Many of those suffering from Fibromyalgia are given advice by their doctors to make some changes in their diet. There are a number of sufferers who have found that changing their diet – sometimes pretty radically – has made quite a difference to their symptoms. While many of these changes are those any doctor would suggest for healthy living - they are relevant given that those with Fibromyalgia are limited in the amount of exercise they can undertake.

There's little scientific evidence to support any single eating plan as a way to deal with Fibromyalgia. Nevertheless, a trip around the Internet will show that dietary approaches to Fibromyalgia are abound. The variety is so diverse it's hard to imagine they are all aimed at treating the same disease.


Foods to avoid

While we cannot categorically state that these measures will work, many authors talk of similar foods to avoid when suffering from Fibromyalgia. These include:

1. Chocolate

2. Carbonated Drinks

3. Caffeine

4. Alcohol


Additionally a number of other foods to avoid are suggested:

5. High fat dairy products

6. Saccharine

7. Fried foods

8. Preservatives

9. Smoking



There are many various supplements available nowadays and many which may indeed be useful in alleviating some of the main symptoms of FMS. Certainly in the US, they have become a much bigger industry than here in the UK, but nonetheless people here are now looking to see if there are any other ways of helping themselves. Some of these supplements may help.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfates are both available without prescription through any reputable health food store at a reasonable cost. They can help significantly with fatigue. Since they are substances we already consume and produce in very small quantities in our bodies, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates have no known significant side effects. 


B vitamins – Maintain healthy nerves, liver, help with energy production, and may reduce anxiety. Vitamin B1 may support proper oxygen metabolism. The B-complex vitamins are essential to mental and emotional well being.


Calcium – Protects against bone loss. Low levels of calcium cause nervousness, apprehension, irritability and numbness.


Iron – low iron levels can cause general weakness, exhaustion, and headaches.


Magnesium – Provides for a healthy immune system and healthy nerves and helps with blood sugar regulation. Deficiency can cause confusion, apathy, and insomnia. Magnesium works well in conjunction with B complex vitamins.


Potassium – Depletion is frequently associated with depression, fearfulness, weakness, and fatigue.


Vitamin D – In recent studies, 93 percent of people with musculoskeletal pain were found to be deficient in vitamin D.


Amino acids can also be helpful in promoting the healing process, and include the following: Cystine, Glycine, Leucine, Lysine, Valine, Isoleucine, Tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), which helps to synthesise serotonin and melatonin.  

Nutritional Considerations for an Optimal Metabolism

An in-depth look at nutrition

The body is designed for health; a normal state of well being where organs and systems are in a balance with each other and operating normally as designed. Basic to maintaining this balance is the production of energy to power all the body's systems such as the immune system and nervous system. Optimising the metabolism will promote health.

We get energy from food by breaking it down into individual atoms, and passing these atoms to oxygen. This takes place within the mitochondria, structures within the cells provide the energy required (ATP) by most if not all of the chemical reactions vital to normal health. Some 40 nutrients are needed for proper metabolism and ATP production. If any are under supplied, the metabolism will be impaired and degenerative disease will be more likely to manifest. Two nutrients commonly deficient in the diet and essential for a proper metabolism are magnesium, and the Omega 3 fatty acid group.

Several B vitamins needed for proper metabolism are activated by magnesium. Magnesium must be kept in balance with calcium; the more you take of one, the more you lose of the other.  Magnesium is a common deficiency with those who have a high dairy intake. Milk has a Ca/Mg ratio of approximately 10/1 which tends to decrease magnesium levels. The optimum ratio is thought to be between 2/1 to 1/1, Ca/Mg depending on the individual's age, gender, diet, lifestyle and genetic makeup. Excess consumption of calcium, refined carbohydrates (bread & potatoes), alcohol or fats can deplete magnesium. If you supplement with calcium/magnesium, keep in mind that 1,000 mg of calcium per day is recommended.  An 8 oz. glass of milk contains around 220 mg of calcium and about 20 mg of magnesium, a 10/1 ratio.  If a 2/1 ratio of calcium to magnesium is standard, then each glass of milk needs approximately 100 mg of magnesium to establish the recommended Ca/Mg ratio. The need for potassium may be increased if too much magnesium is taken at once. One hundred milligrams of magnesium at a time is usually well tolerated. Potassium deficiency can induce severe muscle cramps, restlessness or irregular heart beat. 100-200 mg of potassium in tablet form will usually resolve such cramps within minutes. All fruit and vegetables juices contain 200-500 mg of potassium per cup depending on the kind of juice. A banana contains around 390 mg. of potassium. Apples and apple juice are also a rich source of malic acid (not available in tablet form in the UK as yet), another nutrient specific for a proper metabolism. The potassium from juices takes 20-60 minutes to reach the blood.

Sodium must be kept in balance with potassium. The more you take of one, the more you lose of the other. Sodium retains fluids, Potassium is a diuretic.   Potassium can also be depleted by sweating or diuretic substances such as medications or caffeine. Both sodium and potassium are essential for proper nerve function, especially of the heart. All physiological processes are controlled by the nerves. An imbalance of sodium and potassium can cause nerve symptoms such as muscle discomfort, restlessness, twitching and chronic fatigue. Additionally, potassium cannot be held in the tissues without adequate magnesium. So all four minerals; calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium must be in balance as a group. Be warned though, that excess of either of these may do as much if not more damage than a deficiency.

The Omega 3 fatty acids are also essential for proper metabolism. Flax oil is the richest natural source of these fats. It can be used over salads in place of or in combination with olive oil, mixed with cottage cheese, used 50/50 with butter, or even dribbled over pop corn. One tbsp. per day is more than enough. Margarines should be avoided as they contain unnatural "Trans fatty acids" which are believed to pose a danger to health by disrupting cellular membranes. Flax oil shouldn't be used for cooking, as high heat damages the fatty acids. Flax oil has a stamped date on it and should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

Other nutrients important in metabolism include the vitamin B-complex and active enzymes. Including fresh fruits and vegetables and supplementing with a vitamin B-complex makes good nutritional sense. The need for vitamin E is increased with increased dietary fats such as Flax oil. Vitamin E is also associated with softening abnormal connective tissue and reversing soft tissue calcification.  400-800 IUs (International Units) of Vit. E per day is a reasonable intake however some with a history of rheumatic fever or high blood pressure may experience a temporary spike in blood pressure and should start at levels of 100 IU's per day and increase as tolerated.

Fibromyalgia may not be "curable", but the symptoms of chronic pain, stiffness, inflammation and fatigue can be effectively addressed so that one can enjoy a normal quality of life.

by John W. Cartmell, LMP US

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