Thursday, October 27, 2016

Lupus—something you should be “aware” of

I’m generally not a big fan of “awareness” days, months or events.

Many are centered on things that people are already VERY well aware of, they regurgitate the same old information, and don’t really serve any significant purpose other than possibly funding drug research.

But I’ll make an exception in this case because October is Lupus awareness month, and that’s definitely something people need to increase their awareness of.  Many people report having heard of it, but don’t really know exactly what it is.

Here is the scoop on this disturbing disease that affects mainly women in their childbearing years.

Lupus—your immune system waging war on you
Lupus is one of over 80 autoimmune diseases that have been identified so far.  With autoimmune diseases, your body sees its own cells as enemies and wages war against itself.

Your immune system strikes out against your healthy cells, harming your tissues and eventually causing impairment or loss of normal bodily functioning.   

With lupus, the damage can occur in any part of your body—including skin, joints, or internal organs.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, 1.5 million US citizens and 5 million people worldwide currently suffer from lupus, and the majority (90 percent) are women between ages 15 to 44.

There are actually four different kinds of lupus:

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
SLE is the most common form of lupus and can affect different organs and areas, including your veins, lungs or digestive system.  It can also cause kidney damage.

You may suffer multiple symptoms, such as fatigue, sensitivity to sunlight, pulmonary hypertension, joint pain, and rashes.

Drug-Induced Lupus
This type of lupus is caused by medications.  Its symptoms are similar to SLE, but it’s only temporary and the symptoms usually go away after several months. Here are the drugs that are known to trigger lupus and what they are used for:
  • Hydralazine: high blood pressure
  • Procainamide: irregular heart rhythms
  • Isoniazid: tuberculosis
  • D-penicillamine: metal poisoning
  • Minocycline: acne
  • Anti-TNF: rheumatoid arthritis
Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE)
CLE is a form of lupus that only affects the skin, and is characterized according to the type of rash it creates:
  • Chronic Cutaneous Lupus (CCLE)—causes disc-like rashes on the face.  Scarring and hair loss may also occur.
  • Subacute Cutaneous Lupus (SCLE)—causes red, scaly patches that resemble psoriasis (another autoimmune disease!).
  • Acute Cutaneous Lupus (ACLE)—this type leads to sunburn-like rashes on the cheeks as well as the limbs and torso.  Sensitivity to light is also common. 
Neonatal Lupus Erythematosus
This rare condition affects unborn infants.  Typically only the baby’s skin is affected and symptoms go away several months after birth.

Fight back!
The typical treatment for lupus is medications including NSAIDs, anti-malaria drugs, immunosuppressive medications and steroids, all of which can cause a plethora of side effects over and above your lupus problems.

But the good news is there are natural measures that can be a big help.

Since lupus is an autoimmune disease, the key to fighting back is to encourage a proper functioning immune system and give your body the nutritional support it needs!

Immune support
Nothing beats probiotics to help support proper immune function.  Look for multi-strain products that contain a wide variety of strains including both the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species.

Of special importance is Lactobacillus rhamnosus because it helps to strengthen gut-barrier function and has been shown to have a beneficial impact on autoimmune conditions. 

Nutritional support
When you have lupus, it’s more important than ever to have a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.  In addition, coconut oil has been shown to help support healthy skin, and skin is an area commonly affected by lupus.

The calcium from dark green leafy vegetables can help, as well as nutrient-rich homemade broths (beef or chicken).

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are important, as they are Nature’s anti-inflammatory and lupus is a very inflammatory condition.  Eating wild Alaskan salmon and supplementing with a top-quality fish oil formula can ensure your body has enough of these crucial nutrients.

Lastly, just as important as what to eat and supplement is what to avoid—and these should definitely be avoided by anyone with lupus:
  • Refined carbs, sugars, and soda
  • Processed foods and fast food
  • Unhealthy fats (hydrogenated oils, margarine, processed vegetable oils)
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
There is definitely hope for people with lupus, and you can make a big difference in how you feel by supporting your precious immune system and your body’s nutritional needs.

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