Hidradenitis Suppurativa Diet

Hidradenitis Suppurativa Diet

Everything You Need To Know

Researching diets and Hidradenitis Suppurativa can get very confusing. There are dozens of websites with lots of different information and suggestions for you to try.

We have been very busy researching and trying to figure it all out so that we can make it easier for you to decide what Hidradenitis Suppurativa diet is right for you.There are hundreds of people with HS who talk about their symptoms improving when they stick to a certain diet. This is so exciting to read about and very encouraging, because it shows that for some people, diet plays a big role in managing their disease. However, there is little scientific research into HS and diet so we don’t have much to go on in terms of scientific evidence.

All is not lost though, because research in this area is increasing, with more and more people turning the spotlight on the link between HS and diet. We will take a look at the research that has been published, as well as the most popular diets that other people with HS recommend. We will also try to identify the most common trigger foods and to understand why they may contribute to new flares.

Welcome to the Hidradenitis Suppurativa Diet Resource page. Here we have analysed and compared 6 of the most common diets used by people with HS. You can discover the differences and similarities between the different diets for hidradenitis suppurativa, and choose which one you might benefit you the most. But first, lets look at why diet is important in managing HS symptoms.

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Why is diet important for managing Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

1. Some foods are known to cause inflammation, and some are known to fight inflammation. In fact, the combination of refined carbohydrates ( like white bread) and bad fats (like deep fried foods) are known to increase cellular inflammation , so we have the power to reduce our own levels of inflammation through what we eat.

2. The speed at which sugar is absorbed into blood stream has a huge impact on the body. People with HS have been found to increased susceptibility to developing metabolic syndrome, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. So maintaining healthy sugar levels through diet is important.

3. Research has shown that adipose tissue cells (fat) contribute to increased inflammation in the body. Fat cells secrete little proinflammatory molecules, and this contributes to low-level inflammation throughout the body. So in theory, losing weight should help to reduce some HS symptoms.

4. Certain foods can improve your mood, and this doesn’t mean comfort food! Healthy fats like omega 3 and foods rich in B vitamins and Zinc can have a positive effect on your mood and mental health.

5. Some foods like protein rich foods can even help you to sleep better! And sleep is so important for the body to recover and heal. Sleep deprivation also increases inflammation so it is a vicious circle, and getting proper is just as important as your hidradenitis suppurativa diet.

6. Lots of people with HS have digestive problems too and a healthy diet may help improve irritable bowels, or other digestive disorders.

The Anti-inflammatory Diet

It’s important to note that inflammation is not necessarily a bad word, inflammation is the body’s natural response to protect itself when tissue has been damaged or when a harmful substance is perceived by the body. Chemicals are released from white blood cells which increase the blood flow to the area of injury or infection causing redness, warmth, swelling and triggering pain, the increased blood flow promotes the natural healing process of the body. The problem arises when the body continues to send signals that there is still a threat and healthy cells become damaged. Certain foods are known to trigger an inflammatory response in the body.

The anti-inflammatory diet has a heavy focus on eliminating these foods which are known to cause this response such as sugar, trans fats, refined carbs, and processed meats. It is quite strict on these exclusions because of the adverse effect of these foods in people with HS or other issues affected by high levels of inflammation.

It includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole-grains, nuts and seeds.

By adding foods rich in anti-oxidants to your diet you can help reduce free radicals in the body which cause oxidative stress. Also helping to slow down the aging process and reducing inflammation. Phytochemicals found in tea, honey wine, fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil and cocoa help to scavenge and eliminate free-radicals in the body.

Vitamin K found in green leafy veg such as kale, spinach and broccoli has a positive effect on reducing inflammation. And omega 3 which you can find in oily fish, taken regularly over time has been shown to have a positive effect on reducing inflammation.

There can be many triggers which are hard to prevent such as pollution, sickness or injury, but you can have control over what you eat.

With a condition such as HS, changing your eating habits and making this your hidradenitis suppurativa diet, may reduce inflammation in your body.

Like any life style change it won’t be an instant magic cure but consistency with an anti-inflammatory diet for hidradenitis suppuratvia can help reduce the number of flare ups and may reduce the level of pain.

Foods to Include

Olive oil
Oily fish eg. Salmon, mackeral, anchovies
Chia seeds, flax seeds
Green tea
Ashwaganda: Chinese herb reduces cortisol levels and lessens chronic inflammation

Foods to Avoid

High fructose corn syrup (found in fizzy drinks and processed confectionary)
Trans Fats e.g margarine
Refined carbohydrates e.g sweets, pastries, pasta, cakes
Vegetable and seed oil
Processed meats
Omega 6 fatty acids


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3920909/ 2014 Jan 23 ZawnVillinesedicalnewstoday.com/articles/318652 July 29, 2017 https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/about-inflammation#1 https://www.webmd.com/diet/anti-inflammatory-diet-road-to-good-health#1 Omega 3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24505395 2014 Feb Anthocyanins https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082894/

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet and HS Paleo refers to a pre-historic time. The paleo diet is a way of eating that is thought to be more in line with what our cave-man ancestors may have eaten.And for sure their diet did not include any of the processed convenience foods we have these days.

Our ancestors were hunter gatherers and it is thought that they ate a diet rich in vegetables, berries, nuts, roots, meat, fish and organ meats.

Dr Loren Cordain who popularised the diet in more recent times, wrote the book The Paleo Diet claims that by consuming only the types of foods that were available to humans during the Palaeolithic time we can help to boost metabolism and reduce the incidence of diabetes, cancer and inflammatory diseases like hidradenitis suppurativa.

While all the claims of a Paleo diet have not been confirmed, there is evidence that a diet rich in lean protein and plant-based foods can make you feel more satiated, help control blood sugar and promote weight loss. Which is good news for those with HS.

With regards to HS it has been thought that two main categories of white blood cells which have become sensitised in the gut set off an immune response which effects cell lining in hair follicles and sweat glands and therefore restricting foods that are known to increase intestinal permeability (leaky gut) can help prevent health problems such as HS and auto-immune disorders according to Dr.Cordain.

So you may like to try going back to your ‘roots’ as a way to find more health and balance through the food you consume and choose paleo as your hidradenitis suppurativa diet.

Foods to Include

Lean meat
Organ meat
Sea food
Root vegetables
Nuts and seeds
Olive oil, coconut oil
Salt and spices

Foods to Avoid

Grains eg. rye, barley, oats, rice, corn, sorghum, millet)
Refined sugar
white potatoes
Refined vegetable oils


https://thepaleodiet.com/part-i-hidradenitis-suppurativa-and-the-paleo-diet/ Matt McMillen https://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/paleo-diet https://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/paleo-diet

The Autoimmune Diet

The autoimmune protocol (AIP) is believed to reduce inflammation in the body that’s is caused by leaky gut syndrome. Many people believe that leaky gut (intestinal permeability) causes toxins and food particles to be absorbed into the blood stream through tiny gaps in the lining of the intestine. These particles cause the immune system to react abnormally and causes inflammation, leading to increased hidradenitis suppurativa formation.

The AIP diet proposes a very thorough elimination diet, wherein foods that contribute to leaky gut are removed and the gut lining has time to heal. This in turn will reduce inflammation in the body and reduce your hidradenitis suppurativa symptoms.

The diet is very restrictive to start off, eliminating most foods except fresh meat, organ meat, animal fats, bone broth and vegetables. Once your HS symptoms improve, you start reintroducing different foods slowly. If you the reintroduced food causes your HS to flare, then it should be excluded from your diet altogether.

The AIP diet can be somewhat considered a very restricted version of the paleo diet. It goes further than paleo though by eliminating eggs, nuts and seeds, nightshade vegetables, certain spices and sweeteners.

There is little scientific research into the AIP diet for hidradenitis suppurativa, however hundreds of people with HS have seen an improvement in their symptoms by following this diet. Some people follow the diet for 6 months or a year, others make a lifelong commitment to the diet, and live relatively HS free. It’s recommended to get some Tupperware so you can batch cook and plan meals to make following the AIP diet a bit easier. Eating out can be an issue for people following this diet, and even certain types of seasonings and cooking oil are excluded. But these sacrifices are worth it for some. If you are ready to make some big changes to your diet and lifestyle, this could be the hidradenitis suppurativa diet for you.

Foods to Include

Variety of fresh meats and organ products. Liver and kidneys are particularly recommended
Fish, in particular oily fish
Bone broth and gelatine (from beef)
Fresh vegetables except nightshade vegetables and legumes
Fresh fruit, but limited amounts
Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi
Olive oil and coconut oil
Other coconut products like coconut flour for baking
Fresh herbs

Foods to Avoid

Refined sugars
Processed foods
All grains – no exceptions
Legume vegetables (peas, beans, soy,peanuts)
Dairy products, with the exception of a clarified butter called ghee
Certain cooking oils like canola oil or sunflower oil
Nuts (some people eat activated nuts)
Food additives like sweeteners, thickeners and emulsifiers.
In some cases, chocolate
In some cases, coffee

Any seed or nightshade-based spices like chilli, cumin, coriander seeds.

The Plant-based diet and HS

A plant-based diet every day keeps the doctor away”

A plant-based diet consists of healthy fresh foods of a plant-based nature including vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and whole-grains. A plant-based diet eliminates all animal-based products from the diet.

It has now been shown that we need a lot less protein than previously thought and that eating a wide variety of plant-based sources of protein is sufficient for health and vitality.

Plant foods are rich in antioxidants which are beneficial compounds that can be found in plant foods and they may help improve blood sugar regulation and reduce inflammation. It may be necessary to supplement B12 into a plant-based diet, many plant milks and some cereals are fortified with B12 to ensure adequate amounts for a healthy heart and nervous system.

Studies have shown that people on a plant based diet had notable reductions in their blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels and find it easier to maintain a healthy weight which is good news for those with HS as elevated blood sugar can often be an issue.

People who eat mostly plant-based diets show a 23% reduction in their risk of diabetes which has also been linked to HS.

It is important to include a wide variety of as many plant-based foods as you can to ensure that you are obtaining all the beneficial nutrients, think about getting as many colours onto your plate as possible.

It is possible to improve your health significantly while not eliminating animal products completely at first (as this can be difficult) but by reducing them significantly, start by slowly including more plant-based meals into your day.

Foods to Include

All Vegetable and fruit (organic where possible)
Nuts and seeds
whole grains

Foods to Avoid

Meat, fish, eggs
Processed foods/ refined foods
Foods with added sugar


https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20190725/plant-based-diet-helps-keepdiabetes-at-bay#1 July 25, 2019     Health benefits of vegan diet  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32098430 Jillian Kubala, MS, RD on June 12, 2018 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/plant-baseddiet-guide

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is based on the foods eaten in countries like Greece, Spain, Italy and other countries of the Mediterranean Sea. Researchers in the 1960’s started examining the diets of people in the Mediterranean as they were found to have a lower risk of many different diet related heath problems like cardiovascular disease. Subsequent studies found that there are many health benefits to the Mediterranean diet and it is now recommended to promote health and prevent chronic disease.

Even the World Health Organisation recognises the Mediterranean diet as a “sustainable dietary pattern and cultural asset” – They must be doing something right!

The diet is based on eating plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fat like olive oil and avocados every day. Other foods central to the diet is a variety of  fish and other seafood. Poultry, beans and eggs are eaten in moderation. Dairy products and red meat are only eaten occasionally. The diet also allows for lots of herbs and spiced to be used, of which some have health benefits as well as adding flavour.

One very important aspect of the Mediterranean is the sharing of food with family and friends, and moderate amounts of red wine.

The has been some scientific research into the Mediterranean diet, but further investigation is required.  A 2018 study carried out on 41 people with HS showed a link between HS severity and adherence to the Mediterranean diet, wherein participants who adhered strictly to the diet showed an improvement in HS symptoms.

The Mediterranean diet is a healthy, nutritious and tasty way to eat. The diet is not as intense as others and allows for a large variety of food to be included. So if you want to make some changes but not sure where to start, this could be the hidradenitis suppurativa diet for you.

Foods to Include

Fresh fruits
Fresh vegetables.
Aim for 7 to 10 servings a day of fruit and vegetables (not just fruit, make sure to eat your veggies!
Whole grains including wholegrain varities of bread and pasta.
Olive oil
Seafood. At least twice per week.
Beans and pulses
Small amounts of red meat
Limited amounts of dairy
Herbs and spices

Foods to Avoid

High sugar drinks
Sugary foods
Processed foods like convenience food
Refined grains like white flour
Trans fats like margarine
Processed meat like hot dogs or lunchmeat
Refined oils like canola oil or sunflower oil



Yeast elimination Diet for hidradenitis suppurativa

To be more specific, brewers yeast elimination. This is one of the areas of diet and hidradenitis suppurativa that has been researched by scientists and the results are very interesting. Although the studies have been small, it is definitely worth paying attention to and hopefully more research will be done in this area.

Brewers yeast is made from a single celled fungus called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and is used as an ingredient in making bread and beer among other things.

In a French study , 12 people with HS were given a food intolerance test and found to have  had an immunologic reaction to Brewer’s yeast and wheat. All of the participants had surgery to remove active HS lesions and were put on a very strict and controlled brewer’s yeast-free diet for 12 months.

The results were startling. The diet caused “immediate stabilization of clinical symptoms”, and the remaining skin lesions improved throughout the 12 months. If any of the participants accidently ate food containing brewer’s yeast, their HS lesions recurred almost immediately. The elimination of brewer’s yeast improved the participants quality of life and enabled them to be more active and resume every-day activities.

Another small study of 20 people with hidradenitis suppurativa demonstrated an improvement in HS related Pain, intensity of inflammation, days of impairment and levels of discharge for HS lesions, after 3 months of brewer’s yeast elimination. However, improvement did not occur in all participants, but only in the participants who adhered strictly to the diet.

Brewer’s yeast is found in so many different processed foods that eliminating it from your diet means making some big changes to the way you eat. But if you want to try it and see if this is the right hidradenitis suppurativa diet for you, be prepared to make a big commitment and to stick with it!

Foods to Include

Fresh fruit – make sure to wash all fruit
Fresh vegetables – make sure to wash all vegetables
Fresh fish
White meats
cereals that do not contain yeast (eg, rice or corn cakes made with puffed cereals),
green tea

Foods to Avoid

All bakery products (eg, pizza, bread, cakes, etc)
Black tea
Soy sauces
Fermented cheese (eg, gorgonzola, bleu d’Auvergne, etc)



What do these 6 diets have in common?

Choosing a hidradenitis suppurativa diet can be a big decision, and it’s hard to know which diet is best for you. Whether you want to make sweeping changes to your lifestyle and diet with AIP diet, or make some smaller changes with the Mediterranean diet there is a diet for you.

But if you are not ready to take on a new hidradenitis diet right now, take a look at some of the similarities we found in all the diets. Making just these changes could be a big benefit to your health.

Here are the main points:

– Increase your intake of fresh vegetables and fruit
– Eat whole foods – remove simple carbohydrates like white bread and pasta
– Limit your intake of meat and animal products or if you are eating meat and animal products make sure they are not processed and are of good quality
– Use dairy alternatives- try to reduce or limit your intake of milk, cheese, cream, yoghurt and other dairy products
– Eat a variety of foods to have a well-balanced diet. Don’t eat the same thing every day
– Avoid sugary drinks
– Avoid sugar, this includes cakes, sweets, ice cream etc
– Avoid convenience food and processed food


Diet plays a big role in maintaining our overall health, and may help to manage or reduce hidradentitis suppurativa symptoms.

Diet is one element of your life that you have full control over. You decide what to buy and what to eat. You have the power to make changes, either by taking it one step at a time, or completely overhauling your diet.

The key take-away message from reviewing all 6 hidradenitis suppurativa diets is that there are changes that we can make that may improve our HS symptoms as well as having lots of other health benefits.

Trigger Foods and why they may cause HS to Flare:

Dairy Products contain Casein, whey and a hormone called a DHT, which can all contribute to the blockage and eventual rupture of the hair follicle and set the inflammatory response into action.
High Sugar foods:simple carbohydrates like refined sugar cause blood sugar levels to spike. This can contribute to systemic inflammation in the body.
Brewer’s Yeast: In a recent study 12 people were given a food intolerance test and found to have a specific immunology IgG reaction to brewer’s yeast and wheat. Removing brewer’s yeast from their diets had a significant impact on HS severity and when it was reintroduced, HS symptoms returned.
Nightshade Vegetables such as white potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, cayenne pepper and paprika contain a substance called solanine, which some believe cause inflammation in the body. Although there is not much scientific evidence to support this, there are lots of people with HS who believe nightshades are a trigger food and so eliminate them from their diets with good results.

Disclaimer: The content on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment and therefore if you have any questions in regards to diagnosis, medical advice or treatment you should consult with your doctor or health care professional immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor or health care professional before making any drastic changes to your lifestyle or course of treatment.

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