From the Desk of The Nutty Nutritionist

Online Nutrition Guide for Scleroderma Patients

In Scleroderma on December 8, 2011 at 7:04 PM

In response to numerous questions and challenges faced by patients living with scleroderma,  Dr. Dinesh Khanna, rheumatologist and director of  The University of Michigan Scleroderma Program, asked me to co-author a comprehensive nutrition article addressing essential diet and lifestyle suggestions for fighting fatigue, inflammation, malnutrition, and the plethora of gastrointestinal challenges scleroderma patients face on a daily basis.   As a scleroderma patient myself, I was more than honored to have this opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Khanna and construct a useful resource for patients battling a disease that can be so nutritionally devastating.

Systemic scleroderma is a condition in which the immune system over-stimulates the collagen producing cells of the body causing inflammation and an excessive buildup of collagen, leading to hardened skin and fibrosis of internal organs such as the lungs, digestive tract, and blood vessels.  While there are no specific foods or nutrients capable of reducing collagen production, certain dietary changes can have a positive impact on fatigue, inflammation, digestive dysfunction, and risk of malnutrition. 

Topics addressed include:

  • general diet recommendations for all patients living with scleroderma
  • how to identify symptoms of malnutrition and ways to improve calorie and nutrient intake to prevent malnutrition or restore one’s nutritional status
  • explanation and outline of the FODMAP diet, often prescribed for managing severe gastrointestinal symptoms
  • specific dietary suggestions for improving reflux, constipation, fatigue, poor circulation, and tight, thickened skin

For the complete “Eating Well With Scleroderma” article, link to U of M’s Scleroderma Program website:

http://www.med.umich.edu/scleroderma/patients/nutrition.htm

This article will also be featured in an upcoming issue of Scleroderma Voice magazine and is being converted into a educational brochure by the Scleroderma Foundation.  There is very little up-to-date nutrition information available today for people living with systemic scleroderma.  It is my hope that these publications will provide much needed nutritional guidance and enhance patients’ quality of life.

Live well!  Feel well!

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