Managing Fibromyalgia – Food Alert

Managing Fibromyalgia – Food Alert

Foods that Lead to Fibro Flares

fibro_flareMany people who suffer with Fibromyalgia are all too familiar with what is known as a fibromyalgia ‘flare’. This is where symptoms become heightened to a point of complete and utter exhaustion, sometimes even collapse, and very often accompanied by a feeling of despair.

The symptoms of a flare may strike at any moment and usually include such symptoms as: increased pain, inability to sleep, extreme lethargy and exhaustion, brain fog, sweating, exacerbated pain, and general disease. Whatever symptoms you may be experiencing become magnified ten- or even twenty-fold during a flare.

While a fibro-flare can strike at any moment, there tends to be several distinct causes leading up to their onset. With a little detective work and raised awareness, you can often determine their cause and help yourself to avoid and even prevent them completely.

Did you know that one of the biggest contributors to a fibro-flare is food? In particular, those foods which contain artificial colors, preservatives, and chemicals contribute towards lowering or suppressing your immune system. Even sugar, something we have grown up with and eat almost every day in one form of another, can contribute to fibro-flares through depressing your immune system by leaving you susceptible to invading pathogens, such as bacterial, viral and fungal, and cause fatigue and weakness.

While the complex carbohydrates found in vegetables, grains, and fruits are good for you, the simple sugars found in sodas, candies, icings, and packaged treats can do harm, at least when eaten in excess, or when your system is compromised with conditions, such as fibromyalgia. Sugar contributes to inflammation in your cells and throughout your body and upsets your blood sugar metabolism. This can lead to excess cortisol production which will lead to adrenal fatigue, causing you to easily becoming stressed, fatigued and exhausted, in addition to hormone imbalances, weight gain, mood swings, brain fog, and metabolic imbalances. Excessive or continued disruption by this means can and does lead to fibro-flares.


Studies have shown that downing 75 to 100 grams of a sugar solution (about 20 teaspoons of sugar, or the amount that is contained in two average 12-ounce sodas) can suppress the body’s immune responses. Simple sugars, including glucose, table sugar, fructose, and honey caused a fifty-percent drop in the ability of white blood cells to engulf bacteria. In contrast, ingesting a complex carbohydrate solution (starch) did not lower the ability of these white blood cells to engulf bacteria. The immune suppression was most noticeable two hours post-ingestion, but the effect was still evident five hours after ingestion.

By consuming constant doses of sugar-laden foods and beverages, you are setting yourself up to get sick at a time when you need to focus on becoming well again. It is best to avoid simple sugars completely when you are experiencing any type of fibro flare-up or exacerbation of your symptoms.

Here are some simple solutions that can help you curb your sugar cravings and reduce fibromyalgia symptoms and flares:

1. Eat a healthy breakfast that contains some form of protein. You give your brain the best start by beginning each day with a balanced breakfast of proteins and complex carbohydrates, as these biochemical partners stimulate the brain’s neurotransmitters to contribute to a feeling of well being. People who start the day with a healthy breakfast are less likely to experience a blood-sugar dip and carbohydrate craving later in the morning and are therefore less likely to overeat the rest of the day.

2. Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water throughout the day will not only hydrate your cells, body, and brain, but will help suppress food cravings as well. Carry water with you during the warmer summer weather and take lots of smaller sips throughout the day.

3. Cut back on caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, sodas, and teas. Caffeine increases the body’s level of cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’ which can lead to other health consequences ranging from fatigue, brain fog, irritability, moodiness, weight gain, even diabetes and heart disease, and yes, fibro flares.

4. Engage in some light, gentle, and stimulating exercise, such as walking, yoga, aqua aerobics, or swimming. Contrary to how it feels with the pain of fibromyalgia, it is important to make exercise an integral part of your day, even if its 10 or 20 minutes three or four times a week. Exercise improves brain chemistry and releases natural ‘feel good’ neuro-chemicals known as endorphins. You will find that your need for medications that mimic this sensation is reduced by doing more exercise and eating less sugary foods and balancing your diet with proteins and healthy fats.

5. “Graze” on good foods throughout the day and include healthy protein in each snack or meal. Make sure you add some healthy proteins to each snack or meal — you don’t need a whole lot. Protein is not only necessary for improving your body’s metabolism and brain chemistry, it is also an essential ingredient to help you manage your fibromyalgia symptoms. By adding small amounts of protein to your snacks and meals, you will improve cognitive performance, reduce brain fog, increase your body’s ability to lose weight, increase your immune system, and reduce stress. Healthy choices include: whey protein powder, chicken, turkey, salmon, eggs, almonds, cashews, turkey, cottage cheese, yogurt, peanut butter, brown rice, and even vegetables, which contain various amino acids, the “building blocks” of protein.

It is important to be aware of what causes your symptoms to flare up in order to avoid them whenever possible. Foods are one of the number one contributing factor towards health and wellness. By becoming more aware about balancing what you eat throughout the day, you will notice a marked improvement in how you feel and will reduce fibromyalgia symptoms and fibro-flares. Guaranteed!

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