Fad diets are mostly known for eliminating one or more food group. We all love to hate them...but can some of them be potentially beneficial for our HS and overall health? I believe all trendy diets have at least one positive attribute to them. We’re going to focus on some of the more popular diets today.
The Ketogenic Diet
This diet has exploded in popularity in recent years and has taken up the #1 spot on the list of diet trends according to cooksmarts.com. Keto for short is a macro-centric diet with the goal of lowering carbs, and raising consumed fat, with moderate protein intake. It’s hard to argue with the results of millions of people when it comes to weight loss.
Personally I’ve lost 150 lbs doing my own version of Keto.
Why does it work and is it good for Hidradenitis Suppurativa too? Carbs, and in particular sugar, create more cravings and when this is reduced it results in increased satiety. The end result is fewer calories consumed which equals tangible weight loss. If your HS is the result of an underlying metabolic imbalance, which has created an insulin resistance, then Keto will have a positive result on that as well. Oftentimes there are multiple root issues that need to be addressed.
Do we need to lower our overall carbs or can we just eliminate the excess sugar in our diet to get the same effect? Most 'carboholics' would argue this is the case and I’m inclined to agree...to an extent. Some people do so well on Keto because of the simplicity of it. For some, this rallying cry under the bacon banner warrants a lifetime of dedication. It unites those unwilling to look further; this is by no means a slight against it, I believe in the Keto way, but not the dirty Keto that I see popularized by so many in the industry.
I practice clean Keto, which does not allow artificial and overly processed ingredients. I don't advocate eating just any fats and limit it to the healthiest like organic coconut, grass fed tallow, and extra virgin cold pressed olive oil. In my opinion, after the horrible and worst oil offender, industrial refined vegetables oils (which isn’t suggested even on regular Keto), I’d say pork fat is where regular Keto makes me give it a hard pass. Pork fat is extremely inflammatory with ranges that far exceed healthy omega 3 to 6 ratios and those of us with HS need to be especially aware of our omega ratios. This will have negative hormonal effects at some point. If you choose to partake in the Keto lifestyle, do yourself a favor and keep it clean!
The Paleolithic Diet
Number 2 on our list is known as Paleo for short, the idea behind this stone-age diet is to ONLY consume food that were thought to be available during the Paleolithic era to include meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. The mockery of this one is easy, caveman were dumb, so are you for eating like them. I agree with the basic central theme of Paleo; we should eat the way we were designed or evolved to. We have the same digestive system that early humans did; why are consuming foods that our bodies were never designed to eat? It’s no wonder that according to the national cancer institute approximately 39.3%of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetime! See the stats here.
As it turns out, cavemen were actually pretty smart, like us! We have a pretty good idea of what they ate based on fossil records. Before I went AIP and found remission from stage 3 HS (which I will share about down below) I went Paleo for a year. It had some positive effects on my HS with reducing overall size and quantity of my abscesses, but it wasn’t enough alone to reduce my inflammation and send me into remission. Paleo is by no means a perfect diet. The main atrocity I’ve seen is thinking that since a food is paleo that means they can refine it and combine it with 30 other refined ingredients to make their own form of processed foods to sell unscrupulously to the cave-masses. These are better than the standard alternatives, but they should be used as treats and not be at the ready to replace whole foods as meals as I’ve seen done so often. If you choose to try Paleo make sure you are eating MOSTLY unprocessed foods just like the cave folks did!
The Whole30 Diet
Speaking of unprocessed foods, Whole30 comes in at #3 on the most popular diets list. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you are shopping for healthy foods in a grocery store. Where are you in the store? Most likely you are in the produce section or maybe the fresh fish and meat section. Where is the worst place to be...literally anywhere else! The inner aisles of the grocery store are full of processed, artificial, sugar-laden boxes of ready made “food” and I use the term loosely! Whole30 is great because you eat primarily real foods, I don’t think anyone could argue against that, plus it’s only for 30 days so it’s meant to be a reset and temporary. Anyone can do 30 days! It’s hard to fault this one, but I’ll give my best shot!
Whole30 doesn’t limit fruit, nut or seed intake, which may expose someone to either too much fructose and/or common anti-nutrients like lectins that are hard to digest. This can lead to ‘leaky gut’ (intestinal permeability) which is a popular theory revolving around autoimmune and auto-inflammatory diseases like HS. That was a mouthful, I know! The Paleo and Whole30 diets are very similar and I’d recommend either as a starting platform for any healing journey!
The Vegan Diet
I’m going to be straightforward with this one; this subject is polarizing to some and those on that hill often choose to die upon it for reasons other than health. There can indeed be benefits to this diet, at least temporarily. Some vegans live off Oreos and potato chips and others eat only whole foods grown in their backyard gardens. Both of these diets are considered vegan, but only one could possibly be conceived as a good alternative to the standard American diet. Vegans don’t eat foods sourced from animals. Let’s start with where I agree with the vegan ideals and then we can do a quick hard turn for some REAL talk.
Vegans want to end unnecessary animal suffering, which sounds good to me. Vegans despise factory farming, agree. Most Vegans believe in creating a sustainable and healthy food system, I can get behind that. They lose me at the science on how we can achieve all these things while also optimizing human health. While factory farming is a true abomination, regenerative farming with pastured cattle roaming freely is beautiful and wholesome. It not only puts nutrients back into the soil making the land fertile again, it also allows for a sustainable and healthy source of protein and fat; the only essential macronutrients since there are no essential carbs. What does this mean for those of us with HS? Amino acids are the building blocks for our bodies; we require more protein than the average person, much like a bodybuilder.
Can it be done on plant proteins? No, because these foods are full of anti-nutrients that are hard to digest and lead to intestinal permeability. The old phrase “we are what we eat” isn’t completely accurate; I prefer “we are we we absorb”. Just because we consume something doesn’t mean it’s being utilized efficiently within our bodies. Those of us with gut issues (since all disease is born in the gut per Hippocrates), require the most bio-available nutrition to digest for humans, which comes from clean animal sources including grass fed muscle/organ meats and wild caught fish like salmon from safe waters like those surrounding Alaska.
The vegan diet looks alright from the outside, but once you take a closer look at some simple biomechanics of the human body and the conversion and absorption rates, it becomes clear this isn’t the most optimal diet for those with HS or anyone that doesn’t want short-lived benefits. This diet eventually gives way to nutritional deficiencies like Sarcopenia, a type of muscle loss that leads to frailty, deterioration, reduced quality of life, disability and immobility, which is rampant in the vegan community.
We can’t extinguish death from the circle of life. Trying to do so leads to mass mono-cropping by multinational agriculture conglomerates, which inevitably causes more deaths. One life can feed a family for an entire year or hundreds can die for your peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My takeaway from this diet is this, it’s a good idea to start a home garden, however, living off those plants alone would be impossible to meet the nutritional requirements for the human body so it’s a good idea to supplement with quality animal foods.
The Autoimmune Protocol Diet
This is my personal favorite, the AIP diet for short. It doesn’t make the top 10 list of popular fads, which is a shame because it takes most of the beneficial parts of ALL diets. The AIP is a subset of the Paleo diet even being called the Autoimmune Paleo diet by some. The AIP diet takes it a step further by eliminating nuts and seeds, caffeine, nightshade vegetables (my worst HS trigger by FAR), eggs, etc. Again, there is no perfect diet, I’ve had to customize even this to work for myself, however, utilizing the principles of the Autoimmune Protocol has allowed me to find complete remission from my HS symptoms. I was stage 3 in what I now call my “before-time”. It has been a miracle to me these past 4 years since healing.
The Autoimmune Protocol focuses on eliminating the most statistical foods that trigger inflammatory diseases while also consuming a nutritionally dense diet. This makes the AIP a double edged-sword in the fight against HS! If you want more information on how you too can achieve this miracle check out my YouTube channel Adamimmune! I share in detail there how I eat and my lifestyle for healing naturally. I hope to see you there!
More about HS and Diets here.
Nightshades: Should they be Eliminated for HS can be read here.
Nutrition, Elimination Diets and HS here.
Content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you have read on this website.
Written by Adam Hatten
Edited by Brindley Kons