Fibromyalgia: Inflammatory vs Anti-inflammatory Foods

Fibromyalgia: Inflammatory vs Anti-inflammatory Foods

Fibromyalgia is an inflammatory illness, so it stands to reason that we should avoid foods that increase our inflammation and bring on flares. At the end, I will tell you the best foods to eat.

You know your body best, so you know some foods that will trigger a flare for you. Really work on avoiding those. Packaged foods that contain preservatives and food coloring should be avoided. Self medicating with caffeine is counterproductive, but I have done it anyway on numerous occasions when I’ve been so tired. It’s a huge temptation, right?

Sugar, and carbs made with white flour, can cause a crash soon after consumption. I am a big proponent of clean eating, although occasionally I will eat white flour carbs. Inevitably my body will remind me why it was not a good idea. Can you relate?

Artificial sweeteners and foods sweetened with them can wreak havoc as they are laden with chemicals. Splenda can enlarge both the liver and kidneys and shrink the thymus glands. Aspartame can cause hallucinations, seizures, and brain tumors.  Artificial sweeteners are not good for anyone really, but those of us with fibromyalgia tend to be very sensitive to chemicals.

Read your labels carefully and avoid hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, ingredients you can’t pronounce (the fewer ingredients the better), and GMO (genetically modified) foods.

Avoid highly inflammatory ‘nightshade’ foods:

  • Bell pepper (sweet pepper)
  • Italian pepper
  • Chile pepper
  • Anaheim
  • Ancho
  • Cascabel
  • Chipotle
  • Fresno
  • Guajillo
  • Habañero
  • Jalapeño
  • Pasada
  • Pasilla
  • Pimiento / Pimento
  • Poblano
  • Serrano
  • Eggplant
  • White Potatoes
  • Tomatillo


  • Cayenne
  • Chili powder (some ingredients of)
  • Curry (some ingredients of)
  • Paprika


  • Ketchup
  • Tabasco


  • Goldenberry (Cape gooseberry)
  • Goji berry
  • Pepino
  • Tamarillo

Changes I highly recommend, as a Certified Nutrition Consultant (make them slowly):

  • Natural sweeteners such as real maple syrup and raw honey.
  • Healthy protein such as wild caught salmon, free-range chicken, grass-fed beef.
  • Lots of fruits and veggies, organic, locally grown and pesticide free.
  • Gluten-free when you can. I’m not crazy about gluten-free breads, but I do enjoy sourdough bread at times. It’s really trial and error.
  • Nuts and seeds, preferably raw, such as walnuts, cashews, pistachios, macadamia, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and almonds, chia seeds, and flax seeds.
  • Lots of leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and leafy lettuces. These are great in smoothies and you won’t even taste them.
  • Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, pineapple, and oranges.
  • Nut milks such as almond and cashew.
  • Good oils such as virgin olive oil and coconut oil.
  • Bok choy, celery, beets, and broccoli
  • Turmeric, and ginger.

Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Fibromyalgia.


  1. Do you have medical evidence that the artificial sweetener aspartame causes brain tumors in humans? No. The National Cancer Institute states “no clear evidence.” Do not give information that is not supported by evidence. BTW, I do not use any type of artificial sweeteners. If there is one fact that is not supported by clear evidence, then how is one to know whether or not many facts given in your information are true or not? People turn to you for help. You should do thorough research before you state information as fact.

    • Jude Adamson says:

      I agree Maureen. I’m so disappointed to see an article like this, with so many incorrect claims, posted to this website. I would strongly urge interested readers to search for more scientifically accurate information.

      There are some excellent, free online classes in food and nutrition science. Here’s just one from McGill University that teaches you how to assess claims about food science. It’s starting again in September. Or this one (the 3rd of three) focussing on food safety from Wageningan Uni also starting in September (I haven’t taken it yet, but it looks promising).

      Main point is, don’t believe everything you read! Much of the information in this article is not backed up by the weight of scientific evidence.

      • Robin Dix says:

        Everyone should do their due diligence, absolutely. I have over 20 years experience in the nutrition and natural health field

        • Jude Adamson says:

          I’m not quite sure what that means exactly – do you have qualifications in health or nutrition? There are many incorrect scientific claims in the article (with no references), and it concerns me that fibro patients will mistake them for facts and use them to make decisions about their diet.

          • Robin Dix says:

            Yes, I’m a certified nutrition consultant with education in the doctor of naturopathy program, as well as a Dr Sears certified health coach. There is nothing false in what I wrote, but I can understand why you would think that, coming from a strictly scientific point of view. I’m sorry that we disagree, but that’s ok. I appreciate your point of view

          • Jude Adamson says:

            Perhaps you should have those certificates on your bio. Readers should have the chance to find out what they entail/how they are regulated, and determine if that is where they want to obtain health advice. This website brings medical science, peer-reviewed research and clinical trials to the public. When readers see those sort of articles, then read your blog, they may not be aware that your claims may come from something other than the scientific method. You’re stating many things as fact – “Splenda can enlarge both the liver and kidneys”, “Aspartame can cause hallucinations, seizures, and brain tumors”, people with fibro are sensitive to “chemicals” (which is undefined). Wouldn’t we need scientific research to see if these claims are true? You haven’t given any references, so why should we accept them as fact?

            To me the most worrying and misleading thing you say is that we should avoid “ingredients you can’t pronounce”. How is a fibro patient supposed to interpret that? Imagine if we saw an ingredients list with things like gamma-dodecalactone, ethyl 3-methylbutanoate, and 2-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-ethyl beta-D-glucopyranoside in it? If we took your advice we’d certainly avoid it, no? Unfortunately, we would then have missed out on the joys of a strawberry.

    • S Warren says:

      I have fybromyalgia and have found the information to be really helpful and reliable – a lot of it is common sense and doesn’t require scientific references which most of us with fybromyalgia wouldn’t have the energy to read. It suggests eating natural healthy foods. I’ve never heard of anybody who’s suffered from omitting aspartame from their diet so I guess I’ll go with it! By the way – strawberries are most usually listed in an ingredients list as ‘strawberries’. It’s mainly ingredients that have been ‘tampered with’ that seem to have complicated names. But then, I don’t have any qualifications in this field, I’m just interested in nutrition and helping my symptoms. I’ve found that by following the advice above it has helped significantly so I’ll continue to follow it.

    • Ilyssa says:

      I have FM it all kick started w/ EBV and A list of ailments that still makes my head spin. I use Stevia no problems with it a packet or two in my coffee. Now Here is an articial you should read about artifical sweeteners..
      And mixing artifical ones & GMO ” “Commonly Combined with Artificial Sweeteners

      Erythritol is not as sweet as sugar on its own so it’s often combined in foods and beverages with other questionable sweeteners, usually ones that are artificial. When combined with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, the erythritol-laden product becomes even more lethal to your health. Side effects of aspartame include anxiety, depression, short-term memory loss, fibromyalgia, weight gain, fatigue, brain tumors and more.

      Since products containing erythritol typically also contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame, the side effects of that particular food or beverage become even more likely as well as dangerous.” Also Truvia and Stevia are not exactly the same thing even though Truvia contains Stevia. That contains erythinol too. Erythinol is a sugar alcohol that is artificial made “safe” for diabetics. Hwvr, in large quantities can cause diarrhea , stomache and headache. It is an ingredient found in Halo Top ice cream. I love it can have it but if I eat the whole pint that is when the “large quantities side effects mentioned come into play. Just more FYI..

  2. Marilynne Rowland says:

    Be careful of stevia. It is not pure unless you grow it (looks like a tea leaf) and brew and process it yourself. My gut cannot tolerate stevia!!

    • Robin Dix says:

      Just like any food or supplement, stevia may not be for everyone. Organic locally grown honey, or pure maple syrup may be a good alternative.

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