Premature ovarian failure in a patient with Sjögren syndrome reversed eliminating gluten, dairy and other foods

Elimination diets are a proven protocol for reducing disease activity in a number of auto-immune diseases. I am currently researching their effectiveness in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). (Elimination diets and rheumatoid arthritis)

The paleo diet is a version of an elimination diet, as it removes a number of foods known to  trigger antibodies, for example gliadin (in gluten) and lacto-albumin (dairy) antibodies, and / or increase gut permeability and therefore allowing antigens to cross the gut epithelium (Zonulin, regulation of tight junctions, and autoimmune diseases).

Given the documented effectiveness of elimination diets for around 30% of people with RA, it is surprising that many mainstream nutritionists and dieticians knock paleo as a fad, and discount the results achieved by those with auto-immune disease. The fact that paleo works for many needs to be studied, to figure out the mechanisms that make it effective. We also need to test it clinically on a range of auto-immune disease to see what percentage of people may actually benefit.

Anyhow – in my research I came across this study, an elimination diet study showing ovarian failure was reversed by cutting out certain foods in the diet – highlighted.

Another point I would like to highlight is that the paleo diet is not the ultimate elimination diet – a number of studies show people react to foods always included in both standard and auto-immune versions of the paleo diet, two common ones being beef and citrus fruit.

Reversal of premature ovarian failure in a patient with Sjögren syndrome using an elimination diet protocol.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Premature ovarian failure is diagnosed with a picture of amenorrhea, elevated follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and age under 40 years. Twenty percent (20%) of patients with premature ovarian failure have a concomitant autoimmune disease. Cases of premature ovarian failure associated with Sjögren syndrome have been reported in the literature.

PATIENT AND METHOD:

We report a case of a 42-year-old white woman with Sjögren syndrome and premature ovarian failure who underwent a reversal of her premature ovarian failure and restoration of normal menses using an elimination diet protocol. The patient was diagnosed with her rheumatological condition in 2005 and started on disease-modifying antirheumatoid drugs, which were taken intermittently due to a concern over medication side-effects. Her menses became irregular at the time of initial diagnosis and finally ceased in 2006, with a dramatic elevation in her FSH, indicative of autoimmune-induced premature ovarian failure. In March 2009, she commenced an elimination diet protocol, eliminating gluten, beef, eggs, dairy products, nightshade vegetables, refined sugars, and citrus fruit for 4 months.

RESULTS:

Her repeat laboratory tests after 4 months showed a drop in FSH from 88 to 6.5 and a drop in erythrocyte sedimentation rate from 40 to 16. Her menses also resumed and her rheumatological symptoms significantly improved.

CONCLUSIONS:

It is hypothesized that the restoration of normal menses was caused by reduced inflammation in the ovarian tissue and supports the hypothesis that the gut immune system can influence autoimmune disease and inflammation.

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  1. Interesting abstract. I went through POF when I was 38 years old, after the birth of my second son. I also had 2 early miscarriages before that. This was in the 1980’s, when I was a heavy exerciser and did high carb, low fat diet. I still wonder to this day if my condition was autoimmune related and if what we know now about diet would have helped me avoid an early menopause. Thank you for this post.

  2. I have a movement disorder and when i eat those items listed for ovarian disorder i can’t walk! any comments would help thanks!

  3. Why are refined sugars eliminated in the auto-immune diet? I would have thought sucrose would be super safe, since it doesn’t contain any protein (therefore cannot produce an immune reaction).

    What am I missing?

    Or is the elimination of sucrose only for general health, unrelated to auto-immunity?

    • Sugar is likely to feed the wrong gut bacteria, as well as being a food that has no nutrients – that means to digest it you actually deplete nutrient stores. So although it doesn’t have immune effects it might contribute in other ways to ill health

  4. My teenage daughter was diagnosed with POF and found out she’s gluten sensitive. One doctor said that eliminating gluten doesn’t help POF. Is that true? I’m trying all avenues and trying to get a doctor to help me get to the root cause instead of placing a bandage on it with hormones.

  5. Hi there – my daughter has had POF since she was 15 (after series and series of tests, doctor’s suggest it’s autoimmune) and she’s also had a significant increase in food intolerances (gluten, dairy, soy, yeast, sugar, citrus) over the past 9 years since that time. I’ve always wondered, and she’s inquired with doctors, as to whether there is some type of connection between POF and food intolerances, and no one’s provided any suggestion of a linkage, so I was thrilled to come across this article.

    Question – in the case described, do you know why there was the recommendation to pull eggs from the diet? These are one of the very few foods left that don’t seem to bother my daughter.

  6. In my adolescence years, I had a lot of digestive problems. My periods have always been regular but in my late teens, I was diagnosed with sjogrens and in my late twenties, I also had polycystic ovaries. Been going on many elimination diets and when my mercury fillings were removed, the ibs stopped as the metals had been partly cause of poor health. Now in my fourties, my periods had been changing and am wondering whether it could be early menopause. Have heard that having one or more immune diseases can have the risks.