The question that I have keep coming back to over, and over again is: Is the food that I am eating affecting my autoimmune illness, perhaps even making it worse? Are these foods negatively influencing my symptoms, perhaps even causing more symptoms to appear? If I change what I eat, will my Lupus symptoms reduce or even disappear?

Okay, so that is more than one question but they are all connected to one basic idea: that we are what we eat. The foods we eat on a regular basis have a huge impact on our bodies and can definitely affect our health and well-being.

In fact, the more I read about autoimmune illnesses, the more I am becoming aware of how significant inflammation is at not only causing autoimmune illness, but at causing flares, making already hard to deal with symptoms even worse, and generally making the life of anyone with an autoimmune illness far more miserable than it needs to be.

On the other hand, the more I read about and research autoimmune issues, the more I am finding that in order to reduce autoimmune illnesses, you need to go directly to the source of what is causing the illness in the first place (rather than the more common approach of simply treating the symptoms).

A lot of the research that I have seen indicates that the food we eat affects both the duration and severity of inflammation in our bodies, which affects whether we end up with an autoimmune illness or not, and affects (to a great extent) how severe the illness is and eventually becomes.

There are many foods that typically find their way into the average American’s diet that cause inflammation. Processed sugars, processed wheats, processed foods, fried foods, to indicate just a few. But there are also many foods that can actually reduce inflammation and can actually help reduce the impact and severity of autoimmune illnesses, including Lupus.

So, how can a person tell what foods cause inflammation versus the foods that reduce inflammation?

From what I can see, there are several diets that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. The four diets that I have been researching include:

  • the Autoimmune Protocol. This diet is based on the Paleo diet, a reduced carbohydrate diet with an emphasis on meats, seafood, and a very select collection of fruits and vegetables. The Autoimmune Protocol is a more strict version of the Paleo diet in that it eliminates all foods that are known to stimulate the immune system, including meats, dairy, processed sugars and flours.
  • the Keto Diet is also a low carbohydrate diet that is based on eating mostly meat, seafoods, and healthy oils, limiting the amount of proteins, fruits, and vegetables followers eat, and eliminating all grains and sugars. With the Keto Diet, followers must monitor the ratio of fats (meats and healthy oils) to proteins to carbohydrates in order to maximize the affects of this diet. 
  • then there is the Plant-based diet, which champions eating raw fruit and vegetables, and avoiding all forms of meat and dairy products.
  • the Mediterranean Diet is another low carbohydrate diet, but more balance than either the Paleo or the Keto diets, in that the emphasis is not so heavily focused on eating a lot of fats (meats and healthy fats). True to it’s name, this diet is based on foods found locally around the Mediterranean Sea, so fish and seafoods, olive oil, a specific list of fresh fruits and vegetables, very small amounts of sugar (basically none), whole grains, and, of course, a small glass of wine every day. This diet also advocates that some basic modifications to a person’s lifestyle should accompany this diet, including adopting walking as exercise, sharing meals with friends and family members, eating slowly so you fully enjoy every bite, etc… Basically, enjoying a life that makes food and walking a central part of living a good life, rather than merely eating for the sake of eating and slogging your way through the rest of your life. 

Another aspect of food that is also considered to cause inflammation is gluten, so going gluten-free is an great choice for anyone with an auto-immune disease. Fortunately, all of these diets can easily become gluten-free with some minor changes. Plus, gluten-free products are so commonly found these days, switching to a gluten-free diet (even without making any other dietary change) is relatively easy to do.

As for me, I think I’m going to give the Mediterranean Diet a try, see if it helps reduce some of my Lupus-related symptoms. Actually, the diet I’m starting is a mix of the Ketogenic and the Mediterranean Diet (yes, this does exist 🙂 ). The Keto Mediterranean Diet combines the best of both the Ketogenic Diet and the Mediterranean Diet. Basically the Keto Mediterranean Diets encourage a wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetables be eaten, with less red meat but more fish and seafoods (shrimps, scallops, salmon, etc.). 

When you have an illness like Lupus that can cause a great deal of frustration, anger, and loss of control, selecting a diet that works for you and that you can work with, becomes really important. The last thing you would want is trying to follow a diet or a new lifestyle eating style that adds to your  frustration and needs a lot of finicky effort to follow. The Keto Mediterranean Diet appears to be a less fiddly diet for follow than the straight up Keto Diet, which should make it easier to follow. At least that is my hope.

Starting Monday, it’s the Keto Mediterranean Lifesytle for me 🙂 .

So watch this space. I will definitely be posting any positive and negative impacts this diet is providing.

As for you now, what changes are you making or have you made to accommodate your auto-immune illness? Which of these diets would you be interested in trying out? Or is there another diet that you have heard about that can help people with Lupus feel better? Or do you believe that diet has no impact whatsoever on your illness?



Anne Bolender, Lupus Coach