Sjogren's syndrome is a rare autoimmune disease affecting mainly fluid-producing portions of the body. If a person has one autoimmune disease, chances are he will be diagnosed with another. Although diet alone won't cure Sjogren's, a healthy diet can help fight the disease and create an overall healthier patient.
What is Sjogren's?
Sjogren's is a little known and highly misunderstood autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease occurs when antibodies wrongly attack some part of the body. With Sjogren's, the disease mainly attacks moisture-producing glands such as tear ducts and saliva glands. However, it also can attack other areas such as the lungs, stomach, intestines and even the joints. There are two forms of Sjogren's: primary and secondary. A person diagnosed with primary Sjogren's will have Sjogren's as the main, or presenting, diagnosis. A person diagnosed with secondary Sjogren's has other types of diseases, most often autoimmune, in combination with the Sjogren's diagnosis.
Foods to Avoid
For Sjogren's patients, there are a number of foods to avoid. The first food to leave out of a diet are milk and all other dairy products. Often, people do not realize that many of our foods are made from milk and other dairy products. Avoid consuming milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and all creams and sauces made of milk or cheese. Also consider diminishing or avoiding altogether any foods or recipes that call for milk or cheese, including macaroni and pizza. Another important item to leave off of a diet for Sjogren's is wheat, including any pasta or breads made from wheat products. In addition, avoid any foods made of or containing gluten. It is important to read all labels carefully, as many products contain gluten for texture.
Foods to Eat
The most ideal diet for Sjogren's is to eat only natural and whole nonprocessed foods. This can get quite expensive, especially for people living far from a major city where these foods can be purchased. The next best thing to do is to eat an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits. These provide basic nutrients and antioxidents that fight cell damage. Include low-fat foods in the diet, including lean meat, fish, white chicken, beans, nuts and soy products. In addition, add foods high in complex carbohydrates including fresh fruit, vegetables and breads.
Avoding Certain Food Additives
The main goal with Sjogren's is to avoid any food or additive that can further dehydrate the body. Some of the herbs or additives that can be irritating are cayenne pepper, red pepper and horseradish. Also avoid any foods that are spicy, such as chili. Usually Mexican and Indian foods have a lot of added spices such as cayenne and red pepper, so it would also be best to avoid these. These foods and spices can dry out the saliva glands.
As Sjogren's depletes the moisture-producing glands and areas of the body, keeping hydrated is extremely important. The first thing to avoid is caffeine in the form of teas, colas and coffees, because caffeine tends to dehydrate the body. Water is the best beverage to drink, and eight glasses should be consumed a day. Fruits and vegetables high in water content are also useful to hydrate the body. Some of these foods include watermelon, peaches, tomatoes and cucumbers.
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