Systemic lupus erythematosus commonly just called lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause destruction of any one of the systems in the body. Although it is believed that environmental triggers and genetic predisposition are at the root of these debilitating symptoms, we actually know very little about how to prevent its progression and prevent the symptoms.
For this reason it can be tempting to a person with lupus to go crazy on Google trying to find a cure, a tidbit of wisdom or some new diet that will bring upon remission of symptoms.
Knowing what potential food sensitivities may or may not be present, if there are any dietary modifications needed to reduce inflammation, prevent kidney damage, manage blood pressure or gain or lose weight is the job of a registered dietitian nutritionist. They can provide the necessary knowledge and support to make it possible to navigate the forest of food do’s and don’ts.
There is really is a lack of evidence that any one particular diet can be called a lupus diet.
Even though it may be common to hear that a person with lupus should avoid the L-canavine is found in alfalfa seeds; although it may be beneficial to avoid them in large amounts, the evidence supporting this conclusion is not solid. (1) (2)
The list of what to limit or avoid goes on and includes: lectins, phenylalanine, tyrosine, garlic, essential fatty acids, zinc and any food that strengthens the immune system. Although there may be some evidence that this may reduce the immune response, these are component of many healthful foods that also offer nutrients our bodies need and could weaken our overall health. (2)
Another group of foods some report to avoid are known as night-shades, these are only necessary to avoid if you have a sensitivity because they too offer a wide array of beneficial nutrients.
A balanced diet low in sodium, sugar, red meat, trans-fats and processed food and high in anti-inflammatory foods can help prevent the kidneys problems associated with lupus, reduce inflammation and ensure you get enough nutrients to support general health. (3)
Just as any person with lupus can have a different mixture of symptoms they can also respond to foods differently. Science has just scratched the surface of nutrition and autoimmune disease. What works for one person may not work for another. Keep a food/symptom journal, engage health care workers, take responsibility for your health journey and honor your own experience.