My wife was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I found the lecture you gave funded by Direct MS on the Paleo diet. My wife has already started the Paleo diet. At the time, it seemed like all the evidence for excluding tomatoes wasn’t in yet. Are you now certain tomatoes should be excluded from the diets of those with MS? What about other vegetables with lectins like peppers and eggplant? Any new research I’d be interested in reading? Have you ever heard of a study done on rats that uses pulsed calcitriol as a treatment for MS. This concise two page article explains the study with all references cited. Thank you for all your research and time.
Dr. Cordain’s Response:
My heart goes out to you and your wife and to all MS patients suffering from this disease. MS is an autoimmune disease caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Without a genetic pre-disposition (typically certain HLA haplotypes) to this disease, environmental factors (diet, infection, lack of sunlight etc.) likely cannot elicit MS alone.
Recent evidence suggests that environmental dietary factors that promote increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) may be involved in promoting autoimmune diseases in genetically susceptible individuals, including MS patients.
A number of recently introduced (from an evolutionary perspective) foods, and other dietary items have been consistently shown to increase intestinal permeability including wheat (via its gluten and WGA [wheat germ agglutinin, a lectin]), legumes (via their saponin and lectin concentrations), alcohol, hot chili peppers (containing high concentrations of capsaicin), aspirin and ibuprofen (and all NSAIDs [non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs]), birth control pills, and nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers [salsa, paprika, cayenne, etc]. Potatoes contain two glycoalkaloid saponins [alpha solanine and alpha chaconine] which have been shown in human, animal and tissue studies to increase intestinal permeability. Similarly tomato foods contain alpha tomatine, which is a saponin known to increase intestinal permeability, abrogate the gut barrier and interact with the immune system.
Epidemiological studies have also consistently implicated dairy consumption with MS and other autoimmune diseases
There are no know nutritional risks or shortcomings to adopting a contemporary Paleo Diet void of dairy, gluten, grain, potato and legumes. Additionally, autoimmune patients may want to experiment with nightshade diets void of tomatoes, potatoes, and chili peppers among other nightshade vegetables. Further, egg white proteins have been anecdotally associated with MS and other autoimmune diseases.
No experimental studies in humans to date have shown that elimination of wheat, dairy, gluten containing grains, egg whites, nightshade vegetables, capsaicin containing chili peppers, potatoes and tomatoes have proven therapeutic effects in MS patients. Nevertheless, the nutritional risks of eliminating these foods are non-existent, providing that fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, grass produced meats and poultry displace the typical processed foods in the US diet.
Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus