Autoimmune Diet and Lifestye Suggestions

Autoimmune Diet & Lifestyle Suggestions   List of anti-inflammatory foods

By Wallace Bishop C.N.C.

Always consult with your Doctor before making any changes to your health regimen especially if you have health-related problems or conditions.

Even though we as humans all have the same organs and body parts, we are uniquely different metabolically and in the way our bodies respond to exogenous influences. These external influences include diet, exercise, physical and emotional stresses and exposure to environmental toxins.  Much of our health status is tied to the relationship between these exogenous influences and our genetics.  It is a delicate dance between your emotional, physical and spiritual balance and the influence of everything you have ingested, experienced and been exposed to.

We know that when an illness or disease has expressed itself in our bodies, it changes us physiologically. Our immune, hormonal and digestive systems can be greatly affected by illness, causing metabolic changes that make us very sensitive to certain chemicals in our diet. This diet is designed to help you target potential food sensitivities and then eliminate or limit those foods that contain antagonist compounds.

I do not believe in giving you a set diet telling you what to eat. My job is to empower you with the knowledge to know what foods may present problems for your condition and the process you can use to determine if you have sensitivity to that food or compound.

Whether or not you decide to eliminate a few or all of the antagonist foods is up to you.  Because we are so uniquely different, not all people with autoimmune disease or syndromes are affected equally by diet changes. For example, you may be sensitive to gluten that is in many grains and may need to go gluten free, while others may not be affected at all by gluten.  Someone else may be affected by the lectins in beans but not in wheat.  To truly have the best diet for your condition requires you to go off a particular food for a week. If negative symptoms seem to improve add back the food type for a day to see if the negative symptoms return, if it does you know you have a sensitivity to that food or a chemical compound in that food type and you should avoid it. The instructions are listed below.

What foods or compounds may aggravate MS and other autoimmune diseases?

Processed and refined foods, lectins, gluten, saturated fats, omega 6 fatty acids, simple carbohydrates, alcohol and caffeine seem to cause the most negative consequences.  In the next few paragraphs we will discuss how to avoid these compounds and how they harm us.


Research has shown that there may be a real potential for a negative influence from the protein “lectin” on those with MS and those that may have a genetic relationship to developing MS and other autoimmune diseases.  Lectins are found in many foods particularly in seeds and grains and in the animals that eat the grains. Lectins also exist in viruses and some bacteria’s.  

While phytic acid and oxalic acid found in grains and some leafy green vegetables can also bind with minerals lowering their absorption, phytic acid and oxalic acid can be removed during cooking.  You can also easily remove and limit saturated fats, simple carbohydrates, alcohol and caffeine from your diet by reading food labels and making smart choices. However lectins are not as easily deactivated during cooking.  Lectins can be deactivated in vegetables and grains during cooking. Lectins can be removed in nuts and seeds by soaking them in purified water for 24 hours and then dried. However neither of these processes seem to deactivate or remove all of the lectins from some beans.

Lectins are contained in pathogens such as the swine flu and other viruses.
Haemagglutinin is another name for a lectin. The 2009 ‘swine flu’ is called H1NI and the bird flu, H5N1. The H in these viruses refers to haemagglutinin. It is probably lectins that make you ache when you have flu. It might be the haemagglutinin in the vaccine that is contributing to the cause of MS and Guillain Barre after people receive flu shots. As far as I know there is no proof of this relationship, however it may be a point you may want consider before getting a flu shot.

How do lectins aggravate MS symptoms?

There are eight essential sugars that have been identified that have specific important biological functions.  Each lectin chooses one particular sugar, and wherever it finds it in the body, it binds tight, interfering with the normal function of the sugar it binds to. The lectins in wheat, tomato and potato bind to an important sugar called n-acetyl glucosamine, (NAG). Unfortunately, NAG is in the mouth, the intestines, the muscles, the pancreas, the thyroid, the kidney, the myelin sheath that insulates the nerves, and in all sorts of other parts of the body.

Eating too many lectin-containing foods or being infected by a lectin producing virus or bacteria may lead to autoimmune disease or syndrome. It has been frequently observed that autoimmune conditions often arise after a serious infection.  Types of arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Guillian-Barre syndrome even Type 1 diabetes, and a whole host of other autoimmune conditions are associated with both infections and with eating lectin-containing foods. It is thought that lectins work by stripping away certain essential sugars from cell surfaces, making them display incorrect antigens that appear to be foreign to the body's immune system. They may also work simply by binding irreversibly to particular cells or proteins, forcing them to be taken out of circulation by the immune systems white blood cells.

The eight sugars which have specific biological functions in the body are:

  • Fucose
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Mannose
  • N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc)
  • N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc)
  • N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac), a form of sialic acid
  • Xylose

All eight sugars are found in the myelin sheath that coats nerves and are important in correct nerve transmission inside and outside the brain. The sugars are woven together with amino acids to produce special protective proteins called glycoproteins. Low levels of glycoproteins have been connected to diseases like MS and schizophrenia.

Saturated fats, certain polyunsaturated fats, alcohol and caffeine are easily controlled by reading food labels and avoiding or limiting them.

This is the diet process to discover your sensitivity to lectins and any other foods that you may be sensitive to.

In our modern world it is common to believe that we can eat any food we like. We can but the food we eat may not like us. Some persons (a minority) can tolerate all foods. For the rest of us most will find one or more lectin groups they do not tolerate. Of those who experience antigen responses most will not need to eliminate more than one or two major lectin groups. You have to experiment and see 'who' you are and 'what' your ideal foods are. It is a process. 

Consider the group most likely to be causing a problem. 

  • Deadly nightshades including tomato, potato and eggplant.
  • Glutens found in wheat, rye, barley, malt, and oats.
  • Legumes, all beans including soy and peanut.
  • Dairy including all milk products, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, kefir.
  • Eggs

These are the most common lectin families that cause problems. Eliminate the suspect group for 7-10 days. Don't eat any foods from the group. Check to make sure none of the lectins are contained in other foods you consume. Example: Vinegar is made from grain and contains gluten unless it is apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar. Mayonnaise contains gluten because it is made with grain vinegar. You can use Vegenaise a brand that is made free from eggs. Use the Vegenaise in the purple label, it made with omega 3 oils instead of other vegetable oils that contain omega 6 polyunsaturated oils.

After abstaining for 7-10 days eat a significant amount of the suspect group over one day. Eat other foods as well. Do not eat any more of the test group for two days after the test day.

Look for symptoms of intolerance: bowel changes sleep changes, mood changes, memory impairment or any other significant changes you can relate to the ingestion of the food group. It may take a day or so for the symptoms to appear. If you think you have found a lectin incompatibilities avoid the food. You can test again in a few weeks. If every time you avoid the food your symptoms resolve and every time you eat it they return you have found a lectin you should not eat.

You can follow this type of process to eliminate any suspected antagonist foods, not just lectins.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Omega 6 fatty acids are very prevalent in the typical American diet while omega 3 fatty acid consumption is very low. Omega 6 fatty acids tend to over stimulate our immune system while Omega 3 fatty acids bring the immune system back into balance. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, help balance hormones, improve cellular membrane function and reduce platelet stickiness. The key is to consume more Omega 3 fatty acids. Both Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids, they are required for good health and they must come from our diet. You can reduce your omega 6 intake by limiting the consumption of vegetable oils such as soy, canola and corn. Read all food labels to help you limit the intake of Omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids Never cook with polyunsaturated fats or oils, they are damaged by heat.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are starches and sugars that are absorbed into the blood stream very quickly. Simple sugars are irritants that cause damage to our blood vessels and interfere with our immune and hormonal systems.  Simple carbohydrates are simple starches such as table sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and even honey. Grains in the form of flours are quickly absorbed into our blood stream and should be limited.  Even whole grains should be limited particularly those with a medium or high glycemic value. You can learn more about glycemic foods at Limit your intake of all grains to no more than 4 servings per day.

 Eliminate as much refined sugar from your life as you can.  You can use, Stevia and Xylitol as replacements.  Very Important –Read the ingredient label on the foods you eat!

Refined Sugars; Agave Nectar, Beet Sugar, Brown Sugar, Cane Sugar, Confectioner’s Sugar, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Demerera, Dextrose, Granulated Sugar, GrapeSugar, Molasses, Muscavado Sugar, Powered Sugar, Raw Sugar, Refined Sugar,Sucrose, Table Sugar, Turbinado Sugar, White Sugar, Maple Syrup

Honey and molasses although not as refined are quickly absorbed into the blood and should also be used sparingly. Choose honey that is unfiltered, it should say “raw unfiltered honey”.

Blackstrap Molasses is my choice of natural sweeteners (very limited) because it does contain nutrients. It is a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and the vitamin B6. If you use honey try to find unpasturized and unfiltered honey harvested from a hive in your local area. The pasteurizing and filtering process removes most of the beneficial content in the honey.Remember use these sparingly.

Eliminate or avoid as much as possible all processed and refined foods. They are poor providers of healthy nutrients and contain empty calories and harmful ingredients.  Refined foods are foods that have been processed to make it more convenient for use or storage. The processing breaks down the foods so that little digestion is required and most of the nutrition has been removed. The carbohydrates in refined foods are quickly turned into blood sugar, which if not kept under control result in symptom aggravation, diabetes, heart disease, fatigue and weight gain. Only eat breads or foods containing flours that say in the ingredient contents “WHOLE GRAIN”.  Wheat flour is not whole grain unless it says made from “WHOLE GRAIN Wheat or whole wheat flour”.  Multigrain is not whole grain unless it says made from “WHOLE”

The keys points to a healthy diet for those with MS

·Read all food labels, this is a video of Dr. Oz explaining how to read food labels.

·Identify food sensitivities and avoid them.

·Reduce sugar intake.

·Reduce carbohydrate intake to 45 to 60% of your calories.

·Make sure are getting enough protein but not an excessive amount.  

  •  Avoid as much saturated fat as possible.
  • Limit the intake of all fats to more than 35% of your daily calories.
  • Reduce the intake of refined and processed foods.
  • Increase the intake of nutrient rich and antioxidant rich foods. The best sources are plant or vegetative foods.
  • Increase the intake of monounsaturated fats (olive oil, nuts) and Omega 3 fatty acids. The best food sources of Omega 3’s are from ground flax seed and cold water fish.
  • Practice stress reduction methods such as yoga and meditation daily.
  • Get physically active.

Through diet and supplementation or a combination thereof, you need a minimum of certain nutrients every day. Those specifically listed below may help you alleviate symptoms and increase energy. It is always best to get your nutrients from foods first and supplements second.

Supplementation of the nutrients listed below with an asterisk * have intake limits that you should not exceed except under a doctor’s advice.  The intake amount as shown with the optional nutrients listed below are within the safe range and are optional.  This is a great website for determining your actual nutrient needs and the intake limits on those nutrients with an asterisk.  You can use this website as a food journal, it’s free and you can even load other foods into the data base such as the foods you eat that may not be in the data base yet.  It will help you keep track of calories, protein, fats, sugars etc….

Optional Supplements

·Ribose or D-Ribose ( a healthy sugar) 2 to 6 grams daily, its great before or after an activity (it increases cellular energy)

·Vitamin A    900 mcg*

·Vitamin  B1  1.5 mg

·Vitamin  B2  1.7 mg

·Vitamin  B6  4 mg*

·Vitamin  B12  100 mcg

·Vitamin  Folic  acid 400 mg* 

·Vitamin  D3 1000  IU’s or 20 mcg*

·ALA  (ground flax seed meal) 2tbs.per day*

·EPD/DHA (fish oil) 2000 to 4000mg per day

·Lecithin  2400mg per day

  • Coenzyme-Q10 up to 200mg per day* CoQ10 is fat-soluble so it should be taken with a meal containing fat for optimal absorption.
  • Magnesium 450 mg daily *
  • Glyconutrients- types of essential sugarsRev( rice bran and rice germ) 3 to 6 scoops per day  ( they may help neutralize lectins and are loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients and energy producing compounds)

Healthy Living Guidelines

1. Remove all unnatural sources of sugar from your life.  (Table sugar, brown sugar, HFCS, corn syrup, confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, etc…)   Sugar acts as a poison that causes inflammation to our arteries and veins leading to heart disease, atherosclerosis and of course diabetes. Sugar in natural live foods does not have this effect. However with MS it is best to eat low sugar fruits. See list below. To learn more about the sugar impact on blood  (glycemic value and glycemic load) check out this website.   

· Sugars to avoid :Refined Sugars; Agave Nectar, Beet Sugar, Brown Sugar, Cane Sugar, Confectioner’s Sugar, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Demerera, Dextrose, Granulated Sugar, Grape Sugar, Molasses, Muscavado Sugar, Powered Sugar, Raw Sugar, Refined Sugar, Sucrose, Table Sugar, Turbinado Sugar, White Sugar, Maple Syrup

2. Remove all refined and processed foods from your life.  (Most boxed or canned flour based products). Refined flours (those that say enriched, bleached, flour, wheat flour, bromated, multigrain and unbleached are refined) have the same effect on the body that added sugars do. Because they are simple carbohydrates and are absorbed into the body as blood sugar very quickly. These types of grains can get you into a vicious cycle of wanting to eat more and more of them.  It becomes a carbohydrate addiction that can be hard to break! All grains should be whole grains. Those with MS should have no more than 4 servings of grains per day.

3. Replace frying with sautéing, baking, grilling or broiling.  Use coconut oil, olive oil, and canola oil.  Lectins are also in oils from lectin containing  foods .

4. Only use vinegars made from apples and grapes.

5. Eat foods as close to nature in their raw state as possible (fresh or frozen).  If you must eat canned vegetables please rinse well. 50 o 60% of your vegetables should be raw, 40 o 50% cooked.

6. Eat a diet rich in variety include as many colors of vegetables (50% of your diet should be vegetables and fruits) fruits, nuts and seeds every day. Limit fruits to low sugar fruits and no more than 2 servings per day.  Limit the intake of white potatoes; they turn to blood sugar very quickly. A small sweet potato is ok; its fiber content slows down the rate of sugar absorption. Limit nuts and seeds to 1 to 2 oz. per day.  Add ground flax seed to your diet, 1 to 2 tbs. daily to ensure you get plenty of ALA a type of Omega 3 fatty acids. These are essential for immune response dampening, heart health, pain reduction, hormone regulation and nerve health.

7. Limit or eliminate totally saturated fats and trans fats. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are very healthy for you in moderation.   Your SATURATED FAT intake should not exceed 7% of your calories. Example a 2,000 calorie intake should have no more than 140 calories from saturated fat. At 9 calories per gram of fat that would mean you should limit your intake of saturated fat to less than 15 grams per day.   1 ounce of cheddar cheese has 6 grams of saturated fat

8. Limit meats to lean choices.  Limit the intake of red meat and eliminate the consumption of pork. Red meat releases chemicals during digestion that interfere with the bodies detoxing pathways. If you are eating meats, select free range organic chicken and turkey breast.  The best sources of fish are cold water fish such as salmon, trout, steelhead, sardines, halibut and cod.  Just remember animal foods contain saturated fat and if you have MS, fatty meats should be avoided.   

9. Eliminate dairy products (cheese, milk and creams) from your daily diet. Replace with Almond milk or Rice milk.  If you do select to consume dairy products goat and sheep are better for you. Naturally, dairy products are best from free range animals.

10. Get plenty of water every day, 80 ounces over 24 hours. Hydration is very important to health and assist in the removal of toxins and from the body. It is required in every metabolic activity. If you are ill, exercise intensely or sweat profusely you will need additional water.  A good rule of thumb is ½ ounce of water per pound of body weight.

11. Supplement your diet with a good whole food supplements that addresses the seven key areas of nutrition required for vibrant health.  Our core health products are a great place to start.   

12. Move more every day. Exercise is very important in delivering the nutrients we consume to every cell in our body and primes the lymph system, pumping toxins out of our bodies. In addition exercise increases our metabolic rate helping to burn more calories (weight-loss) and will increase our bodies’ efficiency in using utilizing oxygen, increasing our overall fitness level.  To lose weight and build health we need to have a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days per week.

13.  Vitamin D is essential for those with MS. 15 to 20 minutes of sunshine 3 or 4 times per week will give your body a very healthy dose of Vitamin D. If you can’t you will need 1000 to 2000 IU’s of Vitamin D daily. 

14.  If you smoke please quit.

15. Avoid or eliminate caffeinated and alcoholic beverages from your diet. Alcoholic beverages made from grains and potatoes contain lectins. If you must drink limit them to no more than one alcoholic beverage per day for females and 2 for males.  Other than red wine there is not enough nutritional value in alcoholic beverages to include them in your diet. They actually rob your body of nutrients.  I do not recommend alcoholic beverages.

The information contained in this document is for informational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Product statements made have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information and products listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Never quit taking medications unless directed to do so by your doctor.Always consult with your Doctor before making any changes to your health regimen especially if you have health-related problems or conditions.