In general, people with lupus should aim for a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It should also include moderate amounts of meats, poultry, and oily fish.
If you have lupus, following a varied, healthy diet may help:
- Reduce inflammation and other symptoms
- Maintain strong bones and muscles
- Combat the side effects of medications
- Achieve or maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
Here’s what you need to know about lupus, diet, and nutrition to gain these important benefits.
Reducing Inflammation and Other Symptoms
Foods with possible anti-inflammatory properties include fruits and vegetables, which are rich in substances called antioxidants. In addition, foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, ground flaxseed, canola oil, and olive oil may also help fight inflammation.
Saturated fats, on the other hand, can raise cholesterol levels and may contribute to inflammation. So they should be limited. Sources of saturated fats include fried foods, commercial baked goods, creamed soups and sauces, red meat, animal fat, processed meat products, and high-fat dairy foods. That includes whole milk, half and half, cheeses, butter, and ice cream.
One food to avoid is alfalfa sprouts. Alfalfa tablets have been associated with lupus flares or a lupus-like syndrome that includes muscle pain, fatigue, abnormal blood test results, and kidney problems. These problems may be due to a reaction to an amino acid found in alfalfa sprouts and seeds. This amino acid can activate the immune system and increase inflammation in people with lupus. Garlic may also stimulate the immune system.
Maintaining Strong Bones and Muscles
Good nutrition is important for strong bones and muscles. For people with lupus, bone health is a particular concern. That’s because medications used to treat it can increase the risk for osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become less dense and break easily.