What Foods & Drinks to Avoid if You Have Lupus

It surprises some lupus patients to learn that no official diet exists to help reduce and manage symptoms. As with anyone trying to stay as healthy as possible, it is important to consume fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, lean proteins, legumes, whole grain, and plant fats. Rheumatologists also agree that people with lupus should avoid certain foods. We outline the most important foods to prevent a flare-up of lupus symptoms below.

1. Alcohol

While you do not have to stop drinking altogether, limiting alcoholic beverages will ensure that your medications work as they should. Alcohol interferes with some medications, including popular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like ibuprofen and naproxen. The most typical outcome of combining alcohol with NSAIDs ulcers and internal bleeding of the stomach. If your rheumatologist has prescribed warfarin to treat your lupus, consuming alcohol while taking it could increase your risk of liver problems.

2. Alfalfa and Garlic

Both these types of food contain ingredients that can cause stress to your immune system that leads to a flare-up of lupus symptoms. An amino acid known as L-canavanine is present in alfalfa while garlic contains thiosulfates, ajoene, and allicin. In addition to decreased immunity, alfalfa can also cause muscle fatigue and pain.

3. Red Meat

Red meat is high in saturated fat that can contribute to heart disease. It is better to consume fatty fishes instead like mackerel, sardines, salmon, or tuna. The Omega-3s present in these types of fish contain polyunsaturated fatty acids that can guard against heart issues. This is critical since coronary complications are a serious consequence of long-term or untreated lupus.

4. Saturated Fat and Trans Fat

Foods that contain saturated fat or trans fat also contain steroids that can contribute to weight gain because they increase your appetite. It is best to limit both as much as possible since being overweight or obese could worsen your lupus symptoms.

5. Sodium

Taking in too much salt can increase your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. These are both potential serious outcomes with lupus already, so taking steps to avoid developing high blood pressure or heart issues is essential. If you eat out frequently, ask your server to prepare your meal without added salt. You can also request that he or she serve sauces on the side since they often contain large amounts of sodium. You can control your salt intake much better when the sauce is not already spread out over your food.

6. Increase Foods Rich in Calcium

Steroid drugs, which rheumatologists routinely prescribe to reduce the number and severity of lupus symptoms, can cause thinning of the bones. When you have thin bones, you are much more likely to fracture or break one from a fall or other type of accident. The easiest way to protect yourself from fractures and broken bones while taking steroid medications is to consume more calcium-rich foods since calcium strengthens bones. Some examples include:

  • Beans
  • Broccoli, spinach, or other dark green vegetables with leaves
  • Cheese
  • Low-fat milk
  • Plant milks fortified with calcium
  • Tofu
  • Yogurt

You might also consider taking a supplement if you cannot eat these foods or feel concerned that you are not getting enough calcium in your daily diet.

Need Additional Tips to Manage Your Lupus? Contact Our Rheumatology Department

United Hospital Center (UHC) is pleased to have four experienced and dedicated rheumatologists on our team. If you are struggling to manage your lupus symptoms, we invite you to request an appointment today. You may reach UHC Rheumatology directly at 681-342-3490. You are also welcome to contact us if you suspect you could have lupus based on symptoms but have not received a formal diagnosis yet.

Please note, the information provided throughout this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and video, on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you are experiencing related symptoms, please visit your doctor or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.