You Are What You Eat
While I do not agree with the mumbo jumbo people spew every now and then concerning particular foods curing lupus, it is a well-known fact that certain foods can trigger lupus symptoms.
Foods that lupus sufferers should classically avoid are the nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes) and alfalfa sprouts. The St. Thomas Trust in London, one of the biggest lupus research centers in the world, suggests that lupus patients eat more oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel.
Otherwise, they emphasize a healthy diet as a way to keep lupus symptoms in check.
While eating certain foods, or avoiding them, is not going to cure your lupus (despite what your postman’s sister’s hairdresser says), it is useful to know if particular foods make you feel better or worse. Personally, I find that an increased amount of protein gives me more energy, and that when I go days without it, I often feel as though I’m lagging behind.
Likewise, excess sugar, soda and fatty foods can also make you feel incredibly sluggish. But there may be foods that you find make you feel worse than others, either by increasing your lupus symptoms or upsetting your GI tract, therefore kicking your lupus symptoms into overdrive.
To keep healthy, it is important to maintain a balanced diet — something I am very guilty of not always following through on!
In order to ensure this, start keeping track of your food intake with apps such as MyFitnessPal or MyCalorieCounter. Not only do they keep an extensive repository of foods with caloric information, they also tell you how much you should be eating of essential food elements such as fat, protein, sodium, carbs and sugar.
If you’re not keeping track, you may surprised to learn how far off base you are. These tools can keep your diet balanced, but also help you to be aware of overindulging.
When many people have flares, they are prescribed steroids, which increase the appetite. Likewise, many people find they don’t lose their appetite with a flare and may overindulge unknowingly as they are suddenly not getting any exercise. These trackers will help you keep your waistline in check while also keeping track of the essential nutrients you need.
If you are having issues with your GI tract in relation to lupus, keeping track of symptoms after eating certain foods is very helpful. This can help you and your doctor determine if you are allergic to a specific food or food group and eliminating it from your diet may improve both your health and your lupus.
Keeping Up with Your Fitness
Running a 5K race isn’t going to be on the cards for many lupus patients, but that doesn’t mean fitness isn’t important in staving off flare-ups. While it is important to rest when you’re having a flare or recovering from an illness or injury, it is equally as important to get in some exercise when you’re feeling healthy and strong.
Working out with lupus actually keeps my body stronger and more resistant to flares as well as stabilizes the muscles around my joints to reduce joint pain during a flare.
You can set small goals for yourself fitness-wise and track them via the tools mentioned above. This can be something as small as walking for five to ten minutes a day, to doing a full on workout routine at the gym.
Exercise that is particularly good for lupus includes swimming (all the joints are supported as you’re getting a cardio and resistant work out), biking (although repetitive, it is easy on the knees and ankles) and the cross trainer/elliptical (also very easy on the knees and ankles).
To keep yourself healthy, make it one of your goals to keep track of your lupus. Your body will thank you later.