Sjögren disease can affect how people eat and the types of food they might choose, which can make it harder to follow a healthy diet. Certain foods may help with the symptoms, however.

Sjögren disease is an autoimmune condition that impairs the exocrine glands, which release moisture, including tears, sweat, and saliva.

Dry eyes and dry mouth are common symptoms of Sjögren disease. The latter can affect how people with the condition approach their diet.

In this article, we examine the relationship between Sjögren disease and nutrition. We also take a look at the foods people with the condition should eat and avoid.

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Sjögren disease has several common symptoms that can affect how people with the condition think about nutrition. These include:

These symptoms may lead people with Sjögren disease to avoid dry, hard, and crunchy foods, which might cause discomfort when eating.

A lack of saliva in the mouth also increases the risk of tooth decay and infection.

These symptoms may make it harder for people to follow a healthy diet.

People with Sjögren disease also have a higher risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This condition causes stomach acid to back up into the throat frequently, causing discomfort when eating. Certain foods are more likely to trigger GERD symptoms than others.

It is interesting to note that some research has found autoimmune diseases, including Sjögren disease, to be less prevalent among those following a Mediterranean diet.

Learn more about the Mediterranean diet.

People with Sjögren disease should follow similar healthy eating guidelines to other people and aim to include plenty of plant foods, fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats in their diet.

Here are some foods that may benefit people with Sjögren disease:

For those wanting to sweeten their food, xylitol, which is a sweetener, may be a preferable option to sugar to help prevent tooth decay.

Soft and moist foods are easier for people to eat if they have any problems with dry mouth or difficulty swallowing. Certain dishes and cooking approaches are best for creating soft and moist meals for people with Sjögren disease.

Beneficial cooking methods include:

  • boiling
  • baking in water
  • slow cooking
  • pressure cooking

Soft, moist dishes include:

  • soups
  • stews
  • sauces
  • smoothies

People may also benefit from taking frequent, small sips of water to soothe dry mouth without washing away saliva. Sugar-free gum or candies can help stimulate saliva production.

There are a range of foods that can make symptoms of Sjögren disease worse or trigger new symptoms or complications.

People with Sjögren disease should avoid the following:

  • sugary beverages
  • carbonated drinks
  • foods containing excess salt, added sugar, or unhealthy fats
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • fatty, spicy, and acidic foods, which can trigger GERD symptoms

Although they can be healthy and nutritious, dry foods may be uncomfortable for people with Sjögren disease to eat. As a result, it may be preferable to find alternatives that are soft and moist.

Is there a “best” diet for a person with Sjögren disease?

There is no specific “best” diet for people with Sjögren disease. In general, people with the condition will benefit from following a healthy diet containing lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, and a variety of different plant foods.

What drinks are good for Sjögren disease?

Water and drinks that do not contain sugar, caffeine, or alcohol are the best drinks for people with Sjögren disease. Those experiencing a dry mouth can aim to drink small and frequent amounts of fluid to keep their mouths hydrated.

People with Sjögren disease often experience dry mouth and difficulties with eating. They also have a higher risk of developing tooth decay and GERD. These symptoms and risks can make it more difficult to follow a healthy diet.

If someone has this condition, they may find it easier to eat soft and moist foods. Focusing on dishes with these qualities can enable people to eat nutritiously while avoiding discomfort.

Certain foods can also worsen a person’s symptoms. People with Sjögren disease should avoid foods that include high levels of sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, along with caffeine and alcohol, to reduce their diet’s impact on their symptoms.