The spleen is a very important part of the body and has some important roles to play. It is located in the left upper section of the rib cage below the ribs.
It is the largest organ of the lymphatic system and protects the body from infection and helps in removing toxins. It also regulates the red blood cells, stores the white blood cells and also the platelets that play a part in clotting of the blood. This improves the immune system and makes it respond better to disease or injury.
What is an Enlarged Spleen?
Spleen is a size of a fist. It when enlarges increases to many times its normal size. The condition is known as splenomegaly.(1)
An enlarged spleen can increase the risk of splenic rupture, which can lead to internal bleeding, a life-threatening condition.(2)
There are a few factors that can cause the spleen to enlarge, these include:
- Blood disorders
- Infections and diseases
Along with the medical condition, there are a few food items that can worsen the situation of an already enlarged spleen. Those with enlarged spleen are restricted to consume food items that can further weaken the immune system to reduce the risk of getting disease or infection.
5 Foods to Avoid With An Enlarged Spleen
Sugar-rich foods can affect the immune system negatively and are also bad for the spleen.(3)
Already enlarged spleen can make the immune system work harder, reducing sugary foods can be of immense help.
Having an enlarged spleen and drinking alcohol can worsen the condition.
Excessive alcohol intake can affect the immune system and bring down the blood cell level. This can limit the functioning of the spleen leading to anemia.
Alcohol intake can also limit the activity of platelets that help in blood clotting.
To relieve the symptoms of an enlarged spleen it is good to cut down on the alcohol intake.
Tea and coffee are known to have antioxidant properties that can be helpful in reducing inflammation.
Excessive caffeine intake can affect sleeping patterns that can lead to an increase in inflammation, which may affect the immune system.
Research shows consuming coffee can weaken the spleen and also irritate the system.(4)
Processed food is rich in salt that can affect the immune system adversly. They can increase the risk of conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and obesity that are associated with an enlarged spleen.(6, 7)
Foods that are too cold or raw should be avoided by those with enlarged spleen as they are difficult to digest.
Also, raw foods such as raw vegetables and green salad should be avoided as they can increase the swelling of the spleen.
Diet to Follow for Those with an Enlarged Spleen
Those experiencing splenomegaly because of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease should follow a diet that can improve their liver health. This includes a nutrient-dense Mediterranean diet which is mostly a plant-based diet.(8)
Foods rich in zinc work best for the immune system, help with inflammation, and alleviate stress.(9)
A diet that can improve the overall health and protect the body against diseases include:
- Fruits: citrus fruits, bananas, apples, and berries.
- Vegetables: Spinach, peppers, asparagus, and spinach.
- Whole Grains: Quinoa, brown rice, barley, and oats.
- Starchy Vegetables: Butternut squash, and sweet potatoes.
- Healthy fats: Olive oils, yogurt, avocados, and unsweetened coconut.
- Animal proteins: Chicken eggs, turkey, shellfish, and fish.
- Spices and herbs: Turmeric, thyme, and oregano.
It is important to chew food properly and eat it slowly to ease the symptoms of an enlarged spleen.
If the enlarged spleen is caused by any medical condition such as heart failure cirrhosis, autoimmune diseases or virus, completely different dietary interventions would be required.
It is important to work with a doctor and determine a dietary pattern that can work best to treat the underlying condition and prevent complications due to splenomegaly. Also, eliminate any food from the diet that can weaken the immune system and make you prone to infection.