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How Diet Impacts Autoimmune Disease (Plus, What Foods to Avoid)

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How Diet Impacts Autoimmune Disease (Plus, What Foods to Avoid)

It is estimated that 50 million Americans have an autoimmune disease. (1) That is 20% of the population, and the number of autoimmune diseases is growing with nearly 100 different autoimmune conditions seen today.

An autoimmune disease is when the immune system attacks its own healthy cells. This can occur in any area of the body depending on what type of condition you have.

Some of the most common autoimmune conditions include celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and type 1 diabetes.


How Diet Impacts Autoimmune Disease


As with every other aspect of health, diet plays a big role when it comes to autoimmune disease. Since autoimmune disease can directly impact every single part of your body, it is essential to support your overall health with the right foods, and stay away from the foods that may make symptoms worse.

Let’s take a look at some of the foods you will want to avoid.

What Foods to Avoid

Gluten: Gluten can be especially problematic for those who suffer from thyroid autoimmune conditions, and gluten can in general, be problematic for those with autoimmune disease. It is best to steer clear of gluten, and choose natural gluten-free and whole food options.

Sugar: Sugar can trigger inflammation, and with autoimmune disease, your body is already in a hyper inflammatory state. Try to stay away from foods with added sugar, and choose natural sweeteners like raw honey or pure maple syrup instead. However, use these in moderation as well.

Dairy: Dairy can be inflammatory, and can be very hard on the digestive system. If you suffer from an autoimmune disease, you may find you have a hard time digesting dairy products. Try choosing dairy-free options like almond, coconut, or cashew milk.  

Processed Foods: Fried and processed foods can be extremely inflammatory which is the last thing we want when dealing with an autoimmune disease. Remove as many processed foods from your diet, and choose as many whole and nutrient-dense foods as you can.


If you are suffering from an autoimmune disease, know that diet can also significantly help your symptoms, if you choose to remove the inflammatory options like the ones on this list and choose whole and anti-inflammatory options instead.

As a rule of thumb, try to stick to as many foods that do not have a food label, and that come in their whole and natural state. The more artificial and processed foods you remove from your diet, the lower your inflammation, and the better you will be able to help support your body when dealing with an autoimmune disease.

Here are some foods to add to your diet to help reduce inflammation and support health.

  • Berries
  • Coconut milk
  • Avocados
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Bone Broth
  • Dark leafy greens

If you are suffering from an autoimmune disease, check out the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet to help you get started with an anti-inflammatory approach to eating to support autoimmune disease.


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