Hi Lupus Warriors,
I hope you enjoyed your favorite seasonal specialties - holiday cookies, eggnog, coquito, flan, mac and cheese, jollof rice or one of many many others. I hope it all brought you joy and nostalgic memories of holidays past.
Are you EXHAUSTED from the holidays, feeling more joint and muscle pain than usual, or having a rash popping up? If any of those apply to you, or you are just ready to feel even better, let’s talk about the seasonal anti-inflammatory foods that can help (the last one will surprise you!):
Kale, Collard greens, Swiss chard - Leafy greens! Kale earns its superfood status due to its high content of Vitamin K, Vitamin E and magnesium. Vitamin K helps with blood clotting and bone health. Vitamin E protects the brain from daily oxidative stress while magnesium helps improve brain plasticity. Increased brain plasticity improves learning and memory as well as reduces anxiety and depression. It sounds ridiculous but squish and massage chopped kale with olive oil to help reduce its bitterness. Don’t worry - kale isn’t the only good choice - feel free to have any of the leafy greens in that extended family for the same benefits: collards, turnip, spinach, mustard greens, cabbages, etc.
For people living with Lupus, in particular those with anti-phospholipid syndrome, have caution with increasing your Vitamin K intake too much. Vitamin K helps with blood clotting and also can interfere with the medication known as Coumadin or Warfarin. You would have to be consuming quite a lot of it. If you are interested in increasing your intake of green leafy vegetables: collard greens, turnip greens, kale, spinach and cooked broccoli are the highest in vitamin K, discuss with your doctor having more frequent INR checks to ensure that you’re still in the therapeutic range.
2. Beets - these lovely root vegetables stand out due to their high content of potassium, magnesium, iron and folate. One cup of cooked beets provides 34% of your daily value for folate and 14% of your daily value of potassium. Beets are also an excellent source of lycopene and anthocyanins: antioxidants that help reduce inflammation in the body.
Beets in particular are high in nitrates (don’t worry it’s safe) that are particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure. Studies have found that beetroot juice can significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The nitrates relaxes and widens blood vessels reducing your blood pressure. (citation below) Not a fun fact - People with SLE have 2.7 times the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease than the general population.
3. Sweet potatoes - a great source of Vitamin A, fiber, and vitamin C which is helpful for immunity and eye health. Mash, roast or add to a hearty vegetable soup for the cold weather.
4. Kiwi fruit - great source of Vitamin C and fiber. My favorite way to eat is cutting it in half and scooping out the inside fruit with a spoon - no time intensive peeling required! Chop and serve with pineapple for a seasonal and colorful fruit salad.
5. Lemons - Another fantastic source of Vitamin C - lemon juice can be added to so many foods for a bright flash of tartness. Vitamin C is not only good for immunity, but also wound healing and absorption of iron. Sprinkle lemon juice on roasted vegetables or because vitamin C helps you absorb the iron from animal proteins, sprinkle on meat or poultry before or after cooking.
6. Grapefruits - delicious, great source of Vitamin C and very low in sugar, but can also interfere with a fair amount of medications - always check your prescription labels or online before enjoying :) I like peeling into the small segments and eating plain, or adding to the top of a salad.
7. Pineapple - An enzyme inside called bromelain works as a digestive aid to help break down proteins. It has been used for centuries to aid in indigestion. In more recent studies, bromelain has been shown to reduce symptoms and progression of cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, inflammation found in autoimmune diseases, pain after surgery and can even accelerate healing of burned skin when applied in a cream form.
Bromelain’s benefits as an enzyme also make pineapple juice useful as a meat tenderizer to break down some of the meat’s proteins.
Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables equals produce that are higher in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Also, produce in season is generally less expensive, but also healthier! Double win! Besides helping with digestion, your immune system and reducing inflammation, these foods are also delicious - TRIPLE win!
With the exception of nightshade vegetables or if you have any allergies, fresh produce is generally anti-inflammatory for everyone. The list above is also vegan, vegetarian, autoimmune protocol and paleo compliant if you’re following any of these diets.
Enjoy ! Message me if you need more help making healthier choices for you this season! If you're interested in a step by step guided group program - check out my program starting in February: https://p.bttr.to/30YRieP
Sources/links to studies:
Research on beets for blood pressure: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30400267/
Research on SLE and cardiovascular health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7451028/