Lupus, Lifestyle and Weight Management
Lifestyle, Weight Management and Ayurveda
For people with auto-immune conditions, such as lupus, what we eat and how we deal with everyday stress and emotions is a way to avoid and overcome flare-ups. That’s why I decided to write about the importance of weight management and our lifestyle.
In the past 5000 years, Ayurveda has been about returning to the basics and reconnecting with mother Nature, which can provide us with all we need to survive and thrive. Its ideas and protocols have helped me immensely, from reducing my pain to getting off Benlysta injections and daily doses of Hydrocortisone, which I didn’t believe would be possible.
Ayurvedic beliefs focus on healthy nutrition, stress reduction, and the cultivation of a balanced lifestyle.
In my case, extra pounds gained from industrialized food and medication made with swelling and extra pounds translate into pain and lower self-esteem.
Slowly migrating to clean eating and a healthier lifestyle to manage stress has helped me move better, have more energy, and avoid that sensation of rustiness across my body.
Ayurveda and Inner Balance
The ayurvedic practice believes humans need to balance three forms of energy ( Dosha or Constitution ), and each one links to natural elements:
- Vata: It rules movement in the body and is associated with space and air.
- Pitta: In charge of the body’s metabolism and is associated with fire and water.
- Kapha: This energy of our body’s structure and composition is associated with earth and water.
Everyone has vata, pitta, and kapha in their bodies, but the most dominant defines the constitution. In the Ayurvedic tradition, our diet and lifestyle should harmonize with our dosha.
Determining our dosha can be challenging. We are born with a dosha type that shows are dispositions and characteristics. As we grow older, we alter our constitution due to our lifestyle, stress, or the external environment, which causes us to get sick. Although there are lists of characteristics for each dosha online, the best approach is to consult a trained Ayurvedic practitioner, as some nuances can be tricky to identify.
In one of my previous blogs, you can find a dosha quiz. Check which one is yours. For the best result, separate the answers in two ways: first, how you were when little, and secondly, how you are today. While we should pay attention to the current dosha, understanding our constitution as little kids can help us know which areas we can pay attention to.
Ayurveda’s Three-Fold Strategy
According to Ayurveda, combining the right diet, herbs, and lifestyle makes us feel very different.
We are all born different and should be treated as such. With that said, there are three things we need to do to feel well:
- Digest the food we eat well, have proper nutrient absorption, and have daily elimination with comfortable bowel movements.
- Detox regularly and improve liver function.
- Eliminate extra water and reduce swelling.
Choosing What’s Good for Your Body
Our body gives us hints such as constipation, gas, heartburn, headaches, lack of energy, or feeling dazzling! So, listen to your body! Paying attention to how we feel after eating is a great way to find the best food for our constitution.
I noticed a while back how a couple of sips of wine made my feet swollen inside my shoes. When mentioning this to my rheumatologist, he told me people with lupus should not drink alcohol. That was the first time I heard it.
For some people, having spicy foods is extremely uncomfortable. Your body will remind you what works best.
Before trying the recommended eating habits and herbs below, talk to your doctor.
Eating recommendations for Vata-dominant people
- Eat 3 to 4 small meals daily, at least 2 hours apart. Avoid having seconds. Drink a cup of warm digestive ( CCF tea ) 45 minutes before your meal.
- Prioritize cooked vegetables instead of raw ones. Cooked greens, such as spinach, and kale, are a wonderful, easy option. Try to have 50% vegetables on your plate.
- Avoid nightshade vegetables, such as eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes, as they are inflammatory for some people. Note this simple rule can greatly impact people with auto-immune conditions.
- Eat juicy, sweet fruits and avoid astringent fruits like cranberries and raw apples for snacks.
- If eating apples, cook them with cinnamon and honey.
- In case of no allergies, include nuts, such as ten blanched almonds or 2 Brazilian nuts, and seeds in your everyday snacks.
- Avoid addictive products like sugar, white flour, alcohol, coffee, and tobacco.
- Incorporate cooked and warm foods and drinks into your diet.
- Choose white rice instead of brown rice, as it’s easier to digest.
- Add warm spices such as cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and cardamon into your meals.
- Choose a nutritious soup for dinner.
Dietary recommendations for Pitta-dominant people
- Include lots of raw vegetables and salads, especially during spring and summer. Cucumbers, celery, and carrots are wonderful detox options.
- Choose brown rice instead of white rice.
- Limit your intake of animal foods like meat, seafood, and eggs.
- Avoid addictive products like sugar, alcohol, coffee, and tobacco.
- Avoid nuts and seeds.
- Eat legumes and lentils in moderate amounts.
Dietary recommendations for Kapha-dominant people
- Limit the quantity of food you eat in each meal.
- Avoid dairy and foods high in fat.
- Limit high-fat protein, such as red meat.
- Choose leafy greens and vegetables grown above ground instead of root veggies.
- Eat astringent fruits like apples, cranberries, mangoes, and peaches.
- Limit animal foods, nuts, and seeds.
- Avoid addictive products like sugar, alcohol, coffee, and tobacco.
- Choose a nutritious soup for dinner.
Look for true hunger, and do not fall into the emotional eating trap before making your plate. Your body will guide you when you need to eat.
These recommendations, yoga practice, and exercise can help you feel better and healthier while managing your weight.
Ayurvedic Weight Management Remedies
Herbal remedies are an important part of the Ayurvedic approach. When incorporated into other daily habits, they help better digest food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate what our bodies don’t need anymore.
Below, I added some of my favorite ones. Remember to talk to an Ayurvedic practitioner, as they can help you choose what works best for you.
Triphala is an herbal blend of three superfruits, all of which grow in India: Amalaki (Indian gooseberry), Bibhitaki (Terminalia Bellirica), and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula). Triphala detoxifies and replenishes the system, as it gently supports digestion and a healthy gut microbiome while it helps relieve occasional constipation and supports regularity.
Trikatu contains pippali ( long pepper ), black pepper, and ginger. Its heating quality increases the digestive fire and effectively burns fat and natural toxins. While I love this one, I must be careful due to my Vata-Pitta constitution.
Guggul is the dried resin of the Commiphora Mukul myrrh tree. It is renowned for carrying other herbs deep into the deep tissues. Ayurvedic medicine uses Guggulu in weight management programs because this is a penetrating herb that scrapes out naturally accumulated toxins from the body.
Kalonji, also known as black seed or black cumin (Nigella sativa), has been investigated for many uses. Nigella sativa has many benefits that some herbalists call “the herb from heaven“.
Vijayasar or Kino tree
Extracts from the Vijayasar tree (Pterocarpus Marsupium), also known as the Kino tree, may help you manage your weight. It helps correct the metabolism and expel excess fats from the body, which results in weight loss.
Chitrak or Plumbago Zeylanica is traditionally used to ignite the digestive fire, support a healthy metabolism, and remove natural toxins from the intestines. It supports the proper function of the liver and the healthy digestion of fat and sugars. It helps energize the body naturally by promoting healthy digestion and the good absorption and assimilation of nutrients. As a heating herb, it may increase Pitta.
Remember that while we advocate these herbal remedies to support weight management, Ayurvedic herbs should go in tandem with a healthy lifestyle – diet, mindfulness, and exercise.
Herbs and supplements can also interact with other medications you take as an auto-immune patient. So, always talk to your doctor about it.
Ayurvedic Tips for a Healthier Life
Our mind rules our body’s health and vice versa. Daily meditation can help reduce cortisol (the stress hormone associated with weight gain) in your body and help with stress management. You can meditate while eating, walking, driving, or showering. Give it a try!
- Mind when and what you eat.
Eat your largest meal during the day, around lunchtime. Choose a lighter meal, such as soups and broth, for dinner. Eating more and later in the day can lead to weight gain. Try to have dinner every day around 6:30 pm. Listen to your body’s signals and stop eating when you are not hungry. If hungry in the evening, try incorporating a tea routine.
- Lemon water.
Doctors at Cleveland Clinic say lemon water aids digestion. As you start your day, drink a large cup of warm lemon water on an empty stomach. That will wake up your tummy and help your digestive tract. You can add some ginger juice if you like.
Try adding dry brushing before the oil massage. I bet you will feel great! The skin, our body’s largest organ, is covered with dead skin cells. Dry skin brushing removes dead cells and activates waste removal via your lymphatic system, which helps eliminate toxins and reduce swelling! Always brush from the extremities moving towards the heart. Move the dry brush circularly around the joints and clockwise on the tummy.
Daily abhyanga, or self-massage, is very nurturing and can help us eliminate the extra water in our bodies that can cause swelling and joint pain. Massage relaxes the body and mind, which also helps detox. Additionally, when rhythmic strokes hit our muscles and tissues, fat toxins and excess water are released into the circulatory system increasing elimination capabilities. Check my blog for more information on how to do your self-massage and what oils to use.
- Drink more tea.
I love CCF’s tea blend from Banyan Botanicals. I mix it with lemon juice and a pinch of honey, and it’s delicious! Throughout the day, drink lots of detox tea, such as dandelion root tea, milk thistle, and CCF. Teas are full of antioxidants that help protect against compounds called free radicals, which cause damage to your cells. Teas’ benefit goes a long way, from boosting your metabolism to preventing cancer.
If weight management is your goal, exercise is a key routine component. Exercise in the morning will give you more energy during the day while releasing warm-fuzzy hormones. A few minutes can go a long way. Set reasonable goes. Listen to your body’s needs and limits. Be kind and love yourself.
- Sleep well.
You may know this, but science links poor sleep with weight gain. Do your best to go to bed before 10 pm. That will help reset your cortisol levels and balance your immune system.
- Eat simple and clean.
Clean eating goes a long way; you will feel stronger, happier, and healthier! Look for organic options in the supermarket’s perimeter. Leave behind what comes in a package!
Remember: if at any point you feel pain, discomfort, or other signs of distress, immediately suspend the recommendations and contact your doctor. We are all different, so only do as much as your body permits.
Be well and love yourself!