Dietary Guidelines For The Lupus Patient
Dietary Guidelines
For The Patient With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Source: Lupus Alert, Vol. 11, #2, June 1988

Dietary Objectives

  1. to counteract steroid therapy
  2. to replenish potassium reserves
  3. to reduce fever and replace nutrient losses

Corticosteroid (prednisone, e.g. Meticorten, Prednisolone, Orasone) often take as much as they give nutritionally. All too often the drug either stops the absorption of nutrients or interferes with the cells' ability to use them. Steroid therapy has been found to be related lowered zinc levels.

The following is a list of drugs and the nutrients that they deplete:

Effects of Steroids on Nutrition
  1. Increased appetite;
  2. Weight gain;
  3. Loss of muscle protein; increased breakdown of muscle; decreased synthesis;
  4. Changes the body's ability to handle glucose (blood sugar);
  5. Increased depositing of fat:
  6. Reduces serum zinc levels;
  7. Sodium retention;
  8. Potassium loss;
  9. Poor absorption of calcium and iron;
  10. Fluid retention;
  11. Increased need for Vitamins B6 (pyridoxine), C and D;
  12. Stomach irritation and gastric disturbances;
  13. May aggravate diabetes, hypertension or ulcers; may cause hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol level); may cause type IV hyperlipoproteinemia.
Dietary Recommendations
  1. Follow a high potassium diet. Foods high in potassium include: all fruit, especially bananas, blackberries, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, oranges, plums, dried fruits, rice. All vegetables, especially asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, yams, whole grain, lima beans, parsnips, pumpkin, spinach, winter squash, tomatoes, dried beans and dried peas; milk and milk products.
  2. Mildly restricted sodium intake.
  3. When febrile (with fever), the diet should be high in protein and calories to compensate for nitrogen losses (protein).
  4. Include rich sources of calcium in your diet. To increase absorption, consume with an acid-containing food or Vitamin C. Foods high in calcium include milk and milk products; tofu; soups made with cream, milk or cheese, broccoli, chard, all greens, okra, kale, spinach, sauerkraut, cabbage, soy beans, rutabaga; salmon; dry beans.
  5. Follow a low carbohydrate, high complex carbohydrate diet to maintain weight control and avoid excess fluid.
  6. Include foods rich in zinc. These foods include oysters, meats, seafood, poultry and eggs.
  7. Include rich sources of iron in your diet. To increase absorption, consume with an acid-containing food or one with Vitamin C. Sources of iron include cream of wheat, liver, beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, beans baked with molasses, prunes, prune juice, apricots, green peas, enriched breads, and cereals.
  8. Increase your intake of foods high in Vitamin C. These foods include broccoli, oranges, strawberries, cauliflower, cantaloupe, cabbage and green peppers.
  9. Include food rich in Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine). These foods include whole grain cereals, breads, liver, avocados, spinach, green beans, bananas, fish, poultry, meats, nuts, potatoes, green leafy vegetables.
  10. Include foods rich in Vitamin D. These include foods primarily of the animal origin: eggs, butter, milk, fish oils, cereals, margarines and breads.
  11. Take medications with food to decrease the irritating effect on the stomach and small intestines. Foods and drugs taken together also increase the time available for absorption of the drug.
  12. Eat a relatively high protein diet. Calcium, sodium fluoride, Vitamin D or Calcitonin may help prevent osteoporosis.
  13. Follow a diet moderately low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Remember proper diet is an important component in your personal arsenal against Lupus!

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