Being diagnosed with HS can be a life changing moment. Very often, we can feel a sense of grief and loss of control of our bodies. While there is no cure for HS, doctors and researchers are working hard developing new treatments. There has been lots of progress in the last 10 years.
We can also do our part, by giving our bodies the best chance of healing and recovery. We can be kind to ourselves and make sure that we treat our bodies well, like they deserve.
HS and Weight
One big way we can contribute to our own wellbeing is by making healthy diet choices. This doesn’t have to be a complete HS diet overhaul. It could be simply reducing certain foods, and increasing others. Or replacing a sweet treat with a healthier alternative. There is very limited research on HS and diet. However, more and more health care practitioners are discussing diet with patients. People with HS all over the world are talking about their dietary changes that helped improve their HS.
Dr Chris Sayed is a HS specialist doctor. He has dedicated years of his career and used his skills to help hundreds of HS patients. He kindly agreed to answer some questions. Also to share his thoughts on HS and diet.
“I think HS is not typically caused by patients being overweight, but in some cases it does seem more difficult to control the disease as well. This may be in part because weight may influence how well some medications work and triggers like skin friction continue to cause problems. In some instances weight loss seems to help somewhat, but it is often not enough to completely control patients with very active HS. In some cases where patients have had gastric bypass surgery with profound weight loss the disease has improved substantially, but in some the benefit was only mild.”
Weight Management and HS
We often hear that losing weight might help improve HS symptoms. However, it’s never really explained why this might help us. In this article, Dr Sayed tell us the benefits of losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight. He also explains why it will help with managing HS.
“Like many other things, the impact of weight on disease severity is probably different from patient to patient. There are many patients at normal weight or even underweight that have very severe disease. And there are others at higher weights that have relatively mild disease. Higher weight has been linked to more progressive disease or disease that is less likely to respond to treatment.
Adipose tissue is the anatomical term used for the body fat that is found under our skin. It is also found around our internal organs.
“It is well-established that adipose tissue (comprised of fat cells) secretes certain signals that can trigger inflammation. As levels of adipose tissue increase, this leads to higher levels of these inflammatory signals throughout the body. So patients who are already predisposed to inflammation might end up seeing an effect on their disease severity.”
“Friction is also a major trigger for HS. Increasing weight can lead to friction in areas such as under the breasts and the underarms and thighs. This is a major problem because it makes it difficult to do certain kinds of exercise without friction. This can lead to disease flares for some patients.”
If you would like to start practicing some gentle exercise, we have put together some gentle yoga movements that add up to a nice workout to ease you into the day. You can check it out here
Maintaining a healthy weight
“Maintaining a healthier weight is almost certainly a good thing for general health and for HS. However, the disease often has a mind of its own despite this. It may be that many of the diets that patients feel are helpful for HS tend to have weight loss as a common end point for many. This could be why there is such variety in what people have found helpful. I think it is a major misconception that HS is always caused because patients are overweight. This kind of thinking is misguided and leads to a lot of self-blame and stigma, which should have no place in how we think about HS.”
We will have more from Dr Sayed in the coming weeks, where we will talk more about HS and weight, and also HS and diet.