- Lupus Diet: What to Eat to Avoid Lupus Flares
- How Does Diet Impact Lupus?
- Is There Really a ‘Lupus Diet’?
- What Foods Should You Avoid with Lupus?
- Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat with Lupus
- Keep Reading
- Subscribe to CreakyJoints
- The 20 Best Foods To Fight Lupus
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #1
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #2
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #3
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #4
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #5
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #6
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #7
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #8
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #9
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #10
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #11
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #12
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #13
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #14
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #15
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #16
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #17
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #18
- LUPUS SUPERFOOD #19
- What vitamins and minerals do tomatoes contain?
- What health benefits do they provide?
- What’s the best way to eat tomatoes?
- How many tomatoes should you eat weekly?
- Can they cause health problems?
- 10 Serious Side Effects Of Tomatoes
- Tomatoes – A Brief
- Why Can Tomatoes Be Bad For You?
- Lycopene In Tomatoes
- Side Effects Of Tomatoes
- Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
- Everything you need to know about tomatoes
- How to Eat Right When You Have Lupus
- What to Keep in Your Lupus Diet
- What to Keep Out of Your Lupus Diet
- Controlling flare ups with anti-inflammatory foods
- High-Yield Data Summary
- Comorbidity Control
- What is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Paleo Diet? Are they good for lupus and other autoimmune diseases?
- What is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
- What is the Paleo Diet?
- LUPUS DIET PLAN by Laura Rellihan
- In Conclusion: What should be in your grocery basket?
- 1. Sunflower Seeds
- 2. Strawberries
- 3. Wild Caught Salmon
- 4. Kale
- 5. Turmeric
- 6. Ginger
- Related posts:
Lupus Diet: What to Eat to Avoid Lupus Flares
The chronic autoimmune disease lupus is very mysterious. It can impact anyone at any time (though it is most common in women of childbearing age). Its cause is unknown. And while lupus symptoms can vary in where they occur in the body and how severe they are, they can come and go without warning.
If you’re one of the 5 million people worldwide living with lupus, you’ve probably worked with your doctor to determine what medications and lifestyle changes can help keep symptoms at bay for as long as possible and send flares into remission. Your diet for lupus, while not a cure, can contribute to these goals.
How Does Diet Impact Lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissues by mistake. This response can cause inflammation to occur throughout the body, including the blood vessels, heart, skin, kidneys, joints, lungs, and brain. The lupus symptoms that result can include pain in joints, red rashes, sensitivity to the sun, swollen glands, and more.
While lupus can affect different people in different ways, the inflammation that causes these symptoms is chronic.
Long-term inflammation is also where your diet can help make a difference. “We can try to mitigate inflammation with diet,” says Sotiria Everett, EdD, RD, CDN, CSSD, a clinical assistant professor at Stony Brook Medicine.
Is There Really a ‘Lupus Diet’?
Not exactly. If you have lupus, experts believe an anti-inflammatory diet pattern may help cut back on flares.
“Any way you can increase the intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, omega-3s, and healthful fats, and reduce your intake of pro-inflammatory foods such as those high in saturated fat, high-fat meats, processed foods, and excess sugar is a favorable approach,” says Everett.
During a lupus flare, anti-inflammatory foods are still important. However, your nutrient needs may be greater. It’s important during those times to make sure you’re adequately nourished with plenty of calories and lean protein, says Everett. Talk with your doctor or dietitian about what that might look like for you. Eating foods like fish, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, and eggs may be helpful.
You may also have some new food challenges because of the medication your doctor has prescribed. A corticosteroid, for instance, can cause weight gain and high blood sugar. Talk to your doctor and dietitian about the possible side effects of any medication you’re taking, and how adjusting your diet might help.
What Foods Should You Avoid with Lupus?
There are some foods that may induce flares in people with lupus, but good research on this is lacking. Many recommendations are based on small studies or anecdotal reports. Don’t make major diet changes without discussing them first with your doctor.
Alfala sprouts: Some research in animals links alfalfa sprouts with lupus flares, thanks to a compound called L-canavanine that can stimulate the immune system. As a result, many doctors recommend that people with lupus stay away from alfalfa sprouts on salad bars, sandwiches, and wherever else they might be found.
Garlic: Garlic is another food that some experts suggest staying away from if you have lupus. The flavorful herb contains compounds that rev up the immune system and may cause an unwanted response in people with lupus who already have an overactive immune system.
Nightshade vegetables: Since lupus is a very individual disease, you may also find certain foods can trigger your symptoms while other people with lupus can eat them without an issue. Some report that nightshade vegetables like eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes can be detrimental, however there is no research to suggest avoiding them unless you find they impact you personally.
An elimination diet can help you uncover the foods that may be your individual lupus triggers; work with a dietitian to carry one out safely.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat with Lupus
Here are some of the top anti-inflammatory foods to focus on:
Fish: The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA that are found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel can inhibit inflammation in several different ways. Unfortunately, the typical U.S. diet is woefully lacking in omega-3s. Eating fatty fish at least twice a week can help you get the plenty of the anti-inflammatory fats through your diet.
Walnuts, flaxseeds, canola oil: These foods provide the vegetarian form of omega-3 fatty acid, known as ALA. While your body converts ALA to EPA and DHA at a relatively slow rate, you may still get some benefit from these foods, particularly if you don’t eat fish. If you don’t eat fish at all due to an allergy or being vegetarian, you may also want to consider an algae-based omega-3 supplement, says Everett.
Fruits and vegetables: Colorful produce like spinach, collard greens, blueberries, and oranges contain antioxidants and polyphenols, natural plant compounds that may help counter inflammation. Aim for at least five servings each day, and try to get a range of colors in your diet.
Whole grains: Grains are made of three parts: the bran, germ, and endosperm. Unfortunately many of the carbohydrate foods we eat are made from grains that have been stripped of the nutritious bran and germ. Research links a high intake of refined grain foods with higher levels of inflammatory markers in the body. Instead, focus on foods like brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain bread that are good sources of fiber and antioxidants.
- 7 Ways to Eat a Healthy Fibromyalgia Diet
- This Drug for Asthma Might Actually Help Lupus Patients, Too
- 17 Facts About Lupus You Might Not Know, But Should
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No overarching diet exists for people with lupus. However, lupus is a systemic disease, so maintaining good nutritional habits will help your body remain as healthy as possible. Generally, doctors recommend a diet composed of about 50% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 30% fat. However, since people with lupus often experience symptoms like weight loss or gain, inflammation, osteoporosis, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis, certain specific nutritional concerns may also need to be taken into consideration. If you need help managing your weight or making healthy food choices, please speak with your doctor. S/he can give you more specific information and refer you to a registered dietitian if needed.
Foods to avoid
Certain foods, including garlic and alfalfa sprouts, should be avoided by people with lupus. Recently controversy has also arisen over whether aspartame induces lupus. However, scientists have concluded that there is no evidence to suggest that aspartame causes lupus.
Weight changes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease
Often, people with lupus experience weight loss or gain due to loss of appetite, unhealthy dietary habits, or decreased energy and mobility. If you experience weight loss or loss of appetite, talk to your doctor. S/he can help you determine the cause of the problem and take strides to correct it. Weight gain can be caused by many factors, including reduced activity levels and overeating due to steroid use or increased stress. However, remember that women with lupus between the ages of 35 and 44 experience a risk of heat attack that is 50x that of the normal population. Therefore, it is very important that you try to stick to a diet that is low in cholesterol and saturated fats. A low-sodium diet is also essential for people suffering from high blood pressure (above 120/80 mmHg for people with lupus) and kidney disease.
Steroid medications such as prednisone can also cause significant weight gain and redistribution of fat stores in the body. While taking steroids, your cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood sugar (glucose) levels may increase. For these reasons, it is absolutely essential that you follow a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. You do not need to cut out all of the foods you love, but concentrate on eating whole grain breads and cereals and lean sources of protein such as chicken and fish. When you need a snack, look to raw vegetables—they are low in sugar and calories and provide the perfect food for “grazing.” Try to eat them without Ranch dressing or vegetable dip, because these items carry lots of fat and calories. If you need something to accompany your vegetables, try lighter dips like hummus. It is also important that you minimize alcohol intake ,because combining alcohol with corticosteroids, Tylenol, warfarin, and other lupus medications could be very harmful to your liver and stomach. For those taking methotrexate, alcohol is never allowed.
A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may help to mitigate inflammation. Although omega-3s have not been adequately studied in lupus, studies of the general population suggest that these essential fatty acids may also boost mood and improve cardiovascular health. Fish, nuts, and flax are excellent sources of omega-3s and can be easily incorporated into everyday meals. Try to avoid saturated fats, such as those in beef and fried snack foods, since these fats are known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and may actually stimulate the immune system.
Osteoporosis / Osteopenia
If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, your doctor will most likely recommend that you take calcium and vitamin D supplements in addition to your regular bone medications, since vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium. It is important that you also try to eat foods rich in calcium, such as milk, light ice cream/frozen yogurt, cottage cheese, pudding, almonds, broccoli, fortified cereal, oranges, yogurt, hard cheese, soybeans and soymilk, navy beans, oysters, sardines, and spinach. These foods will help to keep your bones as healthy and strong as possible.
Certain medications require the observance of strict dietary controls. Your doctor and pharmacist will most likely update you on these regulations, but more information on the dietary restrictions and considerations that accompany certain medications can also be found in the “Lupus Treatment” section.
The 20 Best Foods To Fight Lupus
Lupus sets the immune system into attack mode, but in this case, it starts attacking one’s own body. While lupus is treatable with medication, there is no way to prevent the disease.
“We’d all like to believe eating right and exercising could help prevent autoimmune disease, but if you look at it from a distance, and an objective POV, the data is not rock solid,” says Dr. R. Swamy Venuturupalli, MD FACR is the Clinical Chief of Rheumatology, Cedars Sinai Medical Center and the Co-Chair of the Lupus LA Medical Advisory Board.
“I really need to make that clear. The studies have been too small or inconclusive. That said, a society, we go for fast meals, on-the-go, high-energy foods, which generally means we’re overdoing carbs and processed foods. And many of those lead to inflammation, which affects the immune system. There are also big offenders like gluten, soy, peanuts—they seem to capture a lot of people’s sensitivities. Having more anti-inflammatory foods that are raw and have enzymes and vitamins in them that can be processed by the body—that makes sense to me. As do foods rich in Vitamin D and calcium.”
With this in mind, Eat This, Not That! compiled a list of the top anti-inflammatory foods—as well as those high in calcium. And as an added bonus, they’ll help lower your risk of other inflammation-based health issues, from obesity to heart disease.
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #1
Don’t be fooled into thinking the offerings at Pinkberry are going to do your body biome right. All of the processing that frozen yogurt goes through kills off most of the healthy cultures. And even most yogurts you buy in the dairy section are so high in sugar that they’ll do more for the bad bacteria in your belly than they will for the good. If you choose to eat yogurt, look for the words “live active cultures” on the label, and for brands with less than 20 grams of sugar per serving. Most Greek yogurts are higher in protein and lower in sugar than their non-Greek counterparts. And for a mega-dose of healthy proteins—without the inflammation—click on this essential list of best proteins for weight loss.
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #2
Top salads with these seeds for some added crunch, or munch on a one-ounce serving as a snack. In addition to their calcium content, these tiny seeds are also a good source of antioxidant-rich vitamin E and copper—a nutrient that supports white blood cell health.
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #3
Any tea will help soothe your nerves, but white tea packs a particular one-two punch that can actually attack belly fat. A study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism showed that white tea can simultaneously boost lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) and block adipogenesis (the formation of fat cells). The tea’s combination of caffeine and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) seems to set fat cells up for defeat. We at Eat This, Not That! love tea so much, we made it part of our bestselling new diet plan, The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse! Test panelists lost 10 pounds in one week!
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #4
While figs may be best known for their inclusion in the famous Fig Newton cookies, you’ll have to eat the whole fruit to reap its bone-building benefits. Chop up fresh or dried figs and add them to oatmeal, salads or Greek yogurt with some honey, cinnamon and slivered almonds. Alternatively, you can eat them whole as a quick, on-the-go snack. Three of them will cost you 110 calories.
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #5
BROCCOLI OR BROCCOLI RABE
It seems mom was onto something when she told you how important it was to eat your broccoli. This cruciferous vegetable is rich in calcium and a host of other good-for-you nutrients—as is its slightly bitter-tasting cousin, broccoli rabe. A cup of the steamed variety has a whopping 301 milligrams of bone-protecting calcium and is a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C, too. Add both veggies to your diet to stay strong and healthy—and to lose weight fast, read these overlooked ways to lose weight!
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #6
This humble root vegetable is a good source of calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and C. That’s a serious line up for such a simple spud. Instead of baking one in the oven, why not tap into your culinary creativity and use the spuds to make some homemade fries? (Who doesn’t love fries?!) After slicing the potato lengthwise into strips, top with coconut oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder, and pop them into the oven on 350 degrees F until they’re crispy.
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #7
While this citrus fruit is best known for its rich vitamin C content, one large orange also provides 74 milligrams of calcium. Enjoy the fruit solo as a snack, or pair some slices with spinach, slivered almonds, grilled chicken, shallots and a ginger dressing to create an Asian-style salad. And to learn which foods NOT to eat, read these unhealthiest foods on the planet.
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #8
Kelp, a variety of sea vegetable, is commonly found in Asian dishes. A cup of the greens serves up 134 milligrams of calcium, in addition to a hefty dose of fiber and iodine—a mineral that helps maintain thyroid health. If you like making homemade smoothies and juice, substitute kelp for kale to reap the benefits. Big fan of miso soup? Throw some kelp into the broth to up its nutritional value.
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #9
A staple of Southern cuisine, collard greens have an incredible ability to cleanse your system of excess cholesterol, especially when steamed. A recent study published in the journal Nutrition Research compared the bile-acid-binding capacity of steamed collard greens to Cholestyramine, a cholesterol-lowering drug. Incredibly, the collards improved the body’s cholesterol-blocking process by 13 percent more than the drug! Just hold the artery-clogging fried chicken. (“But what about kale?” you might be asking. The robust salad staple is a wonderful food to have on hand, but we found 10 Greens Healthier Than Kale!
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #10
White beans serve up not only a healthy dose of belly-filling fiber, muscle-building protein and bloat-busting potassium, but also a significant dose of calcium. Need another reason to add some to your plate? The musical fruit is rich in something called resistant starch, a nutrient that increases metabolism and helps promote fat oxidation and prevents long-term fat accumulation.
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #11
Think of guacamole as a designated driver for your digestive system. A study in The Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry analyzed the effects of feeding 22 different fruits to a group of rats with liver damage caused by galactosamine, a liver toxin. The fruit that proved most beneficial? You guessed it: the avocado. Cilantro, the savory herb that gives guac its distinctive flavor, contains a unique blend of oils that send a “simmer down!” message to an upset stomach. In fact, these two oils (specifically, linalool and geranyl acetate) are so powerful they’ve been shown to have a positive impact on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a study published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Science. (There are easy ways to enjoy it on the run, too. Check out the 50 Best Snacks for Weight Loss!
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #12
You likely know that adding more greens to your plate is a low-cal, healthy move, but did you know that kale, turnip and mustard greens can also help keep your bones strong? It’s true! To get the most of the mineral from these vegetables, you’ll want to consume them cooked—not raw. So take out your steamer or sauté up a batch with some seasoning for a quick, strengthening side dish.
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #13
Sardines are one of the best sources of dairy-free calcium out there, with 33% of your recommended daily intake (that’s 325 mg). Look for varieties canned with the bones, which are soft and completely edible. Sorry, that’s a non-negotiable. The bones are where all the calcium comes from! So while it may seem hard to swallow, this is the variety you’ve got to consume if you want to reap the benefits. Toss the fish into a bed of leafy greens with tomato, cucumber, olives, feta and red wine vinegar. The combo makes for a tasty, Mediterranean-inspired dish. For a quick snack, top whole-grain crackers with two or three sardines and a squeeze of fresh lemon for added flavor—and read these other 28 Ways to Get Skinny From Weight-Loss Experts!
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #14
You can put an ice pack on your throbbing head, but to get the same anti-inflammatory effect throughout the rest of your body, order the curry. Curcumin, a compound derived from the bright-orange spice turmeric, works as a powerful anti-inflammatory in the liver, research shows. A study in the journal Gut found supplementing with curcumin could significantly reduce bile duct blockage and curbed scarring (fibrosis) by interfering with chemical reactions involved in the inflammatory process.
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #15
If quitting smoking is a New Year’s resolution, add a side of salmon. Researchers say a healthy diet rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids may then help to reverse arterial stiffness—a common side effect of smoking, which, like a kinked hose, inhibits the flow of cleansing blood through the arteries and to vital organs. A three-week study in the International Journal of Cardiology found smokers who supplemented with just 2 grams of omega-3s a day—what you’ll find in a 4-ounce portion of salmon—saw marked improvement in the elasticity of the arteries, allowing for healthy blood flow. (Just make sure you’re buying wild versions. Find out why in our exclusive report on the 8 Reasons You Should Never Order the Salmon.)
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #16
Start each day by making a large pitcher of “spa” water filled with sliced whole lemons, and make a point of sipping your way through at least 8 glasses before bedtime. Citrus fruits are rich in the antioxidant de-limonene, a powerful compound found in the peel that stimulates liver enzymes to help flush toxins from the body and gives sluggish bowels a kick, according to the World Health Organization.
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #17
OATMEAL WITH BERRIES
What’s so magical about this combination? Each ingredient provides insoluble fiber that helps feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. By doing so, you trigger your gut to produce butyrate, a fatty acid that reduces fat-causing inflammation throughout your body. In a Canadian study, researchers discovered that those whose diets were supplemented with insoluble fiber had higher levels of ghrelin—a hormone that controls hunger. Shed pounds easily—and in minutes—by cooking up these essential, delicious and proven Best-Ever Overnight Oats Recipes!
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #18
When you’re huddled over a plate of greasy diner food, begging the Hangover Gods for forgiveness, ask the waiter for a side of steamed asparagus. According to a study in the Journal of Food Science, the amino acids and minerals found in asparagus may alleviate hangover symptoms and protect liver cells against toxins. The veggie spears are also a natural diuretic, which will help flush the excess toxins from your system.
LUPUS SUPERFOOD #19
A recent study found that antioxidants in cocoa prevented laboratory mice from gaining excess weight and actually lowered their blood sugar levels. And another study at Louisiana State University found that gut microbes in our stomach ferment chocolate into heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory compounds that shut down genes linked to insulin resistance and inflammation. To enhance the effects, try pairing your chocolate with some apple slices: The fruit speeds up the fermentation process, leading to an even greater reduction in inflammation and weight. Speaking of enjoing “guilty” pleasures, learn how to eat cheaply and nutritiously with this list of Every Menu Item at McDonald’s—Ranked!
Photo Credit: Helga Esteb / .com
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A member of the nightshade family, tomatoes were once believed to be poisonous to humans, but today it’s widely accepted that they’re actually very healthy.
Native to western South America, the bright red food is often mistaken as a vegetable, as it most commonly gets eaten with savoury items, but it’s actually a fruit.
Also known as Solanum lycopersicum, tomatoes are grown and eaten around the world and are available to buy from supermarkets and farmers markets all year round.
They come in several different forms – from cherry tomatoes to plum and beefsteak – and can be eaten in numerous ways, including raw or cooked and are often added to salads, pasta dishes, pizzas and drinks.
But are they actually any good for you and should you be eating them as much as you do? Here’s everything you need to know.
What vitamins and minerals do tomatoes contain?
According to Healthline, tomatoes are a major source of lycopene, an antioxidant, which gives the fruit it’s vivid colour. As well as lycopene, they also contain various other plant compounds, including beta-carotene, narigenin and chlorogenic acid.
ALSO READ: What red wine can do for your health
Beta-catotene is a red-orange pigment which adds colour to plants and is converted into vitamin A, which is good for healthy skin and our immune system in low levels. At higher levels it can become toxic. Tomatoes are also filled with vitamins such as Vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin K.
The amount of vitamins found in a tomato can vary greatly between plants, but the average medium size tomato should prive around 28 percent of your recommended daily dose of Vitamin C.
What health benefits do they provide?
As they are rich in nutrients, tomatoes offer a range of benefits to those who eat them.
Medical News Today, explains that the benefits vary between type and size of tomato, due to the amount of minerals and vitamins in them – for example cherry tomatoes have higher beta-carotene content than regular tomatoes. However there are still many health benefits.
As they are a good source of Vitamin C, tomatoes can help combat the formation of free radicals – which are known to cause cancer. They add that high levels of beta-carotene are also thought to help the prevention of tumour development in prostate cancer. Lycopene is also believed to help prevent prostrate cancer.
As well as helping prevent certain cancers, the vitamins in tomatoes are thought to help maintain healthy blood pressure, support heart health, support normal bowel movements (i.e. prevent constipation), protect the eyes and promote good eye health and help with collagen production for healthy skin, hair and nails.
Folate is also useful for pregnant women to protect against neural tube defects in the baby. During pregnancy, women are often told to take folic acid supplements, but tomatoes are a great natural source of this.
What’s the best way to eat tomatoes?
If you are looking to add a little more lycopene to your diet then canned tomatoes might be the better choice over fresh ones, as it is better absorbed from processed products. This is the same for tomato paste, tomato sauces, soups and pasta sauces.
If you’re going to eat fresh tomatoes, make sure to opt for the brightest red ones when shopping as these ones are more likely to have the highest amount of antioxidants.
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They keep best when left at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. Storing them in the fridge can ruin their flavour.
Cooking the tomatoes will also help release the lycopene and serving them with a splash of olive oil will help your body to absorb this more easily.
How many tomatoes should you eat weekly?
To make the tomatoes count as one of your five-a-day, the NHS recommends eating one medium tomato or seven cherry tomatoes as one portion. It’s completely safe to eat a portion of tomatoes everyday and as an added bonus they are low in calories and have a high water content.
But it’s important to consider the age old saying, ‘too much of anything can be bad’. Keep reading to find out why.
Can they cause health problems?
While tomatoes have many benefits, eating too many of them could cause you some problems.
One of these is acid reflux, reports FOOD NDTV. Tomatoes contain malic acid and citric acid and consuming too much of these could make your stomach too acidic and cause heart burn or acid reflux.
Therefore it is recommended that those who suffer from digestive stress or have gastroesophageal reflux disease shouldn’t eat too many tomatoes.
Too many tomatoes can also lead to a build up of kidney stones. This is due to the fact that the fruit is rich in calcium and oxalate, which when in excess is difficult to remove from the body and start depositing in the body, causing kidney stones to form.
Consuming too much lycopene can also be bad for you as it can result in lycopenodermia and a discolouration of the skin. Lycopene is good for you as a general rule, but not in excessive amounts – experts recommend 22 mg per day and there are 27mg in two tablespoons of tomato puree.
If those weren’t enough to put you off, eating too many tomatoes can also give you diarrhoea – if you are intolerant to them.
Over the years they have also been linked to several cases of Salmonella and it is thought tomatoes were the cause of 172 Salmonella-related illnesses in 18 US states in 2006, although other foods may have been involved.
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10 Side Effects Of Eating Lot of Tomatoes Ravi Teja Tadimalla Hyderabd040-395603080 November 19, 2019
Tomatoes are an integral part of our everyday diet. They impart flavor and health to any dish. Their most important constituent, lycopene, is a powerful antioxidant that is known to fight disease.
But excess intake of tomatoes can lead to adverse effects. Also, not everyone is recommended to have them in normal food amounts. In this post, we will cover the different ways tomatoes may harm you (if taken in excess). Keep reading.
10 Serious Side Effects Of Tomatoes
- Tomatoes – A Brief
- Why Can Tomatoes Be Bad For You?
- Lycopene In Tomatoes
- Side Effects Of Tomatoes
- Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
Tomatoes – A Brief
Scientifically called Solanum lycopersicum, the tomato belongs to the nightshade family of Solanaceae. Tomatoes originated in the Central and South Americas. In Mexico, they were first used in food, and eventually spread throughout the world.
Today, the tomato is consumed in a variety of ways – raw, cooked, and as an ingredient in numerous dishes, sauces, drinks, and salads.
But now comes the big question –
Back To TOC
Why Can Tomatoes Be Bad For You?
Though they are usually safe for consumption, they can cause complications in some people. Some of the issues tomatoes can cause include acid reflux, effects of intolerance, muscle aches, etc.
Even the leaf of the tomato plant can be unsafe. In large amounts, it can cause vomiting, dizziness, headache, and, in severe cases, even death (1).
Another major factor contributing to this dark side of tomatoes is lycopene, the very compound that, quite surprisingly, is responsible for its benefits as well.
Back To TOC
Lycopene In Tomatoes
Lycopene is safe in most cases. But lycopene supplements may not be safe during pregnancy. Lycopene can also aggravate the symptoms of prostate cancer.
Lycopene must be used cautiously in patients who have stomach ulcers and other stomach issues. The compound can also cause low blood pressure. Individuals on blood pressure lowering medication must stay away from lycopene.
Lycopene can also increase the risk of bleeding and must be avoided by people with bleeding disorders.
Other side effects related to lycopene intake are chest pain, accumulation of fat under the skin, indigestion, and worsened hot flashes (2).
Lycopene was also found to interact with certain cancer chemotherapy agents (3). Hence, individuals on cancer treatment must exercise caution.
And now, for the side effects, in detail.
Back To TOC
Side Effects Of Tomatoes
1. Acid Reflux/Heartburn
Tomatoes are acidic, and they might cause heartburn (4). Tomatoes are packed with malic and citric acids and can make the stomach produce excessive gastric acid (which is responsible for food breakdown). When the volume of the acid increases, it is forced to flow up the esophagus, causing the symptoms. In fact, even cooking tomatoes may not be of much help.
Tomatoes and tomato sauce are also listed as a couple of foods that may trigger a reflux (5).
Tomatoes may also worsen the symptoms of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) (6). According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it is best to avoid acidic foods like tomatoes to avoid acid reflux symptoms (7).
2. Allergies And Infections
Symptoms of a tomato allergy most often occur immediately after the fruit is consumed. These include hives, skin rashes, eczema, coughing, sneezing, an itching sensation in the throat, and swelling of the face, mouth, and tongue.
According to a Polish study, tomatoes contain a compound called histamine that may cause certain allergic reactions (8).
Tomatoes can also cause allergic contact dermatitis – where your skin becomes severely itchy and swollen after touching the fruit. Tomatoes can also lead to itchy lips. Another possible allergic reaction to do with tomatoes is a red patch around the eyebrows and eyelids (9).
3. Kidney Problems
According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, individuals with advanced chronic kidney disease must limit their intake of potassium, a mineral tomatoes are rich in (10).
People with severe kidney issues may also be required to limit their intake of tomatoes as they contain a lot of water (11).
High potassium levels in the blood, which is one of the causes of kidney disease, could be dealt with by avoiding tomatoes or tomato sauce or anything made of tomatoes (12). Tomato sauce is also high in oxalate, which is another reason susceptible individuals must steer clear of it (13).
4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Tomatoes, given their irritating skins and seeds, may be one reason for irritable bowel syndrome (14). And if you already have IBS, tomatoes can also trigger bloating.
Tomatoes are also one of the most common food allergens that may cause intestinal problems (15).
Diarrhea can occur in individuals suffering from tomato intolerance.
As per a report published by Longwood University, tomatoes are greasy and acidic and must be avoided during diarrhea (16). And according to another report by the University of Minnesota, tomatoes could be a source of an organism called salmonella that causes diarrhea (17).
6. Excessive Sodium
Ensure you choose lower sodium versions of tomato sauce as most sauces have a high sodium content (18).
Even tomato soup can have too much of sodium. Just one cup of the soup can contain anywhere between 700 to 1,260 mg of sodium (19). Canned tomatoes can contain 220 mg of sodium for every half cup.
We know tomatoes are excellent sources of lycopene. This can also be a bane. Excessive intake of lycopene can cause lycopenodermia, which is the deep-orange coloration of the skin. This may not be a health threat, but is surely not very attractive to look at (20).
Lycopenodermia can also occur with excessive consumption of lycopene supplements (21). But worry not – the condition is reversible (22).
8. Urinary Problems
Acidic foods like tomatoes may irritate the bladder and result in urinary incontinence (23). Tomatoes may also cause bladder symptoms, and in certain cases, cystitis (burning sensation in the bladder) (24).
9. Respiratory Problems
People allergic to tomatoes may have difficulty in breathing.
We can also accuse tomatoes of being conducive to mold development – and molds, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, can cause allergies and respiratory problems (25).
10. Acute Gastrointestinal Upset
Since tomatoes are highly acidic, they may cause acute stomach upset if you are already suffering from acid reflux or heartburn.
Tomatoes can also make the stomach produce more acid, which may cause acute gastrointestinal upset (26).
These side effects simply tell us that we must be careful and not consume tomatoes in excess. But that’s not all – there is another set of people that, in this aspect, must practice caution more than anybody else.
Back To TOC
Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
In regular amounts, tomatoes are found to be safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women (29). However, there is insufficient evidence when it comes to large amounts. The best way to go about it would be to consult your doctor.
Talking about lycopene in this context, there is no evidence. Hence, refrain from taking lycopene supplements (30).
Tomato, especially the sauce, has a strong flavor and can make its way into the breast milk. This can make the baby uncomfortable and irritable.
In case you have more questions…
Back To TOC
These side effects don’t mean you chuck tomatoes right away. They have numerous benefits. What we say is be wary of the side effects, and don’t consume them in excess.
Tell us how this post has helped you. Do comment in the box below.
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
Can tomatoes be toxic?
Tomatoes contain solanine, which is a toxic alkaloid. This alkaloid is a part of the plant’s defense mechanism to make the fruit look unappealing to animals. Though all parts of the plant contain solanine (including the fruit), the heaviest concentrations are in the leaves and stems. Hence, consuming tomatoes in normal amounts is not toxic.
Are tomato seeds poisonous?
Usually, no. But consult your doctor in this regard. Certain individuals are not allowed to have tomato seeds due to medical reasons.
What are green tomatoes?
Green tomatoes are of two types. One is the unripe red tomato, and the other is the heirloom variety of tomatoes that is originally green. Heirloom tomatoes have vertical stripes, are soft when pressed, and taste pretty much like the ripe red tomatoes. Unripe red tomatoes look green, feel harder, and have an acidic flavor.
Can tomatoes be eaten raw?
Yes. Just check the acidity. If you are suffering from acid reflux or any other gastrointestinal issue, raw tomatoes are not advised.
Is tomato leaf poisonous?
There is insufficient evidence regarding this. To be on the safe side, avoid consumption in large amounts. And consult your doctor.
Are canned tomatoes dangerous?
Yes, in the long run. In fact, any canned food is considered dangerous. This is because the inside of these cans is coated with Bisphenol A or BPA, which can pose a health risk (31). Even otherwise, canned tomatoes are high in sodium, and that is not healthy.
Can tomatoes be applied to the face?
Yes. They benefit your skin in numerous ways – they tone your skin, improve the texture, and help in exfoliation. But again, the acidity is the problem. If you are allergic to tomatoes, don’t use them.
What is Crystal Tomato? Does it have side effects?
Crystal Tomato is a dietary supplement and food additive that contains natural tomatoes and L-cysteine (an amino acid). It is FDA approved. But it might cause side effects in people who are allergic to tomatoes.
Do sun-dried tomatoes have side effects?
The one major concern of sun-dried tomatoes is their link with hepatitis (32). Sun-dried tomatoes can cause severe liver harm, and this depends on the brand that is selling it. As of now, we don’t know which brand stands to be the culprit.
How many tomatoes can I eat in a day?
About 1/3 cup of tomatoes in a day. But this quantity is specific to the individual. Otherwise, 1/3 cup of tomatoes in a day should be fine.
- 32 Amazing Benefits Of Tomatoes For Skin, Hair And Health
- 10 Side Effects Of Carrots You Should Be Aware Of
- 7 Ways Excess Beetroot Juice Can Cause Side Effects
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Ravi Teja Tadimalla
Ravi Teja Tadimalla is a Senior Content Writer who specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. He graduated from SRM University, Chennai, and has been in the field for well over 4 years now. His work involves extensive research on how one can maintain better health through natural foods and organic supplements. Ravi has written over 250 articles and is also a published author. Reading and theater are his other interests.
Everything you need to know about tomatoes
Share on PinterestTomatoes have extremely high nutritional density.
Image credit: unique_capture, own work
Tomatoes are an intensely nutritious plant food.
The benefits of consuming different types of fruit and vegetable are impressive, and tomatoes are no different. As the proportion of plant foods in the diet increases, the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer decreases.
There are different types and sizes of tomato, and they can be prepared in different ways. These include cherry tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, raw tomatoes, soups, juices, and purees.
The health benefits can vary between types. For example, cherry tomatoes have higher beta-carotene content than regular tomatoes.
High fruit and vegetable intake is also linked to healthy skin and hair, increased energy, and lower weight. Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables significantly decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. With these components, tomatoes can help combat the formation of free radicals. Free radicals are known to cause cancer.
A recent study in the journal Molecular Cancer Research linked the intake of high levels of beta-carotene to the prevention of tumor development in prostate cancer.
Tomatoes also contain lycopene. Lycopene is a polyphenol, or plant compound, that has been linked with one type of prostate cancer prevention. It also gives tomatoes their characteristic red color.
Tomato products provide 80 percent of dietary lycopene consumed in the U.S.
A study of the Japanese population demonstrates that beta-carotene consumption may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Fiber intake from fruits and vegetables is associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
Diets rich in beta-carotene may play a protective role against prostate cancer.
Further human-based research is needed to explore the possible roles of lycopene and beta-carotene in preventing or treating cancer.
2) Blood pressure
Maintaining a low sodium intake helps to maintain healthful blood pressure. However, increasing potassium intake may be just as important due to its widening effects on the arteries.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), fewer than 2 percent of U.S. adults meet the recommended daily potassium intake of 4,700 milligrams (mg).
High potassium and low sodium intake are also associated with a 20 percent reduced risk of dying from all causes.
3) Heart health
The fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and choline content in tomatoes all support heart health.
An increase in potassium intake, along with a decrease in sodium intake, is the most important dietary change the average person can make to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Tomatoes also contain folate. This helps to balance homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that results from protein breakdown. It is said to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The management of homocysteine levels by folate reduces one of the risk factors for heart disease.
Not only is high potassium intake also associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, but it is also known for protecting the muscles against deterioration, preserving bone mineral density, and reducing the production of kidney stones.
Studies have shown that people with type 1 diabetes who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels, while people with type 2 diabetes may have improved blood sugar, lipids, and insulin levels. One cup of cherry tomatoes provides about 2 grams (g) of fiber.
The American Diabetes Association recommends consuming around 25 g of fiber per day for women and an estimated 38 g per day for men.
Eating foods that are high in water content and fiber, such as tomatoes, may help hydration and support normal bowel movements. Tomatoes are often described as a laxative fruit.
Fiber adds bulk to stool and is helpful for reducing constipation. However, removing fiber from the diet has also demonstrated a positive impact on constipation.
More research is needed to confirm the laxative qualities of tomatoes.
6) Eye health
Share on PinterestTomatoes can help protect the eyes from light damage.
Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, lutein, and beta-carotene. These are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to protect the eyes against light-induced damage, the development of cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) recently found that people with high dietary intake of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, both present in tomatoes, had a 35 percent reduction in the risk of neovascular AMD.
Collagen is an essential component of the skin, hair, nails, and connective tissue.
The production of collagen in the body is reliant on vitamin C. A deficiency of vitamin C can lead to scurvy. As vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, a low intake is associated with increased damage from sunlight, pollution, and smoke.
This can lead to wrinkles, sagging skin, blemishes, and other adverse health effects of the skin.
Adequate folate intake is essential before and during pregnancy to protect against neural tube defects in infants.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. It is available in supplements but can also be boosted through dietary measures.
While it is recommended that women who are pregnant take a folic acid supplement, tomatoes are a great source of naturally-occurring folate. This applies equally for women who may become pregnant in the near future.
By Laura Corrales-Diaz Pomatto and Swamy Venuturupalli, MD
This is a topic that I am very passionate about. Among the numerous patients with severe lupus that I have treated, I have found that those patients who are attentive to their nutrition tend to do better. The exact reasons have not been established as fact, but studies suggest that women with SLE have inadequate calcium intake, low consumption of fruits and vegetables and a high intake of unhealthy saturated fats, which may lead to increased inflammation. While a detailed review of the evidence for or against various dietary approaches to reducing inflammation is beyond the scope of this article, there appear to be some trends towards understanding what kinds of diets may be associated with lowering inflammation. Such diets are called anti-inflammatory diets and these diets generally emphasize plant based ingredients, low to no sugar, low intake of grains especially gluten, omega-3-fatty acids, and lean proteins including low fat dairy. The basic premise of most anti-inflammatory diets is that certain types of foods can either trigger or minimize inflammatory signals within our bodies . Another approach, suggests that caloric restriction or diets low in carbohydrates may decrease SLE-generated fatigue and promote weight-loss . Below, we have summarized the dietary factors that are important for all people suffering from autoimmune diseases, with an emphasis on lupus patients.
The good and bad of fat
Fats are necessary for overall health. Not only is fat an important source of energy, but also for proper organ function, such as the brain. Additionally, fat is necessary for the absorption of Vitamins A,D,E and K in the diet. There are 2 basic dietary forms of fat: saturated (solid at room temperature) or unsaturated (liquid at room temperature). Patients with SLE should limit their consumption of saturated fats as they are already prone to have elevated cholesterol, increased risk for developing dyslipidemia (chronic elevation of fats in the blood), and contributes to inflammation. In contrast, diets rich in unsaturated fats (omega-3’s and 6’s) from plant sources and fish have been linked to lower cholesterol and decreased risk of coronary artery disease. Given that heart disease is 50 times more common in younger SLE patients compared to their peers, managing lipids through diet is exceedingly important.
For individuals with SLE, I recommend they consume foods rich in soluble fibers, with good dietary sources being oats, fruits, and vegetables. The recommended daily intake is 38g for men and 25g for women . Increased fiber consumption is important to help prevent high blood cholesterol, normalize blood sugar levels, and control dyslipidemia. In addition, fiber intake has been inversely associated with SLE disease severity, and studies suggest that this outcome is partly due to the positive interaction between fiber, Vitamin B6 and B12, and folate .
Flaxseed is a good source of both fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. More importantly, both human and mouse studies suggest a benefit in SLE symptom management from flaxseed consumption .
Recently, increasing evidence suggests that diets low in grains may dampen inflammation. Some dietary grains such as wheat, rye and barley contain a protein called gluten, which in the gut of some individuals can activate the immune system. By limiting dietary intake of gluten-containing products, individuals with SLE may decrease symptomatic flare-ups . Other diets that promote low carbohydrate intake, including all grains and sugars. These diets promote the consumption of high-fat and moderate protein, while limiting carbohydrate intake. For individuals with lupus, it is not recommended to consume excess fats, nor increase protein consumption beyond minimum amounts, as these individuals are already at a greater risk for kidney damage.
Lupus patients should also be mindful of excess sugar consumption. This is critical as multiple studies suggest individuals with lupus are at a much greater risk for developing glucose intolerance (the inability of cells to uptake glucose from the bloodstream) and Type II Diabetes . As Type II Diabetes is associated with increased inflammation, its development in individuals with SLE may further exacerbate immune flare-ups.
Vitamins in SLE symptom management
Vitamins are necessary organic compounds that our bodies need in small quantities, for proper function.
Vitamin supplementation has been found to be beneficial for symptom management of SLE patients. One study suggested that Vitamin A supplementation may help clear lupus rashes . We recommend that SLE patients should seek to increase their Vitamin A consumption from plant sources, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and kale, rather than animal sources, as excess ingestion of Vitamin A from animals has been associated with deleterious side effects.
Increased intake of Vitamin C also appears to be beneficial in SLE symptom management . A good source of Vitamin C is found in citrus, including oranges, papaya, and tangerines. Other studies have shown that increased intake of Vitamin E helps to suppress disease symptoms by decreasing cytokine expression and activity. SLE patients wanting to increase their dietary intake of Vitamin E should consider increasing their consumption of fish, nuts, and whole grain cereal. Although some evidence seems to suggest the beneficial effects from Vitamin D supplementation, it appears to have its greatest effect in those already deficient. Individuals seeking to increase their Vitamin D levels should limit their intake to less than 400IU, as higher amounts are associated with increased risk of strokes and heart attacks , and hence, we recommend caution with Vitamin D supplementation.
There are many causes for bone loss in lupus including, uncontrolled inflammation, poor absorption of calcium, vitamin D decrease due to lack of sun exposure, and steroid usage which can prevent calcium absorption in the gut. Sufficient intake of dietary calcium is essential for individuals with SLE .
To combat bone loss, the American College of Rheumatology recommends people with SLE, who are beginning corticosteroid treatment, should also increase both their calcium and Vitamin D intake, and perform weight-bearing exercises . However, a recent study suggested that calcium supplementation of 1200 mg or greater can be associated with increased risk of strokes and heart attacks . In light of this, we recommend that patients obtain calcium primarily through dietary sources, such as collard greens, fish (primarily sardines), broccoli, and various dairy products and limit calcium supplementation to less than 500 mg.
Not all protein sources are alike
We rely upon dietary protein to supply our bodies with various amino acids to build and repair our tissue. Protein from animal sources are called complete proteins because they contain all the essential amino acids, whereas protein from fruits, vegetables, grains, and seeds may lack an essential amino acid, which can be fulfilled by over-the-counter supplements . For individuals with lupus it is important to consider the type of protein consumed. Although animal-derived protein, specifically red-meat, has a high protein content, it also contains large amounts of saturated fats. Whereas both poultry and fish are low in saturated fats, with fish providing the added benefit of a good source of omega-3 fatty acid .
As well, people diagnosed with SLE should be conscious of excess protein intake. Studies conducted in mice and humans found that high protein diets accelerated kidney damage, (when kidney damage had already begun), whereas low protein diets improved survival and immune-function in autoimmune mouse models .
The Benefits of Caloric Restriction
Caloric Restriction (CR) has been found to slow the onset of autoimmune diseases and the associated symptoms in various mouse models . CR may help reduce immune cell activation. Additionally, it has often followed for weight loss purposes, though we do not recommend this approach as caloric restriction can be associated with restriction of other important nutrients.
Though the studies are not conclusive, and more work needs to be done in exploring nutritional therapies further, some dietary modifications as noted above make sense for lupus patients. Based on my experience in the treatment management of many lupus patients, a balanced dietary approach can be helpful in managing the severity of lupus symptoms and counteracting side effects of medications.
Summary of Dietary Modifications for patients with autoimmune diseases
|Fats|| Unsaturated fats omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids lower low density lipoproteins;
Decrease total cholesterol
| Saturated fats
Increase low density lipoproteins;
Increase in total cholesterol;
Increased risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke
| Unsaturated fats
Fish; olive oil; nuts, avocados, peanut butter
Red meats, pork, lard, cream, butter, cheese
|Vitamin A||Protects against excess cytokine production||High doses can cause headaches, nausea, anemia, and possibly death (primarily derived from animal sources)||Carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach|
|Vitamin E||Decreases inflammation;
Delays disease onset
|Whole cereals, nuts, fish, spinach, vegetables|
Decreases markers of autoimmunity (anti-ds-DNA);
Proper immune function
|Too little promotes inflammation||Citrus (oranges, tangerines, grapefruit), papaya broccoli|
|Vitamin D||Proper immune function;
Decreases cytokine production
|Too little leads to poor immune function and bone health;
Too much, increases likelihood of cardiovascular disease
|Fish (salmon, sardines), eggs, and foods fortified with Vitamin D|
|Fiber||Protects against cardiovascular disease;
Lowers blood pressure
|Nuts, whole cereals, beans, fruits, and vegetables|
|Calcium||Critical for proper bone function||Excess amounts can promote atherosclerosis and risk for heart disease||Kale, spinach, sardines, soybeans, dairy products|
|Protein||Improved immune function; delay onset of autoimmunity disease||Excess amounts can accelerate kidney damage||Beans, whole cereals, fish, soy, poultry|
How to Eat Right When You Have Lupus
If you have lupus, the autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissue, then you know there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all “lupus diet.” But that doesn’t mean that a healthy diet isn’t important to lupus management. You need to eat meals that are balanced and heart-healthy, with nutrient-dense foods that minimize inflammation. It’s not complicated, but there are some basics to follow.
Jessica Goldman Foung, 34, a full-time food writer, has particular insight into both lupus and nutrition. The San Francisco–area resident was diagnosed with lupus in 2004 — something she says changed both her life and her diet.
“First and foremost, everybody — and every body — is different,” Goldman Foung says. “And depending on the kind of lupus you have and the drugs you might take, recommended diets will vary from person to person. This is why it’s important to discuss nutrition with your doctor or a dietitian before embarking on a new diet adventure.”
What to Keep in Your Lupus Diet
“There’s no specific diet for lupus, but the Mediterranean-style diet comes close to what’s most ideal,” says Sotiria Everett, RD, a clinical assistant professor in the department of family, population, and preventive medicine at Stony Brook School of Medicine in New York. “You want to eat a diet that’s low in fat and sugar and has lots of fruits and vegetables. You should get some of your protein from fish and eat lots of beans and legumes because they’re high in fiber, vitamin B, and iron.”
According to Goldman Foung, “A diet rich in vegetables gives me energy and keeps me feeling strong and healthy.” She typically eats meals filled with dark leafy greens and other colorful vegetables, eats lots of whole grains, and limits her consumption of meat and processed foods. “I also try to drink fresh-pressed beet juice as often as possible,” she adds. “It’s a great way to sneak in some of those body-boosting ingredients.”
Everett adds that eating fish for protein is particularly good. Fish — especially salmon, tuna, and mackerel — contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are important because they help fight inflammation, she says. Omega-3s, which are also available as supplements, may decrease your risk for heart disease. This may be especially important for women with lupus because they have at least double the risk of heart disease compared with women who don’t have lupus, according to a review of studies published in August 2013 in Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism. “Lupus is an independent risk factor for heart disease, so you should maintain a heart-healthy diet that helps fight inflammation and keeps you at a healthy weight,” Everett says.
What to Keep Out of Your Lupus Diet
For most people with lupus, the two big things to avoid are high-fat and processed foods. If you have issues like kidney disease, fluid retention, or high blood pressure, you may also need to talk to your doctor about salt restriction as well.
“Nightshade” vegetables — which include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant — have gotten a bad rap when it comes to lupus because they’re believed to trigger inflammation. However, the Lupus Foundation of America notes that the evidence is anecdotal.
You might benefit from taking these items off the menu altogether:
Processed foods Think of these as any food that comes from a box or a can. Processed foods are higher in fat, sugar, and salt (check the nutritional information for amounts). Refined foods are on this list, too — typical white bread, pasta, and white rice. Goldman Foung says that “by replacing processed goods, packaged foods, and takeout food with meals full of fresh ingredients,” her diet is “tastier and healthier.”
Alfalfa sprouts and garlic Both these foods contain substances that rev up your immune system, which you don’t want if you have lupus. “I would recommend avoiding both alfalfa sprouts and heavy use of garlic,” Everett says. “You should also talk to your doctor before using any dietary or herbal supplements.”
Too much alcohol “A little red wine is a good source of an antioxidant that benefits heart health, but heavy, sugary alcoholic drinks are empty calories that can increase your risk of obesity and heart disease,” Everett says. “Safe limits for alcohol are one drink per day for women and two drinks a day for men.”
Consider Goldman Foung’s advice: “Changing your diet for lupus doesn’t have to mean restricting or complicating your life. With the right attitude and a willingness to experiment, it might actually lead you to a more enjoyable, healthier, and tastier existence than you could’ve ever imagined.”
Controlling flare ups with anti-inflammatory foods
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a healing response that occurs as a result of injury or infection. It involves the production of substances that increase blood flow to an area. For instance, a bite or cut that gets red and warm to the touch is “inflamed”. Lupus patients are in a state of chronic Inflammation which is associated with joint pain, muscle pain, and skin rashes.
The food choices you make can significantly affect the process of inflammation. Is there a specific anti-inflammatory diet for lupus? No. There is no diet that can replace the need for medications. However, choosing anti-inflammatory foods can help to decrease inflammation and pain while avoiding pro-inflammatory foods can prevent aggravation. Read below to find out which foods to incorporate into your diet and which to avoid.
Foods that decrease inflammation can have a beneficial impact on lupus patients. Most diets high in essential fatty acids, vitamin E, beta-carotene and selenium are recommended for individuals with lupus, because these nutrients help to limit inflammation. Herbs and spices, like green tea, ginger, turmeric, and rosemary, are also anti-inflammatory.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fats are required for many biological processes. Multiple studies have shown that their anti-inflammatory properties are significantly beneficial in managing lupus. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and tuna are great sources of omega-3 fats-aim for at least two servings per week. Walnuts, flaxseeds, soy products, and green, leafy vegetables are also great sources of omega-3 fats. If you don’t eat these foods very often, supplementation is recommended (2-4 g/day EPA+DHA capsules), but consult your doctor before starting any supplement regimen.
Garlic possesses a whole host of great health benefits. It not only boasts anti-Inflammatory properties, but it also has anti-thrombotic, and vasodilating properties to help improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and decrease clot formation. In addition, garlic contains antioxidants to help prevent against cancer.
To active the beneficial compounds in garlic, let it sit for at least 60 seconds after being chopped/crushed prior to subjecting to heat or acidic foods like lemon juice. Incorporate garlic into meals where it can be the last ingredient added in order to avoid overcooking it. Adding it to salads and rice dishes is a great way to add flavor without the extra calories. Try combining it with ginger and add to grilled chicken and seafood.
Note: Some lupus patients report garlic as a trigger for flare ups. It is recommended that garlic supplementation be avoided. If you think that fresh garlic is related to flares, talk to your doctor or try eliminating it from your diet
For over 4000 years, turmeric has been used in dishes in order to alleviate a wide variety of ailments including inflammation, digestive problems, infections, and even cancers. Turmeric is best known for its use in curry dishes but also gives mustard its yellow color. The yellowish pigment in curry is called curcumin. Numerous studies have found that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects are comparable to the drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone.
- Ideas for adding turmeric to your meals: Aim for at least 1 tsp per day.
- Add to bean dishes, stews, and soups
- Add to egg salad
- Mix into brown rice with raisins and peanuts
- Add to sautéed apples, green beans and onions
- Ideas for adding turmeric to your meals: Aim for at least 1 tsp per day.
Ginger has been used in China for thousands of years as a medicinal remedy. Studies have also shown that it is effective for joint pain and inflammation. In a study of 261 people with osteoarthritis of the knee, those who received ginger extract twice per day required fewer pain medications compared to placebo. Lupus patients may take 2-4 grams per day of fresh ginger juice, extract, or tea to relieve joint paint. Rubbing topical ginger oil into a painful joint is also effective.
Antioxidants are generally thought to protect against cancer. However, a body of research suggests that some antioxidants can actually block inflammation by lowering the activation of inflammatory signals. Although antioxidant supplements are available, it is best to get them through healthy foods. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants, so aim for at least five servings per day.
While there are many food components that prevent inflammation, there are just as many that can promote it. Lupus patients need to be especially aware of which foods to avoid to prevent inflammation and immune system activation which can trigger flare ups.
Saturated and Trans- Fats
Both saturated and trans-fats have been shown to have pro-inflammatory effects, which is a major contributor to joint pain. Additionally, red meat may trigger the immune system and exacerbate symptoms. Red meats not only include beef, but also lamb and pork. Other foods that are high in saturated fats include bacon, butter, sour cream, coconut, and whole-milk dairy products. Foods that are high in trans-fats include margarine and shortening, packaged foods such as cake mixes, Bisquick, and soups, as well as fast foods items including fries, chicken, and other fried foods. If partially-hydrogenated oils are written on the ingredients list, the product contains trans-fats even if the nutritional label states otherwise!
Nightshade family of fruits and vegetables
Although scientific evidence is weak, some lupus patients report experiencing flare ups as a result of consuming vegetables in the night shade family. The alkaloid, solanine, which is contained in these vegetables, may lead to inflammation. The main night shade vegetables that are consumed in the United States include tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant, tobacco sauce, paprika, and sweet and hot peppers. If you think that these foods may be causing flare ups, write down when they are eaten and when a flare up takes place. If you notice a pattern between consumption and a flare up, avoid these foods.
Alfalfa sprouts and Garbanzo Beans
There is limited evidence that alfalfa sprouts and garbanzo beans may trigger flare ups in lupus patients. Garbanzo beans are also referred to as chickpeas and are the main ingredient in hummus. Alfalfa sprouts and garbanzo beans contain the compound L-canavanine, which may increase inflammation and stimulate the immune system. Moderate consumption will likely not cause problems, but avoid eating large qualities or supplementing with alfalfa tablets. However, be aware that the evidence against these foods is very weak and mostly anecdotal. If you notice a pattern between consumption and a flare up, avoid these foods or talk to your physician.
Nutritional Remedies for Lupus Symptoms
The symptoms of lupus have far reaching effects that often interfere with the patient’s life. Whether symptoms are due to medications or the flare ups from lupus itself, there are many nutritional components that should be incorporated into ones diet that will help to reduce their severity.
If you have lupus, you have most likely experienced the most common symptom- fatigue. Fatigue can be influenced by a variety of factors, including pain, depression, quality and quantity of sleep, exercise, illness severity, and stress. Maintaining a well-balanced diet that incorporates plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help keep energy levels up. Also avoid consuming large quantities of food at one time, instead opting for 5 small meals per day. This will keep blood sugar levels stable so that energy levels are optimal all day long. Additionally, incorporate moderate amounts of lean meat, such as chicken and turkey and plenty of fatty fish such as salmon. Avoid excess intake of caffeine and high-sugar foods which offer an energy boost in the short term but are followed by a feeling of lethargy.
Often lupus patients are treated with powerful steroids, which lead to increased appetite and subsequent weight gain. Whether you have already gained weight or are concerned about gaining weight affects the number of calories that you require. In order to lose weight or avoid weight gain, focusing on the number of calories eaten per day is essential. The following website will help you determine the number of calories that you need per day in order to maintain your current weight. http://www.shapefit.com/dailycalorie-calc.html
If you would like to lose weight, you must decrease your caloric intake. A pound of weight loss is equal to a deficit of 3500 calories. Therefore, in order to lose one pound per week, you must decrease your intake by 500 calories per day. This can be achieved both through exercise and through diet change. For instance, if you work out for 30 minutes per day, you only need to reduce your number of calories by 250 calories per day for a pound of weight loss per week.
In order to reduce caloric intake, it often helps to write down which foods you eat, the portion size, and the number of calories. Portion size is key as smaller portions will lead to small changes. Focus on foods with higher nutrient density and lower energy density. For instance, vegetables like broccoli and spinach are high in nutrients but low in calories (energy) whereas a candy bar has a low amount of nutrients but more energy. Nutrient dense foods will allow you to feel full without tacking on the calories. Also choose lean protein sources, foods with unsaturated fat, and unprocessed carbohydrates like whole grains. It is important to eat breakfast regularly, get plenty of exercise, and make these changes lifestyle habits rather than short term solutions.
Mouth sores can be a common symptom of lupus activity. Furthermore, when lupus patients are place placed on NSAIDS or methotrexate, oral ulcers or mouth sores can develop on the palate, lips, and cheeks. Because these can be painful, avoid acidic, spicy, rough, and salty foods. Instead, choose bland and soft foods that are easy to swallow. In order to get veggies into your diet, cook them until they are soft and tender to avoid mouth sore aggravation. You can also mix food with gravies, broths or sauces to make swallowing easier. If you have a sweet tooth, choose frozen fruit bars or other frozen treats which will often feel good on mouth sores.
In patients taking methotrexate, supplementing with at least 1mg folic acid per day can reduce the incidence of mouth sores. However, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting supplementation.
Patients with severe lupus may be treated with chemotherapy drugs to suppress the immune system. Unfortunately, chemotherapy does not come without side effects, one of which is nausea. Ginger has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of nausea. In China, it has been used in medicine for over 2000 years to treat stomach upset, diarrhea, arthritis, and nausea. Additionally, it has been used to reduce inflammation. The herb is found in extracts, tinctures, capsules, and oils. Fresh ginger root can also be purchased and prepared as tea (recipe) or used as a spice when cooking. Try adding ginger and garlic to grilled chicken and seafood.
For nausea, lupus patients should take 1.5-3.0mL/day liquid ginger extract per day or 2 to 4 grams of fresh ginger root per day. To prevent vomiting, take ½ tsp of powdered ginger every four hours as needed (do not exceed four doses per day). You may also chew a 1/4oz piece of fresh ginger when needed.
Besides ginger, combining sweet and salty foods can also help with nausea. Aim to eat small frequent meals that are lower in fat and fiber for best results.
Lupus is a disease that affects many organs of the body. The kidney is no exception. Often when the kidney is affected, nephrotic syndrome can result. Nephrotic syndrome is a condition in which damage occurs to the glomeruli of the kidney, which filter blood in the kidney in order to form urine, Nephrotic syndrome is common in patients with severe lupus and is a condition in which nutritional choices become very important. Protein should be reduced to just 6 to 8 oz/day, sodium should be limited to 2-3 g/day, and potassium should be reduced to 2000mg/day. Foods that are high in potassium include bananas, oranges, dairy, cheese, legumes, and chocolate. Additionally, phosphorus in the diet should also be reduced. However, due to the ubiquitous amount of phosphorus in many foods, phosphate binders should be taken. Foods that are especially high in phosphorus include red meats, chicken, fish, dairy products, legumes, processed foods, chocolate, dried fruits, and dark colored sodas, so be sure to minimize the consumption of these. It is important to consult your doctor about appropriate food choices for controlling nephrotic syndrome.
Women with lupus are at an increased risk of osteoporosis due to the disease itself as well as from medications. Steroid medications including prednisone and glucocorticoids can trigger bone loss. Additionally, it is often difficult for patients with severe lupus to exercise which leads to inactivity. Weight bearing exercise is extremely important for preventing osteoporosis, putting lupus patients at an increased risk.
In order to minimize bone loss, consuming foods that are high in calcium is very important. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are high in calcium, but should be eaten with caution in patients with nephrotic syndrome. Dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and collard greens are also great sources of calcium.
In addition, calcium supplementation is recommended for lupus patients. 500mg capsules should be taken twice per day (at breakfast and dinner) for optimal absorption. It is recommended that lupus patients take calcium citrate rather than calcium carbonate because calcium carbonate can interfere with Cipro, Floxin, and Moroxin drugs. If patients choose to take calcium carbonate, space doses 2 hrs apart from taking lupus medications
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is required for optimal calcium absorption. Since sunlight exposure is the main source of vitamin D, lupus patients are at an increased risk of deficiency due to UV light sensitivity. Therefore, 1000 IU/day of vitamin D tablets is highly recommended.
Blood disorders are a common occurrence among lupus patients, the most common of which is anemia (50% of lupus patients). Anemia occurs when there is a deficiency in the protein hemoglobin, which is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues. It is important for those with anemia to consume enough iron in their diet. Lean meats such as poultry and fish are great sources of iron but those patients with nephrotic syndrome should only eat 6-8oz/day. Green, leafy vegetables in the cabbage family such as broccoli, kales, turnip greens, and collards are also high in iron as well as legumes and whole wheat products. Dairy products, high fiber foods, tea, and coffee can reduce iron absorption by up to 50% so consume these foods between meals. Vitamin C increases iron absorption, so it is recommended that lupus patients eat a breakfast containing iron fortified foods with orange juice rather than coffee.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in those with lupus. The recommendations above are all consistent with a heart healthy diet. Use the chart below to determine the recommended intake per day of each nutrient in order to reduce your risk of developing CVD.
Recommended Intake per day:
- Saturated Fat :< 7% of total calories
- Polyunsaturated fat: Up to 10% of total calories
- Monounsaturated fat: Up to 20% of total calories
- Trans-fat: Avoid whenever possible
- Fiber: 20-30 grams
- Fruits and Vegetables: ≥ 5 servings
- Plant sterols and stanols 2-3mg/d decreased cholesterol by 9-20%
- Sodium: 2000-3000 milligrams
* Before changing your diet or taking nutritional supplements, be sure to consult your doctor.
* Please see References.
* Supplementation should only be incorporated if your dietary intake is insufficient or if certain foods are contraindicated due to lupus. Also, be sure to exercise caution when choosing nutritional supplements, as some may have ill effects. Please increase your awareness by reading the following article on the use of dietary supplements for chronic illness.
A healthy diet is important in general, but perhaps even more so for the roughly 1 million Americans and 3 million people worldwide who suffer from systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).1 Because of the multifaceted challenges presented by the disease, consuming adequate amounts of the right nutrients — and limiting others — can help relieve symptoms and improve outcomes.
“There are no foods that cause lupus and no foods that cure it, but eating a well-balanced diet may help combat some of the side effects of medications, as well as alleviate symptoms of the disease,” said Laura Gibofsky, MS, RD, CSP, CDN, a clinical nutritionist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, New York. First, the “Western diet,” consisting of an excess of fatty, salty, sugary foods, has been implicated in autoimmune diseases overall.2 Proper nutrition can also help improve the risk of comorbid diseases that commonly affect patients with SLE.
High-Yield Data Summary
- Rheumatologists should discuss the impact diet may have on symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus and then refer their patients to meet with a registered dietitian.
In patients with SLE, the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) is at least twice that in the general population, and over half of patients have 3 or more CVD risk factors.3,4 “Following a heart-healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and fatty fish and limiting saturated and trans fats can actually help reduce the risk of heart disease,” Gibofsky told Rheumatology Advisor.
Another common comorbidity with SLE is osteoporosis; researchers have found an increased risk of fracture and bone loss in SLE. Experts attribute this to several factors, including glucocorticoid medications that can lead to bone loss, inactivity due to symptoms such as pain and fatigue, and possibly the disease activity itself. In addition, women comprise approximately 90% of people with SLE, adding to their generally elevated osteoporosis risk.5
Therefore, “maintaining good bone health is an area of concern for people with lupus, and a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can help counteract bone-damaging effects,” Gibofsky explained. These foods might include “milk, light ice cream or frozen yogurt, cottage cheese, pudding, almonds, broccoli, fortified cereal, oranges, yogurt, hard cheese, soybeans and soy milk, navy beans, oysters, sardines, and spinach,” according to experts at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.6
Avoid calcium supplements, however, which Johns Hopkins researchers have found to potentially increase the risk of heart damage and arterial plaque buildup. “Due to the risk of accelerated atherosclerosis in lupus, we no longer recommend calcium supplementation and encourage a diet rich in calcium instead,” noted George Stojan, MD, a rheumatologist and assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins.
Another recent development is the shift regarding omega-3 fatty acids, which were believed to be beneficial in patients with lupus by decreasing inflammation. “We showed that omega-3 did not affect disease activity, improve endothelial function, or reduce inflammatory markers, though there was evidence that omega-3 may increase LDL cholesterol,” said Dr Stojan. “We no longer recommend omega-3 supplementation in lupus patients.”
What is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Paleo Diet? Are they good for lupus and other autoimmune diseases?
What is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
What is the Paleo Diet?
In Conclusion: What should be in your grocery basket?
What is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Paleo Diet? Are they good for lupus and other autoimmune diseases?
Lupus is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that can affect multiple parts of the body including the various organ systems. Doctors prescribe traditional pharmaceutical medications to manage symptoms and prevent flare ups of the disease that can cause more serious problems and complications. Many patients choose to supplement their pharmaceutical care with alternative treatments and lifestyle adjustments like using diet and exercise to minimize lupus symptoms. We discuss this further in our blog, Lupus/Chronic Illness: The Mind/Body Connection. There exists two major diets widely discussed in the autoimmune world. One is the anti-inflammatory diet and one is called the Paleo Diet.
It is very important to state that we, at Molly’s Fund Fighting Lupus, do not endorse either of these diets. There has been no specific scientific research claiming that either diet stops disease from progressing or eases symptoms.
That being said, many physicians support the following of any nutritional plans that are designed to fight inflammation and support the immune system. According to the Department of Health and Human Services and American Heart Association, chronic inflammation might cause diseases such as atherosclerosis, arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, food intolerances, diabetes, fibromyalgia, heart disease and in some cases even cancer. It also accelerates the aging process. Nutrition is a very powerful way to protect your cells from inflammation, thus the connection. Lupus, like any other auto-immune disease is different for each individual. While something may work for one person, it may not work for another. In general, it is a good idea for people with autoimmune disorders to discuss any major dietary changes with their doctor beforehand. We are writing this blog primarily in order to provide information and respond to the conversations occurring on our social media platforms with regards to these two diets. Let’s begin by discussing the definitions of each. Back to top
What is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
This diet is not intended for weight loss (although that can be a side effect). The anti-inflammatory diet is intended to provide steady energy, plenty of vitamins and minerals, and the essential fatty acids needed to maintain optimum health. You could look at this more like an eating plan for life as opposed to a diet per se. It is based on the general concept that eating to avoid inflammation promotes better health and can ward off diseases. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, the Harvard trained natural and preventative medicine physician (as seen on Oprah, and the Dr. Oz show,) there is clear evidence to support that inflammation can be very damaging to the body and he therefore openly supports the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. “We all know inflammation on the surface of the body as local redness, heat, swelling and pain. It is the cornerstone of the body’s healing response, bringing more nourishment and more immune activity to a site of injury or infection. But when inflammation persists or serves no purpose, it damages the body and causes illness. Stress, lack of exercise, genetic predisposition, and exposure to toxins (like secondhand tobacco smoke) can all contribute to such chronic inflammation, but dietary choices play a big role as well.” Both he and Barry Sears, MD, the author of the well-known Zone Diet both agree that this diet can have significant positive results on many diseases. Here are the basics of the anti-inflammatory diet (all versions vary, but this is the general proposal for all:
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Minimize saturated and trans fats.
- Eat a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish or fish oil supplements and walnuts.
- Limit your intake of refined carbohydrates such as pasta and white rice.
- Eat lots of whole grains such as brown rice and bulgur wheat.
- Choose lean protein sources such as chicken; cutting back on red meat and full-fat dairy foods.
- Avoid refined foods and processed foods.
- Use spices like ginger, curry, and other spices that have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Back to top
What is the Paleo Diet?
The word Paleo means ancient or older. The Paleo diet, as its name states, is a diet based around focusing on foods that have been eaten by humans for thousands of years during their evolution. Foods that existed before the introduction of agriculture. These foods are fresh and free of any added preservatives, mainly consisting of vegetables and meats. Paleo advocates claim that this way of eating can improve all aspects of your health, including your weight, reduction of disease activity and prevention of some chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The Paleo diet provides that we should be eating what heals and supports our immune system. This diet includes diet the following diet recommendations as shown in the above graphic:
- Eat non-starchy vegetables
- Eat grass-fed meats, free-range chicken, wild-caught fish and seafood
- Choose healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, coconut oil
- Eat nuts and seeds
- Avoid all processed and refined foods
- Eliminate grains, especially gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, and rye.
- Avoid dairy products
- Avoid sugar
The theory is that eating foods that contain gut-irritating compounds causes a ‘leaky-gut’ which means that any of the non-recommended foods are not able to be digested properly, passing large pieces from the intestines directly into your blood stream. Your body sees these as foreign substances and begins to activate the immune system which will, in turn, attack not only these substances, but the body. This, according to Paleo supporters, leads to immune disorders. The Paleo diet does exclude several large food groups and encourages a high consumption of animal fats. In some cases, this may not be the best choice for an individual’s health. Back to top
LUPUS DIET PLAN by Laura Rellihan
Whether you are newly diagnosed with lupus or you have had the disease for decades, The Lupus Diet Plan is a must-have addition to your cooking and lifestyle book collection. The Lupus Diet Plan provides an excellent narrative that outlines easy ways to establish healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices while explaining the science behind the food.
In Conclusion: What should be in your grocery basket?
According to the Mayo Clinic, “People with lupus should eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients that benefit overall health and can help prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, cancer and digestive disorders. Plant-based diets also support a healthy weight because they are naturally low in calories, fat and cholesterol. Fruits and vegetables are particularly high in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body by destroying harmful substances that damage cells and tissue and cause heart disease and cancer.” Take a look at our blog, Lupus: the Diet Dilemma for some great tips. While these diets, or eating plans, may have some merit, individual foods should not be the focus. Pay attention to your overall pattern of nutrition. Reducing inflammation is not just about what you eat. Patients should also know that these diets are never meant to be a replacement for the lupus treatments they may already be taking under the close supervision of a medical professional. Until more research is in on the effectiveness of these diets, be practical by getting enough sleep and exercise, and try to maintain a healthy weight. Back to top
Sources: www.mindbodygreen.com, livestrong.com, achieveclinical.com, paleospirit.com, lupus.org, DrWeil.com, WebMD.com
Author: Karrie Sundbom
All images unless otherwise noted are property of and were created by Kaleidoscope Fighting Lupus. To use one of these images, please contact us at for written permission; image credit and link-back must be given to Kaleidoscope Fighting Lupus.
All resources provided by us are for informational purposes only and should be used as a guide or for supplemental information, not to replace the advice of a medical professional. The personal views expressed here do not necessarily encompass the views of the organization, but the information has been vetted as a relevant resource. We encourage you to be your strongest advocate and always contact your healthcare practitioner with any specific questions or concerns.
I am a Lupus survivor. I refuse to be beaten by this autoimmune disease characterized by chronic inflammation and pain. In the past it has attacked my lungs, joints, skin, and cognitive functioning, but still I persist in the fight.
Now I have yet to put all of the symptoms of this disorder behind me, but I’m on my way. My initial turning point came when one of my doctors said, ‘There’s nothing more we can do for you other than provide steroidal support when you have flares .” After the anger dissipated, I took the advice of a friend and got a second opinion.
This journey first led me to a naturopathic doctor who shaped my thinking about disease and my body’s ability to heal itself if given the right nutritional support. Taking his advice, I began a treatment protocol of a modified diet with vitamin and herbal supplements. Within a year and a half the majority of my symptoms had vanished.
What I’ve learned is how essential proper nutrition can be in calming an overactive immune system and in healing and restoring the body.
So what can one do? For those with Lupus looking to pursue a more holistic approach to healing removing traditional inflammatory foods such as dairy, refined sugar and flour, gluten and genetically modified corn and soy is a good first step. Then fueling the body with nutritional anti-inflammatory foods that aid in quieting the immune system can lend itself to the healing process.
Here are 6 healthy foods that do just that!
1. Sunflower Seeds
More than just a nice snack or an accoutrement to a healthy salad, these small seeds rich in Vitamin B6 are found to aid in the prevention of active disease in Lupus patients.
Small in stature but strong in nutrient value, these bright red berries contains 98% of the daily value of Vitamin C in a 100g portion. A 4 year study of Japanese patients showed increased Vitamin C intake may prevent the occurrence of active Lupus symptoms.
3. Wild Caught Salmon
A huge asset to those with lupus who avoid excess sun due to photosensitive rashes or who take corticosteroids and require higher amounts of Vitamin D to offset the effects of the drugs. For them, maintaining high Vitamin D levels is essential. A solution is wild caught salmon, which contains 97% of the daily value in a 3oz cooked portion.
Known for its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, kale is a great addition to the diet of Lupus patients as studies have shown antioxidant supplementation may improve the disease status of patients.
Turmeric contains curcumin, which is responsible for its vibrant yellow colour and has been shown to provide curative assistance to a number of disorders. In addition, it’s been shown to improve joint swelling, morning stiffness and walking time in those with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. (Note: females diagnosed with Lupus have an increased susceptibility to develop other diseases such as arthritis, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney disease, to which the properties of turmeric may provide some benefit.)
Contains an anti-inflammatory component called gingerols, which are linked to the reduction of inflammation in arthritis and osteoporosis patients. Another study identifies ginger and its anti-inflammatory properties as helpful in the reduction of muscle aches, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health.
Nutrition plays a significant role in helping Lupus patients fuel their body for healing. These six anti-inflammatory foods for lupus are a great starting point on your journey to health and wellness!
- culinary nutrition
by Dawn Lashley
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