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Mediterranean Diet Benefits Patients With Lupus, Study Suggests

By Clarissa Joshua
May. 14, 2021 09:49 UTC

Systemic lupus erythematosus patients who followed the Mediterranean dietexperienced an improvement in the clinical course of the disease, according to a study from the University of Granada.

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.

Together with medical treatment, nutritional counseling could be very useful to improve the course of lupus and its comorbidities.- Norberto Ortego Centeno, researcher, University of Granada

Lupus currently has no cure, so improving its symptoms and comorbidities is vital. It is estimated that at least five million people worldwide have a form of lupus.

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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.

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.

Lupus symptoms vary across patients, but the disease causes inflammation that can affect many organ systems, including the heart, lungs and brain.

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.