The Hypotoxic (Seignalet) diet: Is it effective for certain chronic illnesses?
Published 23 Jul 2021 • By Candice Salomé
Developed by Dr. Jean Seignalet, a French immunologist, in 1985, the hypotoxic (Seignalet) diet is a dietary programme designed to improve overall health. According to Dr. Seignalet, most chronic illnesses today have their origins in the way we eat.
What are the main principles of the hypotoxic diet? Which chronic health conditions can it help? What are the possible health benefits and limitations?
We explain it all below!
What is the Seignalet diet?
The Seignalet diet is a hypotoxic diet developed by Dr. Jean Seignalet, a French biologist and immunity specialist, in 1985.
By returning to a diet similar to that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the Seignalet diet aims to restore the lining of the intestine and thus have a beneficial effect on 91 chronic illnesses.
At present, no scientific study has been conducted to support the claims of this diet.
What are the main principles of the hypotoxic (Seignalet) diet?
The hypoxic diet is based on several key principles. These include:
Food to exclude from one's diet
Animal milk (cow's milk, goat's milk, sheep's milk, etc.) and its derivatives (yoghurt, cheese, cream, butter, ice cream, etc.) should be eliminated. Products containing milk powder should also be avoided.
According to Dr. Seignalet, animal milks are very different from human breast milk. Their molecular structure is not suited to the digestive enzymes of many people.
Modern cereals and grains
In the hypotoxic diet, it is important to exclude cereals and grains containing gluten such as: wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt and kamut (khorasan wheat). Corn should also be avoided.
These grains have undergone numerous genetic mutations over the last 5,000 years and their current molecular structure is very different from the initial structure. They therefore no longer meet the definition of an ancestral diet.
Nevertheless, cereals such as rice, buckwheat and sesame can be eaten because they have not mutated.
The hypotoxic diet is a gluten-free diet.
Foods cooked at temperatures above 110°C (230°F)
The hypotoxic diet recommends avoiding foods cooked at temperatures above 230°F and microwave cooking.
Some people can be very sensitive to the way foods are cooked because of the molecular changes caused by heat, making the food indigestible, especially fats and animal proteins.
The diet suggests that foods should be eaten raw where possible to retain all the vitamins and minerals and to optimise their nutritional value.
Cooked or hot-pressed oils
The hypotoxic diet also advises to exclude cooked or hot-pressed oils. Refined oils, butter and margarine should be replaced by natural, organic, cold-pressed vegetable oils. For example, it is recommended to use extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed oil, walnut oil or hazelnut oil.
For cooking oils, opt for extra virgin olive oil and peanut oil, which are more heat resistant.
Foods to include in one's diet
A so-called "ancestral" diet contains a large proportion of fruits and vegetables. The hypotoxic diet recommends that we eat only organically grown food because the nutritional quality of the food is thought to be higher, and the risks associated with pesticides and other chemical agents are reduced.
Foods that are locally sourced and in season
It is strongly advised to choose fresh, seasonal and locally sourced fruit and vegetables, which are richer in nutrients as they are grown naturally and close by.
Here is a list of foods that the diet recommends to be consumed on a daily basis:
- Certain grains such as rice, buckwheat and sesame,
- Virgin and cold pressed oils,
- Raw meat and raw sausages,
- Raw or lightly cooked fish, seafood and shellfish,
- Raw or lightly cooked egg yolks,
- Fresh or dried fruit,
- Raw or lightly cooked vegetables,
- Steamed or stewed vegetables, avoiding high temperatures (not exceeding 110°C/230°F),
- Certain whole, non-refined sugars such as honey or whole cane sugar.
What are the potential benefits of the hypotoxic diet?
The hypotoxic diet is thought to have a preventive and curative effect in a large number of chronic illnesses and autoimmune disorders. According to Dr. Seignalet, the food we produce in this day and age attacks the intestinal barrier and increases its permeability, thus allowing the passage of bacteria and other waste products into the bloodstream. This causes an auto-immune or inflammatory reaction in the body.
The hypotoxic diet could therefore have a beneficial effect on a number of health conditions, such as:
- Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis or coeliac disease.
- "Elimination diseases" such as urticaria, asthma, psoriasis, colitis, Crohn's disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acne, eczema, etc.
- “Clogging diseases” of the cells, such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, tendonitis, migraines, etc.
What are the limitations of the hypotoxic diet?
Although it has many health benefits, the Seignalet diet has many limitations. Indeed, it is quite restrictive and therefore not very compatible with an active social life.
In addition, eating raw meat, eggs and fish exposes you to the risk of bacterial infection and foodborne illness.
Plus, if you are eliminating all dairy products from your diet, it is important to substitute with calcium-rich foods such as sardines, almonds, spinach, cabbage, chia seeds or certain calcium-rich mineral waters, in order to avoid deficiencies.
Finally, and above all, it is essential to consult with your doctor before starting any diet or making changes to your eating habits. Not all diets are suitable for everyone.
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