Have you recently been diagnosed with vitiligo? Have you been wondering about following a ‘vitiligo diet’? This blog contains all the information you would need to help with that. If you or someone you know is suffering from it, this blog is here to help.
Vitiligo is a challenging condition. While it's not physically harmful, it can even severely affect your body image and hamper your self-confidence. The initial diagnosis of vitiligo can come as a shock for many. Most patients are clueless about what to do and how to resolve this condition.
Following a vitiligo diet and taking proper care of your skin and body can help you manage it. The vitiligo diet isn’t like a proper diet plan with a specific set of foods to eat. However, it has certain recommendations and restrictions that can help you quickly deal with the condition.
What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition where the skin cells that produce pigment are attacked by the body’s immune system leading to white patches on the affected areas.
Patients with vitiligo are often clueless about how to deal with their condition, and for good reason. Its causes are not fully understood yet. Given the severe effects it could have on body-image issues, attempts to resolve this condition are often very desperate and sometimes harmful. Since it is an autoimmune condition, it is usually advised to begin resolving this issue by strengthening the immune system. The best way to enhance the immune system is through your diet. This begs the question: can you cure vitiligo with diet? The short answer is yes.
You might wonder which food is best for vitiligo and what makes vitiligo worse. Since there isn’t a specific diet for vitiligo, you do have a certain freedom to choose your food. However, the key lies in making the right choices.
What to eat?
Here’s a list of foods that can help with vitiligo management.
Fruits like mangoes, figs, dates, apricots, bananas, and apples are abundant in their antioxidant content. Antioxidants help in fending off free radicals and encourage cell growth. Not to mention certain fruits contain high levels of vitamin E, which is vital for skin health. fruits can also immensely benefit the regeneration process of skin cells and help to replace damaged cells faster.
It is best advised to follow a diet rich in foods obtained from plants. This is because plant-based foods are rich in digestive enzymes, plant-based compounds, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Spinach, carrot, beets, potatoes, radish, cabbage, cauliflower, bitter gourd, green beans, and red chilies are all fantastic for helping you deal with vitiligo. Let these vegetables cover 70-75% of your plate to reap maximum benefits.
Doctors prefer going for plant-based sources of protein rather than relying on meat. Excess protein has been linked with autoimmune conditions and while this claim is still undergoing research, it’s best to limit your intake. Beans, lentils, peas, legumes, and mushrooms are all fantastic plant-based alternatives for your daily protein requirements.
Whole grains are abundant in healthy carbs, phytonutrients, fiber, and protein. All of these aid in digestion and better absorption of nutrients. A healthy gut is your first and foremost ally in strengthening your immune system. Quinoa, oats, brown rice, etc., are all excellent choices for whole grains. It is better to go for gluten-free sources of whole grains for enhanced results.
Spices and herbs
Spices and herbs are the unsung heroes of immunity-boosting. Not only do they add flavor to the food, but they also have incredible healing properties and antibacterial properties. Spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg can be a great addition to your diet. You can also include rosemary, thyme, and basil in your diet for similar results. Who would want to say no to a healthy diet with a burst of taste, right?
Patients with vitiligo commonly suffer from a deficiency of calcium, vitamin B12, protein, and minerals. Hence, it is advised to visit your doctor regularly and incorporate recommended supplements to compensate for these deficiencies.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids help in better blood circulation and prevent inflammation. This helps in safeguarding and strengthening the immune system. Fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel are great sources for omega-3 fatty acids. You can even add COD liver oil to your supplements for its ease of intake. If you prefer plant-based options, try incorporating foods like almonds, avocados, and flax seeds.
What not to eat?
The vitiligo diet comes with a list of foods that are best avoided.
- Foods that are acidic, like citrus fruits, are best avoided. Vitamin C is great for skin regeneration but tends to worsen pigmentation in many cases.
- Red meat and meat from animal organs should be avoided.
- Aerated drinks also tend to worsen vitiligo due to their additives and excess sugar levels. Switch these out with smoothies instead.
- Processed foods with high amounts of salts and sugars should be avoided since they can negatively impact the immune system and gut health. This includes ready-to-eat packaged foods, ‘junk food’, and desserts (in excess).
- Dairy consumption is best avoided, but if this is not a possibility - try and reduce it as much as possible. There are several plant-based options for common dairy products in the market today that taste just as good without the negative effects.
You aren't alone
Don’t let vitiligo scare you. High-stress levels are known to worsen autoimmune conditions. Optimal care and lifestyle modifications can significantly help you manage your condition. But this is a tricky condition to deal with, so if you ever find yourself needing additional help, please reach out to peer support groups near you. Finding other people who are in the same boat and understanding vitiligo as a universal condition instead of isolating yourself will go a long way in helping you come to terms with it.