Can changing the food you eat offer pain relief for fibromyalgia? The answer is yes! New research shows a low FODMAP diet can help sufferers.

Fibromyalgia is a common problem that causes pain and tenderness in the muscles, ligaments and connective tissues. Tenderness in the muscles and tendons which are painful to touch are known as ‘trigger points’. Pain may be chronic or intermittent and to qualify for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia it must have been present for at least three months.

Fibromyalgia affects between 3 and 10% of the world’s population, both men and women. However, women are more commonly affected as fibromyalgia often begins during the peri-menopausal years. Fibromyalgia is also often associated with chronic fatigue, depression and disturbed sleep.

The food you eat can influence the degree of pain you experience, via modifying levels of inflammation in your body. Inflammatory foods like sugar, artificial additives and gluten can raise levels of inflammatory cytokines, and that means more pain. However, the food you eat also influences the type of microbes that live in your intestines. Sometimes a food that is considered healthy for the general population can be problematic if you suffer with fibromyalgia.

Recently, researchers in Portugal set out to determine whether a low FODMAP diet (designed to help people with irritable bowel syndrome) might help fibromyalgia. Developed by researchers in Melbourne, Australia, a low FODMAP diet addresses gastrointestinal problems - increased fermentation and problems with sugar absorption. FODMAPs are short chain sugars that usually pass through the small intestine unchanged. When they reach the large intestine, they get fermented by bacteria that live there. People with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth have too much bacteria higher up in their small intestine. When they eat FODMAPs, fermentation occurs there, resulting in gut inflammation and leaky gut syndrome.

Earlier studies have shown that the majority of patients with fibromyalgia have some degree of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, therefore a low FODMAP diet is likely to have benefits. Results of the Portuguese study showed gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating and constipation were significantly reduced, and fibromyalgia symptoms like pain and muscle stiffness declined by about 25 percent.

Diet changes are necessary but usually not sufficient to address fibromyalgia adequately. There are excellent herbal remedies for killing bacterial overgrowth in the intestines, such as BactoClear capsules. Magnesium and selenium both help to reduce fibromyalgia pain. To read more of my recommendations for fibromyalgia, see this article.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.