Avoid These 4 Foods While Taking Enbrel (Etanercept)

According to studies, 50 million people in the US have at least one type of autoimmune disease. In addition, women are more likely to have an autoimmune disease than men. 

Enbrel (brand name etanercept) is an injectable medication that can treat several autoimmune conditions, such as psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. 

This medication works by reducing a protein called TNF (tumor necrosis factor) that is produced by the immune system to help the body fight infections. 

The problem is that people with autoimmune conditions produce too much TNF. 

Since the medication helps reduce TNF, it can help treat certain autoimmune diseases and prevent joint damage caused by any of these conditions. 

Here are some of the most common potential side effects of taking Enbrel. 

  • Allergic reactions (hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling)
  • Fever, chills, and flu symptoms
  • Pain or redness
  • Pale skin 
  • Signs of lymphoma (fever, night sweats, weight loss, stomach pain)
  • New or worsening psoriasis 

If you recently started taking Enbrel, you may be wondering if there are any dietary changes you need to make. 

They may be because they cause an interaction with the medication, or they increase the risk of a side effect. 

This article provides general information on considerations related to diet while taking Enbrel, and it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

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Foods To Avoid While Taking Enbrel 

Currently, there are no known foods that cause interactions with Enbrel. 

However, there are some foods you may want to avoid since they can increase the risk of inflammation, leading to an increased risk of side effects. 

1) Uncooked Foods

Enbrel may slightly decrease your immune function. As a result, you are more likely to develop a foodborne illness. 

That is why you may want to avoid raw or undercooked animal products and unpasteurized dairy products. 

Make sure you follow standard cooking methods (washing your hands before cooking and making sure each protein reaches a desired temperature) and store food at the right temperatures. 

2) Untreated Water

In most cases, the majority of the water in the US is safe to drink. However, if you are taking Enbrel and are going away on a trip, it’s best to use bottled water. 

This can help reduce the risk of germs from drinking water that has not been properly cleaned. 

3) Certain Raw Vegetables

While you want to include vegetables in your Enbrel diet due to their high nutrient intake, some fresh vegetables are more likely to carry bacteria, increasing the risk of food poisoning

It’s best to avoid options like sprouts, alfalfa, bean sprouts, and radish sprouts. 

If you are unsure regarding the processing of the vegetable, it’s best to choose cooked vegetables to avoid any complications. 

4) Leftover Rice

The safest time to eat rice is almost immediately after cooking it. Eating rice 24 hours after it has been cooked can increase the risk of food poisoning. That is why it’s best to cook rice in smaller portions. 

What To Eat When On Etanercept

To strengthen your immune system, you want to have a varied and balanced diet while taking a biologic medication. 

1) Antioxidant foods

Eat foods high in antioxidants when taking Enbrel, such as fruits and vegetables, since they can help reduce inflammation and enhance immune function (just make sure to have them properly washed). 

2) Omega 3 foods

Another great ingredient to add to your Enbrel diet is omega-3. Studies show that these fatty acids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which can also help reduce inflammation and enhance immune function

Also, make sure to include other healthy fats, lean proteins, whole grains, and legumes to add as many nutrients as possible. 

joint pain relief

Should You Take Enbrel With Food?

There are no known interactions between Enbrel and any food or drinks. So, you can take them with or without food. 

For best results, make sure you consult with a health professional to determine when the best time to take your medication is. 


  • Enbrel is a common medicine used to help treat autoimmune conditions. While it’s safe to take, one of its side effects is slightly decreasing your immune system. As a result, this could increase your chance of catching a foodborne illness. 
  • So, if you are taking Enbrel, make sure that you thoroughly cook all your foods and have adequate cooking and storage methods. 
  • Consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice regarding dietary changes while taking Enbrel, considering your individual health and medical history.

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  1. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA). Autoimmune Facts.
  2. Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Dec;21(6):495-505. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2002.10719248. PMID: 12480795.

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