Joint Hypermobility Syndrome Diet [Is There One Diet That’s Best?]

Do you have Joint Hypermobility Syndrome?

 

Have you been wondering if there’s a specific diet that people with hypermobility should eat?

 

You’re not alone! People with hypermobility are always looking for ways to feel better.

 

Are there certain foods to avoid and are there certain foods that we should eat to improve our symptoms?

 

This article will explain what the current consensus is when it comes to nutrition for people with hypermobility.

 

Let’s dive in!

graphic saying "Is there a Joint Hypermobility Syndrome Diet - Answered by a dietitian"

What is Joint Hypermobility Syndrome?

 

Joint Hypermobility Syndrome is a term used for patients who have hypermobile joints but may not meet the diagnostic criteria for conditions like Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS) or have a known genetic cause for joint laxity (looseness). 

 

Sometimes, doctors may use the term Joint Hypermobility Syndrome for a patient that is still being evaluated for a specific collagen disorder by other specialists.  

 

Why are people with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome looking for a particular diet?

 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, people with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome may have symptoms like

 

  • Frequent joint and ligament injuries, including dislocations and sprains
  • Joint pain and muscle pain
  • Joint and muscle stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Poor balance
  • Bladder and bowel issues
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Thin, stretchy skin

 

Notice how this list includes bowel issues? Emerging research suggests that perhaps the majority of people with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome and Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome have gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, or irritable bowel syndrome-like symptoms.  

 

Graphic of list of symptoms of joint hypermobility syndrome

 

People with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome may have gastrointestinal symptoms like

  • Heartburn/GERD
  • Diarrhea 
  • Constipation
  • Upset stomach (dyspepsia)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling full earlier than expected

 

So why are people with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome looking for a special diet? Well, it’s likely because they feel tired, experience chronic pain, and have digestive issues on a daily basis. People with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome are looking for ways to feel better, and nutrition is a natural first step. 

 


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Is there a Joint Hypermobility Syndrome Diet?

 

There is no “one” Joint Hypermobility Syndrome Diet that has been proven to be beneficial through peer-reviewed research. This means that any online articles, books, or other media that claim that a specific diet is best for people with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome are not accurate. 

 

As a dietitian, it makes me sad to see claims that very restrictive and nutritionally inadequate diets like the carnivore diet or raw vegan diet are “best”. This is both not true and dangerous. For example, someone who attempts to eat only meat for several weeks could actually develop scurvy – a dangerous deficiency in vitamin C that actually harms collagen production.

 

While there is no specific diet that everyone with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome should eat in order to feel better, nutrition does play an important role in managing symptoms like acid reflux, fatigue, and constipation. 

 

Graphic saying "there is no best diet for joint hypermobility syndrome"

Personalized nutrition recommendations can help address symptoms

 

It’s estimated that 30-96% of patients with hypermobility disorders have at least one chronic GI symptom. The good news is that specific nutrition recommendations can help people with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome address their GI symptoms. 

 

Examples of how a dietitian provides nutrition recommendations for symptom management:

 

For example, if I have a patient with symptoms that align with irritable bowel syndrome, I may recommend that they try a low FODMAP diet (followed by a reintroduction phase) to see if their GI symptoms improve.

 

Similarly, if I have a patient with chronic constipation, I may recommend that they increase fiber intake, stay well hydrated, and get daily physical activity.

 

Nutrition recommendations are based on someone’s symptoms – not their diagnosis of Joint Hypermobility Syndrome.

 

Graphic with statistic of 30-96% of patients with hypermobility disorders have at least one GI symptom

Food intolerances may be more common in people with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome

 

While there is no “best diet” for people with joint hypermobility, it is important to mention that food intolerances may be more common in this patient population. 

 

So while it’s possible that a significant amount of JHS patients feel better when they avoid gluten or dairy, for example –  this does not mean that all people with JHS should avoid these foods. Only people who experience uncomfortable symptoms after eating certain foods should avoid them. There is no medical reason to avoid foods that do not lead to uncomfortable symptoms. 

 

What should people with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome eat?

 

Since there is no research that suggests that JHS patients have different nutrition needs than the general population, people with JHS should simply aim to meet their nutrition needs by regularly enjoying healthy foods.

 

People with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome should eat:

  • Proteins (meat, eggs, dairy, beans, and/or soy products)
  • Fiber-rich carbohydrates (whole grains, potatoes, squash, etc.)
  • Fruits (apples, mangoes, bananas, kiwis, strawberries, etc.)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, tomatoes, kale, carrots, cabbage, etc.)
  • Nuts (Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, cashews, etc.)
  • Seeds (chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.)

 

While getting enough nutrition sounds simple, it can be very difficult for patients who struggle with nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, and other GI symptoms. Because when we don’t feel well, it’s hard to eat well. 

 

Unfortunately, going weeks or months without getting enough protein, iron, B12, or other nutrients can lead to nutritional deficiencies that make symptoms like fatigue even worse. 

 

Working one on one with a registered dietitian nutritionist is the best way to get help with getting the right nutrition while navigating and addressing GI symptoms. 

 

 

The Bottom Line: Is there a Joint Hypermobility Diet?

 

Joint Hypermobility Syndrome is a diagnosis used for patients who have hypermobile joints but may not meet the diagnostic criteria for conditions like Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS) or have a known genetic disorder.

 

Because patients often experience uncomfortable GI symptoms like stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation, it’s only natural to try to find relief through dietary changes.

 

However, there is no scientific evidence that a certain diet is best for Joint Hypermobility Syndrome.

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