Lupus is an autoimmune condition characterized by chronic inflammation. It can affect almost any part of the body including the skin (commonly in the form of a butterfly-shaped rash), the joints, heart, brain, blood and kidneys. It’s often accompanied by fever, weight loss and sensitivity to sunlight. It’s not clear what causes lupus, although it is thought that it may be hereditary or as a result of a viral infection.
Lupus is much more common in women than men and can be difficult to diagnose due to the wide range of symptoms. When lupus strikes, the immune system goes into overdrive and attacks healthy tissues throughout the body, either in cycles of flare-ups followed by remissions or with constant symptoms. As with any inflammatory, autoimmune condition, adopting an anti-inflammatory whole food diet for lupus, high in nutrients along with healthy lifestyle choices can often greatly alleviate symptoms. Below are some of the most beneficial foods and supplements for those with lupus.
Avocados are a real super food for the skin! They contain a large range of skin loving nutrients including vitamins C, E, B6 and folate as well as iron, magnesium and potassium. They are rich in the powerful antioxidant glutathione and are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. All of which help to support your body through the varied symptoms of lupus.
Blueberries are amongst the richest of all fruits in antioxidant compounds, including vitamin C, which have a marked anti-inflammatory action. They also contain anthocyanins, a plant nutrient that boosts memory and is thought to help protect the heart. As lupus is an inflammatory condition affecting many parts of the body, make sure blueberries are part of your daily diet.
Sulforaphane, a phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, has been shown to have a beneficial effect on joint cartilage and helps reduce the inflammation associated with lupus. Broccoli also contains vitamin C and calcium, needed for collagen synthesis and bone health. Good reasons to include cruciferous vegetables into your anti-inflammatory diet!
Chia Seeds are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce inflammation and contribute to heart health. As lupus is an inflammatory condition, affecting many parts of the body, foods such as chia seeds should be regularly included in the diet. They are also rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free radical damage.
Dark Leafy Greens
A diet high in fruit and vegetables has an alkalizing and anti-inflammatory effect on the entire body. Dark leafy greens, along with many orange and yellow-colored fruit and vegetables, are also high in beta-carotene. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is essential for skin health and can help with the skin rash associated with lupus.
Ginger is a true superfood that has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can benefit every health condition, including lupus. Use ginger liberally in cooking, baking, in fresh vegetable juices, soups and tea infusions.
Oily fish such as mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on the body, including the joints and muscles. These essential fatty acids also contribute to heart health by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation and blood viscosity. Eating at least 2 portions of oily fish a week will help to manage many of the symptoms associated with lupus.
Sauerkraut, made by fermenting vegetables, is high in nutrients and probiotics and is very beneficial for gut health. Over 70% of our immune system lies in our gut, and it’s now thought that conditions like lupus can be helped by cultivating a healthy balance of gut bacteria. So get experimenting and start eating, or even making your own sauerkraut, and see if lupus symptoms improve.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is known for its many health benefits, one being that it improves digestion of foods by increasing levels of HCL in the stomach. Adequate HCL helps to break down the foods we eat into more easily absorbed components. This in turn can help ease any digestive issues and help prevent food intolerance’s, which may be a trigger factor for lupus. Take 1 tablespoon of “live” apple cider vinegar before each meal to aid digestion and see if symptoms improve.
Some cases of lupus have been linked to inflammation of the gut that can result in an imbalance of healthy gut flora and increased gut permeability. When this happens undigested food particles and bacteria can cross the intestinal barrier into the bloodstream, causing a widespread inflammatory response. Probiotic supplements will encourage healthy gut flora, which is incredibly beneficial to one’s health and will help reduce the inflammation associated with lupus.
Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B complex works throughout the whole body to promote energy production, maintain the health of the skin, mucous membranes, blood vessels, heart, nerves and joints. As lupus is a condition affecting many parts of the body. Supplementing with a B complex is advised.
Adequate vitamin D levels are essential for a properly functioning immune system and overall good health, so especially for those dealing with an autoimmune disease like lupus, it’s important to ensure proper levels of the vitamin. When researching vitamin D the two things that stand out are the incredible importance of the vitamin and the fact that vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic proportions. The time needed varies depending upon skin type but if you’re not getting at least 15 minutes of sunshine every day, it’s highly recommended that you supplement with a quality vitamin D supplement.