One of the first questions newly diagnosed Lupies will ask me is, ‘So is there a specific Lupus Diet I should be eating?’
My answer. Eat a balanced diet. Drink enough water. Do not overdo sugar, salt and fat, and avoid processed foods.
When you go online, you will, of course, find conversations that talk about foods that COULD make a person with autoimmune disease flare or get inflamed. You’ll see pointers towards nightshade plants – potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc -, foods that contain gluten – wheat, barley, rye, therefore breads, pastas etc -, dairy products, alfafa and supplements that are meant to raise your immune system. So should you avoid these foods? Probably. How will you know what to avoid?
The first thing that will help you make your decision on what to exclude from your diet is a basic understanding of what autoimmune disease is.
Autoimmune disease is a condition where your body begins to develop immune responses against itself. Usually the body creates antibodies that target foreign cells that have invaded the body. In autoimmune disease, auto-antibodies target the body’s own cells and tissue, resulting in inflammation and systemic failure.
Your diet should ideally not encourage your rogue immune system to grow, while providing you with needed nutritional support. In this particular case, it would be wise to avoid dietary supplements and herbs that activate the immune system.
Your diet should also not increase the inflammation in your body. If you notice for example that you have constant gastrointestinal issues eliminating dairy products might help. If efforts to reduce joint pains are nought, you might consider examining your consumption of nightshade plants as these might have a hand in the situation.
Your diet should also consider the medical regimens you are receiving to control your autoimmune condition. Some drugs deplete Vitamin B12, Folic Acid and make it harder for you to absorb Vitamin D and Calcium. Your diet should be the primary source of replenishment before you have to use prescribed supplements. Leafy greens and fruits are a very important ingredient.
In the end, however, you will have to tinker around until you figure out what is right for you. You will definitely not want to go with popular fads, you can’t afford to be cool. Sometimes you might have to resort to unconventional ways of eating and if you do, there should be no shame.
Most importantly, READ. Read up on basic nutrition, then read on nutrition for immuno-compromised bodies. Talk to fellow Lupies. Find out what the options are, combine that with what you know and work at figuring it out.