Fibromyalgia and arthritis are very common forms of chronic pain (or chronic inflammation) that can linger for years and reduce the quality of life. Chronic pain is often difficult to treat and medication can only reduce the pain, fatigue, and other symptoms a bit. And let’s not forget that those drugs come with plenty of other side-effects that often cause more problems than they solve.
Therefore many patients are turning to lifestyle and diet changes to find relief. Many fibromyalgia or chronic pain sufferers are sensitive to certain foods that often don’t show up in food allergy tests. Although there are not many tests linking chronic pain to diet, many people report more pain and stiffness when they eat certain foods.
Researchers believe that oversensitive nerve cells may be involved in the process. They believe that certain foods trigger the release of neurotransmitters that may worsen food and pain sensitivity.
So let’s have a look at which foods you’d better avoid to reduce the pain and enhance the quality of your life:
1. Limit Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
High insulin levels can worsen pain and inflammation. Limit all sugars and hidden sugars from your diet. If you want to consume fruits, opt for whole fresh fruits and avoid fruit juices. Although artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sorbitol, and xylitol are sugar-free, they contain other compounds that can mess up your sensitivity to pain and can trigger irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). You can find here 13 effective ways to quit sugar.
2. Avoid Caffeine
Chronic pain or fibromyalgia is often linked to inadequate sleep and fatigue. So most patients get tempted to drink more coffee to get them through the day. Although a caffeine shot may seem to work, it can do more harm than good in the long run. Caffeine can linger in your system long after you had your energy shot and may cause sleeping issues at night.
3. Go Easy On the Nightshade Vegetables
Veggies are low in calories and super healthy, but if you are a chronic pain sufferer, you should limit nightshade vegetables to an absolute minimum. These foods contain a particular group of substances called alkaloids, that can impact nerve-muscle function and digestive function. These foods may cause health problems in individuals who are especially sensitive to these alkaloid substances. They are known to trigger arthritis and worsen pain. Nightshade veggies include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and many species of sweet and hot peppers.
4. Avoid Yeast and Gluten
Yeast and gluten can be found in many baked goods and can cause the growth of yeast fungus which may contribute to pain. Also many fibromyalgia patients seem to be more prone to gluten sensitivities. You can find here 10 symptoms of gluten sensitivity you probably didn’t know about.
5. Eliminate Dairy
Dairy and other animal products contain a special type of protein that may contribute to arthritis or fibromyalgia. This protein irritates the tissue around joints and can worsen pain. Many chronic pain sufferers have solved their issues by going vegan. But for many of us that’s just a step too far. Instead of going 100% vegan try to get your protein through nut milks, beans, lentils, and quinoa as much as possible. See what works for you. And if you eat meat opt for organic meat.
6. Cut Down On Carbs
Carbs, just as sugars, will increase insulin levels and may worsen fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions. So opt for a low-carb, low-sugar plant based diet as much as possible.
7. Watch Out For Food Additives
Food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) cause more problems for patients with chronic pain. They stimulate pain receptors and increase pain. MSG is a high-sodium flavor often added to fast food and pre-packaged foods to improve their taste. Again opt for fresh, whole foods and make sure to read your labels and especially avoid these 10 toxic food ingredients.
8. Alcohol and Tobacco
These can lead to all sorts of ailments, including some that affect your joints. Smokers are at higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, while people who drink alcohol on a daily basis have a higher risk of developing gout.
9. Processed Vegetable Oils
Most vegetable oils such as canola and corn oil contain too much omega-6 fatty acids. They trigger inflammation and should be avoided. Opt for healing omega-3 rich oils, seeds, and nuts instead (fish oil, olive oil, flax seeds, chia seeds, etc). Omega-3 will help you to reduce inflammation and pain. Read here more about the amazing health benefits of omega-3.
10. Eliminate Processed and Fast Food
Stay away from fast or processed foods. They often contain sugar, artificial sweeteners, omega-6-rich oils, processed grains, high levels of sodium, additives, and other harmful compounds. Get more information in the article about the top 10 worst ingredients in food.
If you suffer from chronic pain try and eliminate these foods for a few weeks and see what happens. See what works for you. Try cutting them out one by one or gradually. Also increase your consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats to reduce inflammation and pain. If you’re feeling up for it, try a vegan lifestyle and increase your intake of raw vegetables as well. They are packed with antioxidants to prevent cell damage.
Regular, mild exercising should be something you should also consider. Gentle yoga stretches have shown great results.