Lupus is a chronic and incurable disorder of immune system. In this disorder, body’s own defense mechanism attacks the connective tissue, joints, muscles and vital organs leading to inflammation, pain and damage to organs. More than 80 percent of lupus patients are females, with highest incidence of lupus seen between 20 to 50 years of age. The condition is more common in people of Asian and African origin than others.
The exact etiology of lupus is uncertain but genetics, hormones and environmental factors have been implicated. The risk increases when someone in the family is suffering from lupus. The other suspected reasons are exposure to UV rays of sunlight, physical and emotional stress, infections, female reproductive hormones, and certain drugs.
Healthy Diet For Lupus Patients
Lupus cannot be cured but with medications, lifestyle changes, healthy nutritional diet, the symptoms and flare ups can be controlled to make life more pleasant for the patient.
There is no such food that can cure lupus, but eating a healthy balanced diet can certainly improve overall health of the patient. A balanced diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, a portion of non-veg foods such as meat, fish, eggs, oysters etc may help to alleviate the symptoms of lupus.
The main aim is to reduce inflammation, increase bone strength, maintain healthy weight, prevent side effects of medication and reduce the risk of damaging the vital organs. The type of food to be consumed also depends on the severity of the disease. For example, while patients may be advised to increase the intake of potassium, those suffering from kidney problems because of lupus may have to restrict it.
What Are The Best Foods To Eat For Lupus?
Below are given foods that may be beneficial in alleviating the symptoms:
- Foods to fight inflammation: Lupus is an autoimmune disease where inflammatory changes are always present in the affected parts. Eat foods that are known to fight inflammation. Vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants. This substance helps to make the immune system strong and reduce inflammation. The amount of antioxidants in colored fruits and vegetables are more, therefore eat such foods. Strawberry, blueberry, kiwi, apricots, oranges, cherries, plums, broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, onions, beets, tomatoes, are all densely packed with antioxidants.
- Fish: Studies show that eating plenty of oily fish such as salmon, herring, and sardine can help to counter inflammation and pain caused by lupus. Fish contains omega 3 fatty acids which is a natural anti- inflammatory substance. Therefore person suffering from lupus should include fish in his diet.
- Calcium and vitamin D foods: People with lupus are advised to avoid sunlight, so they need to obtain vitamin D from the food they eat. Milk, butter, dairy products, fish oils, margarine and fortified breakfast cereals are important dietary source. They also provide desirable amount of calcium. Maintaining health and strong bones is essential for patients suffering from lupus. This is because medications (corticosteroids) used to alleviate symptoms of lupus often increase the rate of osteoporosis and make them fragile.
- Iron rich food: Lupus patients are found to be anemic. Anemic patients become tired and fatigued easily. They become breathless and their skin color, nails and conjunctiva are pale. Intake of iron rich food helps to fight anemia. Green leafy vegetables, spinach, meat, poultry, eggs, fish etc are good source of iron.
- Avoid too much salt: Many patients of lupus develop kidney problems and high blood pressure. They should avoid foods that are high in salt. They should at least drink 7 to 8 glasses of water in a day to keep the kidney working properly and prevent urinary tract infection.
- Vitamins: Vitamin A, C, E and Folic acid is essential in the diet of lupus patient. Carrots and other orange colored vegetables contain beta carotene. Eat them at least three times in a week. Oranges, Kiwi, and other citrus fruits provide vitamin C and potassium. Vitamin C facilitates iron absorption and it is also an antioxidant.