Systemic lupus erythematosus patients who followed the Mediterranean diet experienced an improvement in the clinical course of the disease, according to a study from the University of Granada.
1. About Lupus disease
Lupus is a disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs (autoimmune disease). Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems — including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. Lupus currently has no cure, so improving its symptoms and comorbidities is vital.
Lupus symptoms vary across patients, but the disease causes inflammation that can affect many organ systems, including the heart, lungs and brain. “The exact cause of lupus is still unknown, but it is known that it results from the interaction between various factors such as a genetic predisposition; certain environmental factors (exposure to UV rays, toxins, lifestyle) or hormonal changes, among others,” said Gabriela Pocovi Gerardino, a nutritionist, dietitian and doctor at the University of Granada.
It is estimated that at least five million people worldwide have a form of lupus.
2. Brief information about the study
Scientists at the university and the Biosanitary Research Institute of Granada studied 280 patients with lupus, starting in 2017. They assessed participants’ adherence to the Mediterranean diet and their general lifestyle.
To analyse the influence of the Mediterranean diet on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE/Lupus for short) activity, damage accrual and cardiovascular disease risk markers.
A cross-sectional study was conducted on 280 patients with Lupus. Mediterranean diet adherence was assessed through a 14-item questionnaire on food consumption frequency and habits . CRP, homocysteine, SLEDAI-2K (SLE disease activity), and SLICC/ACR and SDI (damage accrual) were measured. Obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and blood lipids, among others, were considered cardiovascular disease risk factors.
The researcher also found that patients who followed the Mediterranean diet had lower rates of obesity and cardiovascular disease, from which patients with lupus are at higher risk of suffering. The study found that eating anti-inflammatory foods heavily associated with the Mediterranean diet, such as olive oil, fruits, vegetables and fish, benefited lupus patients by reducing organ damage.
In turn, avoiding foods high in sugar and processed meat, which are not part of the Mediterranean diet, was also associated with health benefits.
“These results are of great relevance and impact, and lead us to advise that, together with medical treatment, nutritional counseling could be very useful to improve the course of lupus and its comorbidities,” said Norberto Ortego Centeno, a researcher who led the study at the University of Granada.
However, the researchers also stressed that further studies were needed to confirm these findings.
3. Mediterranean diet
Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods.
Exactly which foods belong to the Mediterranean diet is still controversial, partly because there is such variation between different countries. Basically, you can make your diet more Mediterranean-style by:
- eating plenty of starchy foods, such as bread and pasta
- eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, and plant-based products
- including fish and seafood in your diet, eating fish and seafood is recommended at least twice a week.
- eating less meat
- focusing on healthy fats and avoiding unhealthy fats such as trans fat in your diet
Source: Olive Oil Times
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