Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body. It causes the immune system to attack the body’s own healthy organs and tissues. Researchers believe that lupus develops in response to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Lupus treatment focuses on lowering inflammation levels to reduce flare-up’s. (1) Following a lupus diet can help lupus sufferers manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Lupus Diet Foods to Eat
1. Organic, Unprocessed Foods
Consuming organic, unprocessed foods can help limit your exposure to synthetic ingredients, pesticides and other toxins. Packaged, processed foods often contain harsh ingredients that can weaken the immune system.
2. Raw Food Diet and Cooked Vegetables
Raw vegetables help create an alkaline environment in the body to lower inflammation levels. They also contain antioxidants, prebiotics, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals that help strengthen the immune system. The best vegetables to eat raw or cooked include leafy greens, garlic, onions, asparagus, artichokes, bell peppers, beets, mushrooms and avocado. (2)
3. Fresh Fruit
Fresh fruit is high in vitamins and important nutrients that helps boost the immune system. To help lower inflammation levels, add berries, pomegranate and cherries to your diet.
4. Herbs, Spices and Teas
Certain herbs, spices and teas are beneficial for lupus and other autoimmune conditions thanks to their anti-inflammatory and natural healing properties. Try ginger, turmeric, basil, oregano, thyme and green tea. (3)
5. Probiotic Foods
Probiotics helps fill the gut with beneficial bacteria to strengthen the immune system and reduce digestive problems. Add kefir, kommbucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and cultured vegetables to your diet.
Lupus Diet Foods to Avoid
1. Trans Fats and Hydrogenated Fats
A lupus diet should not include trans fats and hydrogenated fats. These fats are used in packaged and processed foods, including processed meats, packaged sweets, meats and cheeses.
2. Refined Vegetable Oils
Refined vegetable oils are cheap to produce, so they are used in many processed and boxed foods. Always check your ingredient labels to avoid canola, corn, safflower, sunflower and soybean oils. These oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and can cause inflammation. (4)
3. Pasteurized Dairy Products
Conventional dairy products are pasteurized and homogenized. While these processes may improve taste, they also decrease important enzymes and can illicit a negative autoimmune response.
4. Refined Carbohydrates and Processed Grains
Refined carbohydrates and processed grains are low in nutrients. They often contribute to weight gain, inflammation and poor digestion. Gluten is also a common sensitivity or intolerance in people with autoimmune disorders. (5)
5. High-Sodium Foods and Added Sugars
High-sodium foods can further damage the kidneys by causing swelling, fluid retention and electrolyte imbalance. Foods that contain added sugars are known to cause blood sugar fluctuations. Avoid foods that are high in sodium and processed sugar to reduce inflammation.
6. Alcohol and Caffeine
An excess of caffeine or alcohol can worsen inflammation, increase anxiety, damage the liver, dehydrate the body and lead to sleep problems. Limit both alcohol and caffeine intake as part of your natural lupus treatment.
Other Ways to Manage Lupus Symptoms
- Space out your meals: If your struggle with indigestion, try eating smaller amounts more frequently throughout the day.
- Have small amounts of fat at one time: Fat can be difficult for lupus patients to digest. Avoid high-fat meals.
- Supplement with Vitamin D: Vitamin D plays an important role in keeping the immune system strong. Spend time outdoors or supplement with Vitamin D. (6)
- Avoid Drugs and Cigarettes: Smoking cigarettes or using recreational drugs can worsen lung damage.
- Stay Active: Gentle forms of exercise can help can help reduce inflammation levels. Try swimming, water aerobics, yoga, cycling, brisk walking or Pilates.
- Reduce Stress Levels: Stress can cause inflammation and lead to lupus flare-ups. Manage tress levels to help keep lupus symptoms at bay.
- Get Enough Sleep: Lack of sleep can also increase inflammation levels. Aim for 7-9 hours per night to avoid stress and fatigue.