“What foods can cause Lupus to Flareup?” is a common question patients ask shortly after diagnosis.

Flareups are part of living with lupus. Anyone with the disease quickly learns that certain lifestyle choices can increase the likelihood of a flareup. One of these choices involves food. The foods we eat affect our body and for most people, any food in moderation is fine. For anyone living with lupus, certain foods can bring certain pain.

What foods cause lupus flareups?

To be clear, there is no clear diet for controlling lupus. No single food has been identified as “causing” a flareup. Although there are certain foods which can cause increased inflammation, no single diet can eliminate a flareup. That said, the best approach for someone with lupus is the same as with most other diseases: Balance.

A balanced diet consists of plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, plant fats, whole grains, lean proteins, fish, and legumes. Still, there are certain food groups which can increase the symptoms of lupus.

What kind of diet is recommended for lupus?

Aside from various foods which may contribute to symptoms, there are many common known triggers which can cause lupus to flare up. Because of this, identifying which foods contribute to feeling better or worse can be very difficult. Some of the other triggers include:

  • Stress
  • Infections
  • Injuries
  • Exposure to sunlight
  • Close exposure to halogen or fluorescent lights
  • Not enough rest
  • Overworking
  • Cessation of lupus medications
  • Other medications

Because there are so many things which can trigger a flareup, people living with lupus often decide to just cut all possible foods which can cause a flareup out of their life and try their favorites one at a time, if at all.

The foods which many sufferers find contribute to symptoms include nightshade vegetables like potatoes, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. Alfalfa has been reported to increase muscular pain and general fatigue and garlic boosts the immune system, something which no one with lupus needs.

Of course, everyone should limit trans fats and saturated fats, so this goes without saying. And, given the potential for heart disease in lupus sufferers, avoiding red meat in favor of a diet containing more fish is recommended.

Finally, because many of the mediations lupus sufferers must take to control their disease can cause a reduction in bone mass, foods rich in calcium should be part of the daily intake. These include low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, beans, and dark-leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli.

What other dietary habits may help with lupus?

Salt increases blood pressure which can increase the risk of heart attack in persons with lupus, so it should be greatly reduced or eliminated as much as possible. Remember that there are many alternatives to salt such as herbs, curry, turmeric, lemon, and other seasonings.

Finally, alcohol interacts poorly with certain medications. If taking NSIADS like ibuprofen or naproxen, there is an increased risk of bleeding ulcers in the stomach. Warfarin will be less effective and could result in liver damage.

Is there some way to get help with my diet?

Your single best source for help in developing a diet which will help you control lupus flareups is your Rheumatologist. Regular checkups and lab tests will ensure that your body is responding to treatments and inflammation is kept at a minimum. Your physician will watch your organ functions including kidney, heart, and more. The goal is to control symptoms and reduce flareups. Each situation is different, so be sure to communicate any concerns and dietary questions with your doctor.

If you do not currently have a Rheumatologist or are considering a change, request an appointment to meet with a Kymera Rheumatologist now by clicking here.

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