Lupus can be treated with a plant-based diet

A plant-based diet can help treat Lupus. Systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE for short, affects up to 322,000 adults in the United States, the vast majority of whom are women. It’s an autoimmune disease, but unlike other autoimmune diseases it targets a variety of organs and can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Genetic predisposition, environmental factors and hormones interplay in SLE disease development and activity. Lupus definitely comes under the heading of a difficult-to-treat disease.

The symptoms of lupus are bad enough, but there are also some diseases that often come along with it. In one study, people with SLE were found to have a two to three times the risk of heart attack and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in SLE patients. One reason is that atherosclerosis is accelerated in SLE patients. Their arteries lay down plaque faster than others, so they develop cardiovascular disease faster. Over half of people with SLE have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and are obese. Complicating matters even more is that people with SLE are more likely to have prediabetes and chronic kidney disease. The medications used to treat SLE can have very significant side effects which can cause even more problems. People with lupus have a lot of problems going on at once, especially during a flare up.

One of the advantages of treating people with lupus with a plant-based diet is that it treats a variety of symptoms at the same time. In one study, patients treated with a whole-food-plant-based diet had a significant 26% decrease in SLE symptom severity. In a case study, a patient treated with a whole-food-plant-based diet became symptom free and lab tests returned to normal.  In another case study, the patient was saved from having to go on dialysis and had improvements in their symptoms.

A plant-based diet has been shown to effectively lower high blood pressure and cholesterol and lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It also effectively treats prediabetes and chronic kidney disease. This can make a big difference in the health of people with lupus. It comes as no surprise that quality of life is an especially important issue with such patients. The ability of a plant-based diet to reduce symptom severity makes it especially valuable for people with SLE.

While SLE remains a difficult disease to treat, a plant-based diet can be used alone or in conjunction with medication and has the distinct advantage of being safe. This will come as very welcome news to SLE patients.

For professional level information on SLE, see our latest published article.