Healthy Living

What to Eat and What Not to Eat in Lupus

What to Eat and What Not to Eat in Lupus

Key Takeaways

  • Red meat and salt increase the risk of developing heart disease.
  • Reduce the intake of saturated fats.
  • Maintain a food diary.

There is no established diet for lupus. Just like any other medical condition, people with lupus should eat a healthy diet that includes fresh vegetables, fruits, and proteins. However, not every food is good to eat. Some food may be better than others. Therefore, it is essential to learn what food is good for lupus patients and what food is bad.

1. Fatty fish is good, but not red meat.

Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are proven to be effective against heart disease and inflammation in the body. Since lupus has an increased risk of heart disease, consumption of fatty fish is a really good idea. Red meat should be avoided by lupus patients as it is full of saturated fat that can increase the likelihood of heart disease.

2. Incorporate calcium-rich foods to your diet.

One lupus treatment is through the use of steroids. Steroids have several side effects and one of them include osteoporosis. Steroid-induced osteoporosis will make you more vulnerable to fractures. Therefore, it is important to increase your calcium and vitamin D intake. Incorporate calcium-rich foods into your diet, which includes low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, and dark green vegetables.

If you feel that diet alone is not enough to provide you with the necessary amount of vitamin D and calcium, you can always use vitamin D and calcium supplements.

3. Reduce the intake of saturated fats.

Saturated fats make you fat, and with steroid treatment for lupus, they make it worse. Why? Steroids tend to increase your appetite and you will continue to eat more and more in one day. If you are consuming saturated fats at the same, then both will make you fat in no time. Therefore, watch your weight and try to minimize the intake of saturated fats as much as possible.

4. Alfalfa is one thing you should not consume at all.

Alfalfa sprouts contain an amino acid called L-canavanine that causes flare-ups of lupus by activating the immune system. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, doctors have noticed changes in blood tests in patients who consume alfalfa. These patients also tend to experience lupus symptoms after consuming alfalfa. 

5. Maintain a food diary.

Write everything you eat in a day in your food diary and later go through the list, and eliminate the foods that caused flare-ups of the disease. This way, you can avoid eating these foods, and thus, reducing future flare-ups.

6. Control your alcohol consumption.

Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol is not good for your health, especially if you have lupus. Alcohol can interact with the drugs given for the disease. For example, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that are given to reduce pain, causes stomach ulcers and bleeding. If you consume alcohol while taking NSAIDs, the risk of having side effects increases and will put you in more pain.

7. Avoid salt.

Salt is sodium chloride. Sodium helps the body retain water, which increases blood pressure, and thus, creates an increased risk of developing heart disease. Since lupus already increases your risk of heart disease, you definitely do not want to double that risk. Increase the flavor of your food with garlic, pepper, lemon, and other spices. Try to get used to a salt-free diet.