Having the right nutrition is essential to cure Hidradenitis Suppurativa, the persistent auto-immune, inflammatory skin disease. This condition is often responsible for drastically reducing the quality of life of sufferers leading to chronic pain, low self-esteem, embarrassment, depression and inability to lead a regular social life.
Perhaps you too are tired from having to deal with the clustered, subcutaneous and very PAINFUL lesions and abscesses that often appear in the groin, arm pit, or axilla regions when you have a flare up of Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Perhaps you’re tired of trying to carefully choose articles of clothing to cover the painful nodules, and reduce the friction experienced. Perhaps you’re tired of going from doctor to doctor and being told you simply must bear with this condition for the rest of your life.
One thing you’re not frequently told is the very significant role that diet and food plays in both causing and maintaining your Hidradenitis Suppurativa. By understanding the role of inflammation, and how certain foods exacerbate this, you can take the first steps towards permanently curing yourself! And yes – it is possible to achieve a permanent cure, and many people have done it!
What Role Does Inflammation Play in Hidradenitis Suppurativa?
The condition of Hidradenitis Suppurativa is an inflammation itself, that occurs largely due to an auto-immune reaction of the body, associated with androgen dysfunction, higher levels of insulin and increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the blood. What happens is that under stress and dietary factors, the follicular units become plugged and swell due to retained keratin.
Pressure, friction and rubbing of the region (most often with clothing) cause the follicular units to break, spilling their contents. These trigger an autoimmune reaction from the body which attacks the tissue, causing swelling, associated with the formation of painful cysts, nodules and abscesses, sometimes connected by sinuses. The inflammation often does not have foreign bacteria present, though infection can occur.
That’s why successful treatment and cure requires a twofold approach: first, preventing the clogging of follicular units, and secondly reducing inflammation once it is already present. Your diet plays an essential role in both steps of this treatment approach.
The Foods That You Absolutely MUST Avoid
- Dairy Products
Products such as milk, cheese, and yoghurt raise insulin levels in the body which lead to the overproduction of androgens. This in turn contributes to the probability of follicular units becoming blocked and lead to an outbreak of Hidradenitis Suppurativa.
Dairy is one of the most important set of foods that you should COMPLETELY avoid. Once you start avoiding dairy, you’ll see immediate results in decreased inflammation, less severe outbreaks, and lesser pain. The commitment to avoid dairy needs to be a long-term commitment as this maximizes your chances of curing and preventing future outbreaks of Hidradenitis Suppurativa.
Sugar (especially processed sugar) – and foods containing high levels of it, such as soft drinks, candy, certain kinds of cereal, and syrups – is another key factor responsible for regulating insulin production. Generally, the less sugar you have, the less insulin will be produced, and the less prominent your Hidradenitis Suppurativa will be.
As much as possible, you should seek to eliminate processed sugars from your diet and monitor your condition to see for improvements. You’re very likely to see decreased swelling, less pain and a greater level of comfort.
- Brewer’s Yeast
Brewer’s Yeast is the ingredient that is used in bread and other bakery products such as pizza, cake, and dough. While the previous two ingredients may have had more to do with preventing the inflammation from occurring in the first place, avoiding Brewer’s Yeast helps stabilize and heal the skin lesions already present more quickly. This is essential to speed up your recovery time!
- Wheat/Gluten and other grains
Wheat and gluten are two products that are often involved in autoimmune disorders. There is ample evidence to suggest that their consumption is one of the leading causes of exacerbating the pain, inflammation and swelling associated with Hidradenitis Suppurativa.
Wheat and gluten can be found in a variety of products, including bread, pasta, crackers and snacks. Therefore, you should be very careful to check that the foods you consume through the day do not contain either. Consumption of wheat and gluten generally exacerbates the response of the immune system, and can therefore cause more painful, damaging and persistent swelling and inflammation.
- Other Processed Foods
Processed foods like typical junk food and processed meats are hard on the stomach, and difficult to digest. This produces an inflammatory response from the gut, which stimulates the immune system and frequently contributes to autoimmune disorders.
Eating processed foods is likely to accentuate the effects of the disease, leading to greater local inflammation, swelling and eventual scarring. Processed foods are also generally high in fats and sugars, leading to obesity, which can worsen inflammation in key areas by increasing friction with movement, while inhibiting the body’s self-regulating mechanisms.
- All Nightshades (eggplants, tomatoes, tobacco, potatoes, peppers containing capsaicin)
All nightshades contain a high alkaloid content, which is often responsible for triggering an inflammatory response from the body once in the gut. This response affects other areas of the body as well, and can give rise to or worsen existent Hidradenitis Suppurativa lesions.
An inflammatory response isn’t produced in all people, so you would need to exclude nightshades and verify how well your body reacts to them. Chances are you’ll discover at least some improvement over the pain, persistence or recurrence of the abscesses when you take nightshades out of your diet!
Time To Take Action!
If you avoid these foods mentioned above you’ll be well on the way of achieving a full treatment and cure for Hidradenitis Suppurativa. It is best to experiment and see which foods are the most likely culprits for your outbreaks, and focus on those. We have tried to list them in order of importance in this article, but you should experiment by yourself as well!
However, avoiding these foods isn’t the only step required. There are powerful ways to detoxify your body and normalize the response of your immune system to prevent inflammation from occurring in the first place. Click here to read part two of this article, and discover the one ‘food’ that has been shown to be even better than corticosteroids and NSAIDS to combat HS and inflammation.
Written by Therese Wilson – nutritionist, health consultant, and author of Fast Hidradenitis Suppurativa Cure.