Lichen sclerosus is a chronic inflammatory disease, which can occur at any place in the body but common on the vulva, anal region and on the foreskin of the penis in uncircumcised men. It causes small white patches, which are raised from the normal surface, painful and itching. With time it cause urinary and sexual dysfunction which affect the quality of life and can lead to anxiety and depression. The exact cause of lichen sclerosus is unknown however believe to be an autoimmune disease.
What Are Oxalates?
Oxalates are naturally occurring substances in some of the food items you consume. It helps in the metabolism of many foods that you eat. It’s eliminated from the body through urine and stool. Amount of oxalates differ in various food items. Usually fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, seeds, nuts and spices contain more oxalates. Dairy, meat and eggs contains low or medium amounts of oxalates. Low oxalate intake means usually keeping your intake of oxalate from food and drinks between 40-6-mg/kg/day.
Does Diet Affect Lichen Sclerosus?
Lichen sclerosus is a chronic inflammatory condition and autoimmunity problems are identified as a possible cause for it. High oxalates can cause inflammation in the body and may trigger the immune system as well. Research has found out that a low oxidative diet will reduce the symptoms, especially the pain, but this theory is still in a controversial stage.
However, lack of evidence does not mean that you shouldn’t try a low oxidative diet. It is shown that calcium binds with oxalate and reduces the absorption of oxalate into body tissues. So you can try low oxalate food with either calcium supplements or with high calcium foods. First you can do a urine test check the amount of oxalates in your body. If it’s high with the advice of a doctor and a dietician you can start on having a low oxidative diet and see if the symptoms improve with it.
Foods You Can Eat With Lichen Sclerosus
Low-oxalate foods and drinks for lichen sclerosus include:
- Dairy products, such as cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and cheese
Foods You Should Avoid With Lichen Sclerosus
Food with high oxalates which you should avoid when you have lichen sclerosus are:
- Canned pineapple
- Spinach, raw and cooked
- Bran flakes
- Dried fruit
- Many boxed cereals
- Rice bran
- Brown rice flour
- Soy flour
- Potatoes in all forms
- Cocoa powder, and hot chocolate
- Nut products, such as peanut butter
- White chocolate
- All oils, including olive oil, and vegetable oil
- Green peas
- Beer, and most forms of alcohol
- Herbs, and seasonings, such as salt, white pepper, basil, and cilantro
- Weak, lightly-steeped green tea
Some tips for sticking to low oxalate diet when you have lichen sclerosus:
- Keep a list of high- and low-oxalate foods.
- Eat calcium-rich foods, or take a calcium citrate supplement daily.
- Have a chart daily to check if the low oxalate diet reduces the symptoms.
- Drink lots of water to produce pale color urine
- Use an oxalate app tracker to check out the oxalate content of each food item.
Lichen sclerosus is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. The exact cause is unknown but probably due to autoimmunity. Oxalates cause inflammation in the body and might trigger the immune system. It is shown that low oxalate diet may help improve the symptoms of lichen sclerosus, although this theory is still in a controversial stage.
Different food items contain various amounts of oxalates. Usually the fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts and grains contains high amount of oxalates whereas meat, poultry and eggs has less oxalates. Even if it’s not proven low oxalate diet reduce lichen sclerosus symptoms, you can try a low oxalate diet and see if your symptoms improve.