3 Stress Foods to Avoid with Autoimmune Disorders

EggplantWith the pressures to achieve, the twice-daily battle between traffic and time, and the balancing act of work, family, and health-daily life in modern-day society is simply….stressful.

It’s no wonder our culture’s collective immune system seems to be steadily declining. Nowadays, the average person has at least one allergy to something that would’ve seemed uncommon ten or twenty years ago, not to mention an array of obscure health conditions. Amongst these rising conditions are autoimmune disorders (AI).

One recommendation for wellness with AI is to lower the stress in your life. Stress comes in many forms, from relationships to environmental.

Yet, an overlooked form of stress is food.

Avoiding possible food stressors may alleviate autoimmune symptoms. Trigger foods may include gluten, nightshades, and sugar. Here’s why:


The consumption of refined sugar and white flour contributes to inflammation by triggering insulin release in the body. Insulin is known as the driver of inflammation because this process can generate pro-inflammatory chemicals that compromise immune function. As with most forms of disease, sugar is best avoided in cases of autoimmune disease, in which inflammation is characteristic.

Code names for sugar include agave, sucrose, dextrose, maltose, glucose, mannitol, sorbitol, molasses, brown sugar, corn syrup, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, etc.


Many people who do not feel digestive repercussions after eating gluten assume that they have no sensitivity to it. However, gluten sensitivity may manifest in skin, joints, thyroid, and especially the brain and nervous tissue.


You may be someone who is sensitive to nightshades, and we are not talking about window coverings. Nightshades include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers. The chemicals contained in nightshades may be associated with pain and inflammation in some. Try cutting this family of plants out for 6 weeks; if pain symptoms seem to improve you may be someone who is sensitive to nightshades.

For foods to add to your diet to help reduce autoimmune symptoms see our Managing Multiple Sclerosis blog since healthful additions are as important as limiting certain foods.

Although making a diet change may be an unappealing remedy to some, there is a benefit to being sensitive to trigger foods: what you eat is within your control. Certain stressors like the environment or work are less malleable without moving or changing careers. However, we live in a world of endless food choices, which makes special diets more sustainable than ever.

You may find that controlling the controllable in your life may be the key to achieving the balance to living with autoimmune disease.

This blog was co-written by Susan Dopart and RD intern Kristen Procter