What’s the Best Diet for Sjögren’s Syndrome Patients?

healthy fruits, vegetables and omega-3 foods

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  • Whole fruits and vegetables that are colored deep red, yellow, orange or green can deliver important vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber and antioxidants that are ideal if you have this autoimmune disease
  • Drinking high-quality water is an important step in addressing Sjögren’s syndrome, as this disorder makes it difficult for some glands to generate moisture. Foods with high water content such as zucchini, radish, celery, peppers and spinach may also provide water and assist in improving the condition of the moisture glands

Maintaining a healthy diet is a must for people with Sjögren’s syndrome. Although this will not cure this disease, consuming the right foods may help tackle health issues, such as inflammation in the body and dry mouth.

What Should You Eat if You Have Sjögren’s Syndrome?

The Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation emphasizes that these are some of the ideal foods you should eat if you have this autoimmune disease:1

Colorful whole fruits and vegetables: The unparalleled amounts of important vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber and antioxidants in whole fruits and vegetables – whether deep red, yellow, orange or green – may help fight inflammation, making them one of your best ways to combat this autoimmune disorder. Make sure to purchase these foods organically grown, fresh and GMO-free.

Healthy fats : Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation. Good sources of healthy fats to consider include fatty fish (wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines and mackerel), avocados, coconuts and coconut oil, raw nuts (macadamias and pecans), organic pastured egg yolks, grass fed butter, and seeds (cumin, black sesame, hemp and pumpkin).

High-fiber foods: Ideally, aim to consume at least 25 to 50 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories daily.  Artichokes, collard greens,2 spinach, raspberries (should be eaten in moderation), Brussels sprouts and flax seeds3 are all notable fiber sources.,4  When you consume high amounts of fiber-rich foods, you allow the body to promote better and regular bowel movements, support growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut, and ensure that the body’s detoxification process runs smoothly.  

Moderate amounts of grass fed or pasture-raised meats: Grass fed meats and/or pasture-raised organic chicken are home to higher amounts of beneficial, anti-inflammatory fats. Unlike animals grown in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), these animals were raised in farmlands or backyards where they can forage for their next meal. Organic farmers raising these animals also leave antibiotics and grain-based feeds out of the picture, so you can be sure that you get a cleaner and tastier source of protein.

Spices and herbs: Anti-inflammatory properties are abundant in garlic, ginger and turmeric. Other spices that may help people with Sjögren’s syndrome include:5

Cayenne pepper: Cayenne pepper is known to promote saliva production, whether added to foods or simply dabbed directly on the tongue.

Fennel seeds: Chewing on fennel seeds a few times a day after meals can be helpful with saliva production, thanks to the seeds’ flavonoid content. You may also grind fennel seeds with fenugreek seeds and add half a tablespoon of this mixture to water after every meal to ramp up saliva production.

If you’re pregnant you should avoid fennel seeds, as they possess estrogenic effects that may put your pregnancy at risk. On the other hand, breastfeeding mothers must exercise extreme caution and talk to their doctor first about the potential complications of fennel seeds.6

Cardamom: This spice, which may be chewed directly or ground, or made into tea, is said to aid with providing moisture to the mouth and addressing bad breath.

Drinking high-quality water is an important step in addressing Sjögren’s syndrome.7 Foods with high water content such as zucchini, radish, celery, peppers and spinach may also provide water and assist in improving the condition of the moisture glands.8,9

Another drink to consider if you have Sjögren’s syndrome is green tea. It contains antioxidants and polyphenols that were shown to help prevent inflammation of the salivary and moisture glands. These polyphenols may eventually slow down or neutralize symptoms of this disease by helping reduce attacks toward the immune system.10,11,12

When purchasing green tea, look for a highly reputable source and opt for variants organically grown in a clean environment. Some teas may be cultivated in areas where it’s possible for fluoride, heavy metals and toxins from the soil and the water to leach into the tea plants, trees and/or leaves.

Lastly, consider eating smaller meals frequently throughout the day instead of just large portions, to promote saliva production. This action also helps reduce the risk of heartburn, since heavy meals may cause some substances to move up toward your esophagus and trigger heartburn.13,14,15

Foods to Avoid if You Have Sjögren’s Syndrome

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, do not eat any of these foods at all:16

Trans fats or hydrogenated fats: These fats may cause inflammation in the body and worsen the disease.

Refined oils: These oils are high in omega-6 fats that can be converted to arachidonic acid. This said substance stimulates inflammation in the body. Safflower, corn and canola oil are examples of refined oils you should stay away from.

High-glycemic or processed foods: These foods, which include highly processed carbohydrates (breads, pastas and cakes), candy, fruit juice and corn syrup, are typically digested quickly, and may lead to spikes in blood sugar levels and insulin-caused inflammation.

Red meat from CAFO animals: It’s better to choose grass fed red meat to lower your risk of ingesting pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid.

Common food allergens: If you’re allergic to milk products, eggs, peanuts, gluten from wheat or other foods, avoid these because they may cause inflammatory reactions and potentially exacerbate indicators of this disease.

Artificial sweeteners and preservatives in processed foods: These can trigger inflammation.

Spicy, salty or highly acidic food: These foods are known to worsen Sjögren’s syndrome symptoms,17 since these can cause a negative effect in the mouth18 and possibly trigger dehydration.19,20

Lastly, avoid caffeinated drinks like tea (except for organic green tea), coffee and soda, and alcoholic drinks because these beverages, as highlighted by Reader’s Digest, are considered dehydrators. Sugary or acidic drinks like fruit juices and tomato juices are also no-nos, because apart from being dehydrating, these can also worsen pain caused by dry mouth.21

MORE ABOUT SJÖGREN'S SYNDROME

Sjögren's Syndrome: An Introduction

What Is Sjögren's Syndrome?

Sjögren's Syndrome Symptoms

Sjögren's Syndrome Causes

Sjögren's Syndrome Treatment

Sjögren's Syndrome Prevention

Sjögren's Syndrome Diet

Sjögren's Syndrome FAQ

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