Food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) often cause trouble for pain patients. MSG—a high-sodium flavor enhancer often added to fast food, Chinese food, and processed packaged foods—is a an excitatory neurotransmitter that may stimulate pain receptors; glutamate levels in spinal fluid have been shown to correlate with pain levels in fibromyalgia patients.
A 1995 report commissioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stated that MSG may cause short-term reactions such as headaches, and a 2007 animal study in the journal Pain suggested that increases in glutamate in muscles may contribute to pain sensitivity.
Say no to junk food
The National Fibromyalgia Research Association recommends limiting or eliminating refined sugar, caffeine, fried foods, and highly processed foods—in other words, most fast food, candy, and vending-machine products. In addition to contributing to weight gain, these foods may irritate muscles, disrupt sleep, and compromise the immune system.
Experimenting with an elimination diet and cutting the foods in this slideshow out completely for several weeks—either one at a time or all at once—may help you decide whether they affect your fibromyalgia symptoms.