foods to avoid with lupus

Lupus and Diet

Key Foods to Avoid for Optimal Management

In this article, we will explore the foods to avoid as a part of overall lupus management and well-being. For a solid treatment option, consider using Belimumab, sold under the brand name Benlysta, a medication used to treat certain autoimmune diseases, primarily systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It is a monoclonal antibody that works by inhibiting the activity of specific immune system proteins involved in the autoimmune response, helping to reduce disease activity and symptoms in individuals with SLE.

12 Warning Signs of Lupus

Below are 12 warning signs of lupus to watch for:

  1. Fatigue.
  2. Fever.
  3. Joint pain and swelling.
  4. A butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose.
  5. Skin rashes, sensitivity to sunlight.
  6. Chest pain or shortness of breath.
  7. Raynaud's phenomenon (fingers turning white or blue in response to cold or stress).
  8. Hair loss.
  9. Mouth ulcers.
  10. Swollen glands.
  11. Persistent headaches.
  12. Unexplained weight loss or gain.


Alcohol consumption can have detrimental effects on individuals with lupus. It can interact negatively with certain medications used to manage lupus symptoms, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and immunosuppressive drugs. Alcohol can also impair liver function, which is especially important for lupus patients as they may already have liver involvement due to the disease. Moreover, alcohol can trigger or exacerbate lupus symptoms like fatigue, joint pain and skin rashes. Therefore, individuals with lupus should limit or avoid alcohol consumption altogether.


While alfalfa sprouts are often considered a healthy addition to salads and sandwiches, they contain an amino acid called L-canavanine. This compound has been found to stimulate the immune system and may worsen inflammation in individuals with lupus. Some studies have suggested a potential link between alfalfa consumption and lupus flares. Therefore, it is recommended that lupus patients avoid alfalfa sprouts and supplements containing alfalfa.


Garlic, known for its numerous health benefits, contains certain compounds that may trigger lupus symptoms in some individuals. Allicin, a compound found in garlic, has been shown to stimulate the immune system and promote inflammation. For individuals with lupus, excessive consumption of garlic may worsen their symptoms or lead to disease flares. While moderate use of garlic in cooking is generally safe, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian to determine the appropriate amount for an individual's specific condition.

Red Meat

Red meat, including beef, lamb and pork, contains high levels of saturated fat, which can contribute to inflammation in the body. Furthermore, certain chemicals found in red meat, such as nitrites and nitrates used in processing, have been associated with increased inflammation and oxidative stress. While lean cuts of red meat can be a part of a balanced diet for some individuals, those with lupus may benefit from limiting their intake or opting for alternative protein sources such as fish, poultry and legumes.

Saturated Fat and Trans Fat

Saturated fats, commonly found in processed foods, fried foods and fatty cuts of meat, have been linked to increased inflammation and heart disease risk. Trans fats, often found in processed snacks, baked goods and fried foods, are even more harmful and can raise inflammation levels in the body. Individuals with lupus are already at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and reducing their intake of saturated fats and avoiding trans fats can help manage their overall health and minimize inflammation.


Excess sodium consumption can lead to fluid retention and increased blood pressure, potentially worsening kidney problems that are common in lupus patients. Processed foods, canned soups, sauces and fast food are often high in sodium. Individuals with lupus need to read food labels carefully, choose low-sodium alternatives and season meals with herbs and spices instead of salt.


Consuming excessive amounts of sugar and sugary foods has been associated with increased inflammation and weight gain. Obesity can worsen the symptoms of lupus and increase the risk of other chronic conditions. Additionally, high sugar intake can negatively impact the immune system and overall health. Individuals with lupus should limit their intake of sugary beverages, desserts and processed snacks and instead focus on a balanced diet rich in whole foods, including fruits and vegetables.

Final Notes

Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by inflammation and damage to various organs and tissues, leading to a wide range of symptoms. While there is no specific diet that can cure lupus, certain foods can trigger or worsen symptoms in individuals with the condition.

While there is no one-size-fits-all diet for individuals with lupus, making informed choices about the foods we consume can play a crucial role in managing symptoms and overall well-being. Avoiding certain foods can help minimize inflammation, reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals living with lupus. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized dietary advice to suit individual needs and preferences.

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