What Foods Are Good and Bad for Sjogren’s Syndrome?

Reviewed on 2/26/2021

What Is Sjogren’s syndrome?

Sjogren's syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the body's own immune system attacks the glands that produce tears and saliva. Foods that help are omega-3 fatty acids, organic meat, whole fruits and vegetables. Bad foods include trans fat, high glycemic, red meat, dairy, and artificial sweeteners.
Sjogren's syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the body's own immune system attacks the glands that produce tears and saliva. Foods that help are omega-3 fatty acids, organic meat, whole fruits and vegetables. Bad foods include trans fat, high glycemic, red meat, dairy, and artificial sweeteners.

Sjogren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the body’s own immune system attacks the glands that produce tears and saliva. There are two types of Sjogren’s syndrome: 

  • Primary Sjogren’s Syndrome: The condition occurs alone, with no other accompanying disorder. 
  • Secondary Sjogren’s Syndrome: The condition occurs alongside another autoimmune disorder (like rheumatoid arthritis

Some of the earliest symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome are severe dryness in the eyes and mouth. This is because the condition directly affects the glands which produce moisture. 

The symptoms of Sjogren’s include:

Rheumatic diseases — conditions affecting the tendons, ligaments, joint bones, and muscles — often accompany cases of secondary Sjogren’s disorder. These can include lupus, polymyositis, scleroderma, and others.

Foods that are good for Sjogren’s syndrome

As much as 90% of people with Sjogren’s have gastrointestinal challenges. Since there’s no cure for Sjogren’s syndrome, much of the treatment revolves around managing the condition. Dietary choices play an important role in this and certain foods are encouraged, such as:

Omega-3 fatty acids

This would include foods like fish, nuts, olive oil, and avocados, all of which are good for inflammation

Organic meat

The healthier fats in grass-fed meat, especially grass-fed beef or bison, have anti-inflammatory benefits.

Whole fruits and vegetables

The many colorful varieties of fruits and vegetables are loaded with anti-inflammatory nutrients. Choose red, orange, green, and yellow fruits and vegetables for their wealth of helpful vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

High fiber

Lentils, kidney beans, quinoa, oats, and more are all high-fiber foods that ease symptoms of inflammation. 

Spices and herbs

Various seasonings such as garlic or turmeric have long been recognized for their anti-inflammatory benefits.

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Foods that are bad for Sjogren’s syndrome

Another way to manage your Sjogren’s symptoms is to avoid foods that are thought to worsen the condition. These include:

Trans fats

Trans fats are found in foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, like many types of fried and fast foods. In addition to raising the risk of heart disease, they have a pronounced inflammatory effect on the body that can worsen the symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome. 

High glycemic foods

Foods with a high glycemic index are those that quickly spike your blood sugar levels after consuming. The resulting insulin level can aggravate inflammation caused by Sjogren’s syndrome. 

Red meat

Red meat contains arachidonic acid, a type of fat thought to contribute to inflammation in the body. A person with Sjogren’s syndrome should either reduce their consumption of red meat or choose an alternative with a healthier fat profile, such as grass-fed meat. 

Dairy

Lactose is a common allergen. Allergens release histamines into the body, which can in turn cause inflammation in people with autoimmune disorders like Sjogren’s syndrome. The saturated fats in dairy may also cause inflammation.

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and others may not be recognized by the immune system, potentially triggering an inflammatory autoimmune response. People with Sjogren’s syndrome may better tolerate natural sweeteners like honey.

Diagnosis and outlook

How can you know if you have Sjogren’s syndrome? 

The diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome can be quite complicated. Because Sjogren’s can look like other conditions, it can take some time to discover the root of your symptoms. People with this disorder will often see a range of specialists before the final diagnosis is made.  

How long will Sjogren’s syndrome last?

While Sjogren’s isn’t a life-threatening condition, it can cause a number of serious complications if left untreated, such as: 

Treatment for Sjogren’s is focused on managing symptoms. Doctors may prescribe various remedies for dry eye and mouth and recommend diet and lifestyle choices, such as avoiding alcohol and drinking water regularly.

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References
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Sjogren’s Syndrome Diagnosis."

Michigan State University: "Understanding Arthritis: The Benefits of a Healthy Diet."

Mount Sinai: "Sjogren Syndrome."

Nutrition Journal: "A Review of the Fatty Acid Profiles and Antioxidant Content in Grass-fed and Grain-fed Beef."

PloS One: "Trans Fatty Acids Induce Vascular Inflammation and Reduce Vascular Nitric Oxide Production in Endothelial Cells."

Sjögren's Foundation: "Symptoms."

University of Rochester Medical Center: "Sjögren Syndrome."

UW Medicine Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine: "Sjogren's Syndrome."

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