Fibromyalgia & Carbohydrates

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that involves pain throughout the body, especially in the back, shoulders and joints. The Mayo Clinic states that sleeping difficulties and depression are also common with fibromyalgia. According to the Mayo Clinic, women are more likely to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia than men are. Some fibromyalgia patients take medications to control the symptoms, while others utilize natural methods like yoga and acupuncture. The types of foods that a fibromyalgia patient eats may also have a great impact on her pain and energy levels.

Refined carbohydrates like candy can worsen pain and fatigue in fibromyalgia.

Carbohydrate Definition

Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient which provides the body with energy. Grains such as bread, cereals, pasta and rices are all types of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates also come from fruits, vegetables and the natural sugars found in dairy products. There are no carbohydrates in eggs or meats, unless additives or flavorings are used in processing. Carbohydrates make up the majority of the calories in many Americans' diets.

Refined and Complex Carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice, cookies and candies, contain very little fiber, vitamins or minerals. Complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, broccoli and asparagus, are rich in dietary fiber, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates also contain high levels of vitamins and minerals. When it comes to fibromyalgia patients, the distinction between types of carbohydrates is important.


Dr. Paul St. Amand, Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, states on his website that people with fibromyalgia tend to have more frequent cravings for carbohydrates than healthy individuals. When they give into carbohydrate cravings, a hypoglycemic state, or a sudden drop in blood sugar, can occur, perpetuating the fatigue and pain of fibromyalgia. Dr. St. Amand states that hypoglycemia and fibromyalgia commonly occur together, yet it can be hard to get a correct diagnosis since symptoms like trouble sleeping, headaches, muscle cramps and fatigue occur with both conditions. For treating hypoglycemia, Dr. St. Amand recommends a reduction in carbohydrates, especially sugars.

Carbohydrate Recommendations for Fibromyalgia

Cutting out all carbohydrates from the diet is not recommended, since they do serve an important function in the metabolic process. Instead, the National Fibromyalgia Association recommends limiting carbohydrates so that about 30 percent of your daily calories come from carbohydrates, 40 percent of your calories coming from fats and 40 percent come from protein. Cutting out all refined carbohydrates and choosing complex carbohydrates instead can significantly improve some of the symptoms that a patient experiences.

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