What's the Best Diet for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
Updated: Apr 21
Therapeutic diets, like the DASH diet for example, are diets that have been proven through clinical trials to be effective at managing specific diseases. Is there a therapeutic diet for EDS?
In short - not yet.
There have been no comprehensive studies to date that illustrate that one type of diet is better than another type of diet for people with EDS. This means that there is no evidence illustrating whether or not any diet is the best choice for someone with EDS. So the next time you hear someone say that a keto, paleo, vegan diet is the "best" diet for people with EDS, take that statement as simply a personal opinion.
So why should people with EDS care about nutrition then?
Even though there is minimal disease-specific research for people with EDS, there is a large body of evidence that shows how various components of foods seem to decrease symptoms that many people with EDS experience.
To illustrate this concept, take the example of chronic pain. Studies in patient populations with fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other conditions that cause chronic pain show most patients seem to experience less pain when they regularly consume foods that are high in fiber, contain higher amounts of antioxidants and polyphenols, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. Foods that contain these components are generally healthy foods (think whole grains, vegetables, and fatty fish), so it is very safe for people with EDS to include more of them in their diet and see if it helps improve their chronic pain over time.
So if there is no specific diet people with EDS should follow, but we know some symptoms may be improved by eating certain foods, what should our diets look like?
For most EDS patients, my recommendations do vary from person to person, especially if they have several food allergies and/or intolerances. However, all EDS patients need to consume diets that provide adequate energy, protein, essential fatty acids, essential vitamins and minerals, and also include beneficial amounts of fiber and antioxidants. Most people can achieve meeting the majority of their nutrient needs by consuming whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, eggs, nuts, and seeds. For people who avoid one or more of these categories, nutrient supplementation will be important to cover any expected gaps (like B12 for vegetarians and vegans, for example).
In summary, there isn't a "best" diet for EDS.
However, studies done in other patient populations guide healthcare professionals' current recommendations. The most important thing is that at the end of the day, you are meeting your nutritional needs.
Are you interested in learning how to manage some of your EDS symptoms with food? Or are you worried you are not meeting your nutritional needs? Click here to get in touch with me.