Appropriate healthcare should be top on very woman’s list as this will determine how well she executes her functions in the home, the work place, and the larger society. In the same vein, exercise and healthy eating habits are also key factors in the functioning of our system.
Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years.
This disease is such that, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs (“foreign invaders,” like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.
Lupus is also a disease of flares (the symptoms worsen and you feel ill) and remissions (the symptoms improve and you feel better).
While there is no cure for lupus, early diagnosis and treatment can help in managing the symptoms and lessening the chance of permanent damage to organs or tissues. Because lupus is different for every person, treatments and medications are prescribed based on individual needs. For mild cases of lupus, medicines may include over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines. For more severe lupus, or when internal organs are affected, stronger prescription drugs are prescribed to quiet the immune system and protect organs such as the kidneys, heart, and lungs from further attack.
Although no two cases of lupus are alike, there are symptoms—things that a person with lupus feels or experiences as opposed to a doctor testing for—that many with the disease notice.
Common complaints include the following: Swollen, stiff, and painful joints. Fever over 100 degrees F, Fatigue, Rashes on the skin and/or sensitivity to the sun, swelling around the ankles, Chest pain with deep breaths, Unusual hair loss, Pale or purple fingers from cold or stress, Mouth ulcers, often painless. In some cases of lupus, several of these symptoms develop at once in what is called a “flare.”
Bad eating habits can make it harder for one’s body to fight lupus. Luckily, simple changes in what you eat can make a big difference in how you feel day to day and protect your body–especially your heart–from lupus damage. The first step to healthy eating: Cut back on the Bad and eat more of the Good.
Fat: Fried foods, fast foods, and foods made with oil and butter are usually high in fat. Eating too much of these foods can increase your risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes. Try baking or grilling foods. Think fresh foods, not fast foods.
Caffeine: Coffee, tea and soda almost always have caffeine, which can irritate your stomach and keep you awake. Cutting out caffeine gives your stomach an important rest, especially if you take lupus drugs that already bother your stomach, and can help you sleep better.
Salt: You’ll need to cut back, especially if you have lupus kidney disease or high blood pressure.
Alcohol: Mixing it with drugs (even Tylenol) can be a danger to your health.
Fruits & Vegetables: These are great sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber. They should make up the majority of what you eat.
Calcium & Vitamin D: If you are taking corticosteroids to treat lupus, you are at risk for osteoporosis–a disease that weakens your bones. Low-fat yogurt, cheeses and milk are high in calcium and Vitamin D, which can make your bones stronger. Also, by drinking milk while taking certain medications, you can avoid upsetting your stomach.
Whole Grains & Wheat: Eat more wheat and whole grain breads and cereals that are high in fiber. This can prevent constipation and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Low-Fat Proteins: Fish, chicken and beans are better for you than fatty meats. Eat baked or grilled fish, like salmon and tuna that are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 oil.
Water: Drink at least 8 cups of water a day. Drinking plenty of water is good for your whole body, from your kidneys to your skin, and can help you to control hunger.