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Scleroderma

Dietary and Lifestyle Management Strategies

Several dietary and lifestyle considerations are relevant for people with scleroderma.

Since exposure to cold may trigger episodes of Raynaud’s phenomenon in scleroderma patients, taking steps to keep warm such as wearing gloves when venturing out in cold temperatures may be helpful (Maricq 1996; Herrick 1998; Ihler 2003).  More information is available in the Raynaud’s Phenomenon protocol.

Exercise enhances blood circulation, which may be beneficial for scleroderma that primarily affects hands and feet. It has also been shown to improve muscle strength and function as well as aerobic capacity in patients with systemic sclerosis (Pinto 2011; Semenova 1973). Exercise also improves endothelial function and lowers blood pressure, which may provide significant benefit to people with scleroderma, since blood vessel dysfunction is a hallmark of the disease (Tjonna 2011; Tinken 2008; Black 2008).

Scleroderma patients also often have poor nutritional status, with over 28% of the patients having a medium or high risk for malnutrition (Baron 2009; Krause 2010). Reduced levels of the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium have been reported among individuals with scleroderma and Raynaud's phenomenon (Simonini 2000). Because scleroderma is associated with increased oxidative stress, eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is important (Gabrielli 2008; Sfrent-Cornateanu 2008).