Diet & Sjogrens Syndrome



Diet and Sjogren's syndrome


Sjögren's Syndrome has several negative nutritional implications.

The right food is therefore particularly important.




The diet has received more attention in the past decade. Due to the medical complications of Sjogren's Syndrome , it is particularly important for these patients to be aware of the relationship between the diet and the symptoms of this chronic disease.

Sjögren's syndrome has several negative nutritional implications:


  • Reduced ability to consume dry foods as a result of lack of salivation.


  • Increased incidence of tooth decay and premature loss of teeth, which limits the ability to chew and eat.


  • A disturbed intake of nutrients, which increases the need to absorb certain types of food.


  • Need for increased food intake after infections of the oral cavity. This is a common problem in people with Sjögren syndrome.


Because Sjögren's Syndrome is an autoimmune disease, it requires nutritional support to help keep the immune system intact.


Limited research-based knowledge

So far, there is little research on the importance of nutrition in Sjogren's syndrome. The advice given is generally based on experience and estimates of what constitutes a proper and good diet.


Immune system and nutrition


The immune system is the body's defense against the effects of bacteria, viruses and allergies. However, in patients with autoimmune diseases, immune system function may be weakened. Ingesting large amounts of certain nutrients does not improve the immune system. However, many experts believe that an overall healthy diet is an excellent way to keep the immune system as intact as possible.


You should therefore pay attention to a wholesome diet that contains all the important nutrients. These include first and foremost a lot of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, high-protein foods and dairy products.


A good tip: Just because a food is healthy does not mean that more of it is automatically better.


You may be tempted to consume large amounts of vitamins to boost the immune system, but overdoses of these substances can have the opposite effect and instead weaken the immune system. Therefore, stick to the recommended doses and rely on a healthy diet instead of taking supplements.



No salivation?

Most people are hardly aware of this, but saliva is necessary to be able to eat at all. For people with Sjogren's syndrome, lack of saliva can make it difficult or impossible to eat normally. Here are some tips on how to compensate for the lack of saliva:


  • Keep your mouth moist by regularly drinking sugar-free liquids, especially water.


  • Eat liquid-rich foods, especially soups, stews, broths or sauces. Other suitable dishes include egg custard, pasta and cheese as well as creamy, cooked cereal dishes - preferably made with milk to increase the protein content.


  • People with a dry mouth often have sores or infections in their mouths and strong spices such as pepper, chili, nutmeg and cloves can irritate the mouth.


  • Avoid orange juice and grapefruit juice if you have sores in the mouth or if your mouth is constantly dry as it causes discomfort.


  • Dunk dry foods such as cakes and biscuits into milk, coffee or tea to facilitate chewing and swallowing.


Impaired nutrient intake

Pathological changes in the small and large intestine caused by Sjögren's syndrome can lead to impaired nutrient absorption (malabsorption). Even if these pathological changes do not lead to a reduced nutrient uptake, it can still occur if there is a wrong diet or if insufficient amounts of certain nutrients are absorbed. Regardless of the cause for the weakening of intestinal capacity, nutrient absorption decreases and valuable nutrients pass through the digestive tract without being absorbed by the body. In addition, many take too few calories, resulting in weight loss.


To counteract a reduced nutrient uptake, consider the following:


  • Avoid empty calories, but eat nutritious foods. For example, instead of eating ice cream that has relatively low nutritional value, you should prefer yoghurt with fresh, cut fruit, such as bananas. Use brown rice instead of white rice. If you are cooking mashed potatoes, you can add a bit of cottage cheese or low fat cream cheese.


  • Ask your doctor if there are certain foods you should avoid. Especially if your nutrient intake in the intestine is severely impaired, you may temporarily lose the ability to digest the sugar in milk and dairy products. This means a temporary lactose intolerance. This can make your condition worse. When this occurs, it may be necessary to reduce the consumption of milk for a certain amount of time.



  • Philipp Ollenschläger, medical journalist, Cologne

Last revised : 02.09.2016