Whether or not you have gastro-intestinal symptoms, eating a balanced diet can help you to manage your condition and stay healthy. People are often keen to avoid prescription medications if possible and like to try natural therapies first. These are available from many pharmacies and supermarkets as well as from health food stores.
The gut is affected in up to 90% of patients with systemic sclerosis, so an awareness of nutrition is particularly important if you have this form of the condition.
You may need to try using a combination of methods, either together or separately and at different times of the year to find a regime that works for you. Your doctor or specialist nurse will recommend some treatments for you to try first, however if you decide you want to try different ones (particularly the prescription medications) then you can take this information to your GP who will be able to prescribe a different treatment.
Nutrition and scleroderma
Many people living with scleroderma experience symptoms that can lead to a poor appetite and weight loss. Because of this, it is really important to choose a balanced diet and maintain weight within a healthy range. Doing so may help you to avoid the risk of developing heart, lung and kidney problems.
Some important elements to include in your diet include all of the following:
Calcium is important for healthy bones. Milk and dairy products are good sources of calcium. Other sources of calcium include; fish, dark green vegetables, pulses, seeds, nuts and fortified cereals. If you are taking steroids your body's requirements for calcium will be increased.
Vitamin D is obtained from sunlight and is needed to help absorb and utilise calcium. Vitamin D can also be found in certain fortified foods such as eggs, fat spreads (butter and margarine) and cereals.
Iron reduces the risk of anaemia with an adequate intake. It can be found in red meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dark green leafy vegetables. Drinking a small amount of orange juice can help absorb iron due to the vitamin C content. Tea can reduce iron absorption, so should be avoided at meal times.
Omega 3 fats can help to protect against many diseases including heart disease, and they can reduce inflammation in arthritis. They are also known to have a positive effect on mood. Sources of omega-3 include oily fish (such as sardines, mackerel, pilchards, salmon and fresh tuna), rapeseed oil and walnuts, as well as fortified eggs and margarines.
Eating a balanced diet
If you are managing to keep up a healthy weight, try to ensure that you are having a balanced diet.