Healthy Heart

10 Foods to Avoid if You Have Lupus

10 Foods to Avoid if You Have Lupus

Key Takeaways

  • Avoid inflammatory food and drinks, as these can trigger or worsen existing symptoms.
  • Fresh, unprocessed foods are a lupus sufferer's best choice for diet.
  • Make healthy adjustments such as quitting smoking and checking your blood vitamin levels often.

Do you want to know which food should be avoided if you have lupus?

Unhealthy food choices worsen lupus by increasing inflammation. Is there any food that causes lupus? No. Though there is no specific food that causes lupus, it is still important to avoid unhealthy choices in order to properly manage living with lupus.

Again, there is no particular diet to be followed; however, just like other medical conditions, a healthy mix of foods like vegetables, fruits, fish, lean protein, whole grains, etc. can help improve the condition. 

In order to manage the symptoms, it is important to know what you should include and what should be excluded from your diet. Here is a list of 10 foods that you should avoid if you are suffering from lupus:

1. Alfalfa sprouts
2. Alcohol
3. Caffeine
4. Tobacco
5. Certain vitamin supplements
6. Unhealthy fats
7. Sugars and sodas
8. Salt
9. Canned food
10. Concentrated juices

1. Alfalfa sprouts

  • Alfalfa sprouts is something that needs to be strictly avoided by people with lupus.
  • What are Alfalfa sprouts? They are sprouts out of alfalfa flower seeds.
  • Though highly recommended otherwise, both sprouts and supplements of alfalfa are a strict no-no in lupus. The reason for this is that alfalfa sprouts are linked to flares - a condition wherein lupus symptoms appear. These symptoms include kidney problems, abnormal blood report, excessive tiredness, and muscle pain.
  • This could be contributed by an amino acid/ L-canavanine that’s found in alfalfa. It activates the immune response against self, causing self damage.
  • Even if you don’t have lupus, but have a family member who has Lupus or have a family history that may genetically predispose you to lupus, alfalfa is best avoided.
  • Research says alfalfa is effective in causing and aggravating lupus.

2. Alcohol

  • Alcohol is likely to interfere with your treatment plan if you are currently being treated for lupus. It’s reported to alter the effects of medicines.
  • Alcohol is also reported to cause new symptoms or worsen existing health issues.

3. Caffeine

  • Rest is very important in lupus. It could easily be as important as medicine. We all need a sound sleep, but it is even more important if you are suffering from lupus.
  • Coffee acts as a stimulant. It’s likely to keep you awake, so it is best to stay away from coffee at least 6 hours before sleep.
  • Coffee is also likely to irritate your stomach. The medication you take for lupus also contribute to an upset stomach. Hence, it’s advised to cut down on coffee as much as possible, especially when you're currently following a treatment plan.
  • Remember, chocolates and most beverages also contain caffeine and/or ingredients of coffee.

4. Tobacco

  • Tobacco in any form is dangerous to your health.
  • Smoking tobacco has an adverse effect on bones.
  • It also exaggerates the symptoms of lupus.
  • The effect further aggravates in combination with drugs used for treating lupus.
  • This could be the right time to look for professional support to help you quit smoking.

5. Certain vitamin supplements

  • Few vitamin supplements have been found to aggravate lupus. Vitamin E and beta carotene are two examples. Excess vitamin E supplementation is reported to cause heart problems.
  • On the contrary, vitamins and minerals are best obtained through natural sources such as fruits and vegetables.

In addition to the above tips, here are general dietary guidelines which hold well for lupus as well:

6. Avoid unhealthy fats

  • Deep fried food and red meat are high in unhealthy fat. Ice creams and creamed vegetables/soups also belong to the category of unhealthy fats.
  • Unhealthy fats increase inflammation.
  • Additionally, corticosteroids used for treating lupus increase the chances of high cholesterol levels.
  • When you consume poultry, remember to remove the skin. Most of the unhealthy fats lie in the skin.

7. Avoid sugars and sodas

  • Corticosteroids increase the chances of being overweight. Sugar also increases inflammation. Thus, it is necessary for people with lupus to avoid sweet, sugary foods and drinks that contain high levels of refined sugar. 

8. Avoid salt/sodium

  • Salt is another ingredient that causes inflammation.
  • Salt also causes water retention and an increased tendency for high blood pressure.
  • Additionally, corticosteroids used for treating lupus predispose lupus sufferers to an additional risk of high blood pressure.
  • This makes it even more necessary to avoid salt in lupus.
  • We use salt as a flavor enhancer. Certain herbs such as basil and cinnamon add a flavor to your food. Alternatives such as these may be used to minimize the need to use salt.

9. Avoid canned food

  • Though some of the healthiest foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are available canned, they carry high levels of preservatives and additives, such as salt, sugar, and other chemicals, that make them unhealthy food options.
  • Instead, it is best to opt for fresh sources of these food groups.

10. Avoid concentrated juices

  • They also carry additives such as sugar and preservatives, which make it an unhealthy choice.
  • Instead of concentrated juices, consume whole fruits and vegetables.
  • When you eat a whole fruit, you also consume healthy fiber, which is great for your gut. Concentrated fruit juices, skip that part.
  • Moreover, certain vitamins such as vitamin C are water soluble and available only for fresh consumption. They lose their value when stored.

Go fresh as much as possible and avoid processed foods. In addition, high protein diets may not be suitable for lupus patients as they put an excessive pressure on the kidneys.

Lupus affects each person differently, hence it is necessary to understand that one person's diet plan may not work for another. It is best to discuss your planned diet with a doctor or dietitian in order to have proper guidance on what works best for your body's needs. 

In order to keep yourself healthy do the following simple tips:

1. Switch to read meat and fish

  • Red meat is rich in saturated fats.
  • Fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel are rich in Omega 3.
  • Both help in reducing inflammation in the body.

2. Include calcium rich food

  • The steroids taken for treating lupus make the bones thin, thus increasing the risk of fractures.  This makes it necessary to include food like low fat milk, yogurt, beans, tofu, cheese and dark green vegetables in out diet. they are rich in calcium and vitamin D.

These are some of the things you need to avoid if you have lupus, make sure you contact a medical expert to know more.