Lupus and a Wolf-Wise Diet
Because we have lupus, the wolf is our partner in time and our constant dining companion. When we eat, whatever we eat, we’re feeding our inner wolves and we’d better feed them well, to keep them from chowing down on us. An old adage claims, "One fourth of what you eat keeps you alive. The other three-fourths keep your doctor alive." With lupus, that three-fourths also keeps our wolves running wild and craving more luscious lupie morsels.
All by itself, lupus can turn our stomachs inside out and our lives upside down. It can skinny us down to sliver size or swell us up like balloons, independent of our own determined efforts. Lupus makes intense demands on our entire bodily system, drains our resources and creates extreme nutritional need. It robs us, body and bone, of minerals, vitamins and other primary nutrients.
Sometimes, it feels like Ol’ Wolfie’s built a rollercoaster right inside us. Many lupus medications have toxic side-effects and some cause digestive problems, from intestinal gas to pain and cramping, vomiting, constipation and/or diarrhea. Chemotherapy treatment for lupus can also wring us out and use us up. Every medication prescribed for lupus has it’s own built-in demons but healthy eating can help to counteract their evil-doing.
Lupus and its dietary disorders, photosensitivity, medical treatments and medications such as steroids all deplete us. We’re likely to be allergic or sensitive to compounds in natural and chemically altered foods. Soft drinks, coffee breaks, vending machines and fast food can all work against us, unless we exercise caution.
Studies documented at Lupus NewsLog provide guidelines we can use to develop our own wolf-wise diets. With some cunning kitchen experimentation, we might even feed our wolves into submission.
Researchers agree that the best dietary foundation for lupus must significantly reduce or eliminate our symptoms and dramatically slow or completely stall our disease progression. To do so, it has to support our true nutritional needs, reduce our exposure to food-borne irritants and toxins, minimize their effects and be anti-inflammatory.
The most effective protective diet for lupus has proven to be high fiber, low fat and low in additives and toxins. It is based on organically grown fruits and vegetables. We lupies do best with very little or no salt, sugar, dairy products and meat. These mealtime methods can help us cope with loss of appetite, lupus anorexia and digestive distress, including any caused by our hypersensitivity to foods, toxins and additives.
A four year study of SLE patients was done at the Miyagi Cancer Center Research Institute, Medeshima-Shiode, Natori, Japan. Researchers learned that those who use vegetable oils and don’t get enough vitamin C and fiber are likely to develop severe SLE symptoms and disease progression. They’re at higher risk of ischemic heart disease, strokes and blood clots. Another Miyagi study found people with diets of fatty meat like pork and beef were more susceptible to SLE than those on lean diets.
Fats should make up no more than 30% of our daily calories. We can slash or quit using saturated and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Vegetable oils, whether polyunsaturated, partially hydrogenated, trans-fatty acids like vegetable shortening, mayonnaise, margarine or oleo, all stimulate inflammation. Healthful extra-virgin olive oil is a much better choice for us.
Milk does not do our bodies good, as a matter of fact, dairy products are known inflammatories and fire up our lupus. Casein is the primary protein in cow's milk and it hyperactivates the immune system, which promotes inflammation. Dairy and beef products are primed triggers for lupus flare and even for the onset of SLE.
Many adults and children don’t produce enough lactase enzyme to break down lactose, or milk sugar, in dairy and other foods. To some researchers, lactose intolerance is considered a likely culprit in Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Without dairy foods, we may need to supplement calcium, riboflavin, and vitamin D. Acidophilus or lactose reduced milk are healthier substitutes for dairy milk. Broccoli, Collard greens, Kale, Turnip greens and Chinese cabbage or Bok Choy are all high in calcium, without lactose.
Acidophilus and lactose reduced milk are sold in dairy cases, next to the milk. There are also non-prescription lactase supplements that let us drink milk without getting sick. With one, a few drops in milk which then sits refrigerated for 24 hours, can reduce lactose by 70%. Better yet, if the milk is heated and the drops are doubled, the milk will be 90% free of lactose. Or we can take lactose tablets just before eating or drinking dairy-based foods.
Factory bred fowl and cattle are fed hormones and antibiotics, which can aggravate our symptoms. Lupus is naturally agitated by our own hormones so extra food borne hormones aren’t advisable for us. Tetracycline, one antibiotic used, inflames flare and is a known drug-induced lupus instigator. If we do eat meat, lean meats like free range turkey or chicken are a much better choice. Many people raise their own and sell them at public or farmer’s markets.
It’s best to visit the birds at home, before you buy. Free-range birds should be well fed, drug-free and raised in clean yards with room to run around. Birds need plenty of exercise room and their coops and yards must be clean and dry, because of their constant flow of urine and feces. If they get E.coli or other contamination, so do those who eat them. Food and water dishes must be clean enough for you to eat from, although you really shouldn’t.
When we eat meat, we absorb what the animal ate and, nowadays, toxin levels in livestock and wild game are at increasingly high levels. Along with drugs, factory bred animals get shredded, recycled waste mixed into commercial feed. A couple of meat packers claim their products at least aren't drugged but any meat should be well cooked, in smaller servings and eaten rarely. The prostaglandins in meat fats increase inflammation and blood clotting. Cured meats, like "hot dogs" and even barbecued meats, may instigate flare.
Many of us love fish and we lupies often rely on tuna but, nowadays, it and its fishy friends are swimming in toxic soup laced with mercury, PCBs and many other poisons. A University of Maryland School of Medicine study found even low doses of mercury will definitely accelerate and worsen our lupus. This confirms other study results and means we must be very careful about fish.
Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin that can cause permanent damage to unborn babies' brains and nervous systems. It's in many ordinary items that are often tossed into the trash. There, it breaks down into the soil and, with rain and runoff, contaminates our water supplies. Though many items on their own only have tiny amounts, together, they add up. It takes less than a teaspoon to poison an entire lake and all its fish.
According to the most recent studies, mid-Atlantic Blue crab, Croaker, Flounder (in summer), Haddock, farmed Trout, wild Pacific Salmon, Shrimp and Fish Sticks are safe to eat. Please see Lupus NewsLog about what your dinner had for its last supper and what’s fishy about seafood, including good fish, bad fish and fish oil supplements.
Digestive distress is as unwelcome as wolves at many tables nowadays, not just ours. Dining was once a leisurely, social activity – now, it’s often just a pit stop on the rat race fast track. When we gobble our food down, we’re treating it only as fuel, without experiencing the differences in flavor and texture or digesting properly. If we treat our innards like garbage disposals – food in, waste out - we become living toxic dump sites. Even the simplest meal should be savored, for full advantage.
The known benefits of the fruit and vegetable based Mediterranean diet may also be partly due to the creative cookery. Dining is more relaxed and digestion is nurtured by the gentler pace. We might even be better off with 4 to 6 light meals a day than 3 regular meals. That way, we can just eat what we need, when we need it. When less food builds up inside us at once, our systems don't have to work so hard at digestion, absorption and elimination.
We don’t need to be Cordon Bleu chefs to make food worth eating. Experimenting with non-irritating spices, with the aroma drifting through the house, can invigorate appetite. Cooking in slow or pressure cookers or crockpots simmers foods in their natural juices, breaking down plant or meat fibers, releasing natural flavors and the enzymes that help us assimilate nutrients. Some foods may be best eaten raw but more digestible meals can mean more relaxing evenings and brighter mornings.
Raw, al dente and well cooked foods can be appetizing together, with a mix of colors, textures and tastes to tempt our tummies. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, "The best diet is a varied diet, and this goes for methods of preparation as well." Cooking destroys foods’ natural toxins, making them safer and more digestible. For instance, raw celery’s toxins contribute to photosensitivity and immune dysfunction but cooking renders them harmless.
Pineapple contains bromelain, which is a natural digestive agent. Eating pineapple with meals can ease the internal distress caused by lupus and minimize some symptoms of IBS, Crohn’s and Celiac diseases. Bromelain helps speed digestion, eases absorption of sugar, starch and protein and helps us gain greater benefit from the food we eat.
Instead of eating pineapple or drinking its juice with every meal, you might try the digestive panzymes sold in stores. Their primary ingredient should be bromelain, which packs a double whammy on our behalf. It’s not only a digestive, it’s also used as an anti-inflammatory by athletes. Check the labels to eliminate those panzymes made with symptom irritating grains or other fillers.
Lupus meddles with meals in many ways and it can turn our tummies against us so we may need to stimulate and strengthen our appetites. A B complex supplement in the mornings, maybe with crackers and juice, produces gastric juices and gets our hunger cooking. B complex vitamins, like antioxidants, may also reduce our headaches, even migraines. Taking B complex or most supplements on an empty stomach can cause irritation and lead to ulcerations so, please, always nibble something first.
Yes, y’all - our Ol’ Wolfie is a merry prankster with a contrary sense of humor – sometimes, we actually have to eat something, just so we can take something that will help us eat enough. Those lupine canines may be howling with laughter now, but, once we tame our diets, they could be singing for their supper, without us on their menu.
With our individually unique immune responses, we need to pay close attention to our bodies' specific reactions to foods and supplements. If we regularly eat healthy, lean, clean foods, drink plenty of juices and take high quality supplements to replace missing or low essential vitamins and minerals, we'll be protecting and replenishing our vital physical resources.
One article can’t cover all our nutritional needs and options. For more research-based information, source links and recipes, please visit Lupus NewsLog's Articles With Attitude
and Lupus NewsLog Wolf Bytes