If you have an autoimmune disease, you may have specific dietary restrictions or needs. The AIP, or autoimmune protocol diet or autoimmune paleo diet fills those needs.
About The AIP Diet
If you have a metabolic or digestive health condition, you may need to avoid foods that trigger allergies or cause your condition to flare up with symptoms. For some autoimmune diseases, you have to eliminate foods or ingredients completely. Otherwise, you won’t experience relief from your symptoms, and your gut cannot heal.
The AIP diet is also called the hunter-gatherer diet because it is based on foods available during the Paleolithic time period. Any foods that emerged 10,000 years ago with the invention of farming are excluded from the AIP diet for autoimmune disorders.
Examples of autoimmune disorders include:
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Coeliac Disease
- Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome
- Hashimoto’s Disease
- Psoriatic Arthritis
- Adrenal fatigue
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Reoccurring viral infections
- Low immunity
Understanding your digestive system. Your gut has what scientists call a microbiota, populations of microbial species that live in your body. Most of these bacteria, fungi, and viruses live symbiotically with us, causing no harm. You have anywhere from 10-100 microbial cells at any given time.
Things we eat, medicines we take, and our feelings impact our microbiota. When the balance is disturbed, it can trigger an illness to develop or a health condition to flare up. Autoimmune diseases are considered inflammatory since they flood your guy with white blood cells to heal the disturbance.
The AIP diet places emphasis on identifying and removing the foods that cause inflammation in your gut. When your digestive system stays inflamed, it cannot function properly. This may lead to:
- Poor absorption of nutrients
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Stomach pain and tenderness
Foods you can eat while following the AIP diet include:
- All vegetables, with the exception of nightshades, which include potatoes, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes
- Herbal teas
- Coconut products including milk, oil, and flour
- Arrowroot starch
- Fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, coconut yogurt, Kimchi, and sauerkraut
- Meat that is organic and grass-fed
- Herbs like ginger, turmeric, basil, thyme, sage, oregano, rosemary, mint, and cinnamon
- Oils and fats like olive oil, ghee, lard, and avocado oil
Foods you should avoid while following the AIP diet include:
- Nuts and seeds
- Vegetable oils
- Beans and legumes
- Artificial sweeteners like stevia, xylitol
- Dairy like milk, yogurt, and cheese
- Fruit that is dried or canned
- Any processed food
- Herbs that come from seed like mustard seeds, coriander seeds, fennel, and fenugreek
Beginning the AIP diet. The AIP diet is very restrictive, so you may want to eliminate foods one at a time as your body adjusts. You can choose a category of foods – dairy, grains, nightshade vegetables, or processed foods – and eliminate one per week until you are following the AIP diet for autoimmune disorders completely.
Follow the AIP diet strictly for 30-90 days. When you’re ready, you may reintroduce foods one at a time to see how your body responds. For example, if you choose dairy, you might start with low-fat milk and drink a serving each day for three days. If you don’t notice a negative reaction, add other dairy products in phases.
Pros of the AIP Diet
The AIP diet can improve your autoimmune disease symptoms. Living with an autoimmune disease can be very difficult. You don’t know when you’ll have a flare-up that affects your day-to-day life. With control of your diet, you can help manage your symptoms better and live life with less worry.
The AIP diet can help you lose weight. Since the AIP diet eliminates a lot of unhealthy foods, you can lose weight efficiently. If you’ve struggled to lose weight on other diets, the AIP might work. Keep in mind that when you begin to reintroduce foods, you’ll want to do so in moderation to maintain your weight loss.
Cons of the AIP Diet
The AIP diet is very restrictive. While knowing exactly what you can eat helps you meal plan, it may also be difficult to follow. If you go out to eat, there may not be something on the menu that fits your diet restrictions. If other people in your home are not following the AIP diet, you must be mindful of which foods in your house are safe and which ones aren’t.
You may miss out on vital nutrients. Cutting out whole grains means eliminating an excellent source of fiber from your diet. Cutting out dairy means removing your main source of calcium for building strong bones. Make a list of acceptable foods that fill these needs in your diet and be sure to incorporate them regularly.