Going gluten free is all the rage these days, but can it actually improve fibromyalgia symptoms?
There are plenty of fibromyalgia sufferers who swear by a gluten-free lifestyle, but the actual research – while promising – is still limited. A few small studies, mostly conducted in Spain, hint that going gluten free lead to a reduction of fibromyalgia pain, gastrointestinal, fatigue and other symptoms:
- “Fibromyalgia and non-celiac gluten sensitivity: a description with remission of fibromyalgia” – This 2014 study involving 20 patients with fibromyalgia who followed a gluten-free diet for 16 months found “the level of widespread chronic pain improved dramatically for all patients; for 15 patients, chronic widespread pain was no longer present, indicating remission of fibromyalgia. Fifteen patients returned to work or normal life. In three patients who had been previously treated in pain units with opioids, these drugs were discontinued. Fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms, migraine and depression also improved together with pain.”
- “Effect of one year of a gluten-free diet on the clinical evolution of irritable bowel syndrome plus fibromyalgia in patients with associated lymphocytic enteritis: a case-control study” – This 2014 study involving 97 women with irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia found that going gluten free produced “a slight but significant improvement in all symptoms” for certain patients. “Our findings suggest that further studies of this subject are warranted,” reads the study.
- “Clinical impact of a gluten-free diet on health-related quality of life in seven fibromyalgia syndrome patients with associated celiac disease” – Seven patients with comorbid fibromyalgia and celiac disease who followed a gluten-free diet for one year “simultaneously improve[d] celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome/fibromyalgia symptoms, and indicate the merit of further research on a larger cohort.”
While these are all small studies, their findings are still intriguing, especially given the number of fibromyalgia sufferers who have indicated their symptoms improved after cutting gluten from their diets.
(Read about my own experience with going gluten free here.)
As with so many other fibromyalgia treatments, the only way to know if going gluten free will improve symptoms is to try it. But cutting gluten can be tricky since it’s often hidden in foods that aren’t typically associated with wheat and other grains containing gluten. Fortunately, there are lots of online resources available to help. Below are a few links to get you started:
- 8 Reasons Why Gluten Sensitivity is on the Rise – We used to eat bread and pasta without any problems, so why is gluten sensitivity an issue now? This article explores why.
- How Gluten Issues Are Connected to Fibromyalgia – Prohealth.com guest writer and fibro sufferer Sue Ingebretson shares how going gluten free has helped her to live nearly pain free for the last 10 years.
- The Simple Elimination Diet that Could Change Your Life Forever – A primer on how to do an elimination diet to determine sensitivity to gluten and other allergens.
- The Gluten-Free Diet 101 – A Beginner’s Guide to Going Gluten-Free – This site is great for the basics and includes safe and unsafe gluten-free food lists.
- Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity – About.com has created an entire online portal dedicated to helping people go gluten free.
- Potential Hidden Sources of Gluten – This site includes a printable list of foods that often contain hidden gluten.
- Gluten-Free Living – This online version of the print magazine has great recipes and helpful advice.
- Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef – Lots of resources for beginners and tasty recipes.
- Gluten-Free Goddess – Another solid gluten-free recipe blog.
- Pinterest – Are you missing those chocolate chip cookies or that loaf of crusty wheat bread? Pinterest’s search bar will lead you to a tasty gluten-free version!
Are there any other sites you’d recommend? Please share them in the comments!