10 Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis are chronic conditions wherein the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells throughout the body. There are many common symptoms associated with autoimmune disease. One of the most common being inflammation.
Inflammation throughout the body can cause a variety of side effects. These can include joint pain and stiffness, weakness, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating & stomach discomfort, leaky gut syndrome, and more. As a victim of Hashimoto’s disease, I have personally struggled with the uncomfortable side effects of inflammation, and all I can say is: it’s not fun.
Food, in particular, plays a huge role in the health of our immune system. This is why eating inflammatory foods can take such a toll on those of us with autoimmune conditions.
In fact, consuming inflammatory foods is one of the main causes of autoimmune flare-ups. And if you’re dealing with a flare-up and you consume more inflammatory foods, it’s only going to worsen and lengthen your flare-up period. Just trust me.
So, in response to my negative reactions to certain inflammatory foods, I’ve had to make some serious changes to my diet. If you’re dealing with flare-ups on a regular basis, I highly recommend practicing the autoimmune protocol diet, an elimination diet that will help you identify and remove these triggering foods from your diet. Check out my AIP diet beginners guide here.
10 Worst Foods For Autoimmune Disease
At the very least, I recommend cutting out inflammatory foods that are known to trigger inflammatory immune responses and, instead, practicing an anti-inflammatory diet. You might be surprised to see how much better you feel by removing just these ten foods. Read on for my roundup of the 10 worst foods for autoimmune disease:
Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand why people love a cup of coffee. However, long-term consumption of caffeine can disrupt natural cycles in the body, especially when it comes to sleep, and trigger an inflammatory immune response.
Instead of coffee, try a tea that reduces inflammation. Anti-inflammatory teas include Green, Black, Ginger, Turmeric, Holy Basil, and Rosehip.
Consuming excess sugar can lead to inflammation throughout the whole body. As well as increased bodily stress, gut permeability, weight gain, and “bad” cholesterol. All of which can trigger an autoimmune flare-up.
Rather than refined sugars, get your sugar from a more natural source. Think raw honey, organic maple syrup, and fruits.
Nightshade vegetables contain certain alkaloids and saponins that are known to irritate the stomach lining and cause inflammation throughout the stomach, intestines, and bowels. This can reduce the health of your gut microbiome and lead to symptoms like upset stomach and diarrhea. Gross, I know.
Nightshade vegetables to avoid include tobacco, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes (excluding sweet potatoes), and all peppers.
Dairy products made with cow’s milk cause inflammation in the stomach and intestines because they are rich in saturated fats. These saturated fats can also cause acne and rashes, as well as serious bloating and diarrhea for those with lactose intolerance.
Instead of cow’s milk, try almond, walnut, cashew, or my personal favorite, hemp milk.
For those of us with autoimmune disorders that affect our gut and, more specifically, increase our gut permeability, eating eggs can have some negative side effects. Eggs contain a protein that easily slips through the gut lining. And when this happens, the immune system attacks this protein and triggers inflammatory responses. This can cause stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea. Ouch.
If you need an egg replacement, try plant-based eggs like the ones from JUST Egg.
Amino acids found in red meat and legumes are essential to a healthy immune system and to prevent negative immune responses. But, because legumes are not very nutrient-dense, they tend to escape through the already thin gut lining. This prevents the body from absorbing these necessary proteins for the immune system and causes the body to attack the escaped substance (causing further inflammation). It’s a negative cycle that you don’t want to be in.
Legumes to avoid include peanuts, black beans, green peas, lima beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, navy beans, and so on.
Many grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye, contain gluten. Gluten can cause gastrointestinal damage by causing gas, bloating, and super uncomfortable and irregular bowel movements. This can be a serious issue for those of us with autoimmune diseases that already affect our digestive system, such as Celiac Disease.
Swap these inflammatory grains for some gluten-free grains. Gluten-free grains include quinoa, oats, corn, brown rice, and so on.
Processed Vegetable Oils
Processed vegetable oils contain chemicals and specific fatty acids (omega 6s) that are known for causing inflammation in the body. Not to mention, they are highly processed and contain harmful ingredients that can act as environmental triggers of autoimmune diseases. Oils to avoid include corn, peanut, sunflower, and soy.
Swap veggie oils for anti-inflammatory oils like coconut, olive, avocado, or flaxseed oil.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are known to trigger the immune system because they contain lectins, Omega 6’s, and phytic acid. Lectins can cause serious digestive issues when bound to the walls of your digestive system. Omega-6 can raise your blood pressure. And phytic acid can prevent the absorption of certain minerals, leading to deficiencies. High blood pressure and nutrient deficiencies add extra stress to the body and may trigger or worsen flare-ups.
Instead of snacking on nuts & seeds, try one of these 30 AIP-diet snacks.
Alcohol and autoimmune disease, do they mix? The answer is no. Alcohol is chock full of refined sugars that are well-known to cause inflammation throughout the whole entire body. Beer and other alcoholic beverages also put undue stress on the organs, the body, and the mind, making alcohol a very common trigger of sudden flare-ups.
If you can give up alcohol completely, that’s great! If not, just remember to consume in moderation. And when you do consume, be sure to pair your drink with anti-inflammatory foods and to drink plenty of water.
Over the last few decades, there has been a massive increase in the consumption of artificial sweeteners. Studies now show how they affect the immune system and the link specifically between Hashimoto’s disease and artificial sweeteners.
Other research shows that artificial sweeteners may cause the gut wall and bacteria in the gut to react in ways that increase inflammation.
Many people who remove artificial sugars from their diets report a decrease in autoimmune symptoms and an improvement in many health problems, including migraines, depression, IBS, weight gain, and more.
Reading the labels while grocery shopping can help you avoid these ingredients. The most common artificial sweeteners to look out for include aspartame, sucralose, and Saccharin.
Eating processed foods weakens the intestine’s resistance to bacteria and toxins, increasing the likelihood of developing an autoimmune disease. Glucose, salt, emulsifiers, organic solvents, gluten, microbial transglutaminase, and nanoparticles are all additives that are extensively and increasingly used by the food industry.
These additives increase intestinal permeability and can eventually lead to Leaky gut syndrome which is almost always associated with autoimmune disease. In fact, reversing the symptoms of an autoimmune disease depends on healing the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.
Some of the worst pro-inflammatory foods to avoid are:
- Hot dogs, sausages, bacon and other processed meats
- sweetened breakfast cereals
- flavored potato chips
- white bread
- fried chicken
- artificially flavored cheese crackers
- frozen, blended coffee drink
- energy drink
What Is The Best Diet For Autoimmune Disease?
While diet alone cannot cure autoimmune diseases, it can play an essential role in managing symptoms and improving your overall health. By understanding how different diets affect the immune system, you can make informed decisions about what to eat and what to avoid.
The best diet for managing an autoimmune disease is one that is rich in anti-inflammatory foods like berries, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, Omega-3 fatty acids, and lean protein. These foods can help to reduce inflammation and provide important nutrients to support overall health. Additionally, certain diets like the Mediterranean diet and the Anti-Inflammatory diet have been shown to be effective in managing autoimmune diseases.
To improve symptoms of your autoimmune disease and reduce those pesky flare-ups, remove these ten inflammatory foods from your diet today!
Is it hard to completely change your diet and eliminate all these foods? Yes. But is your health worth it? YES! Believe me when I say you will feel so much better by cutting out the 10 worst foods for autoimmune disease and replacing them with autoimmune healing foods.
Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods to eat are foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. These include salmon, leafy greens, and extra virgin olive oil. I’ll say those three and let you read up on the other healing foods at the link above.
Until next time, I wish you the best of luck as you strive to maintain a more healthy, anti-inflammatory diet. And for more on chronic illness, click here. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below, and I’ll talk to you guys soon!