The doctor thinks I have lupus. Are there any foods which aggravate this disease and should be avoided?

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I am a 53-year-old woman, overweight, cannot play sports since I had three vertebrae broken 8 years back, had a hysterectomy years ago, am on hormone treatment, diagnosed as hypoactive thyroid two years ago and been on thyroid pills and iron capsules. Last week had blood tests done and now hyperactive thyroid. The doctor now thinks I have lupus which the doctors in South Africa know very little about. My weight goes up and up even though I am supposed to be losing weight. All in all, I feel like a crock with all these problems. Please help as to what kind of diet I can follow, especially relevant to lupus. Are there any foods which aggravate this disease and to be avoided?

Your assistance would be most appreciated.

Regarding your thyroid, have you asked your doctor if your thyroid medication needs to be adjusted? Also, ask your doctor if your thyroid has changed in size.

Anemia is one symptom of lupus. Why are you taking iron supplements if you have had a hysterectomy? Since you are no longer menstruating, you should not be losing any blood and therefore not need additional iron much like men. Is your hemoglobin low or are your iron stores low? Do you eat red meat or are you a vegetarian? Either way, you can still meet your iron requirements by choosing iron-rich foods. Ask your doctor if you should be taking iron supplements.

If your doctor is not sure, there are specific blood tests that can be performed to diagnose lupus such as antinuclear antibodies (ANA), CBC (complete blood count), urinalysis, liver and kidney enzymes. Also, there are websites devoted to lupus research which anyone can look up online. Ask your doctor to refer you to someone who specializes in lupus. Also, talk to your doctor about whether you should be taking hormone replacements or not if you have lupus.

There are no foods that aggravate lupus since it is an inflammatory autoimmune disease with no known cause. Your body is attacking itself with your immune system. You may experience arthritis-like symptoms. Your kidneys, nerves, and blood are most affected by this disease.

Make healthy food choices from meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy and healthy oils food groups. It is important to eat 3 meals every day. To help control your weight, choose smaller portion sizes.

If you have been put on prednisone or other steroids to suppress your immune system, your blood sugar and blood pressure may go up. You may start retaining fluid depending on the steroid dose. A diabetic nutrition therapy limiting carbohydrates would be recommended. If your blood pressure goes up, limit your salt to cooking with half the salt in a recipe. Do not add salt at the table and do not eat salty foods like bacon, ham, pickles, sauerkraut, processed foods, etc.

As to your weight, if your thyroid is not regulated and you have had a hysterectomy, your metabolism may be affected. Also, due to your back injury and inability to play sports, you are not getting as much physical exercise that would help the weight swings you are experiencing. Have you thought of trying water sports like swimming since this type of exercise would not stress your back?