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Nutrition Tips for People With Lupus

By Greenfield, Paige
Content provided by: Better Medicine from Healthgrades

You already know that the food and drink you put in your body affects your overall health. While there’s no special diet for people with lupus, it’s still important to pay attention to what you eat. Why? Adding certain foods to your routine can help control lupus symptoms and reduce your risk for related complications, such as osteoporosis and heart disease. Avoiding other foods can keep flares, complications, and medication interactions at bay.

Here’s a look at some of the foods you should focus on.

Eat More of These…

Fish. It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are an essential part of a heart-healthy diet. That’s good news since people with lupus are at risk of developing heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings—about 3.5 ounces of cooked fish—per week.

At the store, look for fatty fish, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Examples include salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna.

Dairy products and leafy veggies. These foods are packed with calcium and vitamin D. The dynamic duo work together to keep your bones strong. This is important because people with lupus have an increased risk for osteoporosis. The disease may occur as a result of lupus itself or because of certain lupus medications, such as glucocorticoids, that can lead to bone loss.

Fortify your frame with leafy dark green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, and low-fat dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt.

Tomatoes and potatoes. Lupus ups your chances of having high blood pressure, a risk factor for coronary artery disease. However, adding foods high in potassium helps reduce the impact that salt has on your blood pressure.

Strive to eat about 4,700 mg of potassium per day. Besides tomatoes and potatoes, potassium is also found in orange and grapefruit juice, raisins, lettuce, and papayas.

Eat Less of These…

Alfalfa. It may seem like a random item on a do-not-eat list, but it’s important to steer clear of alfalfa seeds and sprouts. Compounds in alfalfa may trigger the immune system, increase inflammation, and set off a lupus flare. No, thank you!   

Alcohol. Ask your doctor whether drinking alcohol might cause some of your medications to become less effective or increase the potential for side effects. For instance, anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), and naproxen (Naprosyn) can cause ulcers, and this risk rises when you consume alcohol.

Salt. Many processed foods such as soups and sauces contain sky-high amounts of sodium, which can raise your blood pressure and boost your risk for heart disease. Check labels to find out how much sodium foods contain. Most adults should stick to less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. However, if you’re age 51 or older, or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease, it’s safer to aim for less than 1,500 mg per day.

Shaking a salt habit may be easier than you think. Look for low-sodium varieties of foods you enjoy, fill up on fruits and veggies, and avoid adding salt when cooking and eating. Many herbs and spices make a tasty substitute.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Dec 15, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2013 Healthgrades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

Reference: Bones, Joints and Muscles section on Better Medicine

Did You Know?

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Lupus occurs most frequently in women ages 15 - 40.