Sarcoidosis is a rare chronic inflammatory disease characterized by the growth of granulomas in the lungs. The growths can also occur in other parts of the body, resulting in a wide range of unwanted symptoms.

There is no cure for sarcoidosis, but the disease can often be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. In fact, one important lifestyle change is your diet.

Some foods can help reduce inflammation and ease sarcoidosis symptoms, while others make them worse. In this article, we’ll take a look at the best and worst foods to eat if you have sarcoidosis.

What is the Best Diet for Sarcoidosis?

A healthy, well-balanced diet is essential for improving your overall health. This is especially true for those with chronic conditions, such as sarcoidosis.

The best diet for sarcoidosis is one that’s high in anti-inflammatory foods and low in inflammatory foods. That’s because chronic inflammation contributes to several disease processes, including those that affect the lungs.

Best Foods for Sarcoidosis

best foods to eat for sarcoidosis illustration

Plenty of foods have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce the effects of sarcoidosis. These include:

  1. Fish
  2. Poultry
  3. Apples
  4. Citrus fruits
  5. Bananas
  6. Leafy greens
  7. Tomatoes
  8. Bell peppers
  9. Blueberries
  10. Turmeric
  11. Ginger
  12. Salmon
  13. Flaxseeds
  14. Avocados
  15. Nuts

Recap: The best diet for sarcoidosis includes fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidant properties. Lean meats, such as poultry and fish, are also beneficial. In addition, you may also benefit from eating more healthy fats and foods that are high in magnesium. Furthermore, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is also essential.

Foods to Avoid with Sarcoidosis

Worst foods to eat for sarcoidosis illustration
While many healthy foods may help to prevent or alleviate sarcoidosis symptoms, many foods of the typical western diet have inflammatory effects that can worsen the condition. These include:

  1. Fast food
  2. Refined grains
  3. Trans fats
  4. Omega-6 fatty acids
  5. Foods high in sulfites
  6. Dried fruits and vegetables
  7. Vinegar
  8. Pickled fruits and vegetables
  9. Shellfish
  10. Alcoholic beverages
  11. Tobacco
  12. Processed meats
  13. Dairy products
  14. Red meat
  15. Caffeine

Recap: The foods that should be avoided with sarcoidosis include those with high levels of sugar, sodium, omega-6 fats, and saturated fat. In addition, it’s also best to avoid fried foods and processed meats that are packed with trans fat and preservatives. Lastly, alcohol and tobacco should be avoided due to their inflammatory effects.

Now let’s take a closer look at sarcoidosis, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and available treatment options.

What is Sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects multiple organs in the body, but most commonly the lungs. It’s an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system overreacts to a foreign substance.

This overreaction leads to the formation of granulomas, which are small clusters that can develop in the lungs, resulting in difficulty breathing. These growths can also occur in other organs, such as the liver, spleen, and skin.

Causes

Sarcoidosis occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts and begins to attack its own cells and tissues. The exact cause of this is unknown.

However, it’s believed that sarcoidosis may be triggered by an infection, allergies, or exposure to certain chemicals or substances. Some researchers believe that it’s caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

sarcoidosis signs and symptoms illustration

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of sarcoidosis vary depending on which organs are affected. However, in general, the most common symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin rashes
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Weight loss
  • Pain or swelling in joints
  • Red eyes
  • Headache
  • Abnormal heart rhythm

Each person experiences symptoms differently. Some people have mild symptoms that go away on their own, while others may have more severe symptoms that require treatment.

Diagnosis

Sarcoidosis can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to those of other diseases. A diagnosis is usually made based on a combination of a person’s symptoms, physical examination, and test results.

Some of the most common tests used to diagnose sarcoidosis include:

  • Chest x-ray
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Lung biopsy
  • Pulmonary function testing (PFT)
  • Auscultation
  • Skin assessment
  • Lymph node assessment
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Eye exam
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Treatment

There is no cure for sarcoidosis. However, treatment can help control the symptoms and prevent the disease from worsening. Some of the most common treatment methods include:

  • Corticosteroids: These are anti-inflammatory drugs that can help reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Immunosuppressants: These drugs can help suppress the immune system and prevent it from attacking healthy cells and tissues.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove affected organs or tissue.
  • Hydroxychloroquine: This drug helps treat skin lesions and can also improve lung function.
  • Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors: These drugs are known for treating rheumatoid arthritis, but they can also be effective in treating sarcoidosis that has not responded to other treatments.
  • Close monitoring: Even if a patient is not receiving treatment, it’s important to closely monitor their condition to ensure that it doesn’t progress.
  • Lifestyle Changes: In addition to medical treatment, there are also lifestyle changes that can help manage sarcoidosis symptoms. These include:Quit smoking

Lifestyle Changes for Sarcoidosis

There are also a number of lifestyle changes you can make to help manage your sarcoidosis symptoms. Some examples include:

  • Quit smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for sarcoidosis and can make the disease worse. If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health.
  • Avoid exposure to environmental and occupational irritants: If you’re exposed to things that can trigger your symptoms, it’s important to avoid them. This includes things like dust, pollution, and certain chemicals.
  • Get plenty of rest: Fatigue is a common symptom of sarcoidosis. Getting plenty of rest can help you manage this symptom.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet can help boost your immune system and give you the energy you need to cope with sarcoidosis. This includes eating the best and avoiding the worst foods mentioned in this article.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise can help improve your lung function and reduce fatigue.
  • Manage stress: Stress can make sarcoidosis symptoms worse. Learning how to manage stress can help you feel better and cope with the disease.

FAQ

Can Herbs Help Sarcoidosis?

There is no cure for sarcoidosis, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms. Some people also find that herbs can help manage the disease.

For example, turmeric is an anti-inflammatory herb that can help reduce swelling and inflammation. Other herbs that may be helpful include ginger, cat’s claw, and licorice root.

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Who is Affected by Sarcoidosis?

While sarcoidosis can affect people of all ages, it is most often diagnosed in adults between the ages of 20 and 40.

This condition is rare in children, and it is more common in women than in men. Furthermore, African Americans are also at a higher risk for developing sarcoidosis.

Which Diagnostic Test Would Be Ordered by the Primary Healthcare Provider to Confirm Sarcoidosis?

A chest x-ray is often the first test ordered by a primary healthcare provider to check for sarcoidosis. However, other tests, such as computed tomography (CT) scan, bronchoscopy, and lung biopsy, may also be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.

How Long Can Someone Live With Sarcoidosis?

The prognosis for sarcoidosis is generally good. Most people with the condition will not experience any long-term effects. In fact, many people will see their symptoms improve over time without treatment. However, in some cases, the disease can progress and lead to serious complications, such as

What is Sarcoidosis of the Eyes?

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that can affect any organ in the body, including the eyes. This is known as ocular sarcoidosis, which can cause vision problems, redness, and pain. In some cases, the disease can lead to serious complications, including blindness.

What Kind of Doctor Manages Sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is a disease that often affects the lungs; therefore, it is typically managed by a lung doctor (i.e., pulmonologist).

However, this condition can also affect other areas of the body, so other healthcare specialists may also be involved in the care of these patients. This includes cardiologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, and rheumatologists.

Furthermore, as previously mentioned, sarcoidosis can affect vision and eye health. Therefore, optometrists and ophthalmologists may also be involved in the care of patients with this condition.

How Many People Die From Sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is a relatively rare disease, and it is estimated that there are fewer than 200,000 cases per year in the United States. While the majority of people with sarcoidosis will not experience any long-term effects, the disease can be fatal in severe cases.

A study published by the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that the overall risk of death from sarcoidosis ranges from 1 to 8%

What Does Sarcoidosis Look Like on the Skin?

Sarcoidosis can cause a variety of skin problems, including red, raised bumps or rashes that often appear on the shins or ankles. This may feel warm or tender to the touch. In some cases, the rash can also appear on the face, neck, or scalp.

Final Thoughts

Sarcoidosis is a relatively rare inflammatory disease that can affect any organ in the body. While there is no cure for this condition, the majority of people with sarcoidosis will not experience any long-term effects.

However, the disease can progress in some cases and lead to serious complications, such as lung failure or blindness. Therefore, it is important for people who have been diagnosed with sarcoidosis to see their healthcare provider regularly and report any new or worsening symptoms.

The best way to prevent sarcoidosis is to avoid exposure to known triggers, such as certain infections, chemicals, fumes, and dust.

However, making healthy lifestyle choices is also essential, including being mindful of the foods you eat in your diet. You can consider eating more foods with anti-inflammatory properties while avoiding inflammatory foods that can trigger or worsen symptoms.

If you think you may be at risk for sarcoidosis, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your risk. Thanks for reading, and, as always, breathe easy, my friend.

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.

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Medical Disclaimer: The information provided by Respiratory Therapy Zone is for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with a physician with any questions that you may have regarding a medical condition.