Lupus is an autoimmune disease which can lead to inflammation and damage to the skin, joints, brain, kidneys, and other organs, and is one of the more dangerous categories of autoimmune disease.

  • Overview
  • Action Plan
  • Ask The Doctor
  • Related Info
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It is unclear what the actual prevalence of lupus is, but it has been estimated that in the U.S. it is approximately 161,000 to 322,000, or 0.1% of the population.1 Most of those diagnosed with lupus are young women.

Common symptoms of lupus may include:

  • joint and muscle pain
  • fatigue
  • low-grade fever
  • rashes
  • chest pain
  • hair loss
  • anemia
  • mouth sores
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • skin sensitivity to light

If lupus goes uncontrolled, severe consequences can occur including organ damage and death. Persons with lupus have a higher risk of blood clots, kidney failure, heart disease, and stroke.

Little is known about what exactly causes lupus in individuals, but investigators believe it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors such as diet, toxin exposures, and intestinal bacteria imbalance.

  1. Helmick CG, Felson DT, Lawrence RC, et al. Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States. Part I. I 2008, 58:15-25.

Action Plan


  • Identify specific or general triggers to the disease to reduce or remove (which may be individual to each person). Many with lupus will find they are sensitive to gluten, processed foods such as sugar, animal products, alfalfa, and figs. Other foods are less common triggers, such as certain nuts, soy, nightshades, or corn, for example. A vegan, gluten-free diet has shown to be quite helpful for many with autoimmune disease, including those with lupus.
  • Maximize the intake of immune system regulating, anti-inflammatory foods such as high fiber, high micronutrient-dense foods including green vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables, in particular, are recommended to be eaten every day.
  • Anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cloves, garlic, and cinnamon should be used to season dishes.
  • Fruit intake may need to be reduced to low or moderate amounts.
  • Talk to your doctor before and after making changes to your diet and supplement regimen if you have a chronic disease or if you are taking any medication, as medication changes may be necessary.


Research has suggested that healthy bacteria in our intestines may be protective and help to keep a normal functioning immune system. Although eating a fiber-rich diet helps to build up healthy bacteria over time, many with lupus find it helpful to take supplemental probiotics. Ask your doctor to discuss if taking probiotics is right for you.

Omega-3 supplementation

Taking omega-3 supplements helps reduce inflammation and has been shown to be helpful for persons with lupus.1 If considering high doses of omega-3, consult your doctor first as it is not appropriate for everyone.

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  1. Wright SA, O'Prey FM, McHenry MT, et al. A randomised interventional trial of omega-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids on endothelial function and disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus. Ann Rheum Dis 2008, 67:841-848.

Ask The Doctor

The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)


For someone who has lupus nephritis, what are the food restrictions? I heard that a certain amount of protein can damage the kidneys even more. Are there foods that can help the kidneys? Thanks.


Did you read my book, Super Immunity? The diet and supplement protocol in the book is what I want you to do. The main point for lupus nephritis is no animal products, salt or oil, in other words, a strict vegan diet. You can eat brown and wild rice and vegetables, mushrooms, squash, and greens, with a small amount of fruit and a limited amount of nuts, seeds, and beans to keep protein fairly low. You can eat a half cup of beans with each meal, you can eat one ounce of seeds and nuts with each meal, and you can eat up to two fresh fruits with each meal. You should not have animal products at all until you are better.


I have been following your autoimmune protocol for lupus nephritis for a little over a month now, and I still don’t see any improvement. When should I start feeling better and have no more protein in the urine? I also eliminated wheat, oil, and salt. Will I ever be able to eat any type of animal product in the future?


It takes at least 3 months to get the micronutrient load built up in your tissues, but it might take even longer to see results. Your immune system and disease process can’t just reverse itself in a few weeks. Your condition is serious enough that you should avoid animal products for a long time now, until we see things are significantly improved.

I have seen some very severely ill patients with this condition get well. I often begin to see improvement after the first 3-4 months, but I have seen lupus patients take a few years to get well, making slow progress.