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Foods That Trigger Fibromyalgia

author image Susan Kaye
Susan Kaye writes about alternative health care, the medicinal value of foods and natural remedies for healing body, mind and spirit. She is currently retired from an active classical homeopathy practice and enjoys sharing her passion for alternative medicine in her writing with those seeking health care freedom.
Foods That Trigger Fibromyalgia
Peppers are just one of many foods with the potential to trigger migraines. Photo Credit Design Pics/Design Pics/Getty Images


Fibromyalgia is a condition described as having widespread, long-term chronic pain, including inflammation, stiffness and swelling of the musculoskeletal system. Fibromyalgia can also produce mental and emotional symptoms like depression, moodiness, loss of cognitive function, memory problems, difficulty with conceptualizing ideas and understanding concepts. Chronic fatigue and weakness are often pervasive. Certain foods aggravate fibroymalgia, and eliminating them can offer relief of symptoms.

Nightshade Vegetables

A class of vegetables known as nightshades are known to cause aching and pain in the joints and muscles as well as weakness and fatigue for people who are sensitive, Ygoy.com reports. The nightshades contain a compound called solanine that is responsible for this reaction. Anecdotal evidence points to these items being the culprits: peppers, tomatoes, paprika, eggplant, white potatoes and tobacco. The reaction can happen quickly or within days. Some people become completely crippled during a reaction to nightshades. Smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products, even when they are not ingested, may produce symptoms.

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Gluten-containing Grains

Gluten-containing grains such as wheat, barley, rye and possibly oats have been shown to produce a myriad of symptoms in those who are sensitive, The Savvy Celiac website explains. For people who have gluten allergies and are gluten intolerant, the entire body can react immediately or within several hours or days. Some of the symptoms experienced may be severe inflammation, swelling, headaches, respiratory problems, weakness, fatigue, and extreme body pain. There is also an issue of cross-contamination for those who are sensitive, and close attention must be paid to reading labels and eating foods that have not been in contact with other foods containing gluten. By eliminating all gluten-containing foods, starting with processed white flour, you will likely see a difference in your pain level and other symptoms.

Artificial Sweeteners and Food Additives

Certain food additives and artificial sweeteners may create serious side effects, worsening fibromyalgia in those who are sensitive. All artificial sweeteners should be eliminated as well as foods containing them, such as sodas and other diet foods.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the most common food additive, Laura A. Coleman and R. Roubenoff explain in their book, “Nutrition and Rheumatic Disease (Nutrition and Health).” Used as a preservative and flavor enhancer, MSG is found in one form or another in just about every packaged or canned food on the market unless labeled otherwise. An wide range of symptoms have been reported that mimic or aggravate fibromyalgia such as dizziness, headaches, stomach upsets, nausea, body aches and joint pain especially in arms and hands, difficulty thinking, mood changes and more. Unless the label on the package says “MSG free,” assume what you are buying includes MSG. Most Asian restaurants also include MSG in their preparations, so ask for it to be eliminated or don’t eat at that restaurant.

Foods Containing MSG

Keep a list of these common foods available so you recognize which are the culprits. Anything with soy sauce, soy protein, bouillon, broths and soup stock, foods labeled with “natural flavoring,” textured protein, TVP, barley malt or whey protein are on the “avoid” list.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Pseudonyms

MSG is a chemical and known by many names. Here is a list of most of those names to keep with you so you recognize them when you shop. They include sodium caseinate, yeast nutrient, calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed protein, autolyzed yeast, yeast extract, yeast food, hydrolyzed corn gluten, natrium glutamate, monopotassium glutamate, carrageenan, maltodextrin, citric acid, soy protein isolate, malt extract, whey protein protease, malt flavoring. Foods labeled "enzyme modified" has MSG. Food labeled as protein fortified, whey protein isolate and protease enzymes, should be avoided. Beware of flavorings and fermented foods, enzymes, natural flavor and seasonings.

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