Using a Healthy Diet to Treat Sarcoidosis

Charlton Harris avatar

by Charlton Harris |

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A few months ago I had a conversation with someone who told me he was recently released from the hospital after having triple bypass surgery. I mentioned that my mom had a heart valve replacement a few years before she passed. I also told him about my pulmonary sarcoidosis, current health issues, and how I had been in and out of the hospital due to multiple spontaneous pneumothoraces. We were equally taken aback by the other since we are both still relatively young men.

As the conversation lightened up, we shared our experiences about our respective hospitalizations. We were in different hospitals in the city around the same time. His facility is known for cardiac care and mine is known for its lung center. We agreed that the food made our stays more challenging. In theory, the food isn’t supposed to be gourmet; however, there needs to be more of a balance.

Food for thought

Since I do most of the cooking in my family, I’m more of a picky eater. I usually like to plan our meals. I read labels and I have to have veggies with every meal. I’m not too big on breakfast. Usually, some tea or almond milk will get me started for the day. Every once in a while I’ll have the urge for something bigger like an egg or a bagel with cream cheese. On occasion, I’ll make creamed chipped beef — my wife’s favorite. Once or twice a year, we’ll do Sunday brunch at a restaurant where I’ll lose my mind enjoying all of the choices available.

I was in the hospital on my birthday in 2018. The day didn’t feel “special” because of the circumstances, but I was thankful to celebrate another year. As a memory of my birthday, I saved my menu tickets from that day. I had chicken cheesesteaks for lunch and dinner.

daily menu from Temple University Hospital. the chicken cheesesteak is highlighted.

(Courtesy of Charlton Harris)

As the dietary aide taking patients’ orders told me the daily choices, I asked several questions about the food. They explained that the majority of menu items are prepared off-site and reheated for the patients. This made me somewhat uncomfortable because it’s equivalent to fast food, which I don’t eat. For the time being I had to suck it up and find something I could eat … and possibly enjoy. I’m a huge veggie-eater, so plates of pasta, white bread, sugar, breaded chicken fingers, and burgers aren’t included in my usual diet — not to mention prepared meals. 

Inflammation is a main contributing factor to sarcoidosis. Believe it or not, there are a lot of foods that contribute to inflammation within the body. Controlling your diet can control or slow the progression of your illness. Low-grade inflammation starts with diet. Processed foods contain a lot of artificial flavors, colors, dyes, and preservatives that aren’t nutritious and are of no health benefit … especially to those with chronic health issues. High-fiber diets promote longevity, plus they make you feel full, so you’re eating less while staying healthy.

Trying to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle is a strategy that can work. I encourage my family and friends to research the importance of diet and how a modified diet with calculated food decisions can prove beneficial to you in the long term.

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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.

Comments

K.Dolan avatar

K.Dolan

Information not specific enough to Sarcoid. Everyone can profit with less processed foods and more produce. Nothing at all new here.

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Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Thanks for your response.
The point of this article relating to sarcoid is that some of the foods we eat cause inflammation which is a factor of sarcoid. As with the processed foods, you're correct-we can all benefit from a less processed diet, especially reducing foods with added flavors, salts, sugars (high fructose corn syrup) other additives and preservatives all of which can "trigger" a sarcoid flare-up.
Thanks so much for reading and please continue to read and I hope I can be of some help during your journey!
-C_

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K.Dolan avatar

K.Dolan

Very informative.I used this to convince my cardiologist to at least give me my first echocardiogram in four years. I have had Sarcoid(stage four)in my lungs three times over past 30 years, then had surgery for typical Carcinoid lung cancer though never a smoker, which doctors had trouble distinguishing from my previous Sarcoid. At age 38 my first Sarcoid began in the Spring and was treated with high doses(60 mg)of Prednisone for months. I am white, female,66 of Irish decent.

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Mike avatar

Mike

This disease took my baby sister from our family. Our prayers go out to all who have been affected by this disease.

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Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

I'm so sorry to hear that news, Mike. Thank You for reading my column and hopefully, you'll continue to read and if need be, pass along any new information you read about. I and our readers appreciate your heartfelt prayers!
Peace and Blessings to you and your family.
-C-

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Breda avatar

Breda

Diagnosed in 2017,was great in remission until November2020.since then I have been getting worse lungs lymph glands and lungs all in there ,so really need others advice about diet now.

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Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Breda-I'm so sorry that you're going through this!
I've found that a plant-based diet works best for me, and it might help you. I grew up eating a lot of veggies, so I'm used to them. I cook them differently than how they were cooked while growing up, so I can say that veggies DO HELP!! I think you'll get a lot of relief if you cut out white sugar, overly processed food, (limit foods with a shelf life), and try to eat less red meat and more veggies. I also stay away from high fructose corn syrup, (no presweetened drinks or "drinks" in general) only juice and water. . . with an occasional cocktail because we're still human. lol
The small changes lead you to bigger changes, and eventually, you'll make an overall change. Please let me know if I can help further, I'm here to help and inspire if I can.
Peace and Blessings to you and your family!

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June avatar

June

I was diagnosed with savoid of the lungs in 2016 now have very bad rash on leg very dry skin and itchy it looks like raw hamburger especially when I have a shower and lasts all the time.Have been to doctor for creams of different types have had steroids injected(not nice)still no relief any ideas what I can do

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Carla Brown avatar

Carla Brown

Hi!
I have been diagnosed with cardiac sarcoidosis. I want to see if diet change will decrease the inflammation. I have been on prednisone for 9 months now. I started on 60 mg and then 40 then 20 then 10 now I am down to 5mg along with a lot of other heart medicines. I am praying that I be led in the right direction for treatment.

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Carla M Brown avatar

Carla M Brown

Do know anything about Bone broth helping reduce inflammation. Do you think it's helpful in sarcoidosis patients?

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Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Hi Carla,
I'm not sure about the bone broth, but I use it myself when cooking and have no ill response to it. Inflammation seems to be the key element in keeping our bodies in distress. I can say the elimination of processed foods in my diet has been a huge help. I'll be writing about that soon!
Thanks for reading!
-C-

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Annette avatar

Annette

Hi Carlton,
I've been diagnosed with pulmonary sarcoidosis since December 2020. I had no idea until I had a cat scan and was found by accident as I have no symptoms as of yet..
Thank God.. I've decided to make a change in my diet to an anti inflammatory diet. Do you have any advise on what kind of breakfast to eat? I find breakfast to be very challenging for me.
Thank you in advance.
Annette

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