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Fibromyalgia Diet: Aspartame And MSG

Diet To Reduce Central Sensitization

Some medical experts believe that central sensitization is a major physiological factor in fibromyalgia. Meaning, fibromyalgia may cause the central nervous system to become “oversensitive” and over-responsive to pressure.

Thus, they advocate the avoidance of foods and food-ingredients which may increase this type of over-sensitivity. Two common foods believed to fall into this category are the flavor-enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG), and the artificial sweetener aspartame. They contain molecules (glutamate and aspartate) that function as excitatory neurotransmitters that may overstimulate that part of the nervous system that handles pain transmission. Food products containing aspartame include: diet soft drinks, sweeteners (Equal, Nutrasweet), puddings and gelatins. Foods high in monosodium glutamate include: soups, salad dressings, processed meats, some crackers, bread, canned tuna fish, most frozen entrees, ice cream and frozen yogurt. So check food labels before buying.

Research into the relationship between food, central sensitization and fibromyalgia is still in its infancy, although one study (Smith et al) showed that a small group of fibromyalgia sufferers who excluded foods containing MSG, or MSG and aspartame from their diet experienced an improvement in symptoms.

Gastrointestinal Activity Can Increase Central Sensitization

An increase in central sensitization – leading to a worsening of fibromyalgia symptoms – can also, it is believed, be caused by pain arising from other parts of the body, such as organs along the gastrointestinal tract. Thus some experts recommend a reduction in intake of foods that can lead to abdominal pain from indigestion or painful cramps, and bloating from specific digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Foods which fall into this category include: high-fat foods, milk products, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, gluten, corn, sugar, nightshade family (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant), tea, eggs, beef and refined carbohydrates (eg. high-sugar or high in white flour). In some cases, simply eating a large meal will trigger symptoms. Soluble and insoluble fibers tend to affect the GI system differently. Soluble fiber (eg. found in oats, apples) are fine, while insoluble fiber may lead to bloating and abdominal pain.

Effect of Drugs On The Digestive Tract

Another common cause of gastrointestinal pain is the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) drugs like acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen. These drugs, which are also found in pain medications like Vicodin or Vicoprofen, can cause damage to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Fibromyalgia patients with any food sensitivities or digestive disturbances, are not advised to use these drugs as they tend to aggravate food intolerances. Even fibromyalgia sufferers without digestive problems run the risk of developing them through regular use of NSAIDs.

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