Diet and lupus, what do I have to eat and what should I avoid?

Nutrition plays a very important role in preventing, treating and controlling diseases. Therefore, if you suffer from lupus disease or know someone who has it, It is very important to know a series of guidelines that allow you to take care of the diet. Keep reading to find out what they are!

What is lupus?

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus It is an autoimmune disease of unknown origin where the body does not recognize infectious agents, therefore, it attacks itself. It presents with outbreaks that can be mild or severe depending on the person. It is a systemic disease, which means that it produces symptoms in different tissues of the human body.

In addition, it can be associated with diseases such as osteoporosis, kidney damage, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, so It is highly recommended that the person diagnosed with lupus monitor their diet and make favorable changes in your habits that allow you to improve your quality of life and avoid contributing to the development of these collateral conditions.

How does the diet affect lupus?

It should be known that some medications produce an increase in appetite that results in weight gain. Glucocorticoids interfere with the absorption of calcium, zinc, potassium, vitamins B6, C and D, producing muscle loss and affecting the normal blood sugar balance. As a consequence, there is an increase in fat deposits in the body.

Conversely, there may also be weight loss or decreased appetite and gastrointestinal discomforts such as heartburn, stomach upset, nausea, vomiting or painful mouth ulcers.

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What do I have to eat on a lupus diet?

Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D are key to proper nutrition of lupus patients.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D participates in the regulation of calcium in the body, so it is responsible for maintaining strong bones and teeth. This vitamin is very important for people with lupus, since they must avoid exposure to the sun, therefore, they must consume it in the diet.

In addition, as a study published in Autoimmunity Highlights, Vitamin D deficit could have negative effects on patients' immune responses.

It is present in Enriched milk, egg yolk, liver, blue fish and fish liver oils. It is important to limit the consumption of caffeine to a maximum of 3 cups of coffee per day, or soda or tea with caffeine, as it decreases the absorption of vitamin D.

Folic acid

The metrotrexate used in the treatment of lupus can cause folate deficiency, therefore, folic acid supplement is advised to protect against gastrointestinal disorders and maintain optimal red blood cell production.

In food, folic acid is found in green leafy vegetables, parsley, legumes and nuts. Do not consume the supplement together with tea, as it prevents the absorption of the vitamin.


As we have said before, people with lupus are at greater risk of osteoporosis. This is because this disease is mostly suffered by women, and they usually do little physical activity due to the pain and fatigue of the disease. It can also occur due to vitamin D deficiency which, in turn, produces a calcium deficit.

The foods with the highest concentration of calcium are the Dairy products, green leafy vegetables, chickpeas, almonds, sardines and vegetable seeds. It should also be taken into account that part of coffee, alcohol and tobacco should be consumed, as they impede its absorption.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Consuming omega-3 fatty acids has an anti-inflammatory effect, in addition to the impact on the control of dyslipidemias; thus, people with lupus should follow a diet high in this fatty acid, It is found in flaxseed oil, soybean oil, nuts and blue fish.

What should I avoid?

Foods high in sodium are not recommended for patients with lupus. To the extent possible they should be avoided, especially if it comes from processed foods.

Sodium, diet and lupus

Excess salt is associated with hypertension and increased excretion of calcium in the urine, which increases the risk of osteoporosis. The foods that should be avoided are:

  • Sausages
  • Ripe cheeses
  • Preserved food
  • Envelope creams or soups
  • Industrial and soy sauces
  • Highly processed foods

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High protein diets

High protein diets are not appropriate, since could contribute to the deterioration of kidney function. Proteins are found in red meat, fish, dairy and eggs. It is recommended to avoid saturated fats from meats, preferably choosing poultry meats.

Calorie restriction

It is not advisable for people with lupus to follow strict diets, since Dietary calorie restriction accelerates autoimmune diseases. The National Academy of Sciences recommends a diet of 1800-2000 kcal per day for sedentary people with lupus.

Alfalfa, diet and lupus

People with lupus should avoid alfalfa, as outbreaks of lupus have been associated. These effects may include muscle pain, fatigue, abnormal blood test results, changes in the functioning of the immune system and kidney problems.

Finally, It is essential to keep in mind that nutritional needs may vary in each patient, depending on their age and condition. Therefore, although these recommendations can be taken into account, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional.