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nutrient dense autoimmune friendly foods

An “autoimmune disease” develops when your immune system, which defends your body against disease, decides your own healthy cells are foreign.  As a result, your immune system attacks healthy body cells.[1]

The list of diseases that are said to be autoimmune related are extensive,[2] [3] and to add insult to injury, people with autoimmune issues often end up with challenging digestive issues.

An autoimmune dietary protocol eliminates foods that can trigger inflammation in people with more sensitive digestion that may be autoimmune related.  The foods typically eliminated include nuts, seeds, beans, grains, artificial sweeteners, dairy, alcohol, chocolate and nightshades.

The remaining foods largely involve vegetables, seafood and animal products.  Given that Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition I have also created a lower insulin load diabetes friendly autoimmune list of foods that that will be more gentle on blood glucose levels.

Although sticking to the autoimmune friendly list of foods is somewhat restrictive it is a very nutrient dense approach compared to other options as you can see in the comparison of the nutrient density of different nutritional approaches in the chart below where it came in at #2 of the thirteen approaches analsed.

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The chart below shows the quantity of nutrients provided by these nutrient dense autoimmune friendly foods compared to the average of all the 8000 foods in the USDA database.

autoimmune-nutrient-dense

This chart shows the amount of nutrients provided by the diabetes friendly autoimmune protocol foods compared to all the foods in the USDA database which are not as high but still better than the average of all the foods available.

autoimmune-dabietes-friendly

An autoimmune protocol is typically a short term ‘reset’ where inflammatory foods are eliminated for a period.  Once things settle down potential other possible trigger foods are slowly reintroduced to see which foods can be tolerated.

For more information see Robb Woolf’s The Paleo Solution, Sarah Ballantyne’s The Paleo Approach or Chris Kresser The Paleo Cure.

The foods listed below represent the top 10% of the USDA food database using this ranking system.  Also included in the table are the nutrient density score, percentage of insulinogenic calories, insulin load, energy density and the multicriteria analysis score (MCA) that combines all these factors.

autoimmune protocol (nutrient dense)

vegetables, spices and fruit 

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food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
broccoli 23 36% 3 22 2.61
spinach 21 49% 4 23 2.20
zucchini 19 40% 2 17 2.15
watercress 24 65% 2 11 2.15
endive 15 23% 1 17 2.11
chicory greens 14 23% 2 23 2.03
basil 18 47% 3 23 1.91
beet greens 15 35% 2 22 1.86
asparagus 18 50% 3 22 1.85
escarole 11 24% 1 19 1.71
Chinese cabbage 17 54% 2 12 1.70
chard 15 51% 3 19 1.63
parsley 15 48% 5 36 1.63
lettuce 15 50% 2 15 1.60
cauliflower 15 50% 4 25 1.57
alfalfa 9 19% 1 23 1.57
okra 14 50% 3 22 1.49
summer squash 13 45% 2 19 1.47
chives 13 48% 4 30 1.41
portabella mushrooms 14 55% 5 29 1.40
arugula 11 45% 3 25 1.32
turnip greens 11 44% 4 29 1.32
cloves 9 35% 35 274 1.30
sage 7 26% 26 315 1.26
brown mushrooms 16 73% 5 22 1.25
collards 8 37% 4 33 1.18
white mushroom 13 65% 5 22 1.17
celery 10 50% 3 18 1.16
dandelion greens 11 54% 7 45 1.15
sauerkraut 8 39% 2 19 1.15
curry powder 3 13% 14 325 1.15
shiitake mushroom 11 58% 7 39 1.12
yeast extract spread 11 59% 27 185 1.11
cucumber 7 39% 1 12 1.09
seaweed (wakame) 14 79% 11 45 1.01
edamame 6 41% 13 121 0.98
radishes 7 43% 2 16 0.98
spirulina 11 70% 6 26 0.92
avocado -1 8% 3 160 0.92
cabbage 8 55% 4 23 0.85
Brussel sprouts 7 50% 6 42 0.85
thyme 4 34% 31 276 0.84
chayote 5 40% 3 24 0.81
marjoram 3 31% 27 271 0.81

seafood

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food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
salmon 19 52% 20 156 1.96
fish roe 18 47% 18 143 1.93
trout 16 45% 18 168 1.80
caviar 13 33% 23 264 1.76
anchovy 14 44% 22 210 1.64
oyster 16 59% 14 102 1.57
mackerel 7 14% 10 305 1.53
sturgeon 13 49% 16 135 1.44
cisco 9 29% 13 177 1.43
crab 17 71% 14 83 1.42
halibut 15 66% 17 111 1.29
herring 9 36% 19 217 1.28
flounder 13 57% 12 86 1.28
tuna 11 52% 23 184 1.22
lobster 14 71% 15 89 1.19
shrimp 14 69% 19 119 1.18
rockfish 13 66% 17 109 1.14
pollock 13 69% 18 111 1.09
cod 13 71% 48 290 1.05
crayfish 12 67% 13 82 1.04
perch 10 62% 14 96 0.92
haddock 11 71% 19 116 0.87
whiting 10 66% 18 116 0.85
white fish 10 70% 18 108 0.81

animal products

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food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
lamb liver 19 48% 20 168 1.99
lamb kidney 19 52% 15 112 1.91
turkey liver 15 47% 21 189 1.70
veal liver 17 55% 26 192 1.69
beef liver 17 59% 25 175 1.61
chicken liver 14 50% 20 172 1.51
beef kidney 14 52% 20 157 1.47
beef brains 7 22% 8 151 1.40
ham 13 59% 17 113 1.22
lamb brains 6 27% 10 154 1.16
lamb heart 9 48% 19 161 1.13
chicken liver pate 7 34% 17 201 1.12
ground turkey 6 30% 19 258 1.12
turkey heart 9 47% 20 174 1.08
rib eye steak 7 41% 21 210 1.07
pork liver 11 59% 23 165 1.05
lean beef 11 61% 23 149 1.05
lamb chop 7 42% 25 234 1.04
roast beef 6 38% 21 219 1.04
roast pork 7 41% 20 199 1.03
beef heart 9 52% 23 179 1.02
salami 2 18% 17 378 1.02
beef rib eye 6 39% 21 215 1.01
chicken 10 60% 22 148 0.98
veal 11 65% 24 151 0.95
turkey meat 8 52% 21 158 0.94
turkey drumstick 8 52% 21 158 0.94
beef tongue 1 16% 11 284 0.93
pork chop 9 57% 23 172 0.93
T-bone steak 3 26% 19 294 0.92
ground pork 8 54% 25 185 0.92
pepperoni 0 13% 16 504 0.92
lamb sweetbread 6 43% 15 144 0.90
pork shoulder 8 56% 22 162 0.88

autoimmune protocol (diabetes friendly)

Vegetables, spices and fruit

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food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
broccoli 25 36% 3 22 1.78
endive 16 23% 1 17 1.65
chicory greens 14 23% 2 23 1.59
alfalfa 11 19% 1 23 1.54
escarole 11 24% 1 19 1.41
spinach 24 49% 4 23 1.40
zucchini 19 40% 2 17 1.38
beet greens 15 35% 2 22 1.33
curry powder 3 13% 14 325 1.27
asparagus 21 50% 3 22 1.22
basil 19 47% 3 23 1.21
avocado -2 8% 3 160 1.18
watercress 28 65% 2 11 1.17
olives -6 3% 1 145 1.12
turnip greens 14 44% 4 29 1.03
parsley 15 48% 5 36 1.02
sage 5 26% 26 315 1.02
chard 17 51% 3 19 1.01
Chinese cabbage 18 54% 2 12 1.00
lettuce 16 50% 2 15 0.98
portabella mushrooms 18 55% 5 29 0.96
cauliflower 15 50% 4 25 0.95
cloves 8 35% 35 274 0.93
collards 8 37% 4 33 0.93
summer squash 12 45% 2 19 0.92
chives 13 48% 4 30 0.91
okra 14 50% 3 22 0.89
poppy seeds -3 17% 23 525 0.86
sauerkraut 7 39% 2 19 0.85

seafood

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food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA score
mackerel 7 14% 10 305 1.44
fish roe 23 47% 18 143 1.41
caviar 16 33% 23 264 1.40
salmon 24 52% 20 156 1.33
trout 20 45% 18 168 1.29
anchovy 19 44% 22 210 1.27
cisco 11 29% 13 177 1.25
herring 12 36% 19 217 1.14
sardine 12 37% 19 208 1.1
sturgeon 17 49% 16 135 1.04
oyster 20 59% 14 102 0.94
flounder 19 57% 12 86 0.94
tuna 16 52% 23 184 0.93
halibut 21 66% 17 111 0.79
crab 23 71% 14 83 0.77
rockfish 19 66% 17 109 0.72
shrimp 20 69% 19 119 0.69
perch 16 62% 14 96 0.67
lobster 20 71% 15 89 0.66
crayfish 18 67% 13 82 0.66
pollock 19 69% 18 111 0.64
cod 19 71% 48 290 0.57

animal products

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food ND % insulinogenic insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
lamb kidney 25 52% 15 112 1.33
lamb liver 22 48% 20 168 1.32
beef brains 6 22% 8 151 1.24
turkey liver 19 47% 21 189 1.21
lamb brains 7 27% 10 154 1.15
chicken liver 20 50% 20 172 1.15
salami 3 18% 17 378 1.13
pepperoni -0 13% 16 504 1.11
bratwurst 1 16% 13 333 1.08
beef kidney 19 52% 20 157 1.08
ground turkey 8 30% 19 258 1.08
bacon -2 11% 11 417 1.07
veal liver 21 55% 26 192 1.06
pork ribs 1 18% 16 361 1.05
sweetbread -3 12% 9 318 1.04
chicken liver pate 9 34% 17 201 1.04
beef tongue -1 16% 11 284 1.04
kielbasa -1 15% 12 325 1.03
T-bone steak 4 26% 19 294 1.01
beef liver 22 59% 25 175 1.00
pork sausage 1 20% 16 325 1.00
park sausage 3 25% 13 217 1.00
roast beef 10 38% 21 219 0.99
liver sausage -3 13% 10 331 0.99
rib eye steak 11 41% 21 210 0.99
roast pork 11 41% 20 199 0.96
beef rib eye 10 39% 21 215 0.95
beef sausage -1 18% 15 332 0.94
turkey 0 20% 21 414 0.94
turkey bacon -1 19% 11 226 0.92
meatballs -2 19% 14 286 0.91
lamb heart 13 48% 19 161 0.91
knackwurst -4 16% 12 307 0.90
turkey heart 13 47% 20 174 0.89
liver pate -3 16% 13 319 0.89
chorizo -3 17% 19 455 0.87
lamb rib -2 19% 17 361 0.86
lamb chop 10 42% 25 234 0.86
ham 18 59% 17 113 0.85
duck -3 18% 15 337 0.85
blood sausage -5 14% 13 379 0.84

other dietary approaches

The table below contains links to separate blog posts and printable .pdfs for a range of dietary approaches (sorted from most to least nutrient dense) that may be of interest depending on your situation and goals.   You can print them out to stick to your fridge or take on your next shopping expedition for some inspiration.

dietary approach printable .pdf
weight loss (insulin sensitive) download
autoimmune (nutrient dense) download
alkaline foods download
nutrient dense bulking download
nutrient dense (maintenance) download
weight loss (insulin resistant) download
autoimmune (diabetes friendly) download
zero carb download
diabetes and nutritional ketosis download
vegan (nutrient dense) download
vegan (diabetic friendly) download
therapeutic ketosis download
avoid download

If you’re not sure which approach is right for you and whether you are insulin resistant, this survey may help identify the optimal dietary approach for you.

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references

[1] http://www.healthline.com/health/autoimmune-disorders

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoimmune_disease

[3] https://www.aarda.org/disease-list/

13 thoughts on “nutrient dense autoimmune friendly foods”

  1. Hi Marty,

    I have been experimenting with a zero carb diet do to a skin condition would love to now your thoughts on that for health benefits and nutritional density.

    Just a thought.

    Love reading your post and learning

    Kind Regards

    Matthew Gorrie

    Like

    1. Zero carb seems to be great for people digestive issues who don’t deal well with vegetable fibre. I think optimal nutrition also involves some nutrient dense veggies as well unless you’re doing a lot of organ meats. Zero carb is one of the approaches shown in the bar chart in this post with the nutrient density being midrange.

      Like

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