Kathy Garvey, MS, MBA, RD garveynutrition.com
Nutrition and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
The links between nutrition and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) are undeniable. So many complications and symptoms of EDS are gastrointestinal and food-reactive in nature that one would expect there to be a best diet for the condition. Unfortunately, there is no one, simple solution, but rather some general guidelines that can then be followed by a targeted, individualized approach to address specific symptoms and deficiencies.
These general guidelines may sound familiar because there is much overlap with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the USDA. When it comes to nutrition for EDS, the goals are to reduce autonomic dysfunction, reduce immune reactions, normalize gut bacteria, and support digestion, absorption, and metabolism.
Limit added sugars and refined carbohydrates
Avoid sugary drinks and check nutrition labels for Added Sugar. Choose ancient whole grains instead of refined – look for quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat.
Limit processed foods
Instead go for fresh greens, vegetables, beans, lentils, seeds and nuts, and select fruits rich in antioxidants and fiber.
Limit saturated and trans fats
Watch for trans fats in highly processed foods and limit saturated fats by choosing lean proteins such as skinless poultry, seafood, or plant-based protein.
Include prebiotic and probiotic foods in your diet
Prebiotic – think food for the good bacteria in your gut – asparagus, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, leeks, legumes, endive, radicchio
Probiotic – the good bacteria – yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables, miso, tempeh
Avoid sugar substitutes
Further support gut health by staying away from artificial sweetners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharin) and sugar alcohols (sorbitol, maltitol), and limiting natural sugar substitutes (agave syrup, honey, stevia)
Consider going Gluten-free
Many with EDS are vulnerable to the proteins found in gluten and feel better once it is limited or eliminated.
Without a doubt diet can influence every system that those with EDS struggle with – for better or for worse. Ideally, you want the foods you eat to minimize stress, inflammation, and reactivity as well as support physical functioning. Following these general guidelines may help improve symptoms while you work with a Registered Dietitian, to find the best individualized mix of foods and supplements.
Kathy Garvey, MS, MBA, RD, LD
Kathy Garvey is a Registered Dietitian who believes that realistic goals, moderation, and support are the keys to achieving a healthier lifestyle. She is passionate about helping clients optimize their health through evidence-based nutrition therapy, counseling, and education.
Kathy earned a Masters Degree in Human Nutrition at the University of Alabama, and completed her Dietetic Internship with Sodexo. She is licensed in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. Kathy has a private practice in Metairie focused on 1 on 1 nutrition counseling and serves as the Outpatient Dietitian at Tulane Living Well Clinic. Visit her website at garveynutrition.com