Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) is a debilitating chronic skin condition that causes boils, lesions, and nodules to form on the skin. The affected areas can get very swollen and inflamed during flare-ups and so can be very sore and uncomfortable for the person.
Many believe that obesity or weight gain can worsen the condition, so it is advised that HS patients try to live a healthy life by eating a balanced diet and exercising. However, during flare-ups when the slightest of movements can be very painful, exercise is simply not an option, therefore, a diet will be important to an HS patient.
Diets that are specifically for HS have become popular. Some HS patients have seen positive results following these diets while others report no change. Many of the diets restrict the trigger foods we have listed above. It really is trial and error because everybody is different.
There are so many different diets and health tips for people with hidradenitis suppurativa, it can be hard to know where to start. There isn’t too much scientific research in diet and HS. But it is definitely something worth considering because some people say they have had great results and reduced their flare-ups by changing their diet.
Why is diet important for managing Hidradenitis Suppurativa?
- Inflammation – high sugar and fatty foods are known to cause inflammation in the body. So, if we avoid these foods, we can reduce inflammation.
- Some carbohydrates are absorbed very quickly into the blood, which can cause a spike in blood sugar. This can wreak havoc with our hormones, in particular insulin, and cause type 2 diabetes.
- Research has shown that fat cells can contribute to inflammation in the body, so in theory, reducing body fat should reduce inflammation too.
- There are certain foods that are proven to improve mood. Foods rich in omega 3, Zinc, and B vitamins can have a positive effect on your mood.
- Some foods like protein-rich foods can even help you to sleep better! And sleep is so important for the body to recover and heal. Sleep deprivation also increases inflammation, so it is a vicious circle, and getting proper is just as important as your hidradenitis suppurativa diet.
Popular diets for hidradenitis suppurativa
- The anti-inflammatory diet has been researched for HS and had good outcomes. It focuses on eliminating processed, fatty and sugary foods, and including fresh fruit and vegetables, and lean meat or fish.
- Auto-Immune Protocol Diet – eliminates a lot of foods that might be causing inflammation. Foods are gradually reintroduced and if you have no reaction to them, then you know they are “safe” foods for you to eat.
- Plant-Based diet – consists of a variety of healthy vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.
- Yeast elimination diet – has been researched and the results showed that completely eliminating brewer’s yeast from the diet can improve HS.
- The paleo diet is eating foods similar to what our ancient ancestors are. It avoids any processed foods and focuses on fresh vegetables, fruit, and lean meat.
- The Mediterranean Diet – is similar to the anti-inflammatory diet but is based on foods found in countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain. It includes healthy fats, whole grains, and fresh fruit and vegetables.
What do these 6 diets have in common?
These diets have a lot of things in common, so if you are not ready to completely overhaul your diet, you might try incorporating some of these into your day-to-day.
- Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables
- Choose wholegrain products like rice, pasta, and bread
- Reduce how much meat you eat, even a little bit, and if you do eat meat, make it fresh and not processed meat
- Reduce the amount of dairy products you eat, like milk and cheese
- Mix things up and don’t eat the same foods every day. Variety is the spice of life
- Avoid sugary drinks, and high sugar foods like cakes, candy, and ice-cream
- Reduce or remove convenience food from your diet
Suspected Trigger Foods:
There are certain foods that are believed to trigger HS flares because they cause your immune system to overreact. If you notice a big flare after certain foods, they might be a trigger food for you, and it might be worthwhile eliminating it and seeing if that helps.
The most common trigger foods are:
- Dairy products like milk and cheese
- High sugar foods like white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and soda
- Brewer’s yeast found in beer, breads, cakes, and lots of other processed foods
- Nightshade vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes
A healthy diet is important for our overall health and wellbeing, and might even help to reduce or prevent hidradenitis suppurativa flare-ups. When you feel out of control and that HS is taking over, remember that you control what food you eat and that you can choose foods that are good for you, improve sleep, reduce inflammation and boost your mood. You have the power within to make healthy decisions for yourself. Why not make a few changes… your body will thank you for it!