Sarah Schafer, MD
Updated: Jan 27
Is there a special Sjogren’s diet? Can exercise or stress reduction keep Sjogren’s from getting worse, or even reverse the disease? There is not enough research to answer these questions yet. We do know that lifestyle measures help many people with Sjogren’s feel better, especially when combined with medical management. Importantly, good health habits lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and other Sjogren’s comorbidities. Sjogren's Advocate focuses on medical care. I don't write a lot about lifestyle support because the time is simply not there to give it justice. In 2022, I had the good fortune of becoming acquainted with two fellow Sjogren’s patients who offer excellent lifestyle information: Dr. Kara Wada (MD) and Dr. Susan Masterson (PhD). Like me, they have a deep understanding of Sjogren’s, personal experience, and a passion for helping others be as well as possible.
Spotlight on Dr. Susan Masterson
Dr. Susan Masterson is a PhD psychologist and Sjogren’s patient. Her goal is to help readers achieve the best physical and mental health possible while living with Sjogren’s. I love her website, Autoimmune Self-Care. Patients find her blog posts relatable, inspiring, and practical.
A few of my favorite blog posts:
When Your Autoimmune Disease Looks Like Depression
Dr. Masterson also has a YouTube Channel with stress reduction and educational videos. She made a beautiful 45-second video. “What is Sjogren’s Syndrome” that is perfect for introducing loved ones to Sjogren’s. Don’t worry about the “Sjogren’s syndrome” in the title; just let people know that the updated name is “Sjogren’s disease”.
How can you tell if a lifestyle resource is credible? I recommend starting with information from Dr. Susan Masterson and Dr. Kara Wada. The new Lifestyle Resources page on Sjogren’s Advocate links to their work. I plan to add more resources over time.
What about other resources?
It can be difficult to know if you can trust health related information on the internet. Seemingly legitimate doctors, along with non-credentialed wellness influencers often use “sciency” sounding terms to make unfounded claims. Supplements, “detox” programs, extreme diets, etc. provide a lucrative income. These products are typically useless, but some can be harmful. I would not trust anyone who claims that they can cure your autoimmune disease.
Click here to learn more about how to think about health advice.
Lifestyle changes help many people with Sjogren’s. These should support, not replace, ongoing medical care. It is wonderful if you feel much better with a new diet or exercise program, but that does not mean that your disease is inactive. Damage sometimes occurs without producing obvious symptoms. For instance, early-stage lung or kidney disease are frequently "silent." Regular monitoring for these and other systemic manifestations allows early identification and prompt treatment. This, in turn, improves outcomes.