- For those who don't know, what is lupus and how does it present in the body / your body?
Lupus is short for Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus (SLE) an autoimmune disease that makes your body sort of attack itself. Normally your body makes antibodies to protect itself against bad bacteria or infections, but with SLE your body kind of gets confused and starts making antibodies that attack healthy normal cells throughout your body not just the baddies.
As a result I get lots of inflammation throughout all different parts of my body, mostly there is swelling in the joints of my hands and feet with pain like arthritis, rashes and hives on my skin, sun sensitivity but the constant annoying part is just general fatigue because my body is fighting itself.
When I have a ‘flare up’ of inflammation my symptoms get pretty bad, lots of hair loss which I hate, then my kidneys have problems filtering and I’m often in bed for a number of days trying to calm everything down.
- For your body, what have you noticed makes the symptoms more severe - lifestyle/diet/stress etc
Stress is a big factor which can be hard to avoid!
But alcohol and sugar definitely exacerbate symptoms too. Anything that puts extra inflammation in my body, so even doing a really intense gym workout can have negative side effects unfortunately.
- What was your diet/lifestyle like prior to the changes you have made in the past year?
I’m a very driven person and like to put 100% into everything I do which meant I was working lots and quite stressed by my job.
I was also studying online part-time, worked out at the gym three times a week and tried to eat healthy.
Cooking was always last on my priority list and I would go through stages of being immensely healthy spending hours prepping meals but ‘fall off the wagon’ so to speak when things got busy with work. Then easy to prepare processed food would become my meals for awhile.
I knew that I needed to eat better but time was lacking, I got stuck in a negative cycle where my energy levels were low because of the SLE and the crappy food BUT couldn’t summon the energy to prepare proper nutritious meals!
- What prompted the change for you and what has that journey looked like over the past 18 months (food, naturopathic support, herbs, lifestyle)?
My SLE was getting worse, I was unable to enjoy weekends because I needed to rest and recover ready for work on Monday. I was looking at needing major surgery to manage the pain and pretty much hit rock bottom.
So I spoke to my boss and asked to reduce down to just 2 days a week, which was financially a massive decision but I knew I couldn’t keep on pushing myself and that my health was more important than anything.
Then I started studying full-time and I also started getting meals delivered from Nikki at NOOD (now Pure + NOOD obviously) each week, so that I was properly supporting my body with the nutrients it needed.
I decided that putting my reduced income towards nourishing my body was going to be the most important priority and that bills would come second... amazingly I’ve managed to survive financially without any huge changes.
On top of all of this, I also started working with a naturopath who has helped ensure my gut health is optimal so I can absorb all the great food I am eating and minimise the inflammation in my body generally.
- What role do you think the food has played in your overall wellbeing?
To me food is medicine and it is the foundation of health. My body and symptoms change dramatically when I eat fresh, balanced whole foods instead of processed junk.
Yes, my SLE might make things more obvious but in reality those changes occur in everyone’s body even though they might not be aware of it.
- How do you feel now?
Life has changed so much!
I have more energy, and rarely need an afternoon ‘rest’ before dinner. I wake up feeling fresh without much joint pain or swelling in the mornings. My skin is clearer and less red all the time. The inflammation in my joints has reduced so much that I am no longer contemplating surgery.
PLUS I have halved the amount of pharmaceutical drugs I take to manage my SLE!
- Any key tips or takeaways for our audience when it comes to nourishing their bodies?
Listen to your body more, it will tell you what it needs if you listen closely.