Lupus, Inflammation, and Lifestyle Choices
Lupus, Inflammation, and Lifestyle Choices In Schaumburg IL
Lupus, the Disease In Schaumburg IL
Lupus is a well-known disease to Schaumburg IL chiropractors. It falls under the category of autoimmune disease. This means that it attacks your own cells. Your body fights against itself! It causes inflammation that leads to other damage throughout the body such as weakened adrenal glands, compromised kidneys, joint pain, and heart problems. It is tricky to diagnose because its symptoms can appear to be other ailments. For example, weakened kidneys may lead you to seek relief from the kidney problem without considering a possible cause, lupus.
It attacks the immune system and may cause symptoms such as:
- Joint pain
- Skin disturbances
- Extreme sensitivities to cold manifest in blue fingers or toes
- Chest pain
Yet one main telltale sign of lupus is a butterfly rash across the face. The rash stretches across the bridge of the nose onto the two cheeks to form a red, patchy rash resembling a butterfly. But, even this symptom isn't found in every case1.
It appears to be a rather unfair disease as well. It can be found by a large majority of women (up to 80 % of its victims). People of Hispanic, African American, Native American, and Asian-American descent are at greater risk of contract2. Other factors possibly aiding in the probability of contracting lupus include your genetic makeup and environmental factors such as overexposure to sunlight, use of certain medications, or something as simple as having an infection. Unfortunately, though, currently the actual cause of lupus is unknown.
The factors that may cause lupus may also cause what is known as flare-ups or reoccurrences of the symptoms to greater degrees. Lupus does not appear to be a disease that you battle at full strength all the time. It has an ebb and flows effect. Symptoms may diminish for a time and then reoccur at what may seem random times. But research has seen evidence that the same environmental factors causing lupus can also trigger flare-ups3. Excessive sun exposure triggers flare-ups. The use of medications such as blood pressure medications, anti-seizure medications, and even antibiotics can cause symptoms to arise. As an autoimmune disease, infections can cause a cascade of symptoms as well3.
Even though it may be well known, research is limited in treatment. Currently, there is no cure for lupus. As it is multifaceted and affects major organ systems of the body, many people who have lupus must see many types of specialized physicians to treat the varying problems. For example, if the kidneys have been compromised, a nephrologist may be consulted. The goal of the treatment of lupus is to reduce symptoms through reducing inflammation and reducing further damage to other organs in the body4. This usually involves the use of medications and lifestyle changes.
As inflammation is a major symptom of lupus, joint health is of top priority. One good way to keep your joints healthy is through adequate exercise. Not only does it help your joints but also may prevent further problems (known as co-morbidities) such as heart disease5. Remember to do low to moderate exercise. Be kind to your joints and don't overdo it. When you are feeling tired or winded, rest6.
Another lifestyle change that may help reduce the severity of flare-ups and prevent further tissue damage is diet. It must be stated again for clarity, that there is currently no cure for lupus, but reductions of symptoms are the goal. In other words, treatments should be aimed to provide the highest quality of life possible for lupus patients.
Fruits and Vegetables- Anti-inflammatory Agents
One of the greatest recommended foods for lupus is of no surprise- produce. Yes, fresh fruits and vegetables top the list. One reason for this recommendation is the health benefits provided to aid in the prevention of further complications. Eating a diet low in saturated fat, high in fiber, rich in poly and mono-unsaturated fats, and high in vitamins & minerals may help reduce further damage to tissues 7. This is due to the anti-inflammatory effects of certain fruits and vegetables. It is best to consume these fruit and vegetables in the raw or most natural form. Also buying organic foods help to ensure you are not consuming unwanted chemicals.
Our Gut- Our Defense
Our bodies are truly wonderful machines. The more we discover about them the more we should appreciate their vast intricacies. One such intricacy is how our immune systems work in conjunction with our gut. Many people understand we have an immune system developed to fight disease but few people realize that research suggests a direct link to the state of our guts and our overall health. Over seventy percent of our immunity cells are produced within our gut. Not only that, we have a whole army of bacteria ready to fight invaders. This is called our microbiome. It is comprised of over a thousand species of bacteria ready to protect our bodies.
Animal studies have demonstrated that in lupus certain bacteria may be decreased. Lactobacilli have been shown to be depleted. On the other hand, other bacteria were shown to have increased8. Such research suggests the use of probiotics to replenish the depleted bacteria and restore the gut microbiome9. Probiotics can be taken as a supplement if your doctor approves. They can also be consumed in your food. Kefir and yogurt are excellent sources of lactobacilli. Another way to obtain probiotics is through fermented vegetables. Kimchi and sauerkraut are two of the most common but many other vegetables like squash, carrots, or cucumbers can be fermented with the desired effects. You can also enjoy fermented drinks such as kombucha tea.
Omega-3's- Fighting Inflammation
Omega-3 fatty acids (particularly in the form of fish oil supplements) and lupus has been studied for over thirty years. Research suggests that omega-3's may reduce inflammation and inhibit the production of cells that would promote inflammation10, 11. Omega-3's are not limited to fish oils. You can consume them through deep water fish such as salmon or tuna as well as nuts such as walnuts.
Bone broth is another recommended food. Broth is highly nutritious but is currently being studied for direct links to the reduction of inflammation or gut health.
Foods that are not recommended
There are certain foods that you may want to consider eliminating or reducing significantly from your diet if you have lupus. Not only may these foods increase your chance of flare-ups, but may also have negative effects on the other conditions that may follow your lupus such as heart disease.
Highly processed foods should be avoided. These foods can be high in saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, and/or added sugars. These items are not needed to promote a healthy lifestyle. Other foods that may cause inflammation may not be as obvious as the highly processed foods. Gluten-containing foods and certain legumes are suggested to promote inflammation. When reducing gluten from your diet, watch for wheat, barley, or rye found on a food label. Gluten can be tricky to identify sometimes so become familiar with possible sources of gluten before shopping.
Our bodies truly are amazing machines. When they are unable to work as efficiently or as effectively as expected, such as with lupus, we can become discouraged. Yet, even with lupus, we can regain control and be proactive in supporting a high quality of life through proper medication use and positive lifestyle changes.
If you're ready to get help with your health, contact us at the BrightLife Clinic today to schedule an appointment.