Good nutrition is an integral part of the lupus treatment plan. While there are no foods which can cure lupus, people with the disease should aim for a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Additionally, the diet should include moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry and fish.

If you have lupus following a healthy diet may reduce inflammation and other symptoms, maintain strong bones and muscles, combat the side effects of medications, achieve or maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Lupus is an inflammatory disease and research favors, in part, foods that fight inflammation to ease lupus symptoms; simultaneously, foods that fuel inflammation could worsen symptoms.

Foods with possible anti-inflammatory properties include fruits and vegetables, which are rich in substances called antioxidants. In addition, foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, ground flaxseed, canola oil and olive oil may also help fight inflammation.

Conversely, saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels and may contribute to inflammation — these should be limited. Sources of saturated fats include fried foods, commercial baked goods, creamed soups and sauces, fatty red meat, animal fat, processed meat products and high-fat dairy foods.

Good nutrition is important for strong bones and muscles. For people with lupus, bone health is a particular concern as some medications used to treat the disease can increase the risk for osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become less dense and break easily. Eating foods high in calcium and vitamin D is important for bone health-try to consume low-fat or fat-free dairy products.

Lupus can be associated with unhealthy weight loss or weight gain. Maintaining a healthy weight is important. Weight loss and poor appetite, common among people recently diagnosed with lupus, can result from the illness itself; these symptoms can also result from medications which can cause stomach upset or mouth sores.

Weight gain may result from prolonged inactivity and /or the corticosteroids used to control the disease.

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at carey.stites@smchh.org.

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