects millions of people, researchers aren’t sure what causes the condition. What they do know is that, even though fibromyalgia can strike at any age, it’s far more common during middle age and among women, who are twice as likely as men to be affected.
The widespread aches and pains associated with fibromyalgia are frequently misdiagnosed as arthritis or similar conditions. One main difference is that while arthritis and many other chronic pain problems involve inflammation, researchers believe fibromyalgia symptoms are caused by an abnormal pain response that “overactivates” your nerves and your brain’s pain-processing center.
This major difference means fibromyalgia requires a different approach to treatment — and it also explains why it’s frequently misdiagnosed. Seeing a pain management specialist can help ensure that fibromyalgia is diagnosed and treated appropriately as early as possible.
Dr. Berkower often suggests treatments that combine medical options, such as physical therapy or anti-inflammatory medicines, with lifestyle changes, including incorporating more physical activity and learning to manage stress. He also recommends patients optimize their eating habits to reduce their symptoms and improve their overall wellness.
Diet and fibromyalgia
There’s no single supplement you can take to “instantly” relieve fibromyalgia symptoms. Instead, research shows that consistently eating a good diet and incorporating a few key nutrients can be beneficial for many patients.
Foods to add
Research suggests that fibromyalgia patients may suffer from specific nutrient deficiencies, including inadequate amounts of vitamins B and D and minerals magnesium and selenium. These deficiencies may interfere with the way your nerves receive or transmit pain signals or in the way your brain interprets those signals.
To meet these needs, make sure your diet includes plenty of:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Whole grains
- Lean protein
- Low-fat dairy
- Healthy fats from sources like nuts, oily fish, and avocados
It’s also important to incorporate plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, since these foods contain antioxidants that can help fight against cell damage, which is associated with oxidative stress, a process associated with aging.
Foods to avoid
When possible, avoid foods that are low in healthy nutrients. These foods include “empty-calorie” snacks, such as pastries, chips, and sweets, along with breads that use refined flours.
You should also cut out foods that contain glutamate, a chemical that’s considered an “excitotoxin” due to the way it acts on your brain. By “overexciting” parts of your brain, glutamate may alter the way you perceive physical sensations, which could lead to enhanced feelings of pain.
You should also avoid artificial sweeteners and cured meats, including bacon, sausage, and deli meats. Cured and processed meats contain high levels of sodium, and they may also contain preservatives that could trigger symptoms.
The bottom line is this: Avoid processed, refined foods, and stick with whole-food alternatives. If you’re unsure of what you’re putting into your cart, just read the food labels.
Relieve your fibromyalgia symptoms
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that can vary from one person to another. Likewise, when it comes to treatment, what works for one person may not relieve symptoms for another.
Dr. Berkower has extensive experience in creating individualized treatment plans for his patients, combining medical approaches with lifestyle changes to suit each patient’s unique symptoms and lifestyle. If you have fibromyalgia, call 954-430-9972 or book an appointment online with Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation today.