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Treating Systemic Lupus Through Nutrition

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Medical
Wordcount: 1877 words Published: 12th May 2021

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People are plagued with diseases that have an unknown etiology and unknown treatments. Doctors then prescribe drugs that they believe will help the person battle their disease. These drugs however, could make matters worse, which results in many people searching for alternative relief. One alternative way of treating a disease is through nutrition. Nutrition has a large impact on how the body works; and patients with diseases that have an unknown cure turn to diet and nutrition to lesson their symptoms. One disease with no clear etiology and treatment is Systematic Lupus Erythematous. This is a complicated autoimmune disease that can target and affect multiple body systems, such as organs and joints. People who have this disease are predisposed to cardiovascular disease and inflammation. There have been numerous amounts of studies showing that through proper nutrition, it could help to reduce the inflammation and lessen the risk of developing some sort of cardiovascular disease.

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 Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is a disease of unclear origin and causes. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is primarily found in females, however males are still affected, and often times takes many years to diagnose. Patients that have Systemic Lupus Erythematosus suffer from swollen joints, low immunity, and overall fatigue as well are they predisposed to cardiovascular disease in greater number then the average non-afflicted person. According to a study titled “Imaging of Cardiovascular Complications in Patients with Systemic Lupus erythematosus” author Kai Lin, MD,MS et al., (2015)  talks about how in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus patients, cardiovascular disease is the main reason of death in comparison to the general public. Those with the disease are at a high increased risk with the leading cardiovascular diseases being pericarditis, coronary artery disease, endocarditis-valvular disease, and myocarditis. In people who were examined in an autopsy after death, over half os those Systemic Lupus Erythematosus patients examined had atherosclerosic lesions (Kai Lin et al., 2015). It has been found that by altering a persons diet, it could help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

 Proper nutrition is found to greatly reduce the risk of getting cardiovascular disease in patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. By reducing the level of antibodies and free radicals in these patients through diet, it helps to protect against cardiovascular disease. In a study conducted by Maria-Magdalena Constantin, Iuliana Elena Nita, et al., (2018) titled “Significance and Impact of Dietary Factors on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Pathogenesis” they found that by including foods high in omega-3 fatty acids helped to reduce the levels of free radicles and antibodies. Omega-3 fatty acids have been also found to prevent Arrhythmias and prevent the buildup of plaque in the vessels as well.  While omega-3 fatty acids positively affect those with Lupus, those who took an omega-6 supplement actually had a worsening of symptoms and could add to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

 Not only does Omega-3 intake have a positive effect on cardiovascular disease, it also greatly reduces inflammation as well. Antarctic Krill oil is found to reduce inflammation to joints because the large amount of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids (Constantin, et al., 2018). Joint pain is found in many patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and by adding fish that are rich with omega-3’s it not only will benefit them heart wise, but also joint wise too. While some patients would say that they do not like the fishy taste, in one study titled “Updated Review of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus” written by Carol M. Greco, Claire Nakalima, and Susan Manzi (2013) talked about that by consuming a low amount of fish oil or fish itself, that patients in the study found it tolerable and doable while still having the same effects. Not only does consuming omega-3 fatty acids help with heart health in lupus patients, but consuming vitamin-C helps to reduce it as well. Vitamin C is easily consumed through fruits and vegetables so it does not need to be taken as only a pill form. Vitamin C is a water soluble biomolecule  that helps to lower high antibody levels and further reduces inflammation. Vitamin C is absorbed in the small intestine and is stored in places such as the the liver. Vitamin C must be consumed through so by consuming citrus fruits, broccoli and papaya is a way to increase vitamin C intake (Constantin, et al., 2018). By reducing the amount of inflammation in the body, it helps the antibodies to not attack healthy tissue further causing inflammation.

Another nutritional addition people with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus could make is to increase their consumption of flavonoids. Flavonoids are the largest type of polyphenols. These are created in plants and in the human body they are known to help with a stronger immune response, and to reduce inflammation in the body (Constantin, et al., 2018). In another study titled “Flavonoids: and overview” written by A. N. Panche, A. D. Diwan, and S. R. Chandra (2016), they conducted a study that found by introducing specific flavonoids into a persons diet helps to combat COX-2, an enzyme that manufactures prostaglandins for the initiation of pain and inflammation. The flavonoids were found to actually inhibits COX-2, reducing the amount of inflammation in a persons body caused by the enzyme. Not only does it greatly reduce inflammation but it has also has been proven to reduce cardiovascular disease and hypertension (Panche, 2016). While there are supplements that contain different categories of flavonoids that could be costly, a person could simply consume fruits and vegetables that are rich in flavonoids. In Systemic Lupus Erythematosus patients, oranges showed to be the the fruit that provided the most flavonones. Other fruits and vegetables that are high in flavonoids is: watermelons, apples, tea, tomato, lentils, kiwi and celery. (Constantin, et al., 2018).

With inflammation being the leading cause of pain in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus patients, it is highly suggested that they take Curcumin which is found in the supplement turmeric. For patients that are looking to treat lupus through alternative medicine and diet, turmeric is one of the largest supplements used. An article written by Susan Hewlings and Douglas Kalman titled “ Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health” (2017) they talk about how it helps to block many different types of inflammatory stimuli such as inflammatory cytokines and several types of stresses. The inflammatory cytokines are a large cause at the center of cardiovascular disease as well, so by taking turmeric lupus patients benefit in multiple ways. In a double blind study patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus took a supplement with Curcumin and others a placebo and it was found that those who took the supplement had a decrease in the inflammatory cytokines and a decrease in inflammation compared to those with the placebo (Hewlings, Kalman, 2017). There is very few side effects when it comes to taking the turmeric as a supplement and it is found to be safer then a doctor prescribed drug. By adding turmeric to a person with lupus, it decreases the pain of inflammation and helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

There are certain foods and minerals that a person withSystemic Lupus Erythematosus should avoid. There is a large focus on limiting the minerals sodium and zinc. Patients should reduce consuming high levels of spinach and soybeans due to those foods having a high level of zinc in them. By lowering the amount of zinc consumed, it lowers the amount of antibodies, which is necessary to help reduce the chance of the body fighting itself. By reducing sodium intake, it helps to reduce the chance of having a type of cardiovascular disease. Lupus patients need to try and limit their amount of sodium per day to three grams or less. Another food group that a person with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus should try to avoid is large quantities of proteins. High levels of protein could also lead to coronary artery disease along with causing problems to a lupus’s patients kidneys. While protein is necessary and can have positive effects on the body, and over consumption could further lead to inflammation as well. By consuming about six grams of protein per day is recommended to help reduce inflammation, kidney disease and coronary artery disease (Constantin, et al., 2018).

When it comes to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, patients often times choose to treat it through proper nutrition. While proper nutrition is important, each person with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus needs to have the diet tailored to them to make sure they are getting all the proper nutrition that is needed. In many studies, diets that prove the most effective to treat Systemic Lupus Erythematosus patients are those that help to prevent cardiovascular disease. Consuming salmon and tuna is a great way to get an adequate amount of omega-3. Another thing that lupus patients need to consume is adequate vitamins such as vitamin C to reduce inflammation. Furthermore, people with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus need to be very conscious of consuming a low inflammation/ inflammation reducing diet composed of Fruits and vegetables as opposed to over processed foods. By introducing flavonoids in apples, oranges, and watermelon, it helps to reduce inflammation and antibodies. Lastly a supplement that they should take is turmeric. Turmeric has many benefits and very little side effects which is why it is highly recommended. With limiting sodium, zinc and protein in their diet as well it will help overall with their health too. Instead of spinach they could use lettuce in their salad, a food rich with flavonoid and reduce the sodium added to foods as well. While there is no cure for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, there are ways to treat the symptoms that it has on the body naturally through proper nutrition.


-          Constantin, Maria-Magdalena et al. “Significance and Impact of Dietary Factors on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Pathogenisis.” Experimental and therapeutic medicine vol. 17, 2 (2018): 1085-1090. Doi: 10.3892/etm.2018.6986

-          Greco, Carol M et al. “Updated review of complementary and alternative medicine treatments for systemic lupus erythematosus.” Current rheumatology reports vol. 15,11 (2013): 378. doi:10.1007/s11926-013-0378-3

-          Hewlings, Susan J, and Douglas S Kalman. “Curcumin: A Review of Its' Effects on Human Health.” Foods (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 6,10 92. 22 Oct. 2017, doi:10.3390/foods6100092

-          Lin, K et al. “Imaging of cardiovascular complications in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.” Lupus vol. 24,11 (2015): 1126-34. doi:10.1177/0961203315588577

-          Panche, A N et al. “Flavonoids: an overview.” Journal of nutritional science vol. 5 e47. 29 Dec. 2016, doi:10.1017/jns.2016.41


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