As you all know, lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect nearly any part of your body, with common affected sites being the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, or brain. Today we’d like to highlight one of these commonly affected organs and its’ relation to Lupus: the kidneys.
Kidneys are the key organs of the body’s renal system, responsible for maintaining the correct amount and balance of body fluids as well as removing waste products and toxic substances. This organ set also plays a crucial role in regulating the hormones directly related to blood pressure and blood volume control. Combined, these functions make the kidneys an extremely vital component of your body’s wellness and health maintenance.
Knowing this, the potential impact of lupus on the kidneys can cause a variety of symptoms and pain. When lupus directly targets kidneys, inflammation in the nephrons (structures within the kidney that filter blood) occurs. This inflammation hinders the kidneys, drastically reducing their ability to properly remove waste from your blood as well as control the balance of fluids in your body. This condition is known as Lupus Nephritis.
As a result of Lupus Nephritis, abnormal levels of waste can develop within the blood and swelling may occur. Left untreated, this can lead to permanent damage to the kidney. According to the The National Resource Center on Lupus, an estimated 60% of all Lupus patients will develop kidney complications, eventually requiring medical evaluation and treatment. Due to this prevalency, it is highly important to consult your doctor and have your urine tested regularly in order to determine kidney health.
Considering that we’re about to enter the warmer seasons, we thought it would be best to give you a brief explanation of photosensitivity and its relation to Lupus. “Photosensitivity” is essentially a clinical term used to describe sensitivity to the UV (Ultraviolet) rays present in sunlight and other light sources. A common misconception is that photosensitivity can only be triggered by natural sunlight, but it extremely important to note that a variety of light sources have UV rays as a component, such as indoor fluorescent light. When triggered, this sensitivity can cause a diverse set of symptoms, including: rashes, fever, fatigue, joint pain, and increased disease activity (flares) in people with both cutaneous and systemic lupus.
Before we move any further in our discussion of lupus photosensitivity, let’s break down the two forms of lupus listed above: cutaneous and systemic. At its core, cutaneous lupus is a form of the disease that is largely limited to the skin. This results in several types of rashes and sores/lesions, with the most common being discoid rash. Malar/Butterfly rash, hair loss, and changes in skin pigmentation are also commonly recorded symptoms of this form of lupus. Building upon this, approximately 10 percent of people who have cutaneous lupus will develop the next form: systemic lupus.
Systemic Lupus is the most common form of lupus, and can range in severity from mild to extreme. Ultimately, this form can result in a variety of complications for major organ systems, including: kidney inflammation, brain or nervous system inflammation, and hardening of the arteries. These symptoms vary from person to person and can manifest differently depending on an individual’s body and immune system. Much like this variation in symptoms, each person with Lupus is uniquely affected by UV light exposure. Some may experience new or expanding skin rashes or sores, while others with systemic lupus commonly experience more internal conditions akin to fatigue, fever, and flu-like symptoms.
Now that we’ve given you the break-down on photosensitivity symptoms and their presentation depending on lupus type, it’s time to answer the key question: What should I do to manage my photosensitivity? Many stop short at this question and begin living like a hermit, secluding themselves inside away from light. While living like some sort of vampire from gothic nineteenth-century literature may reduce your symptoms moving forward, we’re here to tell you that there is no need to completely change your lifestyle.
For the most part, we recommend staying away from direct sunlight between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, as UV ray intensity is at its’ highest within this time span, especially at high altitudes and in/around snow or water. That being said, any exposure to direct sunlight should be supplemented with sun protective clothing and a liberal layer of sunblock. Sunblock used should be of at least SPF 30 coverage, with “broad spectrum” being the best variety, as it protects from both forms of UV light: UVA and UVB.
Pro Tip : Pay special attention to problem skin areas when applying sunblock, such as the neck, forehead, and ears. Don’t forget to wait at least 20 minutes after applying sunblock to expose yourself to direct sunlight, as most sunscreens take around this amount of time to activate within your skin. Another tip from us because we love you: definitely add to this routine by protecting your lips with a wax based lip-balm of SPF 15 value or higher.
We hope that this brief guide has helped you understand photosensitivity and some basic steps that should be taken to keep you happy and healthy, regardless of the amount of sunshine streaming outside. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us!
A lot of you have messaged us asking for more content related to diet and nutrition tips in order to manage and potentially reduce Lupus symptoms. Naturally, we compiled and analyzed various research articles in order to create a introductory list of foods that you should avoid incorporating into your diet. We hope that this guide will help you to create a framework of your diet.
First, let’s talk protein: red meat is full of saturated fat, which can increase risk of heart disease as well as potentially trigger lupus flares. Instead, we recommend replacing red meat with fish as a protein source. Fish hold essential Omega-3 fatty acids, which have the opposite effect of protecting against heart disease and risk of stroke. These essential fats also have the added benefit of having anti-inflammatory properties, which may aid in reduction of symptoms related to pain and fatigue.
We have already hinted at this earlier in the article, but a general rule of thumb for Lupus patients is to avoid saturated and trans fats. Steroids can increase your appetite and cause weight gain, further loading your immune system and placing more pressure on aggravated bones and joints.
Another potential recommendation to consider is avoiding alfalfa and garlic.Alfalfa sprouts contain an amino acid called L-canavine, while garlic contains allicin, ajoene, and thiosulfinates. All of these trace nutrients can have the unintended side effect of forcing your immune system into overdrive and flare up dormant lupus symptoms.
While we’re on the subject of making diet cuts, there may also be a benefit to eliminating nightshade vegetables from your diet. We know what you’re thinking: what in the world is a nightshade vegetable? Is it some sort of ingredient category for an eighteenth-century apothecary? Something that would be right at home in a witch’s cauldron? The name is understandably misleading, but it actually is a family of botanicals that include white potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, and eggplant. While not proven in any clinical studies, some patients with Lupus have in fact reported sensitivity to nightshade vegetables. Generally, most individuals can eat food sources from this group, but for a few it can act as a trigger similar to wheat or dairy and can cause major immune system reactions.
Our last tip for this article is to monitor alcohol intake. Alcohol can interact with some of the medicines commonly prescribed to treat lupus. Drinking while taking NSAID drugs (i.e ibuprofen or naproxen) could increase risk of stomach bleeding or ulcers. Alcohol may also reduce the effectiveness of warfarin and may increase potential liver side-effects of methotrexate. That being said, we completely understand the need to wind down with a nice glass of Cabernet or Prosecco on certain days. Ultimately, we recommend consulting with your doctor about the appropriate (if any) amount of daily alcohol intake for you, as with any other consumables.
Let’s talk exercise- more specifically, why engaging in regular physical activity can actually help manage and reduce some of the aggravating symptoms that come with Lupus flares. Firstly, exercise can actually strengthen some parts of the body that may be affected by lupus, including but not limited to: the heart, lungs, bones, and joints. By regularly ensuring that these organs and bodily structures are trained and supplied with healthy blood flow, you are optimizing your internal health and well-being.
Building upon this, exercise actually helps reduce inflammation by stimulating hormones that are responsible for regulating chemicals involved in the inflammation process. If you are currently taking corticosteroid medication, exercise also has the added benefit of helping control weight gain commonly seen in prescribed patients. Aside from its’ role as a stress release activity, exercise also aids in reduction of muscle stiffness, thereby increasing your range of motion and comfort throughout the day and night. With all these benefits, it is readily apparent that adding in a form of exercise to your weekly routine will likely increase your quality of life. That being said, the question now is what forms of activity are appropriate for you?
Studies from the Lupus Research Foundation recommend that lupus patients engage in activities such as walking, swimming, bicycling, low-impact aerobics, stretching, and even using a elliptical machine. Lower impact exercises such as these have been seen to strengthen bones and tone muscles without aggravating inflamed joints. Interestingly enough, these activities have also been linked with lowered risk of developing osteporosis. As with any recommendations that we provide our warriors, we highly suggest that you consult your doctor to see what exercises may work best for you as well as what frequency you should be engaging in physical activity.
While living with Lupus may change your lifestyle, the good news is that with the right medications and care, you can live a long, happy, and productive lifestyle.
Understanding your diagnoses is important to accepting this lifestyle. With the right state of mind and proper care, you can live to your full potential.
It’s not your fault.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed in the past or diagnosed recently, you should know that the onset of Lupus is not your fault. Lupus can occur for a number a reasons, and unfortunately the research we have now has not found the exact cause. However, we do know it is a combination of multiple factors.
To learn more about autoimmune conditions like lupus, check our our blog here
Educating yourself with your condition as much as you can is especially important. If you can recognize symptoms early on, you can alert your doctor. Be sure to keep asking questions– don’t be afraid to be curious. The more you know, the more in-control you have with your condition.
Be sure your Lupus information research is from a valuable, scholarly-recognized source. Check out your local library for more resources!
Keep a Journal for Daily Activity!
Every lupus case is different. While your doctor can help you with you and your condition, you must remember that no one in the world has the same condition as you. Keeping a journal for your daily acitvity (mood, food log, sleep, etc) can help you keep record of anything strange symptoms.
In addition, keeping a journal is also helpful for understanding you flares and triggers. Recognizing any unusual patterns or responses to anything can help you better understand your condition
Maintain a Good Diet and Exercise
Your doctor will probably recommend you to eat certain foods. We strongly recommend you intake food that are high in salt, fat and sugar in moderation. Not only will this help you with your lupus symptoms, but you will have more energy overall.
Moderate exercise can be helpful for maintaining flares. Keeping your body active (to your level) has many benefits.
Maintain the recommended amount of daily vitamins
LupaVita can supply the daily nutrients and vitamins commonly needed for lupus patients. With our product, we especially crafted our supplement to provide you the right amount of vitamins and nutrients in the convenience of a daily pill.
If you are interested in our product, click here. Print out this page and show your doctor to see if our product is right for you. We strongly recommend you speak with your doctor beforehand, as every case of lupus is different.
Get Rest and Relaxation
Listen to your body and know your limits. Rest is VITAL to allow your body to recharge and recuperate. If you are lacking sleep, you may feel lethargic and unwell.
Find a Support group
Though going through this battle tough and tedious, know you are definitely not alone. Having an outlet to consult to can help you emotionally and mentally, as long as its from a healthy place. The autoimmune community both online and offline is growing in a positive way. Using this a resource to share your experience can be empowering and helpful to you.
Here at LupaVita, we try to connect our Lupus community as a family.
Finally, don’t limit yourself and your abilities
Living with lupus is just apart of your lifestyle, but it does not define who you are. Live to your full potential, and do what makes you happy as a better person.
We hope this have been helpful to you and your condition.
Mediation is used as an alternative therapy looking at the perception and management of pain in the body.The ability to deal with thoughts around the pain is crucial in managing and reducing it.
Taking the time to think, breathe and focus on how you are feeling can really help your pain?Experts are saying yes, that these meditation techniques can help channel your energy.
I would love to try meditation, but I do not know how…
Before we get into more about the research of meditation, most people have no idea where to start! Luckily there are a few free apps to get you off on the right foot and guide you through your meditation journey.
We used headspace and it was fantastic, all you need is 10 minutes out of your day.Simply download the app, put headphones on and let the relaxation begin.The first 10 days are free and we highly recommend trying it out!
What is Meditation?
Meditation is an umbrella term for many different mind-body practices that use contemplative thought and relaxation techniques to ease anxiety, pain, stress or insomnia. Some 20 million Americans now practice some form of meditation, according to a 2007 National Institutes of Health survey.
Mindfulness/meditation practices can be done either alone or in groups led by a health care professional. Techniques include:
Deep-breathing exercises to boost relaxation
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (talking to a therapist about emotional issues) to help you focus on positive thoughts
Body scanning or focused attention on your body’s physical sensations
Chanting or use of mantras (repeated words or phrases)
Guided imagery or concentration on positive visual images or scenes
Contemplative walking, common in Japan and in Buddhist traditions
* Like we mentioned above….if you have no experience meditating, downloading an app will be a great place to start
How Does Meditation Work?
Through meditation, people with Lupus can come to terms with their pain and realize that their experience of life can be wider than pain.
Meditation’s goal is to relax the mind and body, engage feelings about pain or other challenges, release tension and tap into a positive outlook – despite a chronic illness like Lupus. Focusing on negativity, especially on feelings of loss of health and well-being, only exacerbates pain.Meditation helps bring things into present-moment awareness, to see where we are, and assess things in that moment.
It’s easy for someone with a Lupus to give into the feelings of victimization.
A Scientific Approach to Meditation
Many in the medical community believe that mindfulness/meditation practice can help people with Lupus take control of their pain and emotions and manage them more successfully. Scientific studies are showing the positive results of meditation practice for people with Lupus pain.
Meditation or mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy can interrupt that vicious cycle. With pain, tension can begin to arise in points of the body even distant from the point where the pain is originating. So we can attend to the body, make adjustments and relax certain areas before escalation to a crisis point.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation allows a person to become aware of and come to terms with all of their feelings about their disease.It helps you see and feel all of your emotions, not just the painful ones.
Whether formal or informal, mediation is something a person with Lupus can practice regularly to cope more effectively with pain or to build a positive attitude about life.
The benefits come with regular, sustained meditation, she notes. It won’t replace medications, healthy diet and physical activity, or surgery, but meditation can be a powerful complement to those treatments and healthy behaviors – because pain really starts in the mind.
Lupus fatigue can be described as long term tiredness and lack of energy. It can be categorized as Mental Fatigue and Physical Fatigue.
What is the cause of Lupus Fatigue?
Unfortunately, Experts do not understand the full reason as to why Fatigue is so common with Lupus Patients.
Symptoms of fatigue could be related to other symptoms to other conditions, such as Fibromyalgia.
How can I deal with my Lupus pain?
To alleviate Lupus Fatigue, experts recommend the following strategies:
Exercising Regularly — Exercising has a number of health benefits, and it can reduce fatigue by boosting your energy. Exercising does not have to be intense; even light to moderate exercise is enough to keep you being healthy and happy.
Get Enough Rest! — Getting at least 8 hours of sleep is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Developing good sleeping habits can help you alleviate your fatigue symptoms. Most people need 7-8 hours, but Lupus patients may need more We recommend you try to stay away from your devices as much as you can before you can go to sleep. This includes your phone, TV, computer, etc. The bright light can reduce the melatonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for making you sleepy) in your brain, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
Maintain a Healthy Diet — Lupus patients should try to avoid foods high in grease, salt and sugar. Eating healthier and rich in nutrients will help your energy levels and feel good overall.We recommend eating nutrient food such as spinach and broccoli, which has a high source of calcium. You should speak with your doctor as to which foods are right for you, as every case of lupus is unique. In addition, drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day is very important to keep you hydrated.
Keeping a Daily Journal — Keeping a daily journal to track your medication, mood, flares and triggers is helpful to you. Having a log of your daily progress is important.
Listen to your Body and Limits! — Your body needs care. If you feel like you are exceeding your limit, don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t be afraid to stick for up yourself. Rest when needed, and don’t be afraid to let others know! They don’t have to understand, but you do.
We hope these tips can help you get through your fatigue symptoms. Always consult with your doctor if you are experiencing worst symptoms.
“Flares” is the term used to describe when lupus activity or symptoms are acting up.Often, this is also described as Lupus being “active” in patients. In other words, they are periods in which lupus symptoms become noticeable.
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, in 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified the need for a a consistent and clear definition for what a Lupus flare is. This is because there was no concrete understanding in what a flare was. It wasn’t until 2010 the consensus published a concrete definition for clinical use and for physician to agree on. Thus, making it easier to characterize a Lupus flare for patients.
The definition according to the Lupus Foundation is:
“A measurable increase in disease activity in one or more organ systems involving new or worse clinical signs and symptoms and/or lab measurements. The increase must be considered clinically significant by the assessor (physician or clinical researcher), and in most cases should prompt the consideration of a change or an increase in treatment.”
Types of Flares: Mild, Moderate, and Severe
There are different types of flares, which can be classified as mild, moderate and severe.
Mild Flares include lupus rashes and few symptoms.
Moderate flares could include rash, fatigue and joint or muscle pain.
Severe flares are taken with more caution, as they can cause damage to organs (such as heart or kidney). Often these types of flare require medical attention.
How can I recognize a Flare?
The Mayo Clinic describes a number of symptoms and signs to be flares. The most common experiences include:
Joint pain— stiffness and swelling
Butterfly-shaped rashes on face (also known as Malar Rashes)
Abnormal Digestive Problems
Dizziness or Forgetfulness (also known as Brain Fog, which come and go with Lupus Flares)
It’s also important to note that no two lupus cases are the same. Every Lupus case is different. So while these may be common symptoms, some people develop these symptoms slowly or suddenly. Some people may get these experiences in severe flare or even mild flare. Always keep in communication with your doctor to understand how your flares work.
What can cause a Lupus Flare?
Anything that can cause a Lupus Flare is called a “Trigger.”
Triggers stimulate activity in the immune system that can lead to Lupus Flares.
The Immune System can produce auto-antibodies that not only attack unwanted infectious material (such as viruses and bacteria) but also healthy cells and tissues.
Ultraviolet (UV) Rays: from the sun, or even artificial lighting and tanning beds.
Stress: emotional and physical. Physical Stress can also include surgery or even giving birth
Infection: Viral infections or even a cold.
Sulfa Drugs: this is cited as making a person more sensitive to the sun.
Antibiotic dugs: such as penicillin
How can I better understand my Triggers?
Keeping a Journal!
First of all, we strongly encourage to keep in contact with your doctor to understand what your triggers are!
Next, we also strongly reccomend keeping a diary or journal for Lupus activity and flares. This is can potentially be helpful for you and your doctor in the future.
Every lupus case is different, but we suggest keeping a consistent log of when and how your flares are acting up.
We suggest diary entry should include:
Any activities you did that day,
Anything you eat
Medications you are taking
Amount of sleep you had the night before
Keeping a record of flares can help understand your triggers. You can see any potential patterns that can lead to an increase of lupus activity within your body. Your body and lupus case is unique! Having a journal or log can help you better understand your Lupus!
Key Takeaway: How should I manage my flares and triggers?
Ultimately, as every lupus case is different, it’s best to speak with you doctor to better understand what works for you and what does not.
While understanding you triggers and flares is a “trial and error” process, the best advice we can give is the keep a daily log and maintain strong communication with your doctor. We also encourage to maintain as much as a balanced, healthy lifestyle as much as possible.
Living with Lupus is definitely a challenge, but we hope that with the right resources and tools, you’ll find happiness and live to your full extent.
This blog post is meant to inform you with published research and information currently available about the relationship between Lupus and Vitamin D. While ultimately, there is information that supports Vitamin D intake for Lupus Patients, we strongly encourage you to speak with your doctor before trying any supplements or vitamins.
What is Vitamin D? Why is it Important?
Vitamin D is a key micronutrient that essential in the assistance of numerous physiological processes in your body. In other words, it is a nutrient that provides a lot of key roles in keeping body in balance through many systems.
Some benefits from Vitamin D:
Development of strength and structure for your bones— Calcium and phosphorus are key minerals for bone development, but Vitamin D is essential to absorb these nutrients. Even if you have a lot of calcium and phosphorus in your body, you need Vitamin D to help uptake them for use.
Immune System: to prevent and fight infections. Vitamin D is a regulator in our Immune Systems. Key cells in our immune system have vitamin D receptors on their surface to as a regulator aid in immune system function. We will go over the affect of Vitamin D and its role for Autoimmune systems later.
Vitamin D is special, because it is the only Vitamin our body can produce on its own. We mostly produce Vitamin D after our skin is exposed to the sun. Other vitamins we need are mostly taken from our diet and foods (such as Vitamin C, which we can get a lot from oranges) Only small amounts of Vitamin D that are body needs is from our foods.
How does Vitamin D effect Lupus Patients and Lupus Symptoms?
As mentioned earlier, Vitamin D is essential for the Immune System and its function. Research has shown that there is a negative correlation between Lupus Flare and levels of Vitamin D. In other words, for people with lupus, flares were less likely to occur when levels of Vitamin D were high, and vice versa. Although Vitamin D levels is fully attributed for the cause of Lupus, research suggests that having an optimal level of Vitamin D can benefit Lupus symptoms by reducing flares.
According to the Vitamin D council, people with lupus are more likely to have lower levels of Vitamin D. This attributed to Lupus patients avoiding the sun (due to photosensitivity), however this is not the sole cause.
How can I test for my Vitamin D levels?
There are multiple, convenient ways to accurately test for a vitamin D deficiency:
Testing at your Doctor’s Office: Your doctor will provide at 25(OH)D Blood test. Also known as a as 25-Hydroxyvitamin D, his is done through a blood sample and cannot be done at home. More information about this here.
At-Home Test:This is an option for you if you prefer the comfort of your own home, or you cannot be tested in a clinical setting. These tests are sent to your home. You prick a drop of blood on a piece of paper, and send it out to a lab to be tested.
Online Test and Blood Work at a Lab: If the above options do no work for you, there is also an option to purchase an in-home vitamin D test online, then have it sent to the nearest lab. The Vitamin D council recommends certifying the lab first, but you can find more information on this here
What is a good level of Vitamin D?
The Vitamin D council recommends Lupus Patients to take between 30ng/ml to 40 ng/ml, depending on your current level of Vitamin D levels. However, you should always consult with your doctor to understand what amount is correct for you!
We recommend investigating further through this article, written by the Vitamin D council to understand the dosage amounts.
How can I increase Vitamin D intake?
As noted earlier, only trace amount of vitamin D is taken in from food. There are three main ways we get Vitamin D:
Exposing Skin to Sunlight
FOOD! (Dietary intake)
According to Molly’s Fund, the amount of sun exposure recommended is about 20-25 mins per day.
Supplements is a nice option because it can be controlled to individual needs.
Our product, LupaVita™, provides about 5000 IU of Vitamin D. This is designed for the convenience of Lupus patients. With supporting research that higher levels of Vitamin D has been shown beneficial to reducing flare for lupus patients, we created a pill that would put all the benefits and vitamins for lupus patients in one convenient pill.
To learn more about our product, check out our info here.
The Lupus Encyclopedia, by Dr. Donald Thomas, is also a useful resource for information on Lupus. You can check out more information here.
Key Takeaway: Why does Vitamin D matter to you?
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for normal body functions. Although it is often found at lower levels in lupus patients, research as supported that Lupus patients can benefit from taking in Vitamin D supplements.
We hope this article was helpful for you in providing the basic knowledge of vitamin D and its efficacy.
If you find that LupaVita is not for you or you do not like the product, you will receive a 100% refund no questions asked.
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