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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
Alcohol
Allergies
Arachidonic Acid
Caffeine
Chocolate
Fats
Fiber
Fruits and Vegetables
Diets and Health
Garlic
Ginger
Gluten
Grapefruit
Herbs and Spices
Mushrooms
Peppermint
Protein
Relaxation Drinks
Strawberries
Sugar
Supplement Guide
Tea
Yogurt

Overview

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)

WHO/FAO release independent Expert Report on diet and chronic disease. A healthy diet that is abundant in fruit and vegetables but low in saturated fat and sugars, plus 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

Alcohol

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

Allergies

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.

Caffeine

Sweetened beverages, coffee, and tea and depression risk among older US adults. Compared to nondrinkers, drinking coffee or tea without any sweetener was associated with a lower risk for depression. Adding artificial sweeteners was associated with higher risks. Frequent consumption of sweetened beverages, especially diet drinks, may increase depression risk among older adults, whereas coffee consumption may lower the risk. PubMed, PLoS One, 2014 Apr 17;9(4):e94715.

Chocolate

Chocolate can trigger Raynaud's and heartburn.

Should I Eat Dark Chocolate? A considerable body of research, including several studies in my own lab, show decisive cardiovascular benefits with intake of dark chocolate. Time Healthland, 11/20/2014.

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.

Fats

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.

Fiber

Warning for Fiber in Systemic Scleroderma

Excess fiber can trigger or worsen bowel involvement in systemic scleroderma, which can be fatal when the underlying problem is a lack of peristalsis. Therefore, some scleroderma patients may actually need to avoid fiber and should always consult their scleroderma expert with any change or worsening in bowel involvement. (Also see What is Scleroderma? and Scleroderma Bowel Involvement)

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

Blueberries May Lower Blood Pressure. Can a cup of blueberries keep the doctor away? Maybe. New York Times, 01/14/2015.

Garlic

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

Ginger

Ginger can trigger heartburn.

Gluten

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.

Overview of Gluten Sensitivity
What is Celiac Disease?
Causes
CD and Scleroderma
CD and Autoimmunity
Diagnosis
Diets and Celiac Disease
Symptoms
Treatment
Media Articles
Personal Stories

Grapefruit

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. EmaxHealth, 03/24/10. (Also see Autoimmune Hepatitis)

Mushrooms

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, 07/30/2010.

Peppermint

Peppermint can trigger heartburn.

Protein

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

Molecular markers and antioxidant activity in strawberry diversity analysis. Strawberries contain high levels of vitamin C, cellulose and pectin, and produce anthocyanins which have important therapeutic values, including antitumor, antiulcer, antioxidant and antiinflammatory activities. Acta Horticulturae (ISHS), 2014.

Sugar

Nutrition Panel Calls for Less Sugar and Eases Cholesterol and Fat Restrictions. A nutrition advisory panel eased some of its previous restrictions on fat and cholesterol and recommended sharp new limits on the amount of added sugar that Americans should consume. New York Times, 02/19/2015.

Sugar doesn’t just make you fat—it can also trigger depression, anxiety and stress. According to new research, too much sugar doesn't just lead to weight gain, but also depression, anxiety and stress. Mail Online, 11/20/2014. (Also see Depression)

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
Antioxidants
Arachidonic and DHA Acids
Calcium Supplements
Cod Liver Oil
Curcumin (Turmeric)
Fish Oil (Omega-3)
Ginseng
Omega-6
Licorice
Lipoic Acid
Probiotics (Acidophilus, Microbes, Yogurt)
Vitamins and Minerals
Quinine

Tea

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.

Yogurt

Probiotics should be avoided by people who are critically ill or immunocompromised, or who have short gut syndrome or central venous catheters, because they are live bacteria and can cause invasive infection.

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
 
 

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