Diet And Nutrition With Lupus

Diet And Nutrition With Lupus

Can I be vegetarian or vegan if I have lupus?

Yes — it’s fine for people with lupus to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. Just make sure to eat a variety of healthy plant-based foods. If you don’t eat any animal foods, you’ll need to take a vitamin B12 supplement — vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods.

Are there any specific foods I need to avoid?

According to Johns Hopkins Lupus Center experts, they believe that a chemical found in alfalfa may trigger lupus symptoms. So you may want to avoid eating alfalfa sprouts or taking supplements with alfalfa.

You may also see claims that certain foods like garlic cause inflammation, but there is no scientific evidence to support this. If you have lupus and notice an increase in your lupus symptoms after consuming garlic or any other food, you should discuss this with your doctor.

Get key nutrients for bone and heart health

Lupus raises your risk for heart disease and osteoporosis (a bone disease that makes bones more likely to break). The good news is that eating healthy can help lower your risk.

For bone health, eat foods with lots of calcium, including:

  • Leafy greens — like spinach and kale
  • Dairy foods — like milk, yogurt, and soy milk
  • Whole-grain cereals fortified with calcium

For heart health, eat foods with Omega-3 fatty acids, including:

  • Fatty fish — like salmon, mackerel, and sardines
  • Nuts and seeds — like walnuts and flax seeds

Do I need to take supplements?

Some people with lupus need supplements to get enough of certain nutrients, like vitamin D. But supplements can interact with your lupus medicines, so it’s important to always talk with your doctor before you start taking any supplements. 

Learn more about lupus nutrition from our answers to frequently asked questions.