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A Diet for Dercum's Disease

by
author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
A Diet for Dercum's Disease
Fresh berries on a table top at a farmers market. Photo Credit Roksana Bashyrova/iStock/Getty Images

Carrying around excess weight comes with its own set of health issues, but when you're feeling pain in the fatty areas, you may be dealing with more than extra weight. Dercum's disease is a rare condition that causes painful fatty tumors. The condition occurs most commonly in obese women after menopause, although it affects men as well. There is no cure for Dercum's disease, and treatment involves management of symptoms. Weight loss may help, but there is no standard diet recommendation. Dr. Karen Herbst recommends the Rare Adipose Disease, or RAD, diet.

About RAD

The goal of the RAD diet is to reduce inflammation. It encourages you to eat a whole-foods diet filled with organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy sources of protein. The diet also recommends you limit your intake of refined carbs, sugar, pasteurized dairy foods, animal protein and fat, and eliminate artificial sweeteners and foods that contain added coloring or flavoring. Herbst suggests that packaged foods have advanced glycation end products, or AGEs, which are proteins or fats that are chemically changed when exposed to sugars. AGEs damage your cells, affecting their structure and function. Eating also increases inflammation, according to Herbst, who recommends you take a day off from eating solid food and drink your food instead.

Inflammation and Dercum's Disease

While the exact cause of Dercum's disease has not been identified, inflammation has been proposed as a possible cause of the rare disease, according to a 2012 review article published in the "Orphanet Journal of Rare Disease." However, most studies investigating the relationship between Dercum's and inflammation have not been able to prove this. That being said, eating a diet rich in foods that prevent inflammation offers a number of health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

Eating on the RAD Diet

For followers of the RAD diet for Dercum's disease, Herbst recommends lean sources of protein such as fish, white meat poultry and eggs. Your protein foods should be organic. You are allowed an unlimited quantity of organic fruits and vegetables, and to reduce AGE intake, she recommends that you eat most of your fruits and vegetables raw. Whole grains and carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, which are carbs that produce a gradual rise in blood sugar and insulin levels, are also allowed on the RAD diet. They include rolled oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes, pearled barley and whole-wheat tortillas. On your liquid days, you can have soups, smoothies, protein shakes, applesauce, fruit and vegetable juices, and stews without meat.

Things to Consider

There have been no clinical studies to show how effective the RAD diet is in helping people manage their disease. Due to the rarity of Dercum's disease, studies are difficult to conduct, and most information is based on case reports. In fact, there is one case report in which a person with Dercum's disease underwent gastric bypass surgery, and after 18 months of adhering to the strict diet, had not lost any weight.

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