The Sjögren’s syndrome diet is a food-based approach to reducing inflammation and other symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome. While not a cure for this autoimmune condition, modifying your diet can help to treat symptoms, provide a higher quality of life, and improve your overall health.
What is Sjögren’s syndrome?
Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease most common in older women, though it can affect people of all ages. Autoimmune disorders cause your immune system to attack healthy parts of your body, mistaking them as threats.
The disease causes your immune system to attack glands that produce tears and saliva. This affects your body’s ability to produce moisture.
Similar to many recommended diets, the Sjögren’s syndrome diet focuses on well-balanced meals rich with vegetables, lean proteins, and fruits. Other than increasing nutrients and healthy proteins in your diet, the Sjögren’s diet reduces or eliminates foods that can cause inflammation or trigger allergic reactions.
Combined with a prescribed treatment plan, a moderated diet can help to prevent or reduce dryness and inflammation from Sjögren’s syndrome.
Foods to avoid
Pursuing the Sjögren’s diet or a similar anti-inflammatory diet means eliminating common trigger foods and allergens.
Some foods to avoid include:
- red meat
- processed foods
- fried foods
- sugars and sweets
- refined grains
- safflower, corn, and canola oils
Some foods affect people differently. Though these foods can trigger inflammation and worsen Sjögren’s syndrome symptoms, some can be eaten in moderation. This specifically applies to some dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese.
If your symptoms begin to worsen after eating specific foods, consider eliminating them from your diet. Also, discuss your symptoms with your doctor to ensure you receive the best treatment.
Foods to eat
Maintaining a diet rich in foods with anti-inflammatory effects can reduce dryness symptoms and provide relief from other associated conditions. Some foods high in anti-inflammatory benefits include:
- leafy green vegetables
- fatty fish
- olives and olive oil
- whole grains
How you cook your foods can also affect dry mouth symptoms. Here are some additional tips to make your meals more enjoyable:
- If you choose to make a sandwich, consider adding vegetables that are high in moisture, such as cucumbers.
- Adding sauces to your meals can ease swallowing, but use creamy sauces in moderation to limit fat content.
- Try soups and smoothies as alternatives to dry foods.
- Drink with your meals to ease swallowing.
- Soften your foods with broth.
- Tender-cook your meats to prevent them from drying out.
The Sjögren’s syndrome diet, similar to the anti-inflammatory diet, eliminates or reduces foods known to trigger inflammation. It instead introduces foods rich in vitamins and nutrients to create balanced meals. This diet is not a cure for Sjögren’s syndrome, but it may help treat associated symptoms including dry mouth and dry eyes.
Combined with traditional treatment methods, the Sjögren’s syndrome diet can help provide a higher quality of life and optimal health. Prior to pursuing this diet, discuss your expectations and options with your doctor to ensure you receive the best treatment.