Fibromyalgia, a chronic disease that causes pain and swelling in more than a dozen points all over the body, affects as many as 5 million people. Because doctors are still unsure of the cause of fibromyalgia, treatment can be frustrating (and often a process of trial and error). “Fibromyalgia symptoms are only about 30% amenable to current pharmaceutical strategies on the market,” says Kathleen Holton, PhD, MPH, lead author of Potential Dietary Links in Central Sensitization in Fibromyalgia.
That’s why many patients are taking matters into their own hands and experimenting with alternative treatments, including dietary changes. Forty-two percent of fibro patients reported that symptoms worsened after eating certain foods, and though much of the research is in its preliminary phases, there’s some evidence that simple diet tweaks may ease fibro pain.
Read on to get 5 food rules for fibromyalgia patients (just be sure to consult your doctor before drastically changing your diet).
1. Load up on Vitamin D
Many adults are deficient in vitamin D to begin with, but this sunshine vitamin can be vital to fibro patients. “Vitamin D deficiency can mimic some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. All patients should be screened for deficiency,” says Holton. Studies show that vitamin D deficiencies can cause bone and muscle pain, and upping levels of this hard-to-get vitamin may help. A 2008 study found that pain patients with low levels ofvitamin D required almost double the dose of painkillers as those with adequate levels. Holton recommends taking a supplement, especially during the wintertime.