When I was little, every Easter I’d get one of those giant chocolate bunnies. Well, giant is relative, I was little. I would break off its ears in delicious anticipation, take one bite and then promptly stuff the disfigured bunny back into the box and under my bed. Eventually, Mom would get mad because it would attract bugs. We lived on the farm.
I make no apologies for stuffing that waxy, sugary, tasteless chocolate under my bed. I am a chocoholic and have been most of my life. However, for me, chocolate is like herbal tea: high vibrational, nutrient-dense medicine from Mother Earth.
Sugar is not my issue. I don’t like hard candies. I don’t drink pop. It’s not that I never have sugar but I certainly notice when I do. In fact, managing my blood sugar levels is one of the best things I do for both menopause and LS.
So, why try sugar-free for lichen sclerosus?
Don’t worry, I’m not going to blog about every food and its relationship to LS. I’m covering the common culprit triangle of gluten, dairy and sugar. I will also talk about oxalates and histamines in another post. And yes, I’m aware that chocolate is high in oxalates. We’ll get to that.
Gut health is the key to good health. And sugar plays a big part in this mystery.
Too much sugar can reduce beneficial bacteria leading to a leaky gut syndrome. An increase of pathogenic bacteria, which is the species of microorganisms that cause diseases, can lead to a condition known as dysbiosis. An increase of this type of bacteria causes changes to the internal mucosal barrier of the intestine. 1Dr. Suhirdan, Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist
The Sydney Gastroenterologist goes on to say:
There are up to 1000 species of bacteria in an individual’s gut microbiome. Bacterial cells in the body outnumber human cells by around 10 trillion. While most species are beneficial to our health, certain species are the cause of diseases. 2
Remember What causes lichen sclerosus? I mention bacterial, parasitic and fungal infection as part of the soup of ingredients that are said to lead to LS. It would seem rather important that we do our best to ensure not only a healthy gut lining but also a happy gut microbiome.
How do we do this? Rather than pumping probiotics on top of the bacterial gut party, we first need to remove the fuel for the bacteria we don’t want. Reduce the sugar and those unwanted partiers will move along. (Okay they’ll die off, but that sounds like a tragic way for a party to end).
Gut health and children with lichen sclerosus
A pilot case study looked at LS in kids as it relates to the skin and gut microbiota. The study had this to say: These results suggest a potential association between cutaneous and gut dysbiosis and pediatric vulvar LS. 3
That’s a pretty big deal. We know that our gut health and our immune system are connected. We can begin to address autoimmune conditions, including LS, by paying attention to our gut health.
One more note from the gastroenterologist on how long it takes to improve the gut biome:
Depending on how extensive the effect of sugar on gut bacteria was, the gut microbiome could take some time to improve. That being said, the average time it takes to build up a healthy gut microbiome is about 6 months. 4
Your health is not a quick fix. It is, however, a journey worth taking. Reducing sugar is another promising step along your LS road to health. Again, it’s not about labeling a food good or bad; it’s about figuring out what’s nourishing for you at this time.
And it’s not your fault. It’s not as simple as what you’ve eaten in the past. There’s nutrition, inherited biome, overprescribed antibiotics, farming practices, soil depletion and food production on a global scale… it’s a whole ball of wax (and you know how much I dislike eating wax). I can’t change the whole system right now. What I can do is make simple choices each day that nourish me. You can too.
Keep packaged products at bay. Eat a whole foods diet. Enlist the support of a nutritionist or discover nourishing sugar-free recipes online. Remember my colleague Christina? She’s got plenty of whole food recipes on her website.
If you need to wean yourself (or your kids) off sugar, opt for honey, pure maple syrup or fruit. Though I do still buy chocolate, I’ve been making my own for over a decade. That way, I choose the ingredients: no wax, no sugar. And it never ends up under my bed.
Read the next post in the series: Lichen sclerosus and bowel problems
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**This blog is meant to inform, not diagnose or treat specific health conditions. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Always consult your doctor or health care practitioner.