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Lupus and the gut microbiome – how you can help manage symptoms!

Did you know the number of people affected by autoimmune conditions is rapidly increasing?1 SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) or more commonly known as, Lupus, is an autoimmune condition, impacting approximately 50,000 people in the UK2 and is 10 times more common in women than in men.3

Lupus is a complex, long-term condition with no known cure.4 It’s a systemic, inflammatory disease affecting various systems throughout the body, causing a wide range of symptoms.

Symptoms amongst patients will vary but can include:

  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Extreme tiredness/fatigue
  • Butterfly rash – this is a red skin rash across the nose and cheeks
  • Other skin rashes – which may be worse after sun exposure
  • Mouth/nasal sores
  • Hair loss
  • Fevers
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Kidney problems
  • Swollen glands

Patients often experience a pattern of relapse and remission with their symptoms,5 with the condition ranging from mild to severe. If a patient has moderate to severe Lupus, this indicates organ involvement is present.6 Organs commonly affected are the kidneys, heart or lungs.

The unpredictable nature of the condition, can make it extremely challenging to live with. Medications are prescribed with the aim to improve symptoms and halt the disease progression and may include steroids, anti-malarials and immunosuppressants.

The diagnosis process can be extremely challenging and stressful for patients due to significant time delays. In a 2018 survey, carried out by Lupus UK, it was found that patients waited on average 6.4 years for a diagnosis.7 These delays can negatively impact the health outcomes of patients and their quality of life. The diagnosis process can be a very worrying time.

The development of Lupus isn’t fully understood but a combination of genetics and environmental factors are thought to play a role.8 Recent research has emerged linking Lupus and gut dysbiosis. The term gut dysbiosis refers to an imbalance in the bacteria within the gut. In a 2022 meta-analysis, Lupus patients were found to have lower levels of beneficial bacteria and increased levels of harmful bacteria.9 Research shows alterations within the gut microbiota is linked to various chronic diseases.10 Gut dysbiosis can occur due to a number of factors including infections, antibiotic use, lifestyle factors and diet.11

When your gut bacteria are happy and feeding on a variety of prebiotics they produce important by-products known as postbiotics or short chain fatty acids. These by-products are particularly beneficial to our health. They are involved in the regulation of inflammation and immune function.12 The immunomodulatory effect of postbiotics can help reinstate immune balance,13 this is crucial for those with autoimmunity.

Supporting the gut microbiota using nutrition and lifestyle may be beneficial to individuals living with chronic inflammatory conditions, like Lupus.

Here are three easy ways to support your gut bacteria and help manage symptoms:

  1. Fermented foods – these foods are naturally rich in probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that promote balance within the gut and support a healthy environment for other good bacteria to thrive. Regular consumption of these foods provides your gut with a diverse range of health promoting microbes. Fermented foods include kefir, live yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and tempeh.
  2. Prebiotic foods – these foods are rich in fibres that your probiotics feed on. Fibre is crucial to the health of your gut microbiome. We know many individuals do not meet the recommended amount of 30g per day14,of%20a%20healthy%20balanced%20diet. and this can have a detrimental effect on your gut and overall health. To boost your prebiotic intake you need to incorporate a wide variety of fibre rich foods daily. Fibre rich foods include; beans, lentils, wholegrains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. If you struggle to consume enough fibre, our Complete Prebiotic is an easy and convenient way to feed the good bacteria. Just 1 TBSP provides 18 different fibres!
  3. Be mindful of what could be harming your gut – as mentioned earlier, the gut microbiome can become disrupted by several factors; from what we consume to how we live. If you want to support a healthy gut microbiome consider these factors; processed food consumption, alcohol intake, stress levels, adequate nutrition, smoking, lack of physical activity, infections and medication use. Addressing these factors can support your gut microbiota to flourish!

If you are interested in learning more about your own gut microbiome check out our CG Microbiome Test. For more gut health support, have a look at What’s all the fuss about fermented foods? and Everything you need to know about fibre

Please note: we do not recommend Kefir alongside immunosuppressant medications. As we are not medically trained please talk to your healthcare provider before adding in any new supplements to your regime.


Questions? Talk to a Nutritional Therapist on live chat!

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