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Lupus Diet and Nutrition

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Maintaining Strong Bones and Muscles continued...

Eating foods high in calcium and vitamin D is important for bone health. When buying dairy products, choose ones that are either low-fat or fat-free. Good choices include:

  • 1% or 1/2% skim milk
  • low-fat, low-sodium yogurt
  • low-fat cheese

If you cannot drink milk, good alternatives include:

  • lactose-free milk
  • soy milk
  • almond milk
  • juices that are fortified with calcium and Vitamin D

Dark green vegetables are another source of calcium.

If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, your doctor will probably recommend a calcium supplement.

Combatting the Side Effects of Medications

A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can help counteract the bone-damaging effects of corticosteroids.

Diet can also be helpful in combatting other drug side effects. For example, a low-sodium diet can help reduce fluid retention and lower blood pressure, which can be elevated with corticosteroid use.

A diet high in folic acid, such as found in leafy green vegetables, fruits, and fortified breads and cereals, or a folic acid supplement is important if you are taking methotrexate (Rheumatrex). For nausea caused by medications, eat small frequent meals and foods that are easy to digest. Try dry cereals, breads, and crackers. Also avoid greasy, spicy, and acidic foods.

If corticosteroid or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen (Naprosyn, Alleve) cause stomach upset and irritation, taking them with meals may help. But let your doctor know that you are having some stomach upset from the drugs.

Helping Achieve or Maintain a Healthy Weight

Lupus may be associated with unhealthy weight loss or weight gain. So eating to achieve a healthy weight is important.

Weight loss and poor appetite, common among people recently diagnosed with lupus, can result from the illness itself. It can also result from medications that cause stomach upset or mouth sores. Weight gain can be the result of inactivity. It can also be caused by the corticosteroids used to control the disease.

If weight loss or gain is a problem, it is important to speak with your doctor or nurse. The doctor or nurse can assess your diet and suggest a program to help control your weight. The program will probably include a low-fat diet and exercise. A registered dietitian can help you design a diet specifically for your needs and lifestyle.

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