Notes from the West Chicago Sarcoidosis Support Group – July 2019
Here is the recap from the West Chicago Sarcoidosis Support Group meeting on nutrition. I added a bit of extra research and added some info to the “diet” that some homeopathic proponents follow. Keep in mind that these are only guidelines. The goal is for you to use this guideline to create your own Nutrition Plan and show it to your doctors for their input.
The bottom line for Sarcoidosis patients (and many other inflammatory and auto-immune disease patients) is that Inflammation is our enemy, so we should try to avoid or at least minimize intake of foods that promote inflammation. At the same time, we should be aware of the foods associated with better health and incorporate them into our meal preparations and snacking habits.
Having said that, my mother lived to 98 and father 97 years old and their motto was “we eat whatever we want to eat…in moderation. They also grew up in an era where there were few preservatives, pesticides and additives and they ate the foods that were in season and available. Both came from farm families, so they ate a lot of vegetables (naturally organic) and freshly slaughtered, untreated meats. They didn’t drink sugar-filled soda or juices from concentrates. Mostly they drank water or fresh milk from cows that grazed naturally and never tasted chemically-enhanced feed.
Today, things are different. We consume too many processed foods, preserved foods and foods high in sugar and omega 6-fatty acids. We have to separate good carbs from bad carbs. And most of the bad stuff tastes really good and is the food we’ve been consuming for most of our lives.
If we work to improve our eating habits using many of the same guidelines that are listed here, we “should” feel better. I’m eating and drinking a healthier diet, but fall off the wagon occasionally and indulge in deserts, bacon, etc… but never in excess. Note that the guidelines below are just that. While there is science to back up some of these tips, diet is an individual thing and you might want to consult with your doctor or a nutritionist to create your own plan. In the meantime, I hope you find this useful.
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SUGGESTED NUTRITION GUIDELINES
Inflammatory foods (those dubbed high in refined sugars and saturated fats) result in inflammation and over-activity in our immune system. These guidelines discuss what to avoid or minimize and what to include in your daily diet to reduce inflammation and generally feel better. Here you go.
Sorry Cows: Minimize cow’s milk: instead try almond or soy milk. Minimize Cheese: try smaller quantities of low sodium, hard cheeses.
Cheers! While excessive drinking will cause inflammation in the body (as well as embarrassing moments), 1-2 glasses of red wine per day has actually been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Drinking one to two glasses of red wine daily with its red wine polyphenol is associated with reducing cellular inflammation and oxidative stress.
If you do not consume alcohol or if you have a history of substance abuse, red wine is not for you. Drinking one to two glasses of red wine per day is associated with a 32% decrease in CBD.
Tea Time: Fresh brewed green tea and black tea have different polyphenolic compounds that are anti-inflammatory and contain good amounts of antioxidants. Use decaf if you don’t want the caffeine – especially in the evening.
No Soda: Drink water when you are thirsty and avoid soda. Regular soda is loaded with sugar and diet soda is loaded with unhealthy chemicals that your body has no clue how to process. Instead try flavoring your water with berries, lemon or cucumber, or making yourself a smoothie.
Treat your body like a car and check your oil regularly: Minimize Vegetable Oils. Oils high in omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation. Instead go with oils rich in heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids like: extra virgin olive oil, expeller pressed canola oil, flaxseed oil, hemp oil, which can be easily exchanged in most cooking recipes. And, stay away from margarine.
Motor oil is motor oil: Not so. Use healthy fats and oils. Healthy non-inflammatory fats include extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, grass-fed butter (Kerrygold). Organic oils are probably a better choice, as pesticides in regular oils may become concentrated during the production process.
Avoid vegetable and Seed oils. This list includes corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, peanut oil, and grapeseed oil. And avoid products that are made from these oils.
We don’t cover Essential Oils here, but NEVER ingest these products unless ok’d by a physician.
Minimize Food Additives: Avoid foods with monosodium glutamate (or MSG) and aspartame, which, can aggravate inflammatory symptoms in those of us with pre-existing conditions. Instead, eat more fresh, organic vegetables, meats, fish and snacks.
Instead of going for Fast Food, go Fishing: Minimize Processed and Fatty Meats. Processed meat products such as hot dogs, bologna, deli meat, bacon, sausage, chicken patties or nuggets, fish sticks, etc… should be avoided. Sandwiches of bread and sliced meats from a package are not a good option. Full disclosure – I love Potbelly’s, but haven’t been there in quite some time for that reason. Eat unprocessed/minimally processed animal products such as grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef, wild-caught vs. farm-raised fish, and omega 3 eggs. Consume leaner sources of protein in general like skinless chicken breast, lean beef and pork and fish, and egg white protein. Put fresh or frozen (not canned) tuna or salmon high on your list of substitutes. Fish consumption in particular is associated with a 14% reduction in CVD.
Fatty or processed Meats constitute 20% of the modern diet.
Eat Your Veggies: Eating large quantities of vegetables of a variety of different colors is recommended. Vegetables are low in calories but micronutrient dense. They contain high concentrations of vitamins minerals and phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory / antioxidant effects. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, grains and peas should be limited as they contain significant amounts of carbohydrates in the form of starch which can contribute to inflammation. Vegetable and fruit consumption is associated with a 21% reduction in CVD.
Make sure to include green leafy veggies such as kale, spinach, broccoli, collard greens, etc as they are especially good.
No Soup for you: As a general rule, avoid soups out of a can and restaurant soups (especially if you are a heart patient) as they are packed with salt. Hunt down some organic, low sodium soups. And, best case is to find a local farm source who makes their own and cans them fresh…or better yet, do your own.
Put down that cookie and pick up an apple: Fruit is a healthy snack, but should not be a substitute for vegetable intake. Cherries (actually a fruit) are especially good. Eat 2-3 pieces of fruit a day or a bowl of cherries. As with veggies, mix it up a bit. Check the label before drinking fruit juices because they may be a source of excess concentrated carbohydrates and sugar. Ok, I admit to sneaking cookies as they are my favorite vegetable. My wife tries to help by making me cookies from pumpkins, rhubarb or zucchini which are surprisingly good.
Go pick some Berries: Generally speaking, berries of all types (especially blueberries and acai berries) are great as they contain phytonutrients that reduce inflammation and help prevent oxidative damage to cells. Fruits and berries in particular are good to consume for breakfast to balance out protein in the form of eggs. Berries can be used with a protein supplement to make a morning smoothie.
Go Nuts: – Consuming quality nuts in small amounts are a good source of healthy fats as well as protein. Nuts work well as a healthy snack when a company buy a piece of fruit. Because nuts are high in calories, it is necessary to limit their intake to about 1/4 to 1/2 cup per day, especially if you are trying to lose weight. Macadamia nuts are about the best as they have the least a mega 6 polyunsaturated fats. Cashews, walnuts and almonds are good as well. Nuts should be raw or dry roasted because roasted nuts contain unhealthy vegetable or seed oils. Avoid salted nuts. Not consumption is associated with a 12.5 decrease in CVD.
The Spice of Life: Use spices liberally – garlic, turmeric and ginger have been especially well-studied for their anti-inflammatory antioxidant effects. I also use a lot of cinnamon. Nearly all spices are anti-inflammatory, so spice it up! Garlic consumption specifically is associated with a 25% reduction in CBD.
Dark chocolate: Consumption of dark chocolate is an acquired taste, but it has been shown in studies to have significant anti-inflammatory effects. However, you must consume 85% or greater dark chocolate to benefit without excessive sugar. Lindt makes an 85% and a 90% with a fairly short ingredient list. Dark chocolate should be used sparingly if trying to lose weight as it is high in calories. Usually, that’s all you need. Dark chocolate consumption is associated with a 21% reduction in CVD.
Hey Sugar, read the label: Some say that sugar should be avoided in all of its forms, but this is impossible. Sugar can be added to goods in a variety of different forms including but not limited to: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, honey, dextrose, fructose, maltose, sucrose, lactose, Etc. Sugar intake is associated with Hyperinsulinemia (high insulin in the blood) which is a key feature of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Sugar consumption is also associated with general inflammation and promotion of other chronic disease processes. Avoid artificial sweeteners as well. Make it a goal to re-sensitize your taste buds to natural foods without added sugar. Sugar constitutes about 20% of the calories consumed in the modern diet.
Going against the Grain: Grain consumption is commonly promoted as the mainstay of a healthy diet. However there is a lot of cons about eating grains as a staple. Grains are easily broken down into sugar and can cause glycemic regulation issues. Grains are relatively low in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients as compared to vegetables and fruit. Wheat, rye and barley contain gluten which is pro-inflammatory. All grains contain lectins and phytic acid which promote GI inflammation and mineral malabsorption. Grains contain exclusively omega-6 fatty acids. Grains even whole grains have significantly less fiber than vegetables and fruit. Vegetables contain 8 times more fiber and fruit contains three times more fiber. Grains are also acidic. Grains constitute about 20% of the calories consumed in the modern diet
Any processed foods, weather in the form of bread, pasta, crackers, chips, serial, muffins, cookies, cake, Donuts, granola bars, candy, etc. are simply different combinations of grain, sugar and vegetable oil. Salt as well as artificial colors and flavors are also additives. These ingredients are inexpensive, readily available and tasty. They are also significantly less expensive than organic foods and used in most restaurants making them even harder to avoid.
It might be a good strategy to ease into a healthy diet unless your health is such that you need to cut some of these foods immediately in your quest for better health.