Getting diagnosed with a life long disease or health anomaly is itself a shock to the mind and the body. Some diseases such as hypertension, diabetes etc. have had their day in the sun. There is too much info about these diseases. However, diseases like lupus bring an enormous amount of trauma and confusion both at the same time. The idea that a disease can come and go on its own is frequent misunderstood. So here are some facts about Lupus.
What is Lupus:
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory condition. It is an autoimmune disorder that effects nearly every part of the body. However, some organs get more effected than others such as Bones, heart, kidneys, brain and more commonly skin too.
What causes Lupus:
Although there is no sure shot pathogenic etiology for the disease, however some of the commonly found factors and causative agents are as follows:
- Genetic predisposition: children from either one of the Lupus carrying parents are more likely to have the disease at some point in their lives.
- In response to a drug: the disease can be triggered by the ingestion of certain drugs. Fortunately, the symptoms usually subside as soon as the drug leaves the body systems.
- Autoimmune activation of the antibody production system in response to any other disease or pathogenic condition. This is particularly true for cytomegalovirus induced diseases such as Hepatitis and Mononucleosis.
- Raised oxidative stress on the tissues and cellular systems for a prolonged time period in response to any chronic health condition
- Among children the genetic factor is the absence of IgA antibodies producing system in the body
- Sensitivity to sunlight and UV radiations is another frequently found cause for Lupus in many individuals particularly woman. Too much sun can cause the onset of symptomatic conditions that are characteristic of lupus.
- The flareups of the symptomatic conditions may come and go on their own. Sometimes with mild treatments, sometimes with prolonged medications.
Signs and Symptoms of Lupus:
No two cases of this disease are identical. The symptoms vary from person to person. More often then never the symptoms depend on the lifestyle, job, diet and habitat such as cold / hot a humidity etc. However, some of the commonly found symptoms are as follows:
- Inflammation of joints, kidneys, liver, even heart and brain cells.
- Fever and malaise
- Unexplained weight loss
- Skin rash. Particularly butterfly shaped rash on the cheeks are frequently found in lupus
- Chest pain due to pericarditis
- Difficulty breathing due to pleuritis
- Renal failure
- Hypothermia or cold body temp, esp. in limbs and fingers.
Is Lupus a manageable disease:
Absolutely Yes! Lupus is basically a culmination of symptoms that arise in response to any triggering factor. Although there is no cure for the disease, however, removal of causing factors can help eliminate the onset of symptoms. A healthy lifestyle and dietary management are the core of the lupus treatment.
What foods are bad for Lupus:
Since lupus is different for every different person, it is usually hard to decide the ideal diet for lupus patients. The good and bad foods usually vary from person to person. However, based on anecdotal data and doctors’ recommendations, some of the foods that are bad for lupus are as follows:
High fatty and cholesterol rich foods:
Since lupus has tendency to cause heart diseases, arrhythmias, heart attack and blood clotting problems; therefore, it is ideal to avoid red meats, fatty food and high cholesterol diet.
High sodium diet:
Generally high sodium is bad for everyone. However, this is esp. bad for patients with lupus. Lupus increases the tendency for heart attack, renal failure and hypertension by many folds. Sodium is the culprit in all of the above-mentioned diseases. Hence, diet containing salty food must be eliminated entirely during the flareups. These foods include salt, salty fish, canned and preserved foods, pickles, salted seeds and nuts available in packaged form.
Both these foods must be avoided at any cost. Based on data collected on Lupus, consuming alfalfa and broad beans can initiate symptomatic flare ups of Lupus. These foods contain L-canavanine. This amino acid is notorious for triggering inflammatory reaction in lupus patients.
Foods that help treat Lupus:
Lupus is not a curable disease. The patients require lifetime disease management. Sometimes even with frequent medication, hospital visits, and by taking all sorts of precautions; the condition still continues to worsen. Therefore, doctors advice a set of lifestyle changes and dietary habits to combat an otherwise potentially life-threatening disease.
Some of the foods frequently recommended for lupus management are as follows:
Call your Calcium resource:
Yes! calcium is the only fair option since almost all of the joints and bones in the body are prone to arthritis, inflammation and weakening due to lupus. Calcium reserves help avoid all these problems in the body.
Foods rich in calcium are as follows:
- Seeds such as sesame seeds, chia seeds
- Vegetables like okra, kale, rhubarb, cress, broccoli
- Nuts like almonds (upto 70-75mg of calcium in nearly 27-30g of almonds), hazelnuts (upto 50-55g of calcium in nearly 30g of nuts)
- Fruits such as citrus fruits and figs etc. are extremely rich source for calcium
Load up those Omegas:
Lupus is an inflammatory disease. This disease tends to aggravate B-cell mediated immune response. The result is hyper production of antibodies. Omega 3, 6 and 9 are all strong anti-inflammatory agents. They reduce the oxidative stress on the body and can therefore prevent inflammation induced damage.
Food rich in omegas are as follows:
- Nuts: walnuts, almonds, cashews
- Seeds: flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Beans: kidney beans, soybeans, lentils
- Vegetables: avocado, spinach, kale, basil, broccoli
Berries are strong anti-inflammatory agents. They contain rich concentration of constituents such as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins inhibit the production of inflammation causing cytokines. Thus, it is essential that a handful of berries is consumed once a day atleast. These berries include blueberries, strawberries, raspberries. All these are good to taste and extremely healthy too.
The Berry-ollatz Conjecture
- 1 cup blackberries
- 1 cup raspberries
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup strawberries
- 2 pomegranates
- Clean all fruits and vegetables thoroughly
- Cut the pomegranate into quarters
- Then place them in a bowl of water
- Remove the seeds under water, so that they sink to the bottom
- Discard the peel and membranes
- Place a mesh strainer over the bowl, and pour the seed mixture through the strainer.
- Feed the ingredients one at a time, into the juicer. Note some juicer may not be able to juice pomegranate seeds. Please refer to user manual.
- Stir the juice thoroughly before consuming
- Drink right away or freeze it in an air tight containers.
Lupus is a disease with culmination of symptoms. Some of these symptoms are likely to subside with proper management and treatment. Vitamin C helps in this regard. Anemia caused in lupus is treatable with iron supplementation. Vitamin C helps in absorption and cellular uptake of iron.
Vitamin C rich foods are:
- Citrus fruits such as lime, lemon, orange, tangerine
- Bell peppers
Fatigue treating foods:
Fatigue is one of the commonly occurring symptoms of lupus. Patients complain of chronic fatigue that does not go away with or without resting. It is helpful to treat the fatigue with hot teas.
Some of the most helpful teas are:
- Green tea
- Peppermint tea
- Chamomile tea
Yes lupus can be managed without medicine. The road is not easy, but once helpful habits are developed then the treatment is near and doable. Avoid sun exposure, wear sunscreen, avoid eating foods that can cause flareups and most importantly eat your fruits, vegetables and herbs.