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Dr. Jean Seignalet Ancestral Diet

What conditions is this diet best for?

The author of the Seignalet Diet blog, which is the only information available in English on Dr. Jean Seignalet’s diet thus far, notes that Dr. Seignalet originally developed the diet for rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and Behcet disease. Good results from the diet moved him to eventually expand into treating all autoimmune disorders and even other diseases of unknown cause.

What are the main tenets of the diet?

The basic premise of the diet is that modern foods are chromosomally/genetically different from ancestral foods, and the human gastrointestinal tract has not had time to adapt to these changes.  Dr. Seignalet also believed that cooking at high temperatures can modify the protein structure of foods, which can lead to autoimmunity as well as alteration of the gastrointestinal flora (bacteria that colonize the GI tract and play a large role in immunity and gastrointestinal function).  Dr. Seignalet believed that these modified proteins may not be fully digested, which can change the bacterial flora from a fermentation flora (physiologically preferred) to a putreficaiton flora (not physiologically preferred). Bacteria, which work to putrefy proteins, create toxic by-products, which can cause many imbalances and lead to disease. The philosophy of the diet involves eating non-modified foods, which can be completely digested and assimilated, or used properly by the body.

Foods given up/Foods eaten frequently:

Cereals and grains
Wheat and its products (see exceptions below), oats, corn, barley, rye, kamut, millet, bulgur, couscous, farro (even though it is marketed as an ancestral grain) are not allowed.  Buckwheat, quinoa, rice, wheat starch and corn starch are allowed.  Soaking and sprouting of allowed grains is preferred.

Dairy
All animal-source dairy are avoided.

Meat
Raw meat is preferred, such as in the form of carpaccio or steak tartare.  Gently cooked meat is allowed.  Raw deli meats such as parma ham, sausages and salami are allowed.  Cooked deli meats (like cooked ham, turkey, chicken, roastbeef) are not allowed.

True foie gras is allowed and its fat is considered healthy, although many people choose to avoid foie gras for ethical reasons.  Pate is typically not allowed, as it contains both milk and flour.

Fish
Just as with meat and eggs, the recommendation is, the less cooked the better.  The author notes that lightly steamed fish is not as “dangerous” as cooked meat.  Shellfish and oysters are allowed, preferably raw.

Eggs
Best raw or poached, never hard-boiled.  The reviewer notes that soft-boiled would be preferential to hard-boiled.

Fruits and Vegetables
All are allowed and recommended in large quantities.  Pulses and legumes are allowed as well.

Dried Fruits and Nuts
Recommended in large quantity, although the reviewer notes that these are likely intended to be preservative-free.  The author notes that nuts should be consumed raw, and the reviewer notes that soaking nuts, as well as pulses, legumes and grains, before consuming improves digestion and assimilation.

Other foods
Dr. Seignalet recommended eating honey and pollen; chocolate must be pure and dark with no additives.  It may be sweetened with brown sugar, agave, honey or maple syrup; white sugar must be eliminated.

Oils
Any oil from a first cold press is allowed.

Condiments
All are allowed in pure, additive-free form, including herbs and spices.  Salt should only be taken in whole form, versus refined.

Beverages
Tap water and mineral water are encouraged.  Coffee and tea are tolerated in reasonable quantities.  Achicoria (Spanish for chicory root) consumption is recommended.  Chicory root contains inulin, which is a type of carbohydrate that serves as a prebiotic.  Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates for humans, but friendly gastrointestinal flora are able to digest them and use them for energy.  All alcoholic beverages (excluding beer and drinks with added sugar) are allowed in moderate amounts.  Drinks with added sugar, such as soda and commercial juices and prohibited.

Cooking
Dr. Seignalet recommended avoidance of cooking as much as possible, with over 70% of diet consumed as raw.  He recommended that cooking temperatures, when cooking is unavoidable, to remain below 212° Fahrenheit, with a preference for steaming.  Over this temperature (and especially over about 400°), he stated that many mutagens, Maillard molecules and isomers are created, which turn into toxins once inside the body.

Light sautéing, stewing, steaming and dehydrating are allowed, since all of these methods don´t reach high temperatures.  Frying and oven cooking are not recommended, since these methods allow very high temperatures to be reached.  Eating smoked foods with moderation is recommended because of the carcinogen effect in the stomach.

Meal Frequency and Portion Sizing:
No specific recommendations given.

Vitamins/Supplements:
No specific recommendations, although bee pollen can be considered a supplement.

Will this diet require shopping at a specialty or organic grocery store, or buying the diet’s pre-packaged food (aka, is this diet going to be very expensive to sustain)?

This diet will require some shopping at a specialty or organic grocery store.  Genetically modified foods are not recommended, so organic foods would be the obvious choice.  Also, since quinoa, rice and buckwheat are the only recommended grains, one may wish to find flours made of these to use in cooking, as well as nut, bean and banana/plantain flours. All of these will require specialty shopping.  There are no pre-packaged diet foods associated with this diet.  This diet can be expensive, although careful meal planning and the minimization of eating out (which is implied) can help to off-set costs.

What other autoimmune diets is this diet similar to?

This diet is similar to most autoimmune diets in that organic and unprocessed foods are highly recommended.  It is also similar to elimination diets for autoimmunity, since dairy, gluten, additives/preservatives are excluded.  This is diet is unique to other autoimmune diets with its recommendation for mostly raw foods, including meats, fish and eggs.  The reviewer notes, however, that the concept of consuming mostly raw or gently cooked meats/foods is not new or unique to this diet.  The idea of protecting the structure of proteins as well as fats is an idea that the reviewer believes is worth considering for optimal health and well-being.  Anytime raw meat is consumed, one must make sure the meat has been handled appropriately prior to consumption.

Questions for your doctor:

  • Is there anything I should consider before beginning this diet, from a medical or safety standpoint?
  • Would you recommend any diet and lifestyle changes, including nutritional supplements, to compliment this diet?
  • Should I consult, or can you recommend a nutrition professional for help with dietary planning and input on nutrition lab recommendations, supporting gastrointestinal function/healing and nutritional supplement advice?  Find a Dietitian in Integrative and Functional Medicine (DIFM).

 

About the Author
Angie King-Nosseir MS, RD is an Integrative and Functional Registered Dietitian, with a passion for walking with people along their path toward health transformation. Angie has a Master’s degree in Nutrition, is a Certified LEAP Therapist, corporate wellness health coach, freelance nutrition and wellness writer, and certified yoga instructor. She is trained in Functional Nutrition and Medicine through the Institute for Functional Medicine and in Food as Medicine through the Center for Mind-Body Medicine.

 

This post contains opinions of the author.  AutoimmuneMom.com is not a medical practice and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  It is your responsibility to seek diagnosis, treatment, and advice from qualified providers based on your condition and particular circumstances.  Camino Real Ventures, Inc., the company that makes AutoimmuneMom.com available to you, does not endorse nor recommend any products, practices, treatment methods, tests, physicians, service providers, procedures, clinical trials, opinions or information available on this website.  Your use of the website is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

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Comments

  1. I have started this diet since the beginning of the new year (or course) to help with IBS and migraines. So far, I have cut Gluten 90% and dairy products 80% (I still make mistakes here and there) and I feel great. Fortunately for me, I can read French, and I was able (but not patient enough) to read Dr. Seignalet’s book or at least the parts that concern me. What I am struggling with at the moment are recipes; I need inspiration. Can you recommend websites where recipes are available? Thank you.

    • Hello Cynthia,
      Since you speak and read French, there is “Cuisiner pour Vaincre la douleur et l’inflammation chronique” that has good recipes and that is based on Dr. Seignalet’s diet. The book is by Jacqueline Lagacé PH.D.

      jp

  2. Hi Cynthia, you’re right, there are no big recipe sites out there that cover the Seignalet diet exactly. I know of three good sites for Paleo, Raw, and Gluten/Dairy free, so I’m hoping you could find some good ones here:
    http://www.rawguru.com/raw-food-recipes/
    http://realsustenance.com/recipe-list/
    http://paleozonenutrition.com/recipes-and-meal-ideas/links-to-paleo-recipes/
    Good luck and that’s awesome you are feeling the difference! I’m gluten free too and it is making a big difference – next on the list is cutting back on dairy. Your undertaking is totally impressive. 🙂

  3. The book I started my healing with was the Anti-Inflamatory Foods for Health by Barbara Rowe and Lisa Davis. It has some excellent recipes with good explanations. Recommended by the women at the Lake Arrowhead Pilates (California), I am going to try making bread from the Wheat Belly Cook Book. It has bread and muffin recipes using almond and other permissable flours. Also, I heartily recommend The Food Tarot by Katy Yurcheshen, http://www.thefoodtarot.com. The recipes are absolutely delicious and the use of certain spices unusual. Good health to you all, Suzann

  4. Maxine says:

    I’m French and have been doing the diet for a while now. It’s wonderful. I started it in 2006 , at 40, to treat a recurrent candidiasis that doctors couldn’t cure. I’d heard of Seignalet and Kousmine (here it’s called the “hypotoxic diet” and has been around for about 20 years) and decided to give it a go.
    Not only did I cure it that way, in just 3 months (using “grapefruit seed extract” as a natural antibiotic as well) but I felt about 10 years younger. I realized all the things I thought were caused by “not getting any younger” had nothing to do with ageing : weight gain, migraines, arthritis, morning stiffness, yellow toenails, losing a lot of hair, fatigue, waking up 3 or 4 times during the night, difficult digestion and IBS. All those ailments cleared gradually or, in the case of arthritis, improved drastically. And levels of energy I’d forgotten existed came back.
    It takes a few month to learn to eat differently and to get used to it. But once that’s done, it gets easier to stick to it. Nowadays I allow myself to make exceptions when invited round at people’s houses and I feel fine the next day. But I hear not everyone can do that. Some people have to follow the diet very very strictly to get results and sometimes it takes more than a year to start feeling better. It depends on what chronic disease you have, how serious it is, how long you’ve had it, whether you’re allergic, intolerant or just sensitive to gluten and /or dairy products. It’s wiser to have a doctor’s opinion while on the diet.
    Good luck to all of you. Stick it out and you’ll never look back again. Maxine.

    • Hi Maxine, I have just begun to read about this type of diet and would like to try it to help with issues of migraine, ibs etc that I have been suffering with for many years. I am 65 and tired of not feeling well most of the time even though I try to eat well (perhaps not ?) and get enough exercise. Did you have a guide or cookbook to use to help you get started? Carol

  5. Maxine, thank you so much for your comment. Sometimes I get off-track because I am feeling good, but being on-track equates with feeling fantastic. Thank you for your nudge into what is possible. Suzann

  6. The comment I am responding to doesn’t appear here for some reason, but the question is what is this diet good for. Well, from what I have read and experienced, any kind of inflammation. I had polymyalgia, an autoimmune disorder with severe inflammation. It is different from fibromyalgia. Polymyalgia is proven by a blood test and is treat with prednisone. However, I chose the antii-inflamatory diet regime and finally corrected my condition. My condition lasted four years and perhaps longer before it really took hold of my body, but now with exercise this diet is totally incorporated into my daily living habits.

  7. Hi Angie,

    Excellent blog post and excellent blog – keep up the good work! Just to inform you and your readers that a new book on the Seignalet diet is now available, written by Dr. Jean Seignalet’s daughters. I am the translator. The book is a guide to the original 700 page treatise, complete with hundreds of diagrams and charts drawn by Dr. Seignalet. The new book is called “How to prevent and reverse 100 diseases the new French way with Dr. Seignalet’s diet miracle”. It’s available in paperback on Amazon and free of charge on Kindle Unlimited for a limited time. The new book is written by Dr. Seignalet’s daughters and it explains the science behind the diet in easy to understand terms. It also tells you how to follow the diet and contains recipe and menu suggestions. I myself am a health nut and after discovering that nuts, seeds, pulses, rice, quinoa, buckwheat etc are routinely heat treated for so called “organic” produce and with a carcinogenic solvent (really!) for non organic, I wrote an additional chapter on how to source REAL food that has not been pasteurized which you will find towards the end of the book.

    Here are some points in no particular order:

    1, How to pronounce Dr. Jean Seignalet. Dr. “Shon Saynyalay”

    2. Dr. Seignalet’s daughters have included his results tables for all the various diseases (95!) he treated with success. The results will make your eyes pop out.

    3. Dr. Seignalet died in 2003 of pancreatic cancer. (Eh oui! Even doctors who invent miracle diets don’t live forever)

    Cheers Chris

    Here are some things you might like to know in

    • Katie Cleary says:

      Chris,
      Thank you SO much for letting us know about the English version of Dr. Seignalet’s diet! That is wonderful news. And the additional chapter sounds super helpful.
      Thanks so very much for keeping us updated – I hope the translation helps give the diet more recognition and adoption.

      Take care,
      Katie
      founder, AutoimmuneMom.com

  8. Camille Rasminsky says:

    How can a diet like this be followed for a four years old boy who was just diagnosed with colitis?

    • Katie Cleary says:

      Hi Camille,
      Sorry for not replying sooner to this. I wish I had the answers for you, but I’m not a licensed RD and I wouldn’t want to make any recommendations that would be wrong for your child. Diet stuff is SO hard – we struggle with it for our kids (one is pre-celiac; has the antibodies but was negative in the biopsy). Have you ever heard of SmartPatients.com? There is an IBD group on there that I am part of, and there are a good handful of members who are on there for their kids. I highly recommend joining it – it’s free and you just go onto the site and request to become part of that group. Best of luck and hope your son does ok with the treatment for colitis!
      warmly,
      Katie

  9. Hi,

    I’m a French to English translator and health nut. I translated the guide to Dr. Seignalet’s original, 700 page book written by his two daughters. I own a well thumbed copy of Dr. Seignalet’s book.

    Here is my own Seignalet website: http://www.seignaletplus.com

    Cheers Chris

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