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Fibromyalgia pain reduced by eliminating these common chemicals in food

Lana Bandoim's picture
common chemicals in food

A study from Oregon Health & Science University found that several chemicals in food can make fibromyalgia pain worse. Researchers believe that some additives in food can affect patients who have the disease. Although they focused on monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame, other studies have shown that multiple food chemicals can also have a negative impact on the health of fibromyalgia patients.


Researchers from Oregon Health & Science University focused on patients who had both fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome. They note that it is common for fibromyalgia sufferers to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive health problems. During the study, patients eliminated monosodium glutamate and aspartame. They reported an improvement in their symptoms and a reduction in pain. In another portion of the study, patients received either monosodium glutamate or a placebo. The fibromyalgia patients who took MSG had higher levels of pain.

Understanding monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is often used to enhance the flavor of food and is commonly found in Chinese food. It is generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but consumers have raised concerns about this food additive over the years. Some of the common complaints about MSG include that it causes headaches, rapid heartbeats, sweating, chest pain and fatigue.

Although the FDA has allowed its continued use in food, some medical practitioners recommend that patients with fibromyalgia and other health problems avoid MSG. They suggest that patients avoid food that uses monosodium glutamate by carefully reading labels and asking questions in restaurants. You can find MSG-free Chinese food at restaurants and other locations.

If you are checking labels, then it is important to remember that MSG or monosodium glutamate can appear under multiple names. Some of the common names are glutamic acid, glutamate, monopotassium glutamate, calcium glutamate and monoammonium glutamate. MSG can also appear under the name of umami.

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Understanding aspartame

Aspartame, an artificial sweetener, is also generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is added to a variety of food items ranging from cookies to cereal, and it can be found under several names including NutraSweet and Equal. Since 1981, aspartame has been used by multiple companies. It is a popular addition to carbonated drinks and soft drinks.

A previous study from France revealed a connection between aspartame and fibromyalgia. Researchers from the Department of Rheumatology at Dijon University Hospital and the Faculty of Medicine at Burgundy University in France found a link to pain. Patients who removed aspartame from their diets were able to reduce their fibromyalgia pain.

Similar to MSG, aspartame can appear on labels with different names. AminoSweet is an alternative name for aspartame. This sweetener is also sold under the names of NutraSweet and Equal. Although the following names are rarer, you may occasionally see it under NatraTaste Blue and APM.

Advice for fibromyalgia patients

Some health experts recommend that fibromyalgia patients try to eliminate chemicals and additives from their diets. They suggest that patients can reduce their pain and improve their symptoms by taking a more natural approach to their food. Preservatives, flavor enhancers and other additives are not easy to remove, but the benefits may be worth it.

Nutritionists recommend that anyone who is trying to switch to a healthier diet take a slow approach as new habits form. You may want to start by reducing processed foods in your diet and reading more labels. You may also want to start learning more about the chemicals, dyes and other additives that are commonly found in food. A process of elimination can help you find the additives that make your fibromyalgia worse or better.



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