Vegetarian Diet and Lupus
I was diagnosed with Lupus (SLE) in 1994 after 3 years of increasing symptoms of joint and muscle pain, fatigue, multiple allergies and hives, cognitive dysfunction (memory problems), headaches and abnormal SLE blood levels (ANA 1:1280, high sed rate, low wbc & low platelets etc.). I also experienced symptoms of asthma and a bout of myocarditis both of which were related to my Lupus condition. The allergies and hives were a lot like others have recently posted about and involved increasing allergic reactions to multiple drugs (penicillen, codeine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, aspirin etc.) and foods (peanuts, almonds, avocados & watermelon etc.) that didn't respond to the usual allergy meds such as benadryl.
At the time of my diagnosis, the only type of treatment that my doctors were advising were steroids which I didn't want to take due to all the adverse side effects.
In 2002 after reading an article (in a medical magazine) regarding a link between animal products and chronic inflammation I decided to try eating a vegetarian diet to see whether it would improve my condition. I cut out all meat (beef, pork, turkey & chicken etc.) products from my diet and found that my Lupus symptoms almost completely alleviated. Months later my symptoms were still gone and my labs were normal with a normal ANA, Sed rate, wbc & platelet level. My Lupus condition has continued to be non-active for the past 4 years as I continue to eat a vegetarian diet.
From my own experience and what I've read and researched, the consumption of animal products is associated with increased levels of inflammation and estrogen in your body. Both inflammation and estrogen can and usually do worsen autoimmune diseases (such as Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis & multiple sclerosis) in most people.
I would recommend trying a vegetarian diet to others with autoimmune disease to see if it helps or not. If your Lupus condition is particularly bad I would even recommend trying a vegan diet (which would mean no animal products at all which includes meat and dairy products). I live in the U.S. and have found that all my local supermarkets have meat substitutes such as Garden Burgers (or Boca Burgers) & soy hot dogs etc. You can also get your necessary protein from legumes (black & pinto bean, peas & nuts etc.), dairy products (such as cheese) and vegetables also.
Despite being on a vegetarian diet I've never had any problems with low iron or low protein as I eat either dairy products (cottage cheese and cheese pizza etc.) or legumes (beans, peas & nuts etc.) on a daily basis
You don't have to take my advice of course. I just wish that I'd been given this advice when my Lupus first started. It would have given me an extra 11 years of good health.
Scout, we must have read many of the same things.
I gave up meat after dx as well. I eat fish - so I'm not fully vegetarian. Mainly the cold water fatty fish - wild caught salmon, sardines, etc. I avoid atlantic salmon and farm raised salmon though - BAD stuff!
Lots of veggies, lots of olive oil, etc. Basically what is considered a Mediteranian diet.
I also believe it has helped my symptoms abate and keeps me feeling a lot more energetic. I also lost 10 pounds when I started eating this way - have kept about 7 of those pounds off for a few years.