After my diagnosis, I started looking for ways to help myself heal. Through research and conversations with healthcare providers, I learned that individuals with sarcoidosis have higher levels of inflammation than most of the population.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection or injury. It’s necessary for the body to heal, but chronic inflammation, a condition that signifies an out-of-control immune system response, signals a problem. I clearly had a problem.
Inflammation in the body can be the result of lifestyle factors, such as:
- Lack of sleep. Sleep helps to control inflammatory hormones in the body.
- Excess weight, especially around the waistline.
- Excess stress. Stress hormones can cause inflammation in the body as well.
- Environmental factors. The amount of estrogen — the primary female sex hormone — in the body can be affected by factors in the environment.
- Heavy metal overload. Too much mercury or lead in the body can cause an inflammation response.
I addressed each of these factors and their contribution to the inflammation in my body. My team of doctors tested for environmental allergies and heavy metals, and we tackled sleep issues and stress through a variety of means.
I then focused on my diet. At first, I was baffled to learn that my diet might be aggravating my sarcoidosis. I considered myself a relatively healthy eater. My diet did not include fast foods, fried foods, chips, sugary drinks, or alcohol. I was already agitated by my diagnosis, doctor’s visits, and tests. Now I had to change what I ate?
I was discouraged by the news. Yet I soon realized that adopting an anti-inflammatory diet wasn’t as difficult as I had initially imagined.
Following are some of the changes I made:
- Overall, I aim to eat foods rich in magnesium and low in calcium. In my case, corn, soy, oats, brown rice, avocado, and potatoes are good picks.
- I try to consistently eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish.
- I try to avoid white sugar, processed foods, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and dairy products. This is tough since I enjoy baking!
- I use healthy oils, such as olive oil or vegetable oil.
- I consume bromelain, either through pineapple or in supplement form.
- Finally, I added a multivitamin, omega-3 (fatty acid), and probiotic supplements to my daily intake.
While I didn’t notice a difference overnight, I gradually noticed some improvement. For instance, I was experiencing less joint pain, an easier time breathing, and fewer coughing fits, especially during allergy season. In addition, my angiotensin-converting enzyme levels decreased, which pleased my doctors.
I still have longings for foods I don’t eat much, but minimizing the inflammation in my body — and hopefully feeling a little better on a more consistent basis — has been well worth the sacrifice.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.