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The Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease

The Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease

The Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease – And Healthy Alternatives

Some of the worst foods for autoimmune disease are consumed routinely in the Standard American Diet (SAD). While diet is only one aspect of what causes and triggers autoimmune disease, it is also the one factor that we have the most control over. Let’s look at which foods to avoid and which foods we should be eating to fight autoimmune conditions and improve our everyday health. Let’s also look at what other factors lead to autoimmune disease.

Factors That Cause Autoimmune Disease – The 3-Legged Stool

Before we jump into which foods are the worst for individuals suffering from autoimmune disease, let’s look at what is really behind autoimmune conditions. I like to describe the perfect storm that leads to autoimmune diseases with my 3-legged stool analogy. 

The first leg of the stool that contributes to autoimmune conditions are stressors. Stressors include a bad diet, heavy metal toxicity, emotional stress, mold exposure, pollution, hidden infections, and chemicals in everyday products. Stressors affect the other two legs of the stool, as you will soon see.

The second leg of the stool focuses on gut health, specifically the microbiome. Correcting microbiome dysbiosis is critically important to addressing autoimmune conditions. As an example, a microbiome with limited Bacteroides fragilis is destined to upregulate immune system activity, leading to autoimmune conditions.

Bacteroides fragilis promotes the development of regulatory T cells (tReg cells), which play a crucial role in maintaining immune balance and preventing autoimmune diseases. tReg cells are a type of white blood cell that helps control the activity of other immune cells, suppressing their function when necessary to prevent inflammation and tissue damage. This is only one example of how microbiome dysfunction is linked with autoimmune conditions.

The third leg of the stool revolves around optimizing gene expression. While our DNA doesn’t change, the genes that are expressed do. We all have genes that make us susceptible to autoimmune conditions and other diseases. Whether or not these genes are expressed depends on the other two legs of the stool. Both stressors and microbiome dysfunction contribute to detrimental gene expression which turns on autoimmune-related genes. For this reason, we must optimize epigenetic expression if we ever wish to be truly healthy. 

As you can see, improving diet and staying away from foods that are linked to autoimmune disease doesn’t solve the problem. The solution requires both optimizing gene expression and repairing the gut. If we fix Leaky Gut Syndrome, undigested food particles don’t make their way into the blood and trigger the immune system to make antibodies that result in chronic inflammation. This is why people without gut issues don’t suffer from food-induced autoimmune diseases.

For instance, certain stressors like glyphosate, heavy metals, and sucralose are linked to causing Leaky Gut Syndrome. Removing these stressors is the first step towards improving gut health. Then, a diverse range of probiotics from fermented food and fiber improves gut health, further strengthening this leg of the stool. A healthy gut contributes to improved epigenetic expression, reducing the prevalence of genes that drive autoimmune conditions. By strengthening the foundation of all three legs, we are able to restore the stool that supports good health.

The 3 legs of the stool all contribute to autoimmune conditions. To reverse autoimmune conditions, all 3 legs have to be repaired. Fixing the gut, improving epigenetic expression, and reducing exposure to stressors all depend on each other.

Here is more information on the 3-legged stool.

Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease – Processed Foods

The SAD is characterized by high consumption of processed foods, refined sugars, unhealthy fats, and preservatives. This type of diet has been linked to a variety of health issues, including autoimmune diseases.

These ingredients trigger inflammation in the body, which is the common denominator of autoimmune diseases. Additionally, processed foods lack essential nutrients and contribute to weight gain, which worsens symptoms of autoimmune disease. Examples of processed foods to avoid include, packaged snacks (chips, cookies, crackers), fast food, frozen meals, and sugary cereals.1

Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease – Gluten-Containing Foods

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It triggers an immune response in those with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks the small intestine. However, research has also shown a link between gluten and other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid foods containing gluten, including bread, pasta, pastries, and even beer.2 3

Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease - Gluten-Containing Foods

Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease – Dairy Products

Like gluten, dairy can also trigger inflammation in the body and worsen symptoms of autoimmune disease. This is because dairy contains a protein called casein, which is difficult for some people to digest. Dairy, especially when it is homogenized and pasteurized, is known to cause inflammation in some individuals, leading to autoimmune disease.4

Moreover, modern day dairy products contain a specific protein linked to allergies called A1 beta-casein. There are two types of beta-casein found in dairy products, A1 and A2. These proteins differ by one amino acid and studies have shown that A1 is more problematic for individuals with milk sensitivities.5

Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease – Nightshade Vegetables And Legumes

There are a number of foods like nightshade vegetables and legumes that aren’t necessarily bad by themselves, but many people with autoimmune diseases cannot tolerate them. This is because they also suffer from Leaky Gut Syndrome.6 

Natural plant toxins are hormetic in individuals with a normal microbiome. Hormesis is a biological phenomenon in which a low dose of a stressful stimulus has beneficial effects on an organism.7  

However, these same plant toxins wreak havoc in someone with Leaky Gut Syndrome. If nightshades and legumes cause you problems, certainly stop eating them until gut issues are addressed.8

Read more about Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease - Nightshade Vegetables

Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease – Eggs

In addition to the potential issues with autoimmune diseases, eggs have also been linked to other negative health effects. They are a common allergen and can cause inflammation in the body, which can be especially problematic for individuals with autoimmune diseases.9

Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease – Dwarf Wheat

One of the main concerns regarding dwarf wheat is its increased gluten content. This is because the gluten content in wheat has increased significantly due to hybridization and genetic modification.10

Dwarf wheat also contains higher levels of phytates, which are compounds that bind to minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium in the digestive tract. This inhibits the absorption of these essential nutrients and leads to deficiencies.11

Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease – Refined Seed Oils

Refined seed oils are one of the worst foods that can trigger autoimmune diseases. These oils, also known as vegetable oils, are extracted from various seeds such as soybean, sunflower, corn, and canola.

These oils are highly processed and contain high amounts of rancid omega-6 fatty acids, which cause inflammation in the body. This is particularly problematic for individuals with autoimmune diseases, as their immune system is already in a state of over activity and inflammation.12

Regular consumption of refined seed oils has been linked to various autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and psoriasis. In fact, research has shown that individuals who consume a diet high in rancid omega-6 fatty acids have an increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases.13

Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease – Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup are known to contribute to inflammation in the body so it is best to avoid them. Additionally, artificial sweeteners, especially sucralose, is known to trigger an immune response and worsen symptoms.14 15 16

Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease – And Healthy Alternatives

I have developed a diet that I call the Cellular Healing Diet. This diet consists of high-quality fats that support cellular membrane function. This is essential for our bodies as it has been our primary source of nutrients for eons when we consumed mostly animal products. In addition to healthy fats, moderate amounts of protein should be included in our diet. Protein is important for maintaining muscle mass and supporting a variety of bodily functions.

Grass-Fed Meat

A key component of a nourishing and balanced diet is the inclusion of animal products such as grass-fed meat, bone broth, and organ meats. However, it’s important to note that not all animal products are created equal. In order to reap the maximum benefits from these foods, it’s crucial to consume animals that have been raised on a natural diet rather than those produced by commercial farms. These farms often prioritize profits over the health of their livestock and feed them high quantities of corn, grains, antibiotics, growth hormones, and other chemicals.

Organic and grass-fed meat is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Unlike grain-fed meats, it also contains essential fatty acids like omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). These fatty acids are not only beneficial for our overall health, but they are typically found in higher concentrations in grass-fed meat. On the other hand, grain-fed meat tends to have an imbalance of omega-6 fatty acids which can contribute to inflammation and various health issues.17 18

In addition to its impressive nutritional profile, grass-fed beef also contains higher levels of antioxidants, beta-carotene, iron, zinc, vitamin E, and some B vitamins compared to its grain-fed counterpart. This can have a positive impact on our overall health in multiple ways such as reducing inflammation, improving heart health and cholesterol levels, increasing muscle mass, and promoting better digestive health.19

Wild-Caught Fatty Fish

According to research, humans are biologically designed to include fish in their diet due to its high concentration of essential omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA. These two fatty acids play a crucial role in various brain functions.

To ensure an adequate amount of DHA and EPA intake, it is recommended to regularly consume fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, anchovies, trout, and whitefish. These types of fish are known to have high levels of EPA and DHA. Avoid larger fish like tuna, as many of them are loaded with the heavy metal mercury.20 21

One of the key functions of EPA and DHA is to regulate the fluidity and flexibility of cell membranes, which is vital for cognitive function. By including fatty fish in our diet, we promote the healing of cellular membranes. Moreover, EPA and DHA have been linked to improved neurotransmitter activity, which is essential for learning and memory. These fatty acids also possess anti-inflammatory properties that protect the brain from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.22

Olive Oil

One of the most highly recommended healthy fats is olive oil. Olive oil is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine and has been widely recognized for its health benefits. It contains essential fatty acids that help regulate cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease. Additionally, olive oil is rich in polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic diseases. When purchasing olive oil, make sure it is truly 100% olive oil.23

Raw Grass-Fed Dairy

Eating organic, raw, grass-fed dairy products can be a delicious addition to your diet, if you don’t have sensitivities to dairy. Compared to conventional dairy products, grass-fed dairy products have higher levels of beneficial nutrients.

One major advantage of consuming grass-fed dairy products is the increased presence of important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. These essential nutrients play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy body and mind.24

Non-Starchy Vegetables

Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli and leafy greens are an essential part of a healthy diet. They provide a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber that are necessary for optimal health. These vegetables also offer important antioxidants that protect against inflammation and damage caused by free radicals.25

One of the greatest advantages of non-starchy vegetables is their nutrient density. They are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and folate. These nutrients are important for various bodily functions such as immune system support, maintaining healthy bones, and proper nerve function.26

leafy greens are an essential part of a healthy diet

Low-Glycemic Fruit

Fruits are not only delicious, but they also play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy diet. While some fruits contain high amounts of sugar, there are plenty of low-glycemic options available to choose from. These fruits help stabilize blood sugar levels throughout the day and prevent energy crashes. Some examples of low-glycemic fruits include apples, cherries, peaches, pears, grapefruit, oranges, and apricots.27

Avocados are another excellent option as they are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which can help lower triglyceride levels. They also provide essential vitamins like vitamin K, folate, and vitamin C, as well as dietary fiber to aid in digestion.28

Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease

Avoid the worst foods for autoimmune disease and choose anti-inflammatory food options from my Cellular Healing Diet. Even more important, reduce exposure to stressors, fix the gut, and improve epigenetic expression to target the three interlinking causes of autoimmune diseases.

Read more about my Cellular Healing Diet.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read about the 3 factors that contribute to autoimmune disease.


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