You know that at Help for HS we advocate for harnessing nutrition as a powerful tool in your HS healing arsenal.

That’s why we were excited to see a recent review article that examined the impact of dietary factors on HS.

The researchers performed a search of the medical literature to summarize the evidence on how specific dietary influences can improve HS or make it worse.

Here are the highlights from the study:

  • A Mediterranean diet may be helpful because it is low in dairy and alcohol. This diet can also promote weight loss and reduce metabolic syndrome, both of which are risk factors for HS.

  • Reduced intake of carbohydrates and dairy have consistently been associated with improvement of HS symptoms. In one study, 83% of people with HS improved on a dairy-free diet!

  • Foods most likely to exacerbate HS include sweets, bread/pasta, dairy, and yeast.

  • Simple carbs (such as sweets, juices, white flour products) and dairy increase the hormones insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Both of these hormones turn on the body’s mTOR signaling pathway, which stimulates the androgen (male hormone) receptors in the skin. As a result, the skin cells overgrow (a process called “hyperkeratinization”), which can lead to a clogged hair follicle which is the first step in an HS lesion.

  • Foods containing brewer’s yeast or baker’s yeast (such as beer, bread and vinegar) may worsen HS.

  • Zinc may help to improve HS by reducing mediators that drive the inflammatory cascade involved in HS.

  • Vitamin D deficiency is associated with HS severity. It is thought that vitamin D helps to improve HS by reducing the buildup of inflammation-triggering microbes in the skin, and by suppressing inflammation within the skin.

  • Vitamin B12 may help to heal HS lesions, especially in the anal and genital areas. It is believed that B12 helps to modulate the immune system and normalize levels of TNF-alpha. TNF-alpha is a protein that drives inflammation, and it is thought to be one of the main drivers of HS.

As you can see, there is no magic bullet when it comes to diet. However, the findings of this study confirm the basic principles we’ve been promoting from the beginning:

People with HS can greatly benefit from a dairy-free, yeast-free diet that is low in sugars and refined carbohydrates. 

In our Nourish eCookbook, we’ve taken the guesswork out of what to eat so that you can easily follow a nutrition plan that supports your healing.