Easy Ways to Improve Your Diet When You Have Lupus

Lupus Diet and Lifestyle Tips

Lupus DietLupus is an autoimmune disease affecting the body’s immune system, causing this system to become hyperactive and attack normal, healthy tissue.

Lupus, if left untreated, can cause damage to the kidneys, heart, lungs, blood, skin, and joints. The symptoms of this chronic disorder usually start out as inflammation and swelling of the joints, and the patient will experience fatigue, rashes, and irritability.

If you have lupus, it’s a good idea to eat a well-balanced diet, which consists of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains in good amounts. Moderate amounts of meats, fish, and poultry are also better for people with lupus.

Studies show that even if you eat these foods, they will not cure lupus, and there are no known foods to eliminate this chronic disease. However, a good healthy eating plan is vital to good health and for treating lupus.

How a Healthy Lupus Diet Helps

A healthy eating or diet plan will help lupus in these ways, and then some:

  • Will help reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Helps to keep a healthy weight
  • Keeps bones and muscles strong
  • Reduces medication side effects

Heart Disease, Lupus, and Omega 3s

A healthy eating plan is essential for people with lupus because they have a higher risk for heart disease than people who do not suffer from this condition.

Your doctor may check for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. If either condition is found to occur along with lupus, they may recommend a diet plan that calls for low-fat foods and a low-salt diet, along with exercise.


Studies show that eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids will help reduce heart disease, which involves high blood pressure and high triglycerides. Omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from fish or fish oils. A few foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Lake trout
  • Rainbow trout
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Canola oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Tuna
  • Pecans
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Bluefish
  • Sardines
  • Halibut
  • Mullet
  • Tuna
  • Herring

Inflammation Reduction

Lupus symptoms could be reduced by eating the right foods. Even though studies haven’t proven this yet, many doctors feel that inflammation-fighting foods may be able to ward off lupus symptoms, since lupus is an inflammatory disease. The same applies to foods that cause inflammation, as they may worsen lupus.

Fruits and vegetables contain anti-inflammatory properties, and these foods contain antioxidants. Other foods that will fight inflammation are the omega-3 fatty acids such as nuts, canola oil, olive oil, fish, ground flaxseed and more.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Add foods high in calcium and vitamin D to your diet, especially if you are on corticosteroids (which can cause bone thinning) or if you experience lupus photosensitivity (which can limit your vitamin D).

Good calcium sources include:

  • Dark leafy vegetables
  • Dairy products
  • Soybeans
  • White beans
  • Calcium-fortified foods or drinks.

Vitamin D is found in:

  • Fatty fish
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks
  • Vitamin D fortified foods.

Low Fat and Low Sodium Foods

Choose low-fat options for the foods you eat regularly. Low-fat foods may prevent heart disease, and they are critical for people taking steroids, which typically cause cholesterol and blood sugar levels to increase.

If you have high blood pressure or kidney disease, known as lupus nephritis, eating a low-sodium diet will be beneficial. Check the sodium levels in your food and aim for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily.

Next page: foods to avoid if you have lupus.

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Marlene WallaceMarlene Wallace

Marlene is a seasoned RN and health writer. When not writing, Marlene enjoys gardening, traveling and volunteering at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramics in Toronto.

Dec 21, 2017
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