6 Foods Lupus Patients Might Want to Avoid


Despite what you’ve read, there is no established diet for lupus. There are certain foods that may improve life while living with lupus, and that are certain foods that can worsen your flares and how you feel.

To help you learn a little bit more about what you should and shouldn’t be eating, we’ve put together a list of foods that you might want to avoid if you’re a lupus patient (source: healthline.com):

MORE: Did you know that sugar might trigger a lupus flare?

1. Go from red meat to healthy, fatty fish
Being high in fat, red meat is not the best type of protein to eat, as it can lead to heart disease. Switch from red meat to fatty fishes, like tuna, salmon, sardines and mackerel. These types of fish have plenty of Omega-3s, which are polyunsaturated fatty acids that help protect against heart disease and stroke.

2. Eat foods rich in calcium
Lupus patients may be under medication that can thin their bones as a side effect. Strengthen your bones (and avoid fractures), by eating foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D.

Some of these foods include cheese, yogurt, low-fat milk, tofu, beans, spinach and broccoli (mainly dark green leafy vegetables), among others. Besides eating foods that are high in calcium, ask your physician to prescribe you some vitamin D and calcium supplements.

3. Eat less trans fats and processed foods
OK, let’s be honest: everyone should avoid trans fats and overly processed foods. But if you have a disease like lupus, avoiding these types of foods is even more important and can really benefit your health.

Processed foods that are high in trans fats often have elevated levels of steroids, which can make you hungry all the time, leading you to eat more and as a result, cause you to gain weight.

MORE: Discover nine tips to help you live well with lupus.

4. Try not to eat garlic and alfalfa
If you live with lupus, you should definitely try to avoid these two foods. Why you ask? Garlic contains joene, thiosulfinates and allicin, which can mess with your immune system and trigger lupus flares. The alfalfa contain L-canavanine in its sprouts, and this is an amino acid that can also lead to symptom flares.

5. Skip the booze
You don’t have to give up drinking completely; having a glass of wine or a beer every now and then is OK. Wine can actually benefit your heart health. Despite the benefits, you shouldn’t push it too much when drinking alcohol, since it can interfere with some of the medication you might be taking.

6. Avoid salt
Eating too much salt is not good for anyone, but it’s even worse for lupus patients. Did you know that eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk for heart disease?

But how can you avoid salt, especially when eating out? Whenever you go to a restaurant, try these tips:

  • Order your sauces on the side. They are usually high in sodium and if you don’t have them on your dish, you can control the amount you consume.
  • Ask for your entrée to be cooked without added salt.

Even though it may seem like it, reducing your salt intake doesn’t mean you have to eat food with no flavor. You can actually substitute salt with other spices to make your food delicious and full of flavor. Use spices like herbs, pepper, curry powder, or try to use lemon and turmeric to give your food a great taste.

MORE: Here are seven recipes for lupus patients you might be interested in. 

Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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  1. Luis tapia says:

    Off topic:
    So are (onions) bad for people that live with lupus? Since thier both apart of the same family of some sort?

    • MeganKate says:

      I’m a bit behind on sleep, so a lot of the information escapes me, but onions and garlic both cause bloating because of their non-digestible fiber content. In onions, they’re called fructans.

      I believe that was the original linking of the to inflammation: the bloat reaction. But past that, Onions are SUPER good for inflammation.

      Hope you find a far clearer answer soon.

  2. Dolly Stewart says:

    I was told it might be Lupus in June of 2013 and diagnosed in 8/2016. Hospitalized for 3/17-4/17. I have Medicaid but need help getting to. Grady Hospital for appointments. I’m alone, sad and depressed not suicidal.

  3. Yvonne says:

    I have just been dagnosis with lupus and really don’t know what I can eat. I don’t know what the symptons I am suppose to be looking for. it started with my feet being numb

    • Julia says:

      My daughter is 21 and has systemic lupus. We have changed a lot of stuff in her diet and it is helping. No gluten or red meat, very important to drink water kefir to heal the gut, eat lots of organic fruits and veggies, we make smoothies a lot, Celtic sea salt is the only salt we use, drink 2oz of Bentonite clay in 8oz of water daily and drink lots of water to flush in system, eat cabbage and berries, free range organic eggs are great, TAke organic MSM, vitamin D3, Intracal from Global Healing Center, we add Amla, turmeric, moringa, ashwaganda, maca powders to smoothies, Braggs apple cider vinegar with the mother daily in water. These are a few ideas for health! Praying God heals you!♥️

  4. Victoria says:

    I just had a biopsy done, pictures taken yesterday. This doctor was very kind, but seem to know exactly what I have but is looking on how to best treat it. I had a Dr. Speigle (specialist) in Santa Barbara never having met him in my life, tell me 22 years ago, 6 months after having my daughter and never having met him this. He walked into exam room and his first words were “Boy you look depressed and you know what you have is fatal”. Went on to tell me how great his life is, wrote a book and on his way on a great trip with his wife to Big Sur. I left that appointment in tears on my way to the car, never told anyone not even my husband. I just thought what an unkind, unprofessional man. I work a very stressful job so I just knocked up the rashes to hives. Well, here I am and I do have most syptoms described for the skin type, however I have had numerous kidney stones and have felt lately like another one is trying to pass. I will have confirmation in a week, but am having 2nd spine surgery in August. This is what made me go in, was to make sure rashes won’t delay surgery as I can barely walk. I have always been active in sports, camping and on the go. I can’t say I am shocked maybe a bit relieved to have an explanation but this morning realty has hit. I believe in prayer and will keep all with this disease in my daily prayers. I don’t drink so at least I don’t have to worry about giving that up, but my husband is Italian cooks that way. Hmmmm………. Victoria from SB Prayers for all of you truly.

    • Woody says:

      Lupus takes a long time to diagnose and all the emotional elements of dealing with other peoples misunderstanding adds to the negative feelings. There is really no way to avoid this, just know that you’re not alone in this. My wife has been dealing with Lupus for 30 years and yes there have been difficult times and doctors without understanding or empathy.

      The doctor who caused you distress and probably confusion about your situation sounds bipolar. He probably experienced the episode when walking through the door. The basic human instinct is fight or flight when entering a new environment and he seems to have been confused by it. Also maybe he had a patient or personal experience that affected him deeply, this has nothing to do with you or your situation. My wife went through the same unnecessary experience more than once.

      Deal with one problem at a time, Keep finding ways to enjoy the outdoors but stay away from the sun. Florescent lights also seem to cause flareups in skin from my wife’s experience. A good book I read called “The Sun Is My Enemy” covers an experience that follows what you describe, and it helps to understand the symptoms and life long effects than need addressing but don’t determine quality or length of life.

      Only you can understand your situation fully and make choices and take action to benefit in the best quality of life you can.

      We rely on our God above Jehovah and try to under stand and know his thoughts, this has been the most beneficial spiritual aspect giving confidence that he will make it all just a distant memory through his kingdom ruled by his first born son Jesus Christ our King in the Heavens.

  5. Roberta McCurtis says:

    I just been told that I’m on the borderline of Lupus is there anything we can eat to better this or make it go away

  6. Pam says:

    Was just diagnosed with lupus. Doctor mentioned garlic and alfalfa as foods to avoid. Now I read that alcohol is bad. I enjoy a glass of wine at dinner – just one. Can I have that?

  7. Cherie says:

    I was just diagnosed with Lupus Friday after lab work came back, haven’t been able to eat garlic or tomato based food for a while do to severe GeRDS, but I hate all fish, would rather eat steak then fish

  8. Kellie McRae says:

    I tend to stay away from garlic, never used alfalfa. I know most restaurants will use garlic but when cooking at home, I leave it out and find other seasonings that make food taste good as well. I am more plant-based and cook in more than eating out to keep a better feel for what I’m putting in my body. I do still enjoy a glass of wine once a week or so. I initially did a food elimination phase and that helped me figure out what works for my body. Its been a couple of years and I am actually about to do another one since converting over from vegetarian to plant-based means a few different food options and of course our bodies are always changing their minds about how they want to respond to things.

  9. FAS says:

    Brother Woody, Came a across your comment when thinking of making dinner for a friend with Lupus. With all the sickness in the world, we all long for a better system of things. Will make the dinner with lots of broccoli and a little olive oil and sauteed garlic as I understand cooked garlic is ok when cooked. Happy about that.

  10. Lani T Wilson says:

    Have read that gluten free diets help the inflammation. Don’t have to be real strict, but try to avoid the gluten. For me, it’s been ok. Of course over the holidays, I cheated. But back to it again. Did feel a little more joint pain when I was not being vigilant.

  11. chris says:

    i have low blood pressure and lupus. was recommended to increase salt intake for low blood pressure and now i need to cut that back. wut lmao

  12. Cresencia says:

    I was diagnosed with mild lupus but feels it’s gonna kill me if it flares up so i am researching what food to avoid ,i learned to eliminate sugar,salt,and stress,and take plenty of rest but i can’t stop doing my housework, is gluten bad for lupus?i feel week for eliminating sugar salt completely,but i try my best to eat plenty of green leafy veges and fruits.I am taking some medications,

  13. Cresencia Mortimer says:

    I was diagnosed with a mild form of lupus in 2013,but if it flares up it feels as though i’m dying,is gluten bad for lupus? i eat green leafy veges and fruits,my lupus flares up every three months,can lupus kill?

  14. Sue Sheldon says:

    May I suggest the book “Despite Lupus” by Sara Gorman. This has really helped me with the coping of having Lupus and really teaches how to embrace life with Lupus. I have also purchased “The Lupus Cookbook”. Being well informed and educate on a diets tailored for us with Lupus,which has so many beneficial factors. You don’t stop living with Lupus, just changes your lifestyle if you are willing to make the small changes in the foods you eat which changes the outcome of how your body functions.

  15. Thays Couto says:

    My doctor said no soy! you included Tofu which is nothing but Soy! and by the disclaimer on your site I believe this information is not officially trustworthy to rely on. My doctor told me garlic was good for me. He is a specialist!

  16. My heart reaches out to each of you. Lupus along with its other autoimmune disease is a challenging walk in the park. Lupus has been an unwelcome companion most of the time. Over twenty and 15 more with RA. Pain and debilitating fatigue and depression wrestle me to the ground but I keep getting up to try another day.
    My dear son developed Sjogrens in his early thirties and now suffers with constant, cruel Lupus. He is married with three young children and I watch the fatigue bombard him.

    Any diet ideas that really work, secrets on dealing with the muscle pain and depression, please pass it my way.
    I have a good listening ear and heart.

  17. Holly says:


    I was diagnosed with Lupus in February 2018 ANA = 64. June 3 2019 my Lupus was no longer detectable. I started out on Dr. Fuhrman’s Super Immunity diet, which lowered my ANA to 34 in four months. After that things were slow for several months in healing department. Lots of visits to the ER, many sick days. I had switched to Dr. Esselstyn’s prevent and reverse heart disease diet because the nuts and seeds were just too much for me to handle. By April 2019 my ANA was down to 17, but I was depressed because I’d been religious about staying on a plant based diet and things were taking so long (I started out on 300 mg of Plaquenil in Feb 2018). I knew the high antioxidate plant based diet was important if I wanted to heal, in fact my Yale trained rheumatologist told me in Feb 2018 that the only way I could hope to get better is by being on a plant based diet, so I knew I had to stick with the plant based diet. I wanted to find something that was high antioxidant that I could add to my prevent and reverse heart disease diet, so went in search of people who had healed cancer on a plant based diet. I found Chris Beat Cancer. This was important because I had the double stranded DNA Lupus which means your prone to many cancers and ten times more likely to have a heart attack. So healing my DNA was important. And I knew from Dr Greger’s Nutrition Facts.org that berries have the highest level of polyphenals/antioxidants of any food and its the polyphenols that heals DNA. Chris Beat Cancer started out healing his stage three colon cancer by drinking a huge berry smoothie every day. And he’s been cancer free for years. Still drinks his smoothie. So, I started drinking my high antioxidant berry smoothie each day first thing in the morning in April 2019 (ANA was 17) by June 3 2019 my Lupus was no longer detectable. I’d like to add that my Plaquenil had also been bumped up to 400 mg during that time as well. I’m now back to 300 mg a day and will probably stay on this dose for one year while monitoring my labs every 3-4 months, according to my doctor. I hope this helps someone. I know how you feel. Early on there were days I would come home from work, collapse and just think this must be what it feels like to die because I felt awful. There is always hope. May all of you heal.

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