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Food Guide for Autoimmune Disease and Illnesses

The most important thing to know about food and systemic scleroderma is that many foods can make symptoms either better...or worse.
Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Overview of Food Guide
Diets and Scleroderma
Arachidonic Acid
Fruits and Vegetables
Diets and Health
Herbs and Spices
Relaxation Drinks
Supplement Guide

Overview of Food Guide for Autoimmune Disease and Other Chronic illnesses

Food affects our health in many ways, for better or for worse. What is good for some may not be good for others. Persons with an autoimmune disease and other chronic illnesses should be aware of how their diet affects their disease and how food makes them feel. For example, there are many proven benefits of caffeine; however, caffeine has been proven to worsen the symptoms of both heartburn and Raynaud's, symptoms of Scleroderma. Caffiene can also make you feel nervous or anxious, or could affect your sleep.
High fiber products are normally good for digestion, but can sometimes be harmful (or even deadly) with scleroderma bowel involvement. Thus, always consult a scleroderma expert before making any changes in diet or supplements. (Also see: What is Scleroderma?, Types of Scleroderma, Raynaud's, Gastrointestinal Involvement, and Scleroderma Experts)
Arthritis diets and supplements: Do they work? Pain from arthritis might lead you to try anything to relieve it, including a change in diet or taking supplements. Make sure you know what works first. WebMD.
Nutrition a key element in fighting autoimmune diseases. Exactly what brings on an autoimmune disease remains a mystery, but scientists have found genetic links. However, genetics alone do not seal your fate — it's a combination of factors including environmental impacts, such as infections, toxins, drugs or diet. Chicago Tribune Health. 12/21/2011.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet Tips. Along with influencing inflammation, this diet will provide steady energy and ample vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids dietary fiber, and protective phytonutrients. Andrew Weil, M.D. April, 2011.
Welcome Eating Well. Each person's path to healthier living can be different. But it's all about making healthier choices, in ways that make sense for you. Eating right, staying active, managing health conditions—they're all part of your overall health and wellness. MerckEngage. 2010.
WHO/FAO release independent Expert Report on diet and chronic disease. A diet low in energy-dense foods that are high in saturated fats and sugars, and abundant in fruit and vegetables, together with an active lifestyle are among the key measures to combat chronic disease. World Health Organization.

Diets and Scleroderma

Diets and Scleroderma Systemic scleroderma patients should always consult their doctor(s), especially their rheumatologist, before using any vitamin or herbal remedies or making any significant changes in their diet. ISN.
Overview of Diet and Systemic Scleroderma
Malnutrition in Systemic Scleroderma
Food Guide for Systemic Scleroderma
Supplement Guide for Systemic Scleroderma
Diet and Scleroderma
Anti-inflammatory Diet
Gluten-free Diet
Mediterranean Diet


How Exercise Can Moderate Brain Damage Caused By Drinking. Aging and drinking result in similar changes in the brain, and if aerobic exercise can alleviate the age-based damage, could it do the same for alcohol-related harm? Time Healthland. 04/18/2013.
Alcohol Doesn't Affect Ability to Survive Breast Cancer. Breast cancer patients who raised a glass or two a week may even enjoy slightly longer lives than those who didn't drink. Time Healthland. 04/10/2013. (Also see: Cancer and Scleroderma)
Alcohol Does a Body Good? Study Finds It Boosts Bone Health. Moderate drinking has been linked to better heart health and longer life. Now add to the list higher bone density in women. Time Healthland. 07/12/12.
Moderate drinking may slow arthritis progression. Some studies have suggested that moderate drinkers have a lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, and now new findings link the habit to a slower progression of the joint disease. Amy Norton. Reuters Health. 03/25/10. (Also see: Rheumatoid Arthritis)
Alcohol and your health: Weighing the pros and cons. Consider these points when weighing the risks and benefits of alcohol use. Mayo Clinic.
Alcohol: Does it affect blood pressure? Excessive alcohol use can raise your blood pressure to an unhealthy level. Mayo Clinic


Common Food Allergies. In theory, any food can cause a food allergy. But in fact just a handful of foods are to blame for 90% of allergic reactions to food. These foods are known as the 'big eight'. Medical News Today 05/12/09. (Also see: Celiac Disease)
Kissing Can Trigger Allergic Reactions In Susceptible People, As Can Sex. For people who have food allergies, having an allergic reaction immediately after kissing someone who has eaten the food or taken oral medication that you are allergic to isn't highly unusual. Medical News Today, 15 Nov, 2010.

Arachidonic Acid: Red Meat, Eggs, What Products

Arachidonic Acid. Red meat, eggs, and wheat products all contain something called arachidonic acid. While some arachidonic acid is essential for your health, too much arachidonic acid in the diet will make your inflammation worse . Nutrition.About.com.


Does coffee make women happier? Drinking caffeinated coffee may help women fight depression, Harvard researchers said. The Sydney Morning Herald. 09/27/2011. (Also see: Diet and Depression)
Studies provide more support for health benefits of coffee. Although it is sometimes referred to as "the devil's brew," coffee contains several nutrients (e.g., calcium) as well as hundreds of potentially biologically active compounds (e.g., polyphenols) that may promote health. For instance, observational studies have suggested a beneficial link between coffee consumption and type 2 diabetes. Eureka Alert. March 15, 2010. (Also see: Foods and Health)
Coffee associated with reduced risk of hospitalization for heart rhythm disturbances. While it is not proven that coffee is protective, it is unlikely that moderate caffeine intake increases arrhythmia risk, according to a new study. The researchers note the findings may be surprising because patients frequently report palpitations after drinking coffee. Eureka Alert. March 2, 2010. (Also see: Cardiac Involvement)


Chocolate can trigger Raynaud's and heartburn.
Chocolate could reduce heart risk by a third. Eating more chocolate could reduce the risk of developing heart disease by 37 per cent, a report in the British Medical Journal suggests. CBC News. 08/29/2011.


Fatty foods may cause cocaine-like addiction. Scientists have finally confirmed what the rest of us have suspected for years: Bacon, cheesecake, and other delicious yet fattening foods may be addictive. Sarah Klein CNN Health March 30, 2010.


Extra fiber tied to lower risk of stroke. People who get more fiber in their diet are less likely to have a stroke than those who skimp on the nutrient, according to a new review of existing research. Chicago Tribune. 04/19/2013. (Also see: Vascular Involvement in Scleroderma)

Food Safety

Biggest Food Safety Disasters 2012: Peanut Butter, Sushi, Cantaloupe And More. If there's something we tend to take for granted, it's food safety. We hardly expect the bag of lettuce we buy at the supermarket, or the jar of peanut butter or the cantaloupe, to harm us. Huff Post. 09/26/12.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables Could Modify Gene Linked to Heart Disease. Eating a healthy amount of greens could have an effect on genes linked to heart disease. ABC News. 10/11/2011. (Also see: Heart Involvement)


Why Garlic Is Good for You. Garlic Relaxes Blood Vessels, Increases Blood Flow. WebMD. 10/31/07. (Also see: Raynaud's)


Ginger can trigger heartburn.


Scleroderma and Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance Gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease are a known cause of scleroderma and dozens of other autoimmune diseases. Even if tests for gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease are negative or inconclusive, trial of a gluten-free and casein-free (GFCF) should be considered. ISN.
What is Gluten Sensitivity?
What is Celiac Disease?
CD and Scleroderma
CD and Autoimmunity
Diets and Celiac DiseaseSymptoms
Media Articles
Personal Stories


Chemical Culprit in Grapefruit–Drug Interactions Identified. Natural grapefruit contains a substance that affects the activity of an enzyme in the intestines and liver that processes these medications. This could result in a dangerous increase in the level of the drug in your blood. John Hopkins. 02/05/08. (Also see: Medications)

Herbs and Spices

Consumers over age 50 should consider steps to cut copper and iron intake. The article points out that copper and iron are essential nutrients for life, with high levels actually beneficial to the reproductive health of younger people. After age 50, however, high levels of these metals can damage cells in ways that may contribute to a range of age-related diseases. EurekaAlert. 04/07/10.
Turmeric Delays Liver Disease Progression. Scientists have found that the Indian spice turmeric delayed the progression of liver disease associated with autoimmune disease known as primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and primary biliary cirrhosis. Kathleen Blanchard RN. EmaxHealth (British Medical Journal). 03/24/10. (Also see: Autoimmune Hepatitis)


White Button Mushrooms Enhance Critical Cells In Immune System. Mushrooms are among the many foods thought to play an important role in keeping the immune system healthy. A recent study suggests that white button mushrooms may promote immune function by increasing production of antiviral and other proteins that are released by cells while seeking to protect and repair tissue. Medical News Today. 07/30/10.


Peppermint can trigger heartburn.


Don't go on any diets that eliminate food groups, and especially avoid high-protein diets because they are very hard on the kidneys. (Also see: Kidney Involvement)

Relaxation Drinks

‘Relaxation' drinks. There are dozens of cocktails on the market in bottles and cans, looking like regular soft drinks with a different drug in each of them, like melatonin, 5-HTP, L-thianine, kava, valerian root, etc. The question, as always, is: Are these instant “remedies” safe? Inquirer News, 10/10/2011.


Strawberries May Help Reduce Risk Of Having Elevated Inflammation In Blood Vessels. Those who reported eating the most strawberries experienced lower blood levels of C-reactive protein, a biomarker for inflammation in the blood vessels. Medical News Today. 01/12/08.

Supplement Guide for Systemic Scleroderma

Supplement Guide for Systemic Scleroderma. Systemic scleroderma patients should always consult their doctor(s), especially their scleroderma expert, before using any vitamin or herbal remedies or making any significant changes in their diet. In general, most doctors recommend that scleroderma patients follow a normal, well-balanced diet , without the addition of any herbs, vitamins, or minerals. Do not cut out any food groups from your diet, nor go on any "cleansing" diets, since this may accelerate the disease process.
Overview of Scleroderma and Supplements
Herbal Supplements
Arachidonic and DHA Acids
Calcium Supplements
Cod Liver Oil
Curcumin (Turmeric)
Fish Oil (Omega-3)
Lipoic Acid
Probiotics (Acidophilus, Microbes, Yogurt)
Vitamins and Minerals


Modulation of fibrosis in systemic sclerosis by nitric oxide and antioxidants. The dietary antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), with its long history of safe beverage consumption in green tea, is a good candidate for therapeutic treatment targeting oxidative stress and fibrogenesis in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). Cardiology Research and Practice. 2012:521958.
OSU Study explains health benefits of green tea. One of the beneficial compounds found in green tea has a powerful ability to increase the number of “regulatory T cells” that play a key role in immune function and suppression of autoimmune disease. David Stauth, OSU News & Communications. (KCAL.com) 06/06/2011. (Also see: T Cells)
Study: Exercise, tea and vitamin D to ward off dementia. Improved living and diet habits — including lots of physical activity, regular tea-drinking and sufficient vitamin D levels — could reduce the risk of brain decline, according to three studies. USA Today. July 11, 2010. (Also see: Vitamin D)
Does A Cup Of Tea Reduce Stress? Several daily newspapers in the UK and elsewhere carry reports this week of a study commissioned by the Direct Line insurance company that suggests a cup of tea reduces stress, not just by drinking it but also because of the calming effect of the ritual of putting the kettle on. Medical News Today. 8/14/09. (Also see: Stress)


Acidophilus, Yogurt, and Other Probiotics. Eating 1 to 2 tablespoons a day of live culture acidophilus yogurt may be helpful for combatting bowel involvement with systemic scleroderma, especially small bowel bacterial overgrowth. It may also be particularly helpful when taking antibiotics. (Also see: Bowel Involvement and Probiotic Supplements on Amazon.)
Go to Scleroderma and Supplements
About the ISN

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