Spleen pain is unbearable. This pain arises right beneath the left stomach muscles. Any kind of infection, liver problems, and/or cancer can cause spleen enlargement (also referred to as splenomegaly). There are certain foods to avoid with enlarged spleen that we are going to discuss in this article.
Most people can’t even recognize that their spleen has enlarged in either size or weight. It is presumed to be normal stomach pain. In such a case General Practitioners (GPs) often try to feel the spleen with their hands.
Usually, we can not feel the spleen by touch. On the contrary, an enlarged spleen is felt by a mere touch by health professionals. The patient might get referred for x-rays and CT scans as well as blood tests to detect an enlarged spleen.
This helps in detecting the cause behind the enlarged spleen. It can be treated with medications and surgery. Nevertheless, in either case, one must know what foods to avoid with enlarged spleen.
Table of Contents
What Is Spleen?
The spleen is an internal organ located right behind the left abdominal muscles. It is the largest part of the lymphatic system. Its primary functions are:
- Fat absorption
- Balancing fluids in the body, and
- Protect the body from harmful infections
A normal spleen is almost the size of your fist and can’t be felt with your hands. On the other hand, a swollen enlarged spleen can be felt with your hands.
How Much Does An Enlarged Spleen Weigh?
As per Liv Long, the normal weight of a healthy spleen lies between 70 gms to 200 gms (between 0.15 pounds to 0.44 pounds).
An enlarged spleen can weigh between 400 gms to 1000 gms (0.88 pounds to 2 pounds). An enlarged spleen with a weight near to about 2 pounds is a chronic case of splenomegaly. Read further to learn foods to avoid with enlarged spleen.
Symptoms Of Spleen Enlargement
Abdominal pain is a common symptom of enlarged spleen. But many other signs must be taken as an alarm for splenomegaly, which include:
- Heaviness in stomach
- Feeling full despite eating less
- Getting infections every now and then
If you’re feeling pain in the lower left abdomen for more than 3 days and do not get any relief even after taking medications and/or trying home remedies from the golden era, ask your doctor if you should get tests done for detecting spleen enlargement.
Foods To Avoid With Enlarged Spleen
Here are 6 food items that you must eliminate from your diet if you have enlarged spleen:
The first thing that you must stay distant from is alcohol. Patients diagnosed with enlarged spleen are already at a risk of catching stomach infections. To add to this, alcohol limits the potential of the body to produce ‘interferons’ which are responsible for producing defensive cells. This makes the immune system weaker and the person falls more prey to any viral infection or cancer-developing cells.
Although caffeine doesn’t make any significant impact on the spleen, it alters a person’s blood pressure. Tea or coffee when consumed regularly in notably high quantities can have adverse effects on the heart of patients suffering from enlarged spleen. The caffeine present in tea or coffee can make the blood pressure go up which consequently raises the risk of cardiovascular problems. As a result, it pressurizes the spleen and hence can prove dreadful for patients diagnosed with splenomegaly.
3. Sugar & Sweets
Foodstuff that contains sugar generously can contribute ‘generously’ to dangers for patients with enlarged spleen. Ice cream, soda, sweet cereals, candies, chocolates, shakes, and sweets are no less than poison for the spleen. A high-sugar diet can put the spleen on a heavy workout as it increases the amount of sucralose in the body. Sucralose is not easy to break down in the body of a person with a healthy spleen, so you can think of how hard it can be for a person who is already living with an enlarged spleen.
4. Carbonated Beverages
If you’re a fan of sodas, soft drinks, or energy drinks, put some breaks on your hands and read about foods to avoid with enlarged spleen before sipping these carbonated drinks one more time. Carbonated drinks contain sugar in high quantities which can lead to chronic health problems like fatty liver if consumed recklessly. Some of these drinks contain fructose, caffeine, and/or other harmful chemicals that can even burst a spleen. That’s why anyone who is diagnosed with a problem in the spleen must not touch carbonated drinks every now and then.
5. Fried/Fast Food
For anyone who has got some problem with their spleen, munching on fast food or fried food can be a slow suicide attempt. Fast foods are highly processed and they are typically made in unhealthy oil that loses its nutritional value due to overuse. This can give birth to fatal health concerns in any human being, let alone someone who has splenomegaly. That is why it is included in this list of foods to avoid with enlarged spleen.
Processed and fast foods contain high quantities of saturated fats and taste enhancers like monosodium glutamate (MSG). These two are highly responsible for developing stomach problems such as stomach inflammation, food poisoning, other digestive problems and metabolic disorders.
6. Cold Food
Be it salad fruits or milk, never have them cold if you want to keep your spleen away from pain and problems. As per Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), food that is engulfed right when it leaves the refrigerator causes Spleen Qi deficiency. As per that, Qi is the feeling of being healthy physically and emotionally.
TCM belief is said to state that Spleen Qi deficiency decreases the potential of the spleen to carry out vital body functions which include blood cell maintenance, empowering muscles, controlling water levels, and blood and water transportation in the body.Therefore, to keep your gut health intact, say bye-bye to cold food.
Now that you have read about foods to avoid with enlarged spleen, you must know which food is good for the spleen and liver. So read further.
What Should I Eat If My Spleen Is Enlarged?
Here is the list of foods that can help keep your spleen healthy:
Green vegetables and other vegetables such as carrots, turnips, winter squash, and pumpkin, are great for people suffering from splenomegaly. Vegetables are a considerate source of natural sugar which will not affect your immune system adversely.
2. Legumes And Lentils
Legumes and lentils are a great source of vitamins, proteins, and nutrients. Moreover, they are pretty easy to digest in comparison to fast food. This is to say that your spleen and liver don’t get over-pressurized to digest them and convert them into energy.
3. Food Rich In Zinc
Zinc deficiency is a prominent reason for spleen enlargement. This indicates that eating food rich in zinc can increase the chances of keeping splenomegaly at bay. Chickpeas, spinach, yogurt, legumes, raspberries, bananas, peaches, cantaloupe, blackberry, cashew nuts, and pumpkin seeds are rich sources of zinc.
4. Vitamin A & C Rich Food
Maintaining the level of vitamin A and vitamin C is also necessary to keep your spleen healthy. That is why citrus fruits like kiwi, oranges, strawberries, pineapple, papaya, mangoes, etc. can be a great addition to your diet. However, be sure to not consume fruits that you’re allergic to.
5. Whole Grains
White rice, brown rice, quinoa, oats, corn, and barley foster spleen functions. They proffer nutrients that support digestive health and reduce the chances of hypertension. Not only gut health, but whole grains also have positive effects on overall health.
6. Spices And Herbs
Believe it or not, spleen health highly relies on some spices and herbs that help keep it in shape and perform its functions better. Garlic, ginseng, turmeric, basil, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, and mustard leaf are a few things that can keep your spleen healthy.
Causes Of Spleen Enlargement
There can be a plethora of reasons why your spleen muscle feels unease. Here are the causes of spleen enlargement:
- Viral infections
- Bacterial infections
- Alcohol Consumption
- Viral Hepatitis (Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C)
Below we discuss the major classifications of splenomegaly.
Types Of Enlarged Spleen/ Splenomegaly
As per Lybrate, spleen enlargement can be majorly categorized into five types:
- Vascular Spleen Enlargement: When splenomegaly occurs due to blood accumulation in the spleen (as a result of hypertension or cardiovascular diseases), it is said to be vascular spleen enlargement.
- Neoplastic Spleen Enlargement: When a cancer results in splenomegaly, it is called neoplastic spleen enlargement.
- Metabolic & Endocrine Splenomegaly: When spleen enlargement is caused due to an underlying metabolic disorder, for example, Gaucher’s disease.
- Infectious Splenomegaly: When an attack of parasite/s, viruse/s, or bacteria/s causes spleen enlargement, it is identified as infectious splenomegaly.
- Inflammatory Splenomegaly: Several health conditions such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) can cause harm to the spleen causing it to swell and become enlarged. Such a kind of spleen enlargement is detected as an inflammatory splenomegaly.
How To Prevent Spleen From Getting Enlarged?
Even if you know about foods to avoid with enlarged spleen and what not to eat in this condition, you might not experience any betterment in your health. Lifestyle problems are to blame for this.
So keep these 3 rules in mind to prevent the spleen from getting enlarged:
- Don’t Overstress: Life is not a cakewalk. But if you overstress yourself, your blood pressure can go up resulting in hypertension. Furthermore, this can give birth to vascular splenomegaly. Moreover, stress can lead to sleeplessness which can take a toll on your overall health.
- Avoid Skipping Meals: No matter how busy your schedule is, you must be consistent with your eating patterns. Skipping meals can cause acidity and deteriorate health and the body’s efficiency in creating energy. In addition, it makes the immune system weaker, making one more prone to infections.
- Don’t Skip Exercise: If you don’t make any time for exercising at all, there won’t be any benefit despite learning about foods to avoid with enlarged spleen. Physical activities are necessary to keep the body flexible and moving. Otherwise, all you would feel is numbness, fragility, and fatigue even climbing a couple of stairs. However, if suffering from an enlarged spleen, you must do only an easy and low-intensity workout.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
#1. How To Heal The Spleen Naturally?
An enlarged spleen can heal with a healthy diet, low-intensity workouts, and lifestyle modifications.
#2. What Foods To Avoid With Enlarged Spleen?
Caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages, processed food, high-sugar food, fast/fried food, and cold and raw food, are foods to avoid with enlarged spleen.
#3. What Foods Are Good For Spleen Repair?
Whole grains, vegetables, legumes, lentils, food rich in zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C, and certain spices and herbs (refer to the above article) can help in repairing the spleen.
#4. Can An Enlarged Spleen Go Back To Normal Size?
Yes, with lifestyle changes, consuming a healthy diet, and proper medical attention, an enlarged spleen can go back to normal size. However, surgeries might be needed in some cases.
#5. How Long Does It Take For An Enlarged Spleen To Shrink?
It can take several months to shrink an enlarged spleen back to normal.
An enlarged spleen can be a cause of trouble and develop many chronic health conditions. If you have splenomegaly, you can experience problems in doing regular activities. It can cause fatigue, abdominal pain, and anemia.
That’s why it becomes inevitable to know about foods to avoid with enlarged spleen, what to include in the diet and which habits to inculcate to get the spleen in good condition again. The above article touches upon all these aspects. Hope it helps!