Lupus An Autoimmune Disease

Lupus also called SLE, systemic lupus erythematosus is an inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks its own tissues and organs.  Lupus (SLE) can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. It can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms often mimic those of other ailments. Symptoms vary but can include fatigue, joint pain, rash, and fever. These can periodically get worse (flare-up) and then improve. Some people are born with a tendency toward developing lupus, which may be triggered by infections, certain drugs or even sunlight. While there’s no cure for lupus, current treatments focus on improving quality of life through controlling symptoms and minimizing flare-ups. This begins with lifestyle modifications, including sun protection and diet. Further disease management includes medications, such as anti-inflammatories and steroids.

MY STORY

It was back in 1990 and I was having some dramatic health issues.  Up until then I had been healthy.  So after having surgery, I healed and was starting to feel myself again.  But then things started happening.  I became tired easily and just not feeling well.  It was hard to describe.  I was one of those who spent a lot of time outdoors.  But that summer I was getting rashes and didn’t understand.  So off to the doctor I went and dreaded.  After some tests the doctor told me I had Lupus.  He wasn’t able to tell me much other than it was an autoimmune disease and there was no cure.  I was also told that some people have a shorter lifespan as the body starts to attack the organs. There were medications (steroids) that will help with the symptoms. Not a good prognosis and not what I wanted to hear.

I’m a fighter so this was no different.  Just another battle, right?  So I started doing research and looking at alternatives.  I was not going to submit my body to the ramifications of steroids and chemicals.  I decided to learn about herbal medications and supplements.  In my search I found Nature’s Sunshine.  It’s product offerings made me confident that I would be able to combat this disease successfully.  I did find the products that stabilized my body and systems with Nature’s Sunshine.  When I go to the doctors now they tell me to keep doing whatever I’m doing because it’s working.

Top 5 Things Most People Don’t Know About Lupus (and you wish they did)

1) It is NOT Contagious

I repeat. LUPUS IS NOT CONTAGIOUS. It is an autoimmune disease.

2) It is the Great Mimicker

Feeling tired, nauseous, and have overall malaise? You could have lupus! Or ten-thousand other conditions that can cause those exact symptoms. Because lupus symptoms can mimic those of so many other illnesses, it can be incredibly hard to diagnose.

3) It Affects Minority Women the Most

black_woman_closedeyes1.5 million Americans are afflicted in some form, while more than 5 million are known to have it worldwide. Of those affected, 90 percent of them are women and 80 percent are between the ages of 15 and 45. People of color are 2 to 3 more times likely to be diagnosed than Caucasians.

4) It Affects Everyone Differently

It is true, you can have lupus and look perfectly “normal” on the outside–which can be a blessing and a curse. Some people experience only internal symptoms like kidney, heart and lung issues. Some people experience only external symptoms like skin lesions, malar rash and hair loss (alopecia). It is almost impossible to find two lupus patients with the exact same symptoms. Moreover, it is unfair and illogical to compare two patients. It is also unfair to judge someone who may not “look” ill. So, before anyone utters the words “But, you don’t look sick” to someone who is chronically ill, he/she should be forewarned that it is really invalidating, particularly if someone is in a flare and feels like road kill on the inside.

5) There is No Cure, But It Can Go Into Remission

woman_tea_smiling_sunsetAt times, patients may have periods with few or no symptoms, commonly called remissions, but symptoms rarely disappear completely. At other times the patient may have debilitating disease activity with severe symptoms. Sadly, there is still no cure; however, 80 to 90% of people with Lupus can live a normal lifespan. 

In general, people with lupus should aim for a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It should also include moderate amounts of meats, poultry, and oily fish.  Following a varied, healthy diet may help:

The right nutrition can have a powerful effect on your health.

People have improved their disease state over and over again with the use of food as medicine.

  • Foods to include
    Grass fed meat excluding beef (grass fed meat has a balanced ratio of omega 3 and omega 6) grain fed meat is higher in Omega 6, which cause inflammation
    Oily fish – wild salmon, not farmed. Trout, kippers, mackerel, sardines
    Free range chicken – organic if possible
    Livers and Kidneys – only organic
    Vegetables- aim for every colour under the rainbow on your plate. Most of your plate should be filled with vegetables with a small portion of protein
    Fruits- one serve of fruit per day
    Healthy fats- olive oil, avocado, flaxseed oil, flaxseed meal
    Ghee
    Nutritive sugars- honey and maple syrup in small amounts
    Fresh herbs
    Fermented foods- sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir
  • Foods to avoid
    Alcohol
    Soy sauce
    Seeds and seed based spices
    Beef
    All processed packaged foods
    Nuts
    Grains- wheat, barley, rye, oats, rice, quinoa, couscous, semolina, bulgar and bran
    Sugar
    Artificial sweeteners
    Sweeteners such as stevia, rice malt syrup and molasses
    Dairy
    Beans and legumes – including peanuts, soybeans, legumes and chickpeas
    Fizzy drinks – sparking mineral water is okay
    Cooking oils- sunflower, peanut, safflower, canola, vegetable oil
    Margarine

Cooking tip!
Try to make meals nutrient dense, wherever you can.  Add a bit of ‘value’ to your meals. This can be done with a knob of fresh ginger (anti inflammatory, metabolic stimulant, reduces nausea, increases circulation) to a cup of herbal tea.  Culinary herbs such as parsley, coriander, mint and basil have many medicinal properties. If you begin to add these to your lunch and dinner you are getting much more nutrition in just one single meal.

RESOURCES

Here are a few resources to learn more about Lupus.

Nature’s Sunshine has the vitamins and supplements to help you on your way to good health. Take the health assessment to help you decide what supplement is best for you here.

Check out these informative books offered on Amazon.

The Lupus Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Guide for Patients and Families (A Johns Hopkins Press Health Book) 1st Edition

The Lupus Diet Plan: Meal Plans & Recipes to Soothe Inflammation, Treat Flares, and Send Lupus into Remission Paperback

Good luck on your journey to good health.  I hope that this page helps you on your way.

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