7 Foods and Substances You Should Avoid When You Have An Autoimmune Disease

Unlike some health conditions there is no real "diet" for those with lupus. There are foods that that can potentially make your lupus symptoms possibly better or worse. While we have all heard about foods to avoid to make our health better. But did you know that certain substances, supplements can actually negatively impact your lupus or lupus like condition? Below we will be talking about items that should be avoided by people with Lupus or any kind of conditions that has been deemed as Pre- Lupus

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 (sources Lupus News Today, Johns Hopkins)

1. Trans Fat & Processed Foods

We have heard for years that trans fat and processed food are bad and everyone should take them out of our diets. However, if you have Lupus removing these items can be even more important and may actually improve your health. Processed foods that are high in trans fats often have elevated levels of steroids. Which, just like oral or IV steroids, can make you more hungry leading to an increase in calories and an increase in overall weight.

2. Bactrim & Septra (sulfamethoxazole & trimethoprim)

Bactrim & Septra are antibiotics which are very commonly prescribed for bacterial infections, especially urinary tract infections(UTI's). They both contain sulfathoxazole and trimethoprim. Basically in layman's terms they are grouped into the the group of antibiotics known as "sulfa" antibiotics, because they contain a substance called sulfonamide. Not only are these medications used for UTI's, they are also sometimes given as prophylactic (preventative medication) treatment especially for those who take immunosuppressive medications. However, it is very important for anyone with Lupus to avoid these medications because they are also known to cause an increase in sun sensitivity and lower blood counts, resulting in lupus flares. Nowadays there are many other safe alternative antibiotics that lupus patients can take. It is just important that you let your dr know you can't have these medications and you may even want to go as far as listing them as an allergy on your medical chart.

3. Alfalfa Sprouts

Who would have thought that something like alfalfa sprouts could be something that we as Lupus patients need to stay away from. It really shouldn't be that surprising since we Lupies are so "sensitive." That being said alfalfa sprouts actually contain an amino acid called L-canavanine that can increase inflammation in people with Lupus because they stimulate the immune system. Actually anyone with any Autoimmune condition should avoid alfalfa sprouts as a general rule.

4. Garlic

Researchers believe that there are three substances in garlic that can rev-up the immune system by enhancing the activity of white blood cells. Those substances are allicin, ajoene, & thiosulfinates. Scientists also feel that the sulfur that is found in garlic acts to prevent and suppress cancer in the body. Due to that mechanism of action garlic is used frequently as a supplement to help the body fight off cold and infections. That being said for those with autoimmune diseases the boost of the immune response cause by garlic is actually counterproductive, because their immune systems are already overactive. Due to that anyone with lupus or similar conditions should avoid eating it in large quantities, small quantities for most will not cause problems.

5. Echinacea

Echinacea, a dietary supplement is most often used as a dietary supplement to help boost the immune system against colds and other illnesses. Due to the mechanism of action and the fact that the supplement boosts the immune system it's very likely that it will cause flares in anyone with autoimmune diseases. In Europe, they feel that the risk is high enough that the bottles of Echinacea have warning labels on them warning against the use of it by people with autoimmune conditions.

6. Melatonin

A common over the counter sleep aid called Melatonin, is actually a naturally occurring hormone. It is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain that regulates other hormones in the body that control how your body reacts to daily patterns of light and dark. Natural melatonin release is suppressed during the light hours of the day and stimulated by dark. Which's helps you and your body to stick to your "normal" patterns of nighttime sleep and daytime wakefulness. Due to its mechanism of action Melatonin is often used as a sleeping aid over prescription medications because it's safe and natural. That being said Melatonin and anything that contains Melatonin should be avoided by all people with Lupus or other autoimmune disorders, because they may stimulate it OVER stimulate the immune system.

7. Pass on the alcohol

I know, we shouldn't have to given up EVERYTHING!! And we don't! You don't have to give up drinking totally. Having a glass of wine or beer once in a while is totally ok. Wine can actually be beneficial for your heart. Just because there are benefit to wine now and then, don't push it.

But drinking cheap hard liquor like is 1999 and you're a freshman in college is no longer okay, as it can actually interfere with some of the medication you are taking regularly now.

I hope that maybe you learned a few things about what food substances and supplements you should stay away from for the good of your health!

With Love,

Amber