In lupus, white blood cells lose their ability to regulate inflammation and regulating cells then cause damage. The mitochondria – a cell’s powerhouse – were studied to determine how they may lead to lupus-like inflammation. Certain white blood cells in lupus and other inflammatory disorders have been found to increase the amounts of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species. The researchers noted, “Because mitochondria are a potent source of reactive oxygen species, and because mitochondrial DNA has been implicated recently in inflammatory responses … we wanted to examine their role in this autoimmune disorder.”
There is no cure for lupus currently and it commonly affects women more than men.
Neutrophils are white blood cells that are normally responsible for catching pathogens, but in autoimmune disorders they are suspected to play a different role. In autoimmune disorders, germs and other pathogens provoke neutrophils to create a mesh outside themselves to capture offenders.
This reaction can cause organ damage in lupus, as neutrophil extracellular traps, or NETs, can cause cell death. This phenomenon has been seen in many other autoimmune disorders. In mouse models, medications to stop NETosis – cell death by NET – improve lupus along with preventing atherosclerosis and blood clotting.
Unfortunately, it is still unclear as to how these mesh nets are created and how germs provoke inflammation when there is no known infection.
Diet to combat inflammation
Food can play a large role in our overall health, especially with regards to inflammation. In fact, some foods have been found to promote inflammation whereas others can reduce its incidences. Studies that focus on food and inflammation often emphasize the power of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega fatty acids can be found in fish, dark leafy greens, flax, oils, and animal fats.
One large study looked at diet and lupus, where researchers found no correlation between dietary fat and disease activity over the course of four years. They did find, however, that higher intake of antioxidants was associated with a decrease in disease activity.
Although there is no current evidence to support omega-3 fatty acids in the decrease of lupus disease activity, increasing antioxidants may be a wise decision. It’s important to note that the role of antioxidants in lupus is still understudied and there is still little evidence to support the claim.
If you wish to make any change to your diet, always speak to your doctor to ensure it is safe and that you are still getting in proper nutrition from a variety of food sources.
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