So, one of BIG questions I had was, what is the best diet for people with Lupus? To say that there is no “one specific diet” for everyone suffering with Lupus is a fact. Everyone is different and what works for one might not work for another, and therefore I found that the two best ways to understand what food types aggravated my condition and inflammation, was to first start with a basic understanding of what type of food groups could aggravated me and what food groups didn’t, and then start an Elimination Diet. This gave me a greater understanding of how my individual body reacted to the various food groups
What are the most common Inflammatory Foods?
I started scouring the internet and found that the following seven food groups were indicated as the most common culprits for aggravating inflammation, which is one of the symptoms that most SLE Lupus sufferers experience.
Gluten is a protein found in grains, including wheat, barley and rye and does not provide essential nutrients. There is not much difference between bread and sugar, as far as your body is concerned. Gluten is common in foods such as bread, pasta, pizza, and cereal and these are members of refined carbohydrates which drives up the inflammation because the body processes them as sugar. Excluding gluten from your diet helps to eliminate the eating of these types of carbohydrates and helps to reduce inflammation attacks, as well as the symptoms. Many grocery stores and restaurants now offer gluten-free options. It is much easier to maintain a gluten-free diet today I eat gluten free pasta, pizza and sourdough or gluten free bread.
Sugar is very high in Purines, which causes your body to create more Uric Acid and causes more inflammation. I very seldom have the occasional pudding or sweet treat, because I know that my inflammation will be worse the next day if I do. I have found that eating a fresh fruit salad or diabetic sweet or dark choclate helps curb my craving for something sweet, and I don’t experience elevated levels of inflammation when I do eat these.
3. Artificial Trans-Fats
Trans fats are a form of unsaturated fat associated with various negative health effects. Trans fats raise your bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and lower good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Artificial trans-fat are created during hydrogenation, which converts liquid vegetable oils into semisolid partially hydrogenated oil. If you see hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list of any product, then the food contains trans-fat. Trans fat can also occur naturally in meat and dairy.
Foods With Trans Fat
- Fried Foods
Fried foods — like french fries, mozzarella sticks, and fish sticks — may have trans-fat, depending on what type of oil they have been cooked in.
Margarine is sometimes marketed as a healthier alternative to butter, but some kinds of margarine actually contain up to two grams of trans fat per tablespoon. However, there are more options on the market that use natural alternatives to make the product trans-fat-free.
- Non-Dairy Coffee Creamer
It’s possible that your daily dose of caffiene has also been giving you a daily dose of trans fats. Some non-dairy coffee creamers use oils that contain trans fats. Make sure to look at the list of ingredients to find out what type of oil it contains.
- Meat & Dairy
Trans-fat occurs naturally in meat and dairy products. However, scientists need to do more research on these naturally occurring trans fats enough to know if they’re as harmful as artificial ones. It is still a good idea to cut down on the possible intake by eating lean meats and low-fat dairy products.
- Baked Goods Such as cookies, pastries, and crackers
4. Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates may cause inflammation in your body as it’s similar to eating sugar because nothing slows their breakdown. They go into your bloodstream quickly and spike your blood sugar, and elevated blood sugar creates an inflammatory response. I found that excluding refined carbohydrates from my diet has helped reduce inflammation in my body.
Alcohol is high in sugar and therefore in Purine. It can not only cause inflammation, but it can also impair your body’s ability to regulate that inflammation. This inflammation can further damage your body’s organs. It’s a vicious cycle that can affect your long-term health. I only have an occasional glass of wine if I go out for dinner, and that is at most once a month, and even then, I sometimes don’t want wine, as I know tomorrow I will be sore from the inflammation. So, it is an exceedingly rare occurrence. The best way to stop alcohol induced inflammation is to stop drinking alcohol all together.
6. Processed Food
All processed foods can cause inflammation. They can alter the bacteria that live in our gut, and that alteration has the ability to interact with our immune system and eventually trigger it in a way that leads to chronic inflammation. Types of Processed Processed food is any food that has been altered in any way during preparation.
Examples of processed food are:
- breakfast cereals
- savoury snacks, such as crisps, sausage rolls, pies and pasties
- meat products, such as bacon, sausage, ham, salami and paté
- microwave meals or ready meals
- cakes and biscuits
- soft drinks
7. Red Meat
Red Meat is rich in fats and calories, which can cause inflammation in the body. It is worse if you fry or grill meat at very hot temperatures, as this can produce toxins that can destroy proteins in your body. Too much red meat could lead to heart diseases related to lupus. I have personally found that lean beef, i.e., mince and fillet steak, is less fatty and does not create as much inflammation in my body. Fatty meats, like Lamb and Oxtail dol. However, I mostly eat chicken and have red meat twice a week at the most.
What is Uric Acid
Uric acid is a natural waste product from the digestion of foods that contain purines, such as heavily processed foods, alcohol, and sugar. If you consume too many of these foods, your body won’t be able to dissolve this acid fast enough, which will then cause the Uric Acid to pile up in your body and form crystals in your joints.
What are good Anti-Inflammatory Foods?
Broccoli – Phytonutrients in this vegetable are known to fight inflammation of the joints, respiratory system, and colon. I eat a lot of broccoli in my diet as I enjoy it, especially the long stalk broccoli which I lightly steam and then add olive oil, salt, and pepper. It is delicious.
Olive Oil – Contains a natural anti-inflammatory that called oleocanthal. Eating olive oil has been shown to suppress seven pro-inflammatory genes. Keep in mind that extra virgin olive oil has greater anti-inflammatory benefits than refined olive oils do. I use raw Olive Oil as a dressing on my salads.
Avocado – They contain potassium, magnesium, fiber, and healthy monounsaturated fats. In addition, one compound in Avocados may reduce inflammation.
Turmeric – it contains curcumin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound. Turmeric can reduce inflammation related to arthritis, diabetes, and other diseases. It may be hard to get enough curcumin from turmeric alone to experience a noticeable effect. Taking supplements containing isolated curcumin may be much more effective.
Dark Chocolate and cocoa
– are packed with antioxidants that help reduce inflammation. Flavanols are responsible for chocolate’s anti-inflammatory effects and help keep the endothelial cells that line your arteries healthy. It can’t hurt to choose dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa, or even a greater percentage is even better, to help reap these anti-inflammatory benefits rather than other chocolates that are high in sugar and will aggravate your inflammation.
Fish – Important source of omega three fats. The healthy anti-inflammatory fat is known to reduce the risk of cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and more. A recent study suggests that one can reduce the risk of dying of inflammatory diseases by up to 44%. I unfortunately cannot eat fish, due to my high-risk allergy to fish, so I take flaxseed oil for my omega 3, 6 & 9 on a daily basis.
Nuts – Another natural inflammation fighter and contains omega three fats and important antioxidant vitamins, dietary fiber, and magnesium. All of which play a significant role in modulating inflammation. I once again cannot eat nuts due to my allergy.
Berries – Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries and Blackberries are all rich in antioxidants. They are believed to have one of the highest antioxidants of most common fruits and vegetables. They help ward off oxidative stress and inflammation. I use these in my shakes, where I make my own form of a fruit shake.
Paw-Paw – Rich source of antioxidants such as Vit C and E. And beta carotene, which also have anti-inflammatory effects. Also, incredibly good in my fruit shake.
Green Tea – Rich in flavonoids that are great at fighting inflammation. However, some Lupus sufferers might have severe anemia, and I am one of them and find when I drink green tea, it makes me very lightheaded and nauseous.
As you can see, due to my allergies and my elimination diet, there are a number of the above foods that I cannot consume, but the ones that I can, I ensure that I include them in my diet.
What is an Elimination Diet?
An Elimination diet is a process where you eliminate specific types of food, which could cause inflammation, allergies and/or intolerances to certain foods.
This diet will help you rule out foods that your body does not tolerate well or aggravates your inflammation and your condition.
How to start an Elimination Diet
I did a strict elimination diet, where I started on only Chicken and green vegetables for a few days, and I then gradually added a new food item each day, and the ones that caused problems I excluded from my diet. I did not include any food that I was already allergic too. I found through doing the elimination diet that there were quite a number of foods that aggravated my condition, it took me approximately 3 months to produce a diet that is specific to me and has definitely helped in curbing the level of inflammation that I experience. Don’t get me wrong, I still have days that are worse than others, but far fewer than in the past, and I no longer take any cortisone, which is a BIG plus!
There are several types of elimination diets.
Simple diet. This basic elimination diet involves avoiding just one food or, sometimes, the two most common food allergy triggers: wheat (including gluten items) and dairy. Instead, eat gluten-free foods and brown rice, millet, buckwheat, or quinoa.
Moderate intensity diet. You’ll avoid several groups of food all at one.
Strict diet. This is the strictest type of elimination diet. You can only eat a selected group of foods. It isn’t a nutritious diet, so you don’t want to follow this plan for long.
If you want assistance with an Elimination Diet, you can go to eliminationdietmealplan.com.
No matter what type of elimination diet you choose, remember to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
Benefits of an Elimination Diet
An elimination diet can make you aware of your specific food allergens, the ingredients you’re sensitive to and may help identify a specific food allergy. Elimination diets can help uncover the cause of symptoms such as inflammation, persistently dry, itchy, skin (dermatitis) and stomach discomfort. Knowing your food triggers and staying away from them is the safest way to manage a food intolerance or allergy.
Risks of an Elimination Diet
Adding foods back to your diet might be risky if you are allergic to them and you might have a severe food allergy reaction, therefore I would highly recommend that you exclude any food that you already know you have an allergy too. If you eat any type of food and get a rash or have throat swelling or breathing trouble, then seek medical attention right away.
Inflammation can occur due to many factors like illness, injury, etc, which are factors you cannot control. But you CAN CONTROL what you put into your body, and I found that by controlling my diet and restricting the foods that aggravate my inflammation and increasing the anti-inflammatory foods, has helped me tremendously in lessening the amount of inflammation I experience on a daily basis.
You have to understand your body as an individual and how the diverse types of foods affect your body specifically. There is no one diet that fits all Lupus sufferers.
Once you have established what food groups work for you, and which to exclude, you can then look at the diverse types of diets that are offered. i.e., Carnivore diet, Keto diet, etc. I have heard that these diets work for some, but not for all. Your diet needs to consist of the foods that you can eat which do not cause inflammation.
Our goal should be to consume a diet high in antioxidants which can help prevent free radical damage in the body. Unfortunately, there are still heavily processed foods being offered and consumed. With nutrition education, awareness, and by making healthy substitutions, we can focus on making the small changes that can improve the nutritional quality of what we eat and our health. Focus on eating what comes from the earth, rather than what comes from a box,
The most important fact for me, is to ensure I eat as much natural, anti-inflammatory, and fresh food as possible, and exclude the inflammatory foods and others that I have found aggravate my inflammation, as well as all foods that I am allergic too.
Please feel free to comment or add your own experiences or ask any questions, and I will try to assist you.