Dr. Steven Gundry: These “Lupus Signs” Show If You Have the Autoimmune Disease (and Here’s What to Do About It)
Understanding what lupus is, where it comes from, and the simple steps you can take to reduce your symptoms to almost nothing.
What are the symptoms of lupus (and do you have it?)
If you’re struggling with fever, breakouts, and near constant fatigue, then you could be suffering from lupus disease.
Lupus Definition? Do I Have Lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. That means it causes your immune system to attack your own body’s cells, leading to inflammation and other painful symptoms. (More on lupus symptoms below.)
There are also different types of lupus. These include:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) – this is the most common form of lupus
- Lupus nephritis – a form of inflammation in the kidneys caused by systemic lupus erythematosus
- Cutaneous lupus – this type of lupus is confined to the skin only
- Drug-induced lupus – a form of lupus caused by certain prescription drugs
- Neonatal lupus – extremely rare form of lupus affecting the infants of women who have lupus
What are signs and symptoms of Lupus?
Symptoms of lupus can start appearing in people as young as their teens. Early signs of lupus disease include some of these following symptoms:
- Fever — constant low-grade fever (~98.5℉-101℉) could be a sign your body is dealing with continuous inflammation caused by lupus
- Rash — around half of all lupus patients have a very specific butterfly-shaped rash appear over the bridge of the nose and on both cheeks (sufferers may also experience breakouts in other areas of the body)
- Fatigue — 90% of people with lupus experience frequent fatigue, so even the simplest activities can cause tiredness
- Hair Loss — because of inflammation of the skin, hair may begin to feel brittle and break easily, so thinning hair (particularly in young people) may be an early sign of lupus
- Dry Mouth/Dry Eyes — some people with lupus develop a condition called Sjogren’s Disease, which can cause dry mouth and dry, gritty eyes
- Swollen Joints — like many autoimmune diseases, lupus can cause pain and stiffness in the joints (especially in the morning when you wake up)
Lupus can also cause problems with your lungs (including chest pain while breathing in), kidneys (which can lead to darker or bloody urine and more frequent urination), and GI tract (leading to issues like heartburn and acid reflux).
The surprising cause of most lupus
Most scientists agree that lupus results from a combination of genetics and environmental factors. This means even the food you eat could cause lupus.
According to former heart surgeon and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Steven Gundry, the explanation is actually simple. And it starts in your gut.
You see, the immune cells along your gut lining play an important role in keeping your gut wall strong. They decide what can leave the GI tract and what must stay contained.
When everything is working well, nothing gets through this strong gut barrier except what’s supposed to. However, when this barrier gets worn down (more on that below) and develops more and more microscopic holes, it allows other compounds to “leak” through, causing your health to suffer.
This is the condition known as “leaky gut.”
So when the wrong molecules or even bacteria get across the border of your gut wall, your immune system kicks into high gear. Normally, this is really important since your immune system can call in “reinforcements” – inflammatory hormones called cytokines.
These cytokines can save your life from a bacterial infection and help you heal when you have an injury.
The problem starts when your immune system starts responding to every little thing. Think of it like an overactive security alarm system. You’re grateful when it alerts you to the presence of a thief, but you’re annoyed when it goes off every time a fly enters your home.
That’s exactly what happens when you have a leaky gut. Your immune system begins responding to everything that gets through your porous gut wall. This leads to chronic inflammation. And over time, this chronic inflammation can lead to autoimmune diseases like low thyroid, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
Put simply: lupus, like many other autoimmune conditions, is often caused by a leaky gut.
How to Treat Lupus
In order to start reducing your symptoms of lupus, you need to understand what causes a leaky gut in the first place. When you take care of the problem at the source, you can dramatically lessen the frequency and severity of your symptoms.
Imagine your body is a fortress. You need a wall to protect yourself. That’s your gut wall. Immune cells are the soldiers there to protect your fortress. Their job is to detect friend from foe. And when they fight for you, they cause collateral damage. We call that collateral damage inflammation.
However, your protective walls aren’t sealed shut. All along the wall are tiny doors. And while these doors are closed most of the time, sometimes they need to open to allow food or friends to come in.
So imagine what would happen if those doors were always open. It would be much harder for your soldiers to defend the fortress (your body). Now, there is a molecule (called zonulin) inside your body that makes these “doors” in your gut wall open or close. And there are certain environmental triggers that make your cells produce zonulin.
One such trigger is a type of protein called a lectin. Plants produce lectins as a defense against being eaten. In fact, lectins are so powerful they can even paralyze the bugs that eat them.
Of course, you’re a lot bigger and stronger than a little bug. And you have your own defense mechanisms, like mucus, which can bind to lectin proteins and make them harmless as you digest them.
However, as humans have consumed more and more lectin-rich foods (like tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and most grains) our natural defenses against these pesky proteins have begun to weaken.
And when lectins make it through to your GI tract, they can cause all kinds of problems. For one, they bind with receptors along the gut lining to produce. As explained above, zonulin then breaks the tight junctions holding together your gut wall. This creates spaces between the cells for “foreign invaders” (like harmful bacteria) to get through and get to other parts of your body.
The result? Inflammation.
This is why reducing lectin consumption is a major part of Dr. Gundry’s health program. (Click HERE to find a complete list of lectin-containing foods you should avoid if you’re suffering from an autoimmune disease like lupus.)
How to deal with lupus symptoms (including a leaky gut)
However, lectins aren’t the only culprits behind a leaky gut.
Here’s a short list of other common causes of leaky gut, along with a few alternatives to help you start transforming your diet today. Dr. Gundry calls these his leaky gut “dos and don’ts.”
DON’T eat sugar
If you have a sweet tooth, then this may be tough to hear: sugar (especially highly refined sugar) is devastating to gut health . It can cause inflammation and feeds the bad bacteria in your microbiome (the bacteria living in your gut).
Worse, many commonly eaten foods are loaded with sugar – even if the label says it contains 0 added sugars. That’s because industrial milling can turn wheat into rapidly available sugar (which is why white bread has a glycemic index rating of 100 – higher than table sugar!).
One quick trick is to always check the “Nutrition Facts” label and subtract the total fiber from the total carbohydrates. That will give you a good idea of the total number of sugars in your food.
DO satisfy your sweet tooth with low-sugar fruit (in moderation)
Dr. Gundry recommends eating low-fructose fruits in season (and in moderation). Some of his favorites include wild berries, kiwifruit (with the skin on), pomegranate, passion fruit, and grapefruit.
DON’T use over-the-counter pain medications like NSAIDs
One of the major causes of a leaky gut and excess inflammation is the overuse of over-the-counter pain medications called NSAIDs (this stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Common NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
Dr. Gundry has likened NSAIDs to hand grenades with the power to “blow holes” in your gut wall. They do this by damaging the mucosal barrier in the small intestine and colon. This creates microscopic holes, allowing toxic “invaders” to flood into your body.
DO eat foods rich in prebiotic fiber to restore a healthy gut lining
Prebiotic fibers are long-chain sugars that pass undigested to your colon, where they become food for the beneficial bacteria living in your gut (called your microbiome). While that may sound gross, a healthy microbiome is actually essential for repairing a leaky gut.
Eating more prebiotic fiber is the easiest (and fastest) way to a healthier, happier gut. And one of the best prebiotics is inulin, which you can find abundantly in foods like chicory, asparagus, onions, leeks, and artichokes.
(Here’s a special prebiotic “hack” from Dr. Gundry to get more prebiotic fiber from starchy foods like yams, sorghum, millet, and pressure-cooked rice. First cook them, then chill them, then reheat before eating. This process converts these foods into “resistant starches,” meaning they “resist” quick digestion. They pass through your small intestine without significant digestion and make it to your large intestine, where they can be digested by your beneficial bacteria and converted into gut-supporting compounds called postbiotics.)
(You can find a complete list of Gundry-approved foods by clicking HERE or by reading any of Dr. Gundry’s best-selling books.)
Get personalized care and recommendations for Lupus from Dr Gundry-Approved Board Certified doctors
If you’re looking for more guidance about lupus disease than this short list of recommendations, Dr. Gundry’s unique health program is now available to you (without needing an appointment at one of Dr. Gundry’s two, waitlist-only West Coast clinics).
Thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. Gundry and his team at Gundry Health, doctors trained in Dr. Gundry’s unique holistic methods are now available to help you craft your own personalized lupus program.
It’s easy to get started.
Simply click the link below to get more information about personalized lupus treatment plan options, so you can get expert analysis, diagnostic care, and a plan for tackling lupus, arthritis, or other autoimmune diseases.
Each doctor at Gundry Health is Board Certified and trained in Dr. Gundry’s renowned approach to functional medicine and care.
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