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In people with fibromyalgia, the brain and nerves may misinterpret or overreact to normal pain signals. This may be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain or abnormality in the dorsal root ganglion affecting central pain (brain) sensitization. Fibromyalgia can also affect your emotions and energy level.
Fibromyalgia Pain

Pain is the hallmark fibromyalgia symptom. You’ll feel it in various muscles and other soft tissues around your body. The pain can range from a mild achiness to an intense and almost unbearable discomfort. Its severity could dictate how well you cope day to day.

Fibromyalgia appears to stem from an abnormal nervous system response. Your body overreacts to things that shouldn’t normally be painful. And you may feel the pain in more than one area of your body.

Common symptoms include:

  • Widespread pain

  • Jaw pain and stiffness

  • Pain and tiredness in the face muscles

  • Stiff joints and muscles in the morning

  • Headaches

  • Irregular sleep patterns

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Painful menstrual periods

  • Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet

  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS)

  • Sensitivity to cold or heat

  • Difficulties with memory and concentration, known as “fibro-fog”

Holding Hands
The following are also possible:

  • problems with vision

  • nausea

  • pelvic and urinary problems

  • weight gain

  • dizziness

  • cold or flu-like symptoms

  • skin problems

  • chest symptoms

  • depression

  • anxiety

  • breathing problems

Fibromyalgia diet recommendations

Dietary measures have been suggested for improving the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

These include:

  • High-energy foods that are low in sugar: Foods such as almonds, beans, oatmeal, avocado, and tofu contain plenty of fiber but no added sugar. These can help boost energy throughout the day, helping to improve tiredness symptoms that occur as a result of the condition.

  • Avoiding foods that have gluten: A 2014 study has suggested that gluten sensitivity can contribute to fibromyalgia. The study showed that removing foods that contain gluten from the diet may be able to reduce the pain, even in patients who do not have celiac disease. This is also linked to a diet plan for reducing inflammation.

  • Cutting out fermentable oligo-di-mono-saccharides and polyols (FODMAP): A recent study showed that a diet low in FODMAP could have promising effects on pain levels in people with fibromyalgia.

  • Not eating additives and excitotoxins: One report showed that cutting out additives from the diet, such as aspartame and monosodium glutamate (MSG), can reduce pain symptoms significantly. The pain of the people involved in the study was also shown to increase once these additives were put back in the diet.

  • Eating more seeds and nuts: There is little evidence to support a direct relationship between seeds, nuts, and an improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms. However, they are known to contain powerful micronutrients and minerals that are important for cell function, and this may support people with the condition.

Image by Nadine Primeau

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Many foods and nutrients can affect inflammatory pathways and therefore, modulate levels of inflammation in the body. The anti-inflammatory diet targets chronic inflammation by incorporating an abundance of anti-inflammatory foods and moderating or restricting the intake of potentially pro-inflammatory foods.

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The Calorie-Restricted Diet

The calorie-restricted diet (CR) is an eating pattern that involves reducing food intake by 20-40% of daily caloric requirements while meeting the requirements of essential nutrients. Calories are the body’s basic source of energy obtained from the three macronutrients found in food, namely carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

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Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an umbrella term that encompasses a number of different fasting regimens, which involve consuming few or no calories for a predetermined period of time.


The purpose of fasting is to shift the body into a metabolic state known as “ketogenesis”. When the body’s available glucose and glycogen stores are depleted, it then will utilize fatty acids and fatty acid-derived ketones as its primary source of energy. The point at which our bodies switch from utilizing glucose to fatty acids as fuel is sometimes referred to as the “metabolic switch”, which typically occurs approximately 12 to 36 hours after cessation of food intake but varies by individual, depending on physical activity, metabolism, age, and stored glycogen levels.

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Gluten-Free Diet

While the vast majority of people can digest gluten without any issues or consequences, the gluten-free diet is an effective treatment for individuals who have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Side effects of celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) include fatigue, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and possible damage to the intestinal villi. If you suspect you may have celiac disease or NCGS, speak to your integrative healthcare practitioner about the various testing options.

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Hidden sugars list

Did you know that there are over 60 different names for sugar? Typically, you will be able to recognize if an ingredient is present in a food by referring to the ingredient label. However, certain dietary ingredients may be listed under a different name or may be derived from a certain food, making them difficult to recognize.

List of 54 Sugar's names

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