When you struggle with hypermobility or EDS and all the associated challenges, it’s natural to want to do everything you can to try to manage them. Hypermobility and nutrition requires nuance and there’s a lot of myths out there that stop us from putting our attention towards the things that will actually help us feel better.
With that, I’m starting with the myths, so you realize you don’t have to worry about these things. Also, this isn’t medical advice. If have something going on, seek help from a qualified medical professional.
Common myths about nutrition and hypermobility
Myth 1: You can eat special foods to “heal” a leaky gut – something that is associated with hypermobility
Leaky gut is a BS marketing term, but what it’s referring to increased intestinal permeability. This is when tight junctions in the gut that control what passes through the lining of the small intestine don’t work as well, which could cause substances to leak into the bloodstream.
Hypermobility may be related to a collagen disorder, so it makes sense that you could be prone to this, BUT this condition is asymptomatic and there’s no evidence based l ways address it, so you can ignore advice on how to eat for it, because it’s not going to do anything.
Myth 2: You need to eat tons of protein and collagen to repair your connective tissue.
The (inaccurate) theory is if your collagen doesn’t work right, you should eat more collagen. The human body doesn’t work that way. It’s a different type of collagen, so just ignore this advice.
Also, there’s no evidence that eating excessive protein will help. A *higher* protein diet (e.g. 0.7 grams x lb of bodyweight) MAY support recovery / tissue repair, but that applies for most people. It’s not hypermobility specific.
Evidence based nutritional recommendations for managing hypermobility and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome symptoms
Hypermobility often comes with autonomic nervous system regulation issues.
This can mess with digestion + contribute to GI distress and / or nausea. To troubleshoot, you may do better with small or “low volume” meals or lower fiber meals.
Eating in a calm or distraction free environment may also help digestion, but again, most people benefit from this.
Hypermobility may also result in increased fatigue due to co-morbidities like low blood pressure, pain, headaches, chronic fatigue syndrome…and so on.
In this case, you may not always have energy to prepare food, so it helps to keep easy snacks / protein shakes / convenience foods on hand that you find appetizing and can grab when you’re having a rough day.
Hypermobile people also report more food intolerances, but this isn’t a size fits all situation.
What I’ll say generically is pay attention to what doesn’t sit well with you and work with a registered dietician if you’re having a lot of challenges. Also, because of these issues, hypermobile people may be more prone to disordered eating and eating disorders, so it’s important to work with someone who isn’t encouraging a diet that is more restrictive than it needs to be.
It’s one thing not to eat a certain food, because it makes you feel ill or you have an underlying condition such as celiac disease. It’s another to cut out a food because someone arbitrarily told you it would increase your symptoms, without any evidence behind that claim.
Hypermobile people are also prone to low blood pressure or POTS. which also means low blood volume and a propensity for dizzy spells, brain fog, ect.
If you’re in this camp, hydration is really important and some people may benefit from a higher sodium diet and / or taking an electrolyte supplement every day. I drink an electrolyte supplement in water every morning at the same time and I’ve found it helpful in reducing my dizzy spells.
The brand that you use doesn’t matter. If you hate electrolyte water, you can also eat a serving of salsa or some pickles. Anything, I’ve used has had 170 to 200 mg of sodium give or take.
In summary, hypermobile people don’t need a special or restrictive diet.
We benefit from the same health promoting nutrition advice that apply to most people – e.g. stay hydrated, eat fruits and vegetables, and protein, etc.
BUT, you may have some additional challenges that require considerations and challenges. Your challenges with food are real. I’m NOT discounting that. All I’m saying is that you don’t need to waste your money on wacky supplements or suffer overly restrictive diets unless you have a food allergy or condition that requires avoiding it and that will depend on the individual.
P.S. If you’re struggling to find a way of eating that supports your body and feels sustainable during “hard” days, this is where nutrition coaching can help.
Many of my clients are hypermobile and we work together to develop strategies to help them nourish their bodies even on days that they have low energy and don’t feel well.
CLICK HERE to learn more about nutrition coaching and book a free intro call to see if we’re a good fit to work together.