If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles here are written by a Functional Medicine Holistic Nutritionist. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
What Is The Best Diet for Lupus?
- The best lupus diet is full of food that doesn’t trigger inflammation in your body. It’s a mix of fats, fruits, vegetables, meat, and sometimes dairy. It works because it’s tailored to your individual needs.
- All of my lupus symptoms disappeared when I became serious about lifestyle changes. It took a few months to become completely symptom-free with NO side effects as compared to taking 5+ pills a day and still unable to work or be spontaneous with friends and family. Functional medicine testing helped me see what vegetables and fruits to avoid until I healed my gut/immune system.
- Fats are good for you. Stop avoiding them! The key is to have healthy fats in moderation like avocado, nuts, coconut oil, and grass-fed butter. Fruit and vegetables are full of compounds that pull toxins from our body from the foods we eat and pills we take. They also help reduce inflammation all over our body while fueling our cells so they work optimally. As we remove the foods that trigger inflammation, our body can focus on healing through the foods we’ve replaced them with.
How can food stop lupus symptoms and prevent flare-ups?
The best diet for lupus is…… Anything that is made up of mostly a variety of fruits, veggies, very little processed foods (20% or less of your meals a week). Bet you weren’t expecting that one. Well, we’re all a little different and if you know anything about me and the motto of Lupus Health Shop, it’s about treating lupus on an individual and case by case basis. That’s why my method used in my Mission Remission 1:1 program works for everyone!
Long term, I’d say paleo is the best lupus diet because it keeps you on the right track of avoiding everything that favors inflammation (which triggers pain) in the body while supplementing with whole foods that prevent inflammation and symptoms of lupus.
Short term, the best lupus diet could be Vegan, Keto, Paleo, Anti-histamine diet, FODMAP, and so forth. These may help you understand what you’re intolerant or sensitive to as you remove them for a short period of time. When you remove them, it allows your body to get out of fight mode and relax so it can focus on healing. As you constantly bombard your body with inflammatory foods it’s overwhelmed and that is what triggers lupus symptoms so often. Remove the trigger, get rid of the symptoms of lupus.
Here’s a short video on the important differences between food sensitivity, intolerance, and allergies.
Fats Are Good
When it comes to the lupus diet or literally any type of healthy way of eating FAT IS YOUR FRIEND. I repeat, fat is your friend.
Now, don’t get this confused with bacon grease all up in those eggs and cake batter ice cream dripping down your face (guilty here). There is a huge difference between healthy fats and unhealthy fats. I don’t want to call them good vs bad fats because we shouldn’t feel guilty about eating them once in a while. What we are doing is becoming more self-aware of how food affects our health – physical and mental.
Making healthier choices starts with proper education and the want/need to be well again. If your lupus meds were working so well at preventing symptoms and at the same time not causing more symptoms or side effects, we wouldn’t be searching for answers still. I’m happy you’re here, because eating anti-inflammatory foods on the best lupus diet has zero side effects and it prevents symptoms while allowing you to live each day however you’d like. Sound good?
Here are some facts on fats.
Food fuels our body or it runs it down. It’s a simple concept, but hard to maintain. So, let me break it down easily for you.
- Fat makes you fat
- Saturated fats from meat and dairy cause an increased risk in cardiovascular disease
- Butter is bad for you
Unhealthy Fats Facts:
- Polyunsaturated fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Filling up on unhealthy fats can be a huge contributor to chronic disease
Healthy Fats Facts:
- Dietary fats are an important part of a healthy diet
- Fats help maintain body temperature, support cell growth (our cells are constantly dying or growing throughout their lifecycle and they need support to ensure it’s happening at the right moments of their cycle), protects organs, supports brain health
- Saturated fats (butter, coconut oil, avocado) are part of a healthy diet in moderation
- Unsaturated fats have long been established. In fact, studies show that unsaturated fatty acids can help promote weight loss, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of heart disease.
Both saturated and unsaturated fats have benefits for your health. The key is to eat in moderation and for your body type. Just because some can have dairy-based fats doesn’t mean you can. It’s very individualized.
Grass-fed butter is good for you. Stop avoiding it! The omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids found in butter help your brain function properly and improve skin health. More importantly, these two fatty acids are considered essential, meaning the body needs them but can’t produce them on its own; instead, they must be consumed from food sources. Butter is also rich in fat-soluble vitamins and trace minerals, including beneficial selenium, a powerful antioxidant.
Coconut oil ( unrefined and refined are great to cook with). It’s rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which are easy for your body to digest, not readily stored by the body as fat and small in size, allowing them to infuse cells with energy almost immediately. Plus, the high amount of natural saturated fats in coconut oil means it increases good cholesterol and promotes heart health while the antioxidants found in coconut oil make it an effective anti-inflammatory food to help potentially reduce arthritis symptoms.
Veggies All Day
I am symptom-free because of the lupus diet. I went from bed-bound, thinking of quitting my job, and going on chemo meds to living my best life because of the lupus diet. With 9 autoimmune and chronic conditions that are debilitating, I took control of my health. There is no way in hell that I was going to live my life in misery.
The lupus diet took patience, learning, and time.
I got rid of processed foods because I learned in college and more so out of college that our body wasn’t made to digest food coloring, chemicals that are created in labs to make food taste good, and chemicals that keep our packaged food “fresh” longer. It just doesn’t work for us.
When I threw it all away and went back to the basics, my body thanked me so much.
I can now sit outside in 100-degree weather, walk for hours on hikes, and go for a swim in the sun without having any symptoms of lupus. Then, I can get up the next day and do it all over again. All because of the best lupus diet.
Is there ever a problem with vegetables? Not when we’re talking about the best diet for lupus. The majority of veggies are low in calories and they’re always full of nutrients that tame inflammation in the body. They have similar compounds as fruit like flavonoids, polyphenols, and antioxidants. These are key nutrients our cells need to function optimally.
Here comes the usual “but”… But, if you find yourself still having migraines, stomach problems, joint pain you may have underlying leaky gut issues. Most of us do. If you have IBS, SIBO, Chrons, or anything else you should tailor it to your needs. Check out this video on stomach problems with lupus diets.
How many servings of vegetables should you eat in a day?
Well, I like to fill 50-75% of my plate with veggies. The rest is split between protein, fats, and starches. So, it’s a lot more than the daily recommended amount and that’s okay. We’re in the healing phase of our journey and need more support than a typical healthy person.
Another important tip is to have a variety. At least 3 different vegetables per meal. Make it colorful too. Color is important because each color has a unique job for our bodies.
Fruits For Life
What’s so great about fruit and is it something all of us should have?
I know. I’m not the yes or no kind of person. We are all different and have different underlying triggers of our disease.
The majority of us actually have underlying bacteria and fungal infections that were not caught during any conventional testing. This is because it won’t be found if it’s stuck under biofilm AND conventional doctors only test for certain bacteria. In my Mission Remission 1:1 program, I suggest having specific stool testing done where I will tell you exactly what your results mean and no, I get zero kickbacks for recommending the testing. Then, I show you want to do to get your gut back in balance. Why does your gut matter? That’s your immune system!
Anyway, fruit can be great if you don’t have IBS, SIBO, or Candida overgrowth. Did you know SIBO can mimick IBS issues? I thought I had IBS for years based on my doctor’s findings. Turns out it was SIBO.
Here’s a video on Candida that I had too. Basically my stomach(which is the location of the majority of our immune system) was a train wreck and that is one of my lupus triggers.
With those issues, you’ll have to avoid most fruit. But, sticking with berries of all kinds will actually help you in the long run. Generally, it’s recommended to have no more than 2 cups a day.
If you don’t have any of those underlying issues, fruit is your best friend. Here are some tips on choosing fruit:
- Variety is key. Fruits are full of phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins, and flavonoids in optimal amounts naturally. A variety of key nutrients helps our body respond in a way that stops pain, inflammation, and symptoms of lupus. That’s because specific nutrients have an affinity to each other and everything works better when it has proper help.
- Berries are always #1. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and every other berry are low in sugar (generally) and high in antioxidants. Check out a video below on antioxidants.
- Stick with what’s in season. All fruits have similar effects on us. Eating seasonally means we will get the most nutrient-dense version of that fruit. Freeze or can your fruits so that it can last during the off-season if it’s a favorite.
- Buying frozen is A-OKAY. Although frozen can be more expensive, it’s usually picked at the peak of its nutritional value and it’s more convenient. Win-win.
What are phytonutrients and how do they affect lupus?
Phytonutrients are essential for our body in order to function. It plays an important role in fighting against several conditions. It’s full of antioxidants, antimicrobials, and anticancer and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Some phytonutrients are:
Anthocyanins – blue, red, violet plants. This helps defend cells and protect against blood clotting.
Carotenoids – Orange, red, yellow plants. These are antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and cardiovascular protection.
Flavonoids – Most common compounds in our diet from many plants. These are chemical messengers, physiological regulators, and cell cycle inhibitors. AKA good things.
Isoflavonoids – Soy and legumes. These are antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic. Can I get a double clap for that?!
Polyphenols – Berries, coffee, legumes, tea. Antioxidant and antiaging. Who doesn’t love anti-wrinkles that aren’t expensive creams?
Omega or w-3 fatty acids – Fish and fish oils, nuts, and seeds. Reduce stiffness and joint pain and an anti-inflammatory.
These affect lupus by stopping the immune system from believing it needs to signal an inflammatory response to your kidneys, brain, skin, joints, and so forth. It tells your immune system to calm down and munch on these. Then your immune system starts to remember how it’s supposed to act. So, it takes a back seat on the over attacking and wait for actual foreign bodies to enter. Then, it fights like hell while leaving your body parts alone.
How much fruit should you eat in a day?
It really depends on so many factors like underlying stomach issues or sugar problems. That’s where my mission remission 1:1 program comes into play.
Generally, I eat about 3 servings of fruit a day and it’s made up of mostly berries with some banana, apples, mango, or whatever is in season.
Can you imagine how many people DON’T wash their hands? Here’s a not so fun fact… “The CDC says that only 31 percent of men and 65 percent of women wash their hands after using the bathroom”.
What’s even more disturbing is that 95% of people don’t wash their hands properly. Now all of those people have touched your fruits and veggies.
That means the bad germs from their bathroom break, picking their nose, or changing diapers and not washing hands are all over that doorknob, the shopping cart, your fresh fruit, your processed boxes, and your money. (cue vomiting right now)
This is something you should always be doing to remove any bacteria or parasites and the chemicals from pesticides. Remember, our immune system isn’t functioning as normal so we have to take extra steps that most people don’t.
The easiest way to wash your fruits and veggies.
- Get hydrogen peroxide – 35% food-grade diluted down to 3% at 11:1 ratio. Store-bought has additives so avoid it.
- Soak in a bowl for 45 minutes
- Rinse thoroughly
- Pat dry
- Store in a cool and clean drawer in your fridge or a storage container (glass or stainless steel preferred).
As I say the word protein, what comes to mind? Animal products right? Grilled chicken, juicy steak, eggs, and thick-cut bacon. YUMMMMAY. Now, I didn’t tease you for no reason. Eating meat is perfectly fine.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to eating meat. These are KEY.
- Organic – Farmers use corn to plump up animals faster which isn’t healthy for them or you. Watch the documentary “Fed Up” to learn about the reality of the farming market (for majority of farmers). You can literally taste the difference between cheap meat and organic meat. Try it for yourself. Concerned on the price? Keep reading.
- Free-range – This usually means that the animals are not on top of each other spreading disease, fighting, or laying next to dead animal friends that spread bacteria. They have the room they need to roam the grass and eat off the land. That’s how they’re supposed to get their nutrients. They will be smaller and healthier. That’s totally okay because we’re not supposed to have meat as the main item.
- Grassfed (and finished IF possible, this is a tough one) – Most farmers will do the free-range deal and then plump them up at the end with corn or some type of cheaper feed towards the end. It’s not the best practice, but hard to find.
- Eat meat in moderation – Meat is the complementary part of your meal. Veggies should be the main item.
However, even though we shouldn’t avoid meat, it should NOT be the main part of our meal. Meat should be treated as a side dish meant to compliment your meal. Sides should be treated as the main. I know, it’s so different from what we are used to. What we’re used to is what put us in misery and it’s not our fault.
Now, we’re learning which makes us more aware of our surroundings and actions. So, let’s try something different together.
Back to the price issue that you’re probably concerned about as was I. Since we’re eating less meat, it’s actually not really costing us more because it will last longer.
Are you someone who is trying to avoid meat-based protein? Check out some cost-effective ways to get enough protein without consuming animal products.
Some examples of non-animal based protein are:
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Nut butters and Nuts (almond, peanuts, etc)
- Black beans
NOTE: Nuts and seeds should be eaten in moderation because they are high in inflammatory Omega 6s and low in Omega 3s.
Warriors – Do the best you can with what you have. Don’t feel defeated if you can’t follow every rule. We are human. Every poor decision replaced with a good decision is a win for your health. Make one change at a time and be proud of yourself. Get to know your body and recognize the small changes that occur with your skin, how your stomach feels or if you have fewer headaches or less irritability. One less symptom is a win and it makes it easier to stick with these lifestyle changes.
I like to follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of my week is filled with good food choices and 20% is saved for going out for dinner for celebrations or having a cookout with family. In the beginning, you may have to be more strict and do 100%, but you’ll get to the point where you can enjoy more and not suffer the consequences.
Eventually, you’ll be symptom-free like me!