I talk a lot about my son’s auto-inflammatory condition – PFAPA – and occasionally about myself, BUT I wanted to focus the spotlight on LUPUS today and tell you that it is POSSIBLE to control lupus and feel better without drugs! It’s not hard and it’s worth saving your life from all the drugs that go with it!
I started having lupus symptoms at 15 years old (1995). They progressed into a very terrible illness by the time I was 21 (2001). I was immediately given drugs to help with this – the usual Plaquenil and NSAIDs. As happens with many people (who don’t even realize it’s the drugs sadly) I developed side effects rather quickly (in the first 1-2 years). Some of those are permanent (my eyes from Plaquenil). By 2003 I knew I had to get off the drugs and find another way or I would be dead within 10-20 years. I am not exaggerating. If you have lupus or have taken these drugs I am sure the thought has crossed your mind.
I started out by looking at supplements instead of drugs and had relatively good success but couldn’t get total control. It took me years of research and A LOT OF MONEY IN EDUCATION until I found the answer in gut health and food (my NTP work – and just prior to). I haven’t taken any drugs since 2015. I took them briefly after childbirth again with TERRIBLE results yet again and I said NEVER again. I then focused on my nutrition and supplementing and I fixed it and made it go away. I now only see my doctor every 1-2 years just for routine bloodwork and checking in.
What is lupus?
SLE (systemic lupus) is an autoimmune disorder where the body targets its own joints and tissues (organs, as well as the disease, progresses) as foreign. What this means is that the immune system incorrectly tags your own healthy tissue as a foreign invader and attacks.
This can be your knees, your hands, your feet, your back, your lung lining, your kidneys, your mouth tissue, and more.
The reason that this happens is not chance, and not all genetics. Can you have the genetics for this? Yes, but that DOES NOT mean that you will have an active disease. It’s not just bad luck, and it’s not just because you have it. It was CAUSED by things in your life.
What causes autoimmunity?
1. Food reactions/issues. I know you want to stop reading right here and you are questioning this, but wouldn’t you like to feel better? Hear me out.
Wheat/gluten/grains – these are the BIGGEST offenders to inflammation and gut leaking. A natural response to eating these foods is a protein called zonulin. This protein causes the tight gut barrier to loosen. It’s a NATURAL RESPONSE. You can’t stop this and it doesn’t mean, necessarily, that you are sensitive to it – it means you are responding to it. However, I have found that most people with auto-inflammatory or autoimmune issues are indeed HIGHLY reactive to gluten/wheat/grains.
Dairy – this is very personal for people. It’s not across the board. But this food group is also inflammatory in nature so there is a chance that if you eat a lot of it you have a lot of inflammation. Yogurt has different proteins (due to being fermented) than regular dairy. So yogurt might be a fantastic use of probiotics for your gut and calcium in the dairy component (and if you go Greek protein).
“Hidden Reactions” – they aren’t hidden but they are things that people don’t think are related to food. Those things include allergies (seasonal and other), ear and sinus issues, bloating, gas, irregular bowel movements (too few or too many – too hard or too loose), skin issues, and more. It might even be slight swelling after a meal in your hands or joints. You notice it – your rings feel tighter or hard to take off. (Yes it’s your food). It might also be those pesky mouth sores (SUPER GOOD INDICATOR). If you start feeling a mouth sore come on – you think back to that 24-48 hours before. Look at your foods and it’s one or more of those. Mine is ALWAYS wheat and gluten. If I go out to eat, or I have a treat 1-2 times in the previous 1-2 days that I feel a sore coming – I know it. I stop and it subsides. I don’t get them unless I am having a food reaction. Another one for me is “natural flavors” – they are hard to avoid and not natural at all. If I have a seltzer water that has those, or another product with those – same thing – feel the sores coming on. Fillers in foods, gums, candy, and more will cause this as well. Toothpaste even – you need clean toothpaste without chemicals and additives. (NO fluoride either – terrible for you).
So when you eat these foods, and regularly, you will develop gut imbalance and gut issues due to the reactions happening. Your gut will begin to leak and you have an immune reaction and immune reaction (unexplained hives? That pain you can’t understand? Those mouth sores? That rash?). Your gut is letting out things that don’t below and your body is naturally taking care of that. You will develop MORE food issues (until that gut can heal and seal), and your immune attack will continue in other parts of the body – and that my friend leads you to the two things below and autoimmunity.
2. Gut health/balance
Due to food issues that you have left not realizing what was going on, your gut will try to compensate or it doesn’t have the nutrients it needs, or it reacts so much that you develop more serious issues, which lead to more gut issues. It’s a giant snowball once the food issues are happening. So what happens?
A lot of people are already on drugs, so in addition to food you have drug consequences going on. But here is the list:
* Reflux/burning – NSAIDS are KNOWN for gut lining damage and they also cause small intestine issues as well. But what happens is that burning gets so bad that people get an acid blocker and that stops all the protective nature for the lower gut. You HAVE TO HAVE ACID or you get overgrowth, parasites, and more. The burning and reflux is a signs of intolerance and/or damage in the gut lining and barrier. It’s developed from food reactions or poor foods. You are likely lacking in WHOLE FOODS as well – like vegetables, good quality meat, and fruit daily.
* Small intestine issues like leaky gut, bacterial overgrowth, and more (parasites, etc). This happens from a lack of stomach acid and food reactions. Foods that don’t belong (See above) or are PERSONAL reactions (might be super healthy but you cannot tolerate them) are the things that create this. Overeating and consuming grains and wheat will lead to MOST intestinal issues.
* Large intestine issues – constipation, gas, even overgrowth here, lack of water. Your large intestines will reabsorb your toxins if you don’t have daily bowel movements. Ideally, 1-3 bowel movements per day are healthy. This is your body’s way of getting rid of toxins and excess hormones and more. If you don’t then it will recirculate in hopes of being eliminated or used again. In addition, different bacteria can grow while it sits waiting to try to get out.
Have you taken a lot of antibiotics in life? If so you already had an imbalance and without restoring that purposely with real food, and supplementing, it will get worse or at best stay the same.
Drugs take nutrients to break down and eliminate. If you have taken a lot of them in life, you are nutrient depleted. It’s hard to keep up with restoring those if you keep taking them (drugs). So food will never be enough to keep up with that – so you HAVE TO supplement to compensate and even then it might not be enough to avoid the damage or depletion.
3. Environment – this one is related to chemicals in our food, additives, chemicals, and things in our physical environment and genetics. There are a million things out there today that interfere with our hormones and body chemicals. They alter our sensitive organ function (like the thyroid) and even our major functions like our liver! I mentioned genetics above. You have a partial choice in how your genetics turn on and off. By certain habits and behaviors with food and nutrients, you can turn off and get control over a genetic variation that might be part of the lupus puzzle for you. I am positive for genetics on this, yet I do not have active disease and have not in many many years now.
What can you do at home?
As you can see it’s a complex set of things that led you down the path to lupus but here is the great news, it’s rather simple to start changing that path!
1. REAL FOOD. Stop eating processed foods. Need to understand that better? Check out this blog.
You need to eat something from nature as your whole meal every meal. You cannot bring in packaged and bagged products. This also includes fast food and eating out at restaurants. Yes a treat sometimes when you have some control will be fine, but can it be part of your weekly routine – it CANNOT. I have found currently in practice that the top food issues people have today are fast food and restaurant and takeout. They don’t want to give up the convenient nature of that “meal” – but the bottom line is that isn’t a meal. Your body gets empty calories and is still hungry quickly after because there is no nutritional value to what you put into your mouth.
Vegetables at each meal are necessary. In fact, at least two of your three meals per day should be vegetable-focused (check out this blog on being plant-based). In addition, you need animal protein. It’s a complete protein. You need this for detox support, body system, and organ function. There should be animal protein at EVERY SINGLE MEAL. You can have plant protein as well in snacks and as part of the meal but they are incomplete and you will never make them complete by being savvy and mixing and matching.
The day might look like this: Two eggs, and butter, in a pan, with spinach, onions, and peppers. One cup of grass-fed plain yogurt with berries and a drizzle of honey or maple. You can add nuts to that yogurt too if you want. Your lunch might be a salad with many different veggies, olives, maybe some cheese, and a good portion of protein (preferably from the sea! That’s anti-inflammatory). You should use homemade dressing, or choose a brand like Primal Kitchen. They make a healthy line of dressings and marinades. There are a lot of other non-lettuce lunches (that’s coming up next week on the blog). Dinner should always be a nice piece of meat – like grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, or BEST YET – fish or seafood. Fish and seafood are the best option at least 4 days per week, the rest can be added in rotation. Fish and seafood are high in nutritional value and highly anti-inflammatory in nature (high omega). Want to learn more?
2. Water – most people don’t drink nearly enough water to support their basic organ function. In addition, if you are hot, working out or taking meds you likely need even more water. Half your body weight in water is essential for organ function, then the rest depends on coffee, alcohol, activity or meds.
3. Ditch processed foods – stop eating out of a package. And if you are buying anything out of a package (even your yogurt) you need to read the INGREDIENTS. There are so many additives, and chemicals in nearly everything today that it’s shocking. Need help with this? Here. All of these additive and empty nutrients lead to INFLAMMATION. Do you know what you have a lot of in lupus? Inflammation. All you want to see is what should be in there. If that is yogurt it should be the dairy and enzymes (those were used for fermenting), and you will see probiotics too in yogurt! Which is GREAT! Dairy will always need to be in a block if tolerable or else you will get additives – including things like corn and cornstarch! Corn is another HUGE irritant for almost every client I have testing done on. Being gluten-free won’t be enough due to CORN being an irritant and inside of everything – so grain free is the way to go. Read your ingredients and got with just what is needed and also organic. It’s true it has more nutrients – it has been studied.
With all this said – I would love to help you do what I did in my life and feel good. I don’t really even consider myself someone with lupus anymore. I have that diagnosis and I won’t take that away because I have spent my ENTIRE LIFE researching and finding ways to help myself, my son, and other people with autoimmunity and health issues. But to live without active disease is amazing! I will never ever forget the pain, the suffering, and the journey, but I am so glad I am on this side. It requires cooking and buying the best foods out there, but it’s a DELICIOUS journey that only leads to feeling like a “normal” person again.