To test the effect of a Magnesium and Tryptophan enriched Mediterranean Diet on psychological factors that are symptomatic in women with fibromyalgia, including anxiety, mood state, self-image perception, eating disorders, and sleep quality. Low serotonin levels have been thought to be responsible for these issues, and magnesium and tryptophan can impact serotonin production. Mediterranean diets are high in meats and plant sources of these nutrients.
A randomized controlled study of 22 women aged 40-60 years old with diagnosed fibromyalgia found that after 16 weeks on the Mediterranean Diet, in addition to 3-5 walnuts consumed at breakfast and dinner containing an additional 60 mg of tryptophan and 60 mg of Magnesium. Data was collected before and 3 months after the intervention. Self-assessment tests were given to measure body image satisfaction, anxiety levels, moods, risk of eating disorders, and sleep habits. The participants reported lower anxiety levels due to less threatening feelings, less sadness, and less emotional instability. Also, there was less disordered eating behavior which has been suggested to be caused by low tryptophan levels.
The improvement in psychological factors from the enriched Mediterranean Diet is positive. Depression and anxiety are very debilitating in Fibromyalgia patients, and if dietary changes could improve these symptoms, it would be beneficial. Additionally, disordered eating contributes to obesity and other health problems. Many women with fibromyalgia suffer from eating disorders. If certain enriched diets influence disordered eating outcomes, it may help other issues in the long term.
The additional levels of tryptophan were selected based on a previous study of a normal population where tryptophan improved sleep. It was suggested that higher dosages may have been needed in the fibromyalgia population to achieve results. Levels were not measured, so it is unclear if the participants had lower-than-normal levels of tryptophan and magnesium before beginning the study and if those levels were changed due to the intervention. Results were based on self-reported information, and adherence to the diet was only tracked by a twice-weekly phone call from a dietician and a once-a-week meeting.
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