We have all been encouraged to eat more fruit and vegetables but there are many foods which can positively influence Raynaud's and a couple, which might have a slight beneficial effect on scleroderma.
For those who find their Raynaud's is uncomfortable, not to say painful, magnesium can play a very important role. It is an essential mineral and found in abundance in green foods, one particularly rich source is pumpkin seeds. Typically our diet and lifestyle deplete magnesium at an alarming rate such as any white food, including rice, bread, pasta, sugar, biscuits and cakes. This can be exacerbated by stress, poor sleep patterns and excessive exercise. Try to ensure that you have a least one leafy green vegetable daily. You could try keeping a bag of pumpkin seeds in the car or at your desk, where they are infinitely preferable to a sugary snack. Some individuals will need a magnesium supplement, ideally taken twice daily to ease the discomfort of Raynaud's.
General health advice has suggested that all our hearts would be healthier if we ate a piece of oily fish one to three times a week (not everyone enjoys fish so for them a fish oil supplement 3 to 6g a day would be appropriate). For strict vegetarians or those with an allergy to fish, oil from sea buckthorn is a wonderful alternative. Oily fish helps overall circulation and the benefits can be enhanced with the addition of garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper. Not everyone enjoys seasoned food but they may enjoy ginger tea. If none of the above foods have any appeal, then the herb ginkgo biloba becomes almost essential. It is one of the few herbs where the activity can be measured a few hours after ingestion. There are numerous studies showing its benefits for circulation, including Raynaud's. For those who climb the stairs, and upon reaching the top, can't remember why they are there; then ginkgo is almost certainly the herb for you. Long-term use of ginkgo has been shown to ease the symptoms of age-related depression and reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction.
Talks from nutritionists tend to focus on the negative, what we can't or shouldn't eat. It is probably more helpful to focus on the positive e.g., the benefits of fresh pineapple as it contains an enzyme called bromelain. This enzyme is a powerful anti-inflammatory; it can also help us digest protein rich foods. Two or three slices a day can help reduce the risk of varicose veins, recovery from injury or surgery, while enhancing circulation. Pineapple is one of the few foods that may help with scleroderma. There is also a compound known as beta-glucan, which was once abundant in our diet being found in various grains and beer. Today its role in scleroderma is speculative, but there is good reason to believe it may be helpful.
We can all improve our diet and feel the benefits. Even the best diet in the world can be enhanced with appropriate supplementation.
Gareth Zeal is one of the UK’s leading experts in the field of nutrition and naturopathy and has over 20 years experience at advising patients on the benefits of good nutrition and natural medicine.
The above article was taken from Gareth Zeal's talk at the RSA Annual Conference
To read a related article on nutritional supplements click here.