Autoimmune Paleo Diet – SUPER Tips You Can Use TODAY!
Autoimmune paleo diet (AIP diet) is relatively new.
In its core, this diet is a food-based approach to eliminating the inflammation in a person’s body caused by autoimmune conditions.
Also, it aims to reduce other symptoms of autoimmune disorders over time.
This diet is highly restrictive but can lead to amazing results.
To help you find out how this diet works, what you are allowed to eat and what you should restrain from, what benefits it brings and how effective it is in the long run we’ve done extensive research and created a guide that covers pretty much all the things you need to know about this diet.
So, let’s begin!
1. What Is Autoimmune Paleo Diet?
First, let’s cover some basics that should help you get a bigger picture of what this diet represents.
It’s elimination-focused diet – the goal of this diet is to cut inflammation-causing foods and therefore reset your body’s system.
In this way, your autoimmune conditions will be put into remission and you will develop better eating habits in the long run.
It’s often focused on treating “leaky gut” – One of the beliefs is that autoimmune conditions are often caused by small holes in your intestines.
These holes allow food to enter the rest of the body system and trigger your immune system to react because it thinks that those small food particles are the enemies it should protect the body from.
It has roots in the paleo diet – but it’s even more restrictive.
It emphasizes foods with omega-3 acids and promotes vitamin and nutrient-rich foods.
Before you start adding foods that are not included in the diet you need to follow a highly strict AIP diet plan for several weeks.
While some people choose this diet as their life-long choice and a new eating habit, others try it for a shorter period.
Either way, this diet requires you to be disciplined, set some goals and stick to them.
Also, new foods should be added gradually.
For example, add one type of food each day just to see what kind of reactions you have to it.
In case you notice any kinds of side effects, you need to take it out of your diet.
2. What Are Autoimmune Diseases?
The main goal of the auto-immune diet is to help you get rid of the inflammation caused by auto-immune diseases.
But what are these diseases?
How to recognize the signs?
What should you do to avoid?
Here are the answers to your questions:
This disease occurs when your body mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissues.
In this case, your immune system creates antibodies that should destroy substances known as antigens that can easily find the way to your system.
Here are some of the antigens: various toxins, cancer, viruses, unhealthy bacteria.
All of these antigens may develop as a result of your environment or your current lifestyle and eating habits that you might have.
These habits may include drug and alcohol consumption, the exercise of a lack of exercise, specific diets, smoking, etc.)
Once you develop an auto-immune disease, your body cannot tell the difference between healthy body tissues and these antigens.
Some auto-immune diseases are:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Graves’ disease
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Reactive arthritis
- Type I diabetes
- Celiac disease (gluten intolerance)
- Eczema (as well as various rashes)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
From thyroid and pancreas to muscles and blood vessels, there are different parts of the body the auto-immune disease can affect.
Also, they can affect your energy levels, mood digestion and a whole range of things.
These diseases are highly impactful which is what all kinds of measures should be taken to decrease the bad impact and make them disappear after some period of time.
If you are reading this article, you are either experiencing similar issues or are just wondering that you have one if you recognize some similar symptoms.
On the other hand, maybe you just want to get more information so that you would know how to help somebody who has one of these diseases or showing some kind of symptoms.
There is one thing that you should keep in mind: if you have been consuming processed foods that mainly consist of industrial seed oils and gluten, there is a good possibility that you have some auto-immune conditions.
There are a number of other things that can contribute to the development of auto-immune diseases.
Some of them are mycotoxins, genetics, heavy metals, frequent consumption of NSAIDS or steroids as well as alpha-blockers, antibiotics and infections like candida or chronic infections due to food insensitivity.
To determine whether you have some kind of auto-immune disease or not, you need to look for signs like insomnia, rashes, chronic joint pain, abdominal pain or constant bloating after eating, frequent muscle pain and weakness, tingling hands or feet, blood or mucus in your stool, frequent colds and sickness, etc.
To be sure that you are suffering from a certain auto-immune disease you need to consult a physician.
However, there are also a few tests you can do to figure out if you have these conditions: CBS test, IgG test, C-reactive protein test, Autoantibody test.
But, as we have already said, to be definitely sure that there are some issues you need to treat you need to go to the doctor.
3. What Is Paleo Autoimmune Protocol?
This protocol was originally developed by Dr Lorein Cordain and Robb Wolf as a variation of a Paleo diet to help the people fight autoimmune disease.
The idea behind this protocol was to eliminate foods that damage the intestines of certain people, that is to eliminate foods that are on the “not-allowed” list for at least 30 to 60 days, and then reintroduce some foods one step at a time to see how the body reacts.
The fact is that the only way to see which foods have an adverse impact on our body is to eliminate them all for the period of up to 60 days.
4. The Origins Of The Paleo Diet
Before we dive deep into the AIP diet, there are a few things you need to know about the Paleo diet which is the diet that the AIP diet originated from.
Many people who are suffering from some kind of autoimmune disease, as well as those who are suffering from Hashimoto’s disease, are aware of the incredible benefits of the Paleo diet.
This diet has helped thousands of people deal with the health issues and feel better from a wide range of symptoms including brain fog, fatigue, ga, joint pain, bloating and many others.
According to a survey, 81% of people reported that this diet has helped them improve symptoms and feel better altogether.
When it comes to Hashimoto disease, Palo diet has even helped many people lower or completely eliminate their thyroid antibodies.
For those of you who have tried the Paleo diet but hasn’t seen any significant improvements, there are a few additional steps you can take to reach the best possible results and give you the power to take back your health.
The traditional Paleo diet is a classic elimination of different kinds of foods that people are usually sensitive to with the aim to lower inflammation.
The paleo diet eliminates foods like grains, soy, processed foods, legumes.
Put simply, you take out the foods that cause your symptoms and replace them with the foods that are rich in nutrients such as wild-caught fish, organic or grass-fed meats, organic vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs from pasture-raised hens and dairy products.
All in all, Palio diet is a great start and you should try and practice it.
However, sometimes the Paleo diet is not enough to address every case of Hashimoto or any other kinds of autoimmune disease and this is where you need to think about taking the next step.
Most importantly, with each new diet that you try out, you are discovering new kinds of foods that may or may not help you improve your symptoms and you are finding out the ways your body responds to those foods.
The thing is that each case of Hashimoto is different and many of us have different food sensitivities that are affecting our immune system.
For example, people who are suffering from Hashimoto usually have sensitivities to a wide range of foods including dairy, gluten, soy.
These are all omitted on the Paleo diet.
So what should you do if the traditional Paleo diet simply does not work for you?
Your next step is to try the autoimmune Paleo diet whose goal is to heal leaky gut by removing commonly used foods that cause inflammation.
In this way, your body should start healing from the autoimmune disease you are experiencing.
5. How Does The AIP Diet Differ From The Paleo Diet?
For starters, 60 days of a diet is a stricter version of the Paleo diet.
So, basically, you do a typical Paleo diet but then also eliminate the additional “not allowed” foods for AIP.
Next, you spend a few weeks reintroducing not allowed foods back into your Paleo diet.
So, once you introduced all the not allowed foods into your diet, you will keep on following the Paleo diet while eliminating the foods that caused issues when you tried to reintroduce them.
For instance, if you reintroduced eggs after your 30-60 days period, this means that you will have to keep eggs out of your paleo diet always even though many people who practice Paleo diet eat a lot of eggs.
6. What To Do If You Have An Autoimmune Disease And How To Avoid It?
Auto-immune disease is also known as a leaky-gut disease.
Essentially, leaky gut happens when bacteria, waste, toxins or substances that are not completely digested reach the bloodstream causing autoimmune reactions.
You need to keep in mind that 80% of the immune system is found in the gut, which means that much of the focus you need to have when you are trying to reduce the effects of the auto-immune disease is to heal your digestive system.
The GI tracts are not only aimed at digesting and absorbing nutrients.
It also contains neurotransmitters, hormones, enzymes, and chemical messengers that deliver information to your brain.
One of the ways to deal with these awful diseases is to practice autoimmune paleo diet.
For most people, following this diet for three to four weeks and developing new healthier eating habits is the key to reducing the impact which should help them get better and be healthy again.
In this text, we provide you with all the bits and pieces you need to know to reach success and live a healthier lifestyle by following an autoimmune paleo diet.
7. How To Follow An AIP Diet?
Since this diet is an elimination diet, it means that there are certain foods that should be avoided for several weeks.
According to the research, this diet is an extension of the paleo diet.
This means that a person who follows this diet usually eats vegetables, lean proteins, fruits, nuts and seeds.
Also, this diet is focused on foods that are rich in nutrients and other types of vitamins.
Anyone who decides to eat this diet will not consume anything that has added sugar or some other additives that can trigger a bad reaction and autoimmune response.
A person should follow this diet for a few weeks and then slowly introduce foods that are not included in the diet and look for reactions so that they would know what foods to exclude in the long run.
What Foods Should You Eat?
Foods you CAN eat on the AIP diet: With the AIP diet, you’re eliminating a lot of nutrient sources.
So it’s important to choose nutrient-rich foods, including a variety of fresh vegetables, wild-caught fish, fermented foods, organ meats, and bone broth.
The essence of the AIP diet is meat and vegetables, which makes it similar to the paleo diet, only more severe in its restrictions.
For example, people on the paleo diet can eat tomatoes and nuts; foods that are restricted from the autoimmune protocol.
- Grass-fed meats (including nutrient-dense organ meats)
- Wild-caught fish and seafood
- Leafy green vegetables (spinach, endive, herbs, etc.)
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.)
- Root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, etc.)
- Fermented vegetables
- Sea vegetables
- Fruit: berries, citrus fruit, apples, cherries, etc.
- Olive oil and coconut oil
- Vinegars that have no sugar added (balsamic, red wine, cider vinegars)
Before beginning a restrictive diet like the AIP diet, consult your physician or a dietitian.
Your doctor or dietitian can help you manage the AIP diet, helping you refine and adapt the diet to meet your individual needs, while addressing concerns about meeting vitamin and mineral requirements, the possibility of elevated levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, and so on.
Once you’re ready to get started, here are some recipes that are AIP friendly:
You have no doubt come across list upon list of foods you can and cannot eat while on AIP.
I’m here to tell you that there’s another list: the foods you should be eating.
Go crazy with them!
They will only help your body to heal faster.
Here is a list of the top 5 staple food items that should be a part of your meal if you are on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet.
6 foods that will help you beat the autoimmune disease
Turmeric is an important ingredient that is often added into Asian dishes to enhance the colour and flavour of the food.
You may not be aware that, for centuries, humans have been using turmeric for the treatment of wounds and pain.
It has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that will heal anybody, including yours.
This bright orange spice contains curcumin, a powerful healing compound that’s been shown to alleviate multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease by regulating inflammatory substances in the body.
Curcumin is hard for the body to absorb, so to increase its availability, combine it with black pepper and try heating it, both of which make it easier for the body to use.
Try This: Cook butternut squash cubes with coconut milk, turmeric, black pepper and curry paste then purée for an easy, creamy soup; simmer coconut or almond milk with turmeric and black pepper, and sweeten with raw honey for dairy-free golden milk; toss cauliflower florets in turmeric, black pepper, salt, garlic and olive oil then roast until tender.
While you are on the AIP diet, it is not only important to reduce the inflammation in your body.
It’s also worth making the effort to eliminate any chemicals or toxins that are causing inflammation.
This is why it’s encouraged that you eat only organic and free-range foods.
But what about the toxins that you cannot avoid?
Enter activated charcoal. Activated charcoal was once thought to be the universal antidote to all illnesses.
It has been used in Asia for tens of thousands of years by Chinese healers and Ayurvedic practitioners.
More recently, it has been used since the early 1800s as an emergency treatment for overdosing.
In its activated state, charcoal has a negative electrical charge that attracts positively charged particles such as toxins and gases, binding itself to the unwanted guest and preventing it from being absorbed into the body.
Given its powerful qualities, the detox world has cleaved to activated charcoal as a tool for cleansing the body and cultivating digestive health, heart health, and to slow down the ageing process.
Activated charcoal detoxes can be found online, as can charcoal pills.
Another food with powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties is coconut oil.
Should you use it instead of avocado oil or olive oil (two other oils that are permitted by AIP), you will find that your foods have an additional, delicious flavour and are boosted with nutritional properties and healing affects you cannot find in the other two options.
Coconut oil is additionally good for massage because the oil will be infused into your bloodstream through the skin, further helping to reduce inflammation in your body.
Like other sulfur-rich foods (cauliflower, radishes, cabbage, onions, kale), it’s rich in a powerful antioxidant called glutathione, which has been shown to help alleviate autoimmune diseases.
It’s key in taming chronic inflammation and protecting against oxidative stress, and studies show glutathione status may be diminished by as much as 50% in people with autoimmune disorders.
Try This: Toss whole broccoli spears in olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes and grill until tender; cook broccoli, cauliflower and leeks in broth then purée until smooth for a creamy, dairy-free soup; grate or shred broccoli stems, red cabbage, celery, green apples and onions, add golden raisins, and dress with mayonnaise, raw honey and apple cider vinegar for an easy slaw.
Broccoli is jam-packed with nutrients, one of which is sulforaphane.
This powerful antioxidant fights inflammation by lowering your levels of cytokines and NF-kB.
Research has also shown it to lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.
It’s high in a compound called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to improve symptoms and reduce the pathology in some animal models of autoimmune diseases.
The dysregulation of T cell function is a critical factor in the development of autoimmune inflammatory diseases, and green tea has a dramatic effect on T cell function, especially their differentiation, in a way that can favourably impact autoimmunity.
While further studies in humans are needed, the results are promising.
Try This: Brewed green tea with mint tea, slices of ginger and raw honey; mix brewed green tea, bananas and coconut milk then freeze in an ice cream maker.
Wild Alaskan Salmon
It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation, modulate immune activity and protect against several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis and multiple sclerosis.
Tuna, sardines, mackerel and other fatty fish are also good sources of omega-3 fats.
Try This: Simmer seaweed noodles in a broth with ginger and garlic then top with bok choy, scallions and crumbled cooked salmon; in a food processor, combine salmon, leeks, zucchini, garlic and onions then pulse to mix and form into patties and sauté in olive oil; toss canned salmon with avocado cubes, chopped kale, shredded carrots and a simple vinaigrette.
Traditionally fermented sauerkraut is loaded with probiotics, which help balance the gut microbiome and improve the intestine’s barrier function, critical in protecting against autoimmune conditions.
Studies show that people with rheumatoid arthritis who take probiotics feel a significant reduction in stiffness, swelling, pain, and inflammation.
Other good dairy-free probiotic sources include kimchi, fermented vegetables, pickled ginger, coconut yoghurt with added probiotics, and water kefir.
What Foods Should You Avoid?
As we have mentioned before this is a rather strict diet which means that many different kinds of foods are eliminated and should be avoided for good.
These kinds of foods are also the foods that should be avoided when following a paleo diet but there are also a few more that are added to the list.
These include: grains, dairy products ( including raw products as well), processed foods, refined sugars, industrial seed oils (these include canola and vegetable oils)
However, this diet also bans some of the foods that are not banned in the Paleo diet.
These include emulsifiers and food thickeners, eggs, gum, alternative sweeteners, nightshade vegetables (potatoes, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, and many more), nuts and seeds and the foods and drinks like coffee, chocolate and certain spices like coriander and cumin.
On top of this, you should also avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and alcoholic drinks while following this diet.
NSAIDS include all the painkillers like aspirin (Bufferin), naproxen sodium, ibuprofen, etc.
Researchers and medical experts also believe that blue-green algae can also have a tremendously positive impact on your health and significantly reduce the bad impact of auto-immune conditions.
However, this is not specifically addressed in AIP protocols.
Now that you are familiar with what kinds of foods you should not eat we present you the list of foods you can consume while following auto-immune diet:
These foods should definitely be rich in vegetables and different kinds of meats.
Keep in mind that you need to exclude nightshades when it comes to vegetables.
So here are some other kinds of foods you can also consume:
- Olive oil
- A variety of vinegar, including balsamic, red wine, and apple cider, so long as they have no added sugar
- Arrowroot starch
- Gelatin from grass-fed beef
- Coconut products, including coconut oil
- Fermented foods, so long as they don’t contain dairy (for example, kombucha, non-dairy kefir, and fermented vegetables)
- Small portions of honey or maple syrup
There are also some foods you can incorporate on a limited basis.
Also, keep in mind that fruits are controversial types of foods when it comes to this diet.
According to some researchers, you should exclude fruits altogether, while some experts believe that you should consume 10-25 grams of fructose daily or about two pieces of fruit.
Plus, you can consume green and black teas, that is teas that aren’t seed-based.
Before beginning a restrictive diet such as auto-immune diet, you simply must consult your physician or a dietician to learn about what you are allowed to consume and how much.
Also, a medical expert in this field can help you manage your AIP diet, guide you through the steps you need to take to refine it and adapt it to your needs while also taking the levels of vitamins and nutrients you should consume into account.
The AIP diet is a protocol designed for those with autoimmune disease to lower inflammation and nourish the body!
But what can you eat?
How do you manage it?
The AIP diet stands for Autoimmune Protocol, and it’s designed for those with autoimmune disease to reduce inflammation to allow their bodies the opportunity to heal.
It removes inflammatory foods, gut irritants, and immune stimulants for a minimum of 30 days.
After the elimination period, foods are reintroduced one by one to see if the body has healed and can tolerate them again.
Many continue to follow an AIP template even after their autoimmune symptoms have reduced.
This can be a preventative measure to stop symptoms from flaring again, or it may just be that you feel better eating more of an AIP template.
Regardless of how long you follow it, AIP is meant to be a short-term healing solution and not a long-term way of life.
- All animal proteins (excluding eggs)
- All vegetables (excluding nightshades)
- Fruits in moderation
- Healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, animal fats, etc.)
- Bone broth, organ meats
- Grain-free baking flours (cassava, tigernut, tapioca, coconut, etc.)
- All grains (wheat, oats, rice, corn, etc.)
- All dairy (all dairy of all types)
- All legumes (all beans such as lentils, black beans, chickpeas, and vegetables like green beans as well as peanuts)
- Nightshade vegetables and spices (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, all peppers, red spices)
- All nuts and seeds
- Seed based spices (mustard, cumin, sesame, etc.)
- Thickeners, gums, and food additives
- Poor quality seed oils (sunflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil, etc.)
How does it work?
The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol works by addressing four key areas known to be important contributors to chronic and autoimmune diseases.
Drawing on insights gleaned from more than 1,200 scientific studies, these diet and lifestyle recommendations specifically target:
- Nutrient density. The immune system (and indeed every system in the body) requires an array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and amino acids to function normally.
Micronutrient deficiencies and imbalances are key players in the development and progression of autoimmune disease.
Focusing on consuming the most nutrient-dense foods available enables a synergistic surplus of micronutrients to correct both deficiencies and imbalances, thus supporting regulation of the immune system, hormone systems, detoxification systems, and neurotransmitter production.
A nutrient-dense diet further provides the building blocks that the body needs to heal damaged tissues.
- Gut health. Gut dysbiosis and leaky gut are key facilitators in the development of autoimmune disease.
The foods recommended on the Autoimmune Protocol support the growth of healthy levels and a healthy variety of gut microorganisms.
Foods that irritate or damage the lining of the gut are avoided, while foods that help restore gut barrier function and promote healing are endorsed.
Lifestyle factors that strongly influence gut barrier health as well as gut microbial composition are also addressed on the Autoimmune Protocol.
Because of the link between gut health and immune function, restoring a healthy gut barrier and microbiome are necessary precursors to healing.
- Hormone regulation. What we eat, when we eat, and how much we eat affect a variety of hormones that interact with the immune system.
When dietary factors (like eating too much sugar or grazing rather than eating larger meals spaced farther apart) dysregulate these hormones, the immune system is directly affected (typically stimulated).
The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol diet is designed to promote regulation of these hormones, thereby regulating the immune system by proxy.
These and other essential hormones that impact the immune system are also profoundly affected by how much sleep we get, how much time we spend outside, how much and what kinds of activity we get, and how well we reduce and manage stress.
- Immune system regulation.
Immune regulation is achieved by restoring a healthy diversity and healthy amounts of gut microorganisms, restoring the barrier function of the gut, providing sufficient amounts of the micronutrients required for the immune system to function normally, and regulating the key hormones that in turn regulate the immune system.
The Autoimmune Protocol diet and lifestyle provide both the resources and the opportunity for immune regulation.
Immune regulation combined with tissue healing account for reductions in symptoms.
Inflammation is a factor in all chronic illnesses, and this is one area where the foods we eat can make a huge difference.
In some cases, an immune system that isn’t regulating itself properly directly causes the illness; in others, inflammation is merely an element of the illness or a contributor to how the illness came about—but it is always a player and a problem.
What this means is that reducing inflammation and giving the immune system the resources it needs, as well as the opportunity to regulate itself, can help in every single chronic illness.
This is important because inflammation is strongly influenced by what we eat, how well we sleep, how stressed we are, and how active we are.
And this is why chronic illness can respond so positively to changes in diet and lifestyle.
Food has therapeutic potential for every chronic illness—but that’s not the same thing as calling food a cure.
Depending on the illness you’re struggling with, how long you’ve had it, how aggressive the disease is, and what confounding factors you’re dealing with, dietary changes may get you as far as a complete reversal of your disease, or they may slow the progress of your illness, or they may simply improve your quality of life.
These are all successes worth celebrating.
Good food may not be the miracle cure you’re hoping for, but it’s pretty darn powerful all the same.
As you adopt the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, your food choices become focused on consuming the nutrients to support this healing—foods that provide everything your body needs to stop attacking itself, repair damaged tissues, and get healthy again: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to sustain a normal metabolism, build new tissue, and produce hormones, important proteins, and signaling molecules; and the full range of fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to get rid of inflammation, regulate the immune system, and support the normal functioning of all the body’s systems.
8. Who Should Try The AIP Diet?
According to the feedback we got from a number of people, it seems that just sticking to a pure Paleo diet and its strict rules helps people deal with the issues of their auto-immune disease.
There are a lot of people who managed to improve their Rheumatoid Arthritis just by following the Paleo diet.
However, for those people whose autoimmune conditions don’t improve through the Autoimmune Paleo diet, trying the AIP diet is definitely a solution.
The biggest challenge with this diet is that it is extremely restrictive which means that you have to be very determined, disciplined and eager to do your best if you want to achieve positive results.
Also, since the diet is highly restrictive, the best option is not to eat out at all.
9. How To Know If The AIP Diet Worked For You?
Although it is recommended to practice this diet for 30 to 60 days, it is always the best option to wait to see the improvement this diet will bring before starting reintroductions.
This elimination is not meant to last forever but it can sometimes take even a few months to see any improvements in symptoms success.
Once you see the improvement, you can start reintroducing new foods.
Also, it is highly advisable that you work with one or more health couches so that they would give you guidance and support while introducing new kinds of foods.
Ultimately, your goals should be to create a personalized diet that works for you by uncovering dietary triggers and promoting healing in the long term.
In case you are suffering from symptoms that include fatigue, muscle strain and joint pain, gas, rashes and bloating as well as overall body aches, reduction in symptoms like these can often be as a sign that the changes in our eating habits have a positive impact and that AIP is actually working.
In addition to feeling better, getting tested by a doctor for changes in inflammatory markers is highly advisable.
Also, the health of the gut microbiome is the most objective way to make sure that the diet has produced decreased inflammation in your body.
Some medical experts claim that they have seen success and even a complete disease remission in those people suffering from an autoimmune disease like multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, eosinophilic esophagitis, systemic lupus erythematosus and others.
10. Will You Feel Better Immediately After You Start Following An AIP Diet?
Keep in mind that there is a transition/withdrawal period before you start feeling better on AIP diet, especially if this is the first time you removed gluten, processed foods and dairy foods from your everyday meals.
According to many experts and researchers, casomorphins (which can be found in protein casein) and gliadorphin (which can be found in gluten, a protein found in wheat) can trigger good feelings making us feel like we are under the influence of certain types of addictive drugs.
This is why some people believe that certain types of foods are addictive as drugs which explains why it is so hard for us to cut down on our most favourite foods and build healthier habits.
While this is certainly an exaggeration, because you certainly cannot compare the immense impact of drugs with the impact certain types of food can have on your body, we have also seen some people experience withdrawal-like symptoms, including brain fog, cravings, irritability, fatigue, headaches, once they quit consuming foods like gluten, dairy products, and sugar altogether while they were trying to remain disciplined during their AIP diet.
What’s good is that once you eliminate these inflammatory foods, you will immediately start to feel better.
So, you can expect to see some amazing results within 30-90 days of implementing the AIP diet.
Sometimes, it can also take a bi longer – it depends on the severity of your own symptoms and your whole body state.
In case you do not see the results after 30 days, you should also eliminate mammalian types of meat and consume fish as your main protein source.
Then you can start reintroducing foods one by one and see how your body reacts.
As we have already mentioned this allows you to create a diet that is tailored for you and that will perfectly fit into your lifestyle.
In this way, you will be more in touch with what does and what doesn’t work for you and your body.
History of AIP Diet
The AIP diet is relatively new, having been launched from the Paleo diet after Dr. Loren Cordain noticed that certain foods on the Paleo diet caused symptoms to flare in people with autoimmune diseases. Dr. Cordain is a nutrition researcher at Colorado State University and founder of the Paleo diet.
The AIP diet received a push into mainstream consciousness from the platforms of Robb Wolf and Dr. Sarah Ballantyne. Robb Wolf is a biochemist researcher who mentioned the diet in his book The Paleo Solution.
And Dr. Ballantyne wrote about the AIP diet on her website, The Paleo Mom.
Like the Paleo Diet that is based on high amounts of protein and low amounts carbohydrate, the AIP diet restricts foods like grains and legumes.
Some common legumes are peas, chickpeas, beans, peanuts, soybeans, lentils, carob, and tamarind).
Although, the AIP diet is more restrictive than the Paleo diet.
For example, eggs, nuts, seeds, and nightshade vegetables (eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, etc.) are not consumed.
Is AIP diet right for you? Who is it for?
People with autoimmune diseases
Until recently, the autoimmune protocol was based on biological plausibility, educated conjecture, and a convincing stream of anecdata.
It hadn’t been demonstrated in a legitimate study.
It did seem to work for many of the people trying it, but it hadn’t been demonstrated in a legitimate study.
That changed in 2017 when a study found the autoimmune protocol to be effective against inflammatory bowel disease.
15 patients with either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis were enrolled in the study.
On average, the subjects had been dealing with their disease for 19 years.
These were IBD lifers.
They spent 6 weeks phasing out all the foods, using Sarah Ballantyne’s great book on the autoimmune protocol as a guide.
Experienced Primal eaters could probably phase out the foods more quickly, through the 6 week phase out might be an important part of the total effect.
They spent 5 weeks maintaining the protocol once everything was eliminated and symptoms had stabilized. 11 of 15 patients had total remission.
They’d spent an average of 19 years having to map out the nearest toilets whenever they left the house, and all of a sudden they were basically normal.
That’s better than any IBD drug.
There are limitations here. 15 subjects is quite low; I’d like to see ten times that many.
There was no control group; this wasn’t a randomized trial (which the authors acknowledge).
But it’s quite impressive and bodes well for other autoimmune conditions.
Although this was the only study to examine the entire autoimmune protocol, we know that specific foods play roles in certain autoimmune conditions.
Gluten-containing grains are a major, perhaps the major offender, since gluten has the tendency to wrench open the tight junctions in our guts (leaky gut) and allow passage of food particles and endotoxins into our bodies where they can trigger inflammatory and autoimmune processes.
Gluten-free diets have been shown to help with:
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune disease)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
Coffee has a perplexing relationship to autoimmune disease.
For instance, it’s well-known to be protective against type 2 diabetes, but appears to increase the risk of autoimmune type 1 diabetes.
Legumes, other grains, seeds, and nuts are all potential triggers of further gut irritation.
While I’ve softened my general stance on some of these foods in recent years, they remain problematic for people with avowed food sensitivities or autoimmune conditions.
People who suspect they have sensitivities to foods.
We eat a lot of food throughout the course of a given day or week.
It’s hard to keep track. It’s impossible to keep track, unless you, well, keep track in an explicit manner.
And many of us experience odd symptoms we suspect are linked to food—rashes, stuffy noses, itchiness, grogginess—but without the written logs we flail around in the dark.
Maybe we’re lucky for awhile. Maybe we nix the right food.
But if we don’t know what we’re doing, we’re just as likely to eat the wrong thing, or eliminate too many things.
The AIP lights our way.
It provides a baseline. Eat the foods you know are non-reactive and avoid all the foods that have the potential to cause problems.
Once the symptoms improve or go away, maintain the protocol for several weeks, then begin adding foods back in one at a time.
When the symptoms return, match it with the food you’ve just reintroduced.
As a reader of MDA, you are probably a nutrition geek.
You enjoy needing out on dietary minutiae.
You like experimenting on yourself.
You’re curious about how certain foods interact with your health, and an autoimmune protocol can reveal that.
It’s just good information to have, mostly.
Who isn’t it for?
Most people don’t have an autoimmune disease and don’t need to go on an autoimmune protocol.
If you’re happy with your diet and how you respond to foods, don’t bother.
It will only create unnecessary headaches.
Recall that extended dairy restriction may even induce lactose intolerance.
Some claim that you were always sensitive to dairy, that your body had learned to deaden you to the subjective experience of the damage being done.
I say dairy is a healthy food if you can tolerate it.
Inducing lactose intolerance isn’t in anyone’s best interest, if they can avoid it.
If you’re the type to obsess over food, and you know your sensitivity is a psychological hang-up rather than a true autoimmune response, skip the protocol.
It will only feed your obsession and leave you unable to think about anything else but your diet for the duration.
This isn’t for life (probably).
You can certainly eat well and enjoy what you eat on an autoimmune protocol.
But the point is not to stay on the diet indefinitely.
It’s to wield it as an effective tool, a broad brush that isolates all the likely suspects for questioning.
Then you use the scalpel of inquiry to determine which foods—if any—are truly problematic.
If you have to keep milk or peanuts or chocolate out forever, so be it.
But make sure that’s what your data is actually saying.
The protocol isn’t a magic bullet.
It isn’t a cure.
Many other factors contribute to impaired gut health, chronic inflammation, and likely therefore autoimmunity, like poor sleep, stress, lack of exercise, poor relationships, nature deprivation, sun deprivation, and circadian dysregulation.
You need to address those too.
But diet is a big one, and it’s an obvious target with an established protocol.
Recommended best practices
Based on the experience of many people we have talked about and the results of many kinds of research we have conducted we found out what the best practices are when it comes to AIP diet.
Here are some of them:
- Don’t eat on the run and make sure you chew and consume your food properly.
- Learn how to ferment your own vegetables. It’s good to know and you will not have to spend extra money on buying fermented products.
- Make sure you have around d 80% of vegetables and 20% of meat or fish in each of your daily meals.
- Drink plenty of filtered water. We all know how beneficial water is in almost any diet.
- Limit fruits to 1 or 2 servings per day and ensure that they are low on the glycemic index (this is a ranking telling us how low fast carbohydrates are digested).
- Include 6-8 servings of vegetables each day.
- Focus on sauces, dips and broths.
- Try consuming as many fats and oils (olive oil, coconut oil, duck fat, beef tallow) as possible in your daily meals. But make sure they are cooked at the right temperature.
- Don’t forget to check supplement labels to ensure that they are free of the ingredients you should avoid.
11. How To Get Started On The AIP Diet?
Like with many diets, usually, the hardest part is how to get started because we know what kind of sacrifice we need to make for a certain period of time.
One of the ways you can ease this process and help yourself make the first step towards achieving your goal is to start reading a lot of literature covering the main topics of the AIP diet.
Some of the best resources you can find on the internet are Autoimmune Wellness, the Paleo Mum and Unbound Wellness.
You will find many interesting autoimmune paleo diet recipes and useful tips on these sites that will empower you to start with the diet in no time, build and maintain new healthy eating habits.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that you will probably have to spend some extra money on numerous groceries you need to make this diet successful.
However, there are ways you can cut your costs down.
For example, try some more affordable cuts of meat (these may usually require more cooking time), bulk portions of dried herbs and spices.
Also, when it comes to producing, it is always best to buy seasonal foods as they are much fresher which will also make your food taste better and they are much more affordable and abundant.
When starting a new diet the best thing you can do is to first make a plan and then create a shopping list which you take with you when going to the supermarket.
This will give you an insight into how each of the products you need to prepare the cost of your meals and then plan meals carefully.
There are sale items in every market and you should definitely take advantage of them because this will significantly decrease your costs in the long run.
Bear in mind that some diets allow occasional cheating.
But, the AIP diet is not one of them.
To get the best results possible you need to be very disciplined and determined throughout the process.
The intention is to clear your body of all the unwanted inflammation and sneaking the foods that may harm your body system is not the road you want to take.
Your body will respond to inflammatory food even when nobody’s watching.
So to get what you want to stick to the diet and you will start feeling the benefits in no time.
12. Tips On How To Triumph In Your AIP Efforts
Reaching success on your AIO diet journey can be full of challenges and it takes time for you to see some positive results.
So, here are some tips you should follow if you want to go through this process as smoothly as possible.
Eat the same things
Trying to figure out what kind of food to eat is one of the things that may be quite challenging.
However, don’t panic.
The only thing you have to do is to actually eat 7-10 meals each day, less but more frequently.
Of course, it is always better to have a clear knowledge of what you can eat and what you can’t eat because this gives you more time to focus on your success and not think about what kind of food you should prepare every day.
Buy in bulk
You need to know that you will be eating more food than usually which means that you should try to buy in bulk every time you go to the store.
In this way, you won’t have to go to the shop every once in a while and you will be able to focus on what matters.
Also, you will be able to save money and avoid the anger of not having what to eat at every given moment.
Also, since this diet removes foods like gluten, dairy products, sugar, you will have more space than usual and you won’t have any fillers taking some extra space in your stomach or the entire body.
This means that your body will be able to assimilate nutrients quicker and metabolize which is a major plus.
Prepare meals in advance
The easiest thing you can do is just to prepare your food meals in advance and then just reheat instead of cooking everything from scratch.
Also, try cooking the meals the night before because, in that way, you will save a big chunk of your time for daily activities.
Plus, if you prepare food for 2 or 3 days, you will save much money along the way.
If, at some point, you get bored with the same food, try experimenting with some new recipes that fit into your daily meals.
Think AIP thoughts
To be truly dedicated to your goal and give your best to achieve amazing results you need to adopt a particular mindset and stick to it all the way.
There are a few things you can keep repeating to stay focused on your goals:
- This diet is not a permanent solution. You are not going to be on this diet forever, it is just something a temporary stop on your healing journey.
- Don’t focus your thoughts on the things you can’t have. Instead, try focusing on all the amazing things you can have.
- Your body is your temple, it looks after you. So, now’s the time you started taking care of your body and health.
Do some research
It seems that not everyone who is suffering from the autoimmune disease should do AIP diet.
Dairy products and gluten don’t necessarily affect everyone.
There are plenty of ways you can heal yourself if this diet does not work for you such as Homeopathy, Chinese medicine, Neuropathic options, and even maybe modern medicine can help a lot.
Finding out what works best for you and knowing that you have many options to help your body heal will ease your mind and make you feel more determined.
In this way, you can make important healing decisions and ensure that you are following the right path.
Remember that healing is the process and that you need to constantly listen to yourself to find out what works best for you.
Have some occasional snacks to satisfy your cravings
Choose some of the snacks like banana waffles, or baby carrots or plantain chips with liver pate or a bowl of fresh seasonal fruit during the summer.
Remove non-AIP foods from your kitchen
Get rid of all the foods that you are not allowed to eat during AIP diet.
Although this may seem a bit difficult to do, we recommend giving that food to either neighbors or friends, especially if you have a lot of cans or unopened boxes of food.
Plus, you can donate food to the local food pantries as well.
It’s a win-win!
In case you have foods that can be used as reintroductions, you can give them to a neighbor just to keep them safe and then use them when it’s time.
Don’t rush reintroductions
Some people who start an AIP diet get easily frustrated and start complaining about not feeling anything different after 30 days of following the diet.
If you don’t feel that the symptoms are improving after 30 days, you need to keep on with your diet.
If you have been eating a lot of foods that are rich in sugars before you have started your diet, you will probably experience a withdrawal period and you may experience various sorts of nasty detox symptoms.
Whatever you do, you mustn’t quit.
If you find it too demanding, you can always start the diet from the beginning, but this time with small baby steps.
All of these things are a part of the process and should be taken seriously.
The most important thing is to reach a goal.
How fast or slow you are going to progress depends on your determination and dedication.
If, after several months you don’t see any improvement, then you should consult your dietician who should give you step-by-step guidance on how to manage your AIP diet successfully.
AIP diet is the first step you need to take.
You have to give it a fair chance without rushing into reintroductions.
Keep in mind that as your gut and the whole body is healing you might have a certain reaction to a specific kind of food, but as the time goes by that kind of reaction might change or can disappear as well.
The easiest way to keep track of what foods cause you what reactions and how those reactions change over time is to run a journal where you would write all the details.
Look at this entire protocol as an experiment and think happy thoughts.
Instead of getting frustrated try going for the positive.
Also, try planning your reintroductions in the same way you planned your daily meals.
There are many great sources on this topic and we will be writing more on this in the future.
Ask for the support
Besides a strict meal plan, you should also ask for support from your closest ones as well as the experts in the field of AIP diet.
Support is the key to success. Find the ones who are familiar with your current health state and tell them about your new diet.
Ask them to help you be accountable and stay on the track no matter the circumstances.
Even better, find a friend who is willing to do AIP diet with you.
Besides family, you can join some of the online forums and communities and participate by asking and answering questions.
Forums may provide you with invaluable insight into the first-hand experience shared by many people suffering from the autoimmune disease who decide to start their AIP diet journey.
You will find great comfort and realize that you are not alone in this a that there are many people struggling to heal from the disease similar to yours.
You might even become friends with some of them.
Finally, you can ask for professional support and help at any time.
If you are feeling depressed or under stress, you might want to consult a psychotherapist.
Emotional issues we experience may be some of the root causes of the disease so it’s a good idea to let this out and address that trauma.
A psychiatrist will help you reconnect with yourself and get to the root of the problem which will help you speed up your healing process.
Besides psychotherapist, a dietician or a medical expert can help you with your meal plans in case you don’t want to search for meal plans online as this may take a lot of your time.
If you have trouble implementing changes to your life, you should consult a health or life coach.
They should provide you with the steps you need to take to make lasting behavior changes not only with the diet but with many things in life as well.
Keep a journal
We’ve already mentioned somewhere above that keeping a journey is a good idea.
We highly recommend keeping a “food-mood” journal.
In this journal, you should write about what you eat and drink and what kind of medications and supplements you take.
Also, write down how you feel about those changes.
Certain patterns will appear and you will learn a lot from these behavioral patterns.
In other words, they will help you realize what works or not and what else you need to change to reach success.
Besides noting down what you consume daily and what reactions these foods trigger, make sure you also write about your sleep patterns, mood and exercise.
Write down about how you feel and how your mood changes from time to time.
Also, write about how much you exercise daily and how you feel afterwards.
There is nothing you can lose except a little bit of your time.
13. How To Personalise AIP Diet?
Start with a 30 day reset
Chris Kresser’s book The Paleo Cure (formerly Your Personal Paleo Code), he suggests that everyone looking to discover their ideal diet start with a 30-day strict Paleo protocol.
This means following the standard Paleo guidelines: no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no industrial seed oils, no alcohol, and so on.
I suggest that someone with an autoimmune disease who is currently eating a standard American diet start with the normal Paleo 30-day reset.
Many people with autoimmunity will do just fine following a Paleo diet, and adding in the autoimmune diet restrictions shouldn’t be necessary in this situation.
Going immediately from a standard American diet to an AIP can be overwhelming for many people, which is why I generally suggest starting with the standard Paleo approach if you haven’t done so yet.
That said, if you have already given the standard Paleo 30-day reset a try, or perhaps you’ve been strict Paleo for many months, and your autoimmune symptoms haven’t decreased significantly, consider trying another 30-day reset.
This time, I recommend adding in the standard AIP diet restrictions, as well.
This means additionally eliminating eggs, nightshades (e.g., potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers), and nuts and seeds.
I generally recommend extending the reset to a minimum of 60 days for people with severe autoimmune conditions that affect neurological function, or cause symptoms that have a noticeable impact on daily life.
I’ve found that most people see enough improvement within the first 30 days that extending the reset another 30 days is no problem for them.
And remember: every time you eat a food that triggers an immune response, such as gluten, dairy, eggs, etc., your body produces antibodies that incite an attack on your immune system.
This autoimmune attack can last for days, weeks, or even months if the intake was significant enough.
Committing 100 percent to the reset time period is crucial for a person with an autoimmune disease to see the improvements they’re looking for.
It’s important to acknowledge that an AIP diet is not a cure, and it may not be enough to put a disease into full remission or heal damaged tissues.
Further support such as medication or targeted AIP supplements may be necessary to maintain the body’s optimal functioning.
There is no shame in using conventional medicine in addition to a dietary and lifestyle approach to healing.
That said, by removing the foods and toxins that contribute to the autoimmune response and providing adequate nutrients to fuel the healing process, you can significantly reduce symptoms and even possibly put the disease into remission.
Optimize Your Nutrient Intake
Speaking of adequate nutrients, simply removing foods from your diet isn’t enough to heal from an autoimmune disease.
You need to be purposeful about adding certain foods into your diet to provide the nutrients and building blocks your body needs to repair damaged organs, modulate the immune system, and heal the gut lining.
In addition to removing the common autoimmunity triggers listed above, it’s essential to add in nutrient-dense foods like:
- Bone broth
- Large amounts of colorful vegetables
- High-quality meats and fats
- Fatty fish and shellfish
- Fermented foods
I’ve worked with clients who were following the AIP restrictions consistently, but they’d forgotten to add in some of these nutrient-dense foods, which meant that their ability to heal wasn’t optimally supported.
Another unexpected benefit of focusing on adding foods is the impact your total calorie intake will have on healing.
In this interview with Eileen Laird, I explain the very common challenge many of my clients following the AIP diet face: undereating.
With the number of restrictions on a strict AIP diet, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of not eating enough total calories.
And no matter what your health challenges are, chronic undereating is a recipe for worsened health.
Be sure to emphasize adding more of the following foods, along with eating enough total calories, as you work to heal your body from any autoimmune disease.
Liver, Fatty Fish, and Shellfish
Nutrients in liver, fatty fish, and shellfish such as vitamin A and D, zinc, choline, and various B vitamins are essential for modulating the immune response (particularly the T-regulatory cell response), supporting mitochondrial energy production, and supporting the healing of damaged tissues, especially the gut lining.
Liver is especially important to eat when on a strict AIP diet, as it contains nutrients that would otherwise come from eggs, which are removed on the AIP diet.
Since the current theory of autoimmune disease is that a “leaky” and inflamed gut is required for the development of autoimmune disease, eating a diet that supports healthy gut integrity is of immeasurable importance. (Discussing leaky gut in detail is outside the scope of this article, but if you’re looking for more information on leaky gut, check out this episode of Revolution Health Radio.)
Fermented vegetables not only provide beneficial probiotics, they also contain fermentable fibers that can feed the flora that are already in the gut.
A healthy gut microbiome is crucial for maintaining a healthy gut lining, thanks primarily to gut bacteria’s ability to produce butyrate, which is important for T-regulatory cell production and differentiation, and can help further balance the immune system.
Bone broth contains gelatin, a protein that contains the amino acids proline, glycine, and glutamine.
These amino acids can help heal the gut lining, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy gut integrity.
Glycine, in particular, is known to inhibit immune activity and act as an anti-inflammatory.
That’s why bone broth is one of the major dietary staples of a gut healing, anti-inflammatory diet that is ideal for a person with an autoimmune disease.
While many of my clients with autoimmune disease are doing great at avoiding the foods on the AIP protocol, they still often struggle with adding in nutrient-dense foods like liver, shellfish, fermented vegetables, and bone broth.
These foods should be considered an integral part of an effective AIP approach, and I strongly encourage those with autoimmune disease to make the effort to add these foods in regularly.
AIP Reintroduction Stages: Take a Systematic Approach
The benefits of reintroducing non-AIP foods are three-fold:
- You may be able to tolerate nutrient-dense foods like eggs and dairy, which may improve your body’s ability to heal.
- You’ll have a better understanding of which foods are more crucial to avoid than others, which can give you freedom in your food choices.
- Having a more broad diet can significantly improve your ability to enjoy food both at home and when out to eat, which provides important quality of life benefits.
Bonus: If you’re able to tolerate dairy, you can enjoy the nutritional benefits of grass-fed dairy.
In fact, raw milk may have special benefits to those with autoimmune disease, as drinking raw milk can boost glutathione levels substantially, and glutathione is another nutrient that can modulate the immune response.
Reintroducing foods is probably the most challenging part of personalizing your AIP diet.
As I mentioned before, it can take hours, days, or weeks for an immune response to kick in to the point where symptoms return.
While some people have an immediate and strong reaction to foods they eat that they have immune activity against (gluten is a big culprit here), others have only minor increases in symptoms that they may not realize are attributed to a particular food.
The best way to construct a reintroduction protocol for an autoimmune diet is to first choose which foods are the most important to you to try reintroducing, and then work systematically to bring them back into your diet.
I rarely suggest trying to reintroduce gluten if you have an autoimmune disease, but other excluded foods like dairy, eggs, nightshades, and/or nuts and seeds, and even non-Paleo foods like white rice and legumes, can frequently be tolerated by those with an autoimmune disease.
Certain food groups need to be reintroduced in a particular order.
The best example of this is dairy, where you start by reintroducing ghee, which contains the least amount of milk proteins, then continue with other dairy types in this order: butter, heavy cream, fermented dairy (yogurt and kefir), cheese, and fluid milk.
Other examples include eggs, which should be introduced yolk first, and nightshades, which need to be introduced one by one (e.g., first potatoes, then tomatoes, then eggplant, and so on).
You can also reintroduce non-Paleo foods like white rice and other gluten-free grains, if desired.
Chris lays out the instructions for the reintroduction phase in his book The Paleo Cure, but the most important thing to remember is to only reintroduce one food at a time, and to give yourself at least three solid days per reintroduction to notice any exacerbations in your symptoms.
This can be a return of your specific autoimmune symptoms such as joint pain or skin inflammation, or it may be a new, “unrelated” symptom like gastrointestinal distress or fatigue.
If you’ve eaten the food consistently for three days and you don’t notice any negative side effects, you can generally assume the food is okay for you to eat.
Get Tested for Sensitivities
Sometimes, the reintroduction protocol isn’t enough to discover which foods are causing you to have immune system flares.
If your symptoms aren’t improving on a strict AIP diet, or if you’ve gone through the reintroduction protocol and your symptoms start to come back, you may still be eating a food that’s inciting an immune response.
In this case, getting food sensitivity testing is a good option to determine exactly which foods are the culprits.
I typically see most clients with autoimmune disease getting their testing done through Cyrex Laboratories, which tests for both immunoglobulin G and immunoglobulin A antibodies and can detect intolerances to a wide variety of foods.
They’ve released a test called Array 10, which covers a great deal of foods in both cooked and raw form, and I’d imagine this test would be beneficial to a person on the AIP diet who’s not seeing the improvements they were hoping for.
Array 4 is another Cyrex test that I frequently use for clients who are unsure of whether they’re intolerant to dairy, eggs, or other foods that are commonly associated with a gluten cross-reactivity response.
It’s important to note that these tests are accurate only if you’ve eaten the food in question within the past four to six weeks.
So if you’ve been dairy-free for six months, testing for a dairy sensitivity likely wouldn’t give you a positive result, even if you are truly intolerant.
The testing option is more suited to people who have been eating some of the questionable foods recently and have experienced a return or an exacerbation of symptoms.
It’s also very important to note that many food sensitivity tests are on the market these days, and most of them are questionable when it comes to their usefulness.
There are many reasons why I don’t recommend most food sensitivity testing, such as lack of evidence to support their accuracy, as well as the potential for the results to create disordered eating habits in the person taking the test.
Not to mention, those tests can distract a person from addressing the root cause of their food sensitivity, and eliminating those sensitivities by healing the body appropriately.
If you feel that you need to get testing done to determine which foods might be an issue for you from an immunological standpoint, I strongly recommend working with a qualified practitioner who can help you navigate the testing options and interpret the results of your tests.
Focus on Your Lifestyle
Even though I’m a dietitian, I find that lifestyle habits other than diet often play an important role in my clients’ health outcomes.
It’s always interesting to have someone come to me expecting to take on a diet change, and by the end of our first session, we’ve skipped the diet and gone straight to the exercise, stress, and sleep recommendations.
Unhealthy lifestyle practices can completely undo the benefits of a healthy diet, and examining your habits is an important next step once your diet is taken care of.
Exercise isn’t just great for weight loss and cardiovascular health, it’s also crucial for healthy immune function.
Research shows that exercise is important for T-regulatory cell production, and it can also reduce inflammation in people with autoimmune disease.
Daily exercise at a low to moderate intensity is what I typically recommend for people with autoimmune disease. This means:
- Avoiding excessive or overly intense exercise
- Allowing for adequate rest between workouts
- Aiming for daily low-intensity movement
Limiting sedentary behavior
Manage Your Stress
As Chris explains in The Paleo Cure, chronic stress has been shown to reduce gut barrier integrity (remember the leaky gut connection?) and can trigger or worsen autoimmune disorders including MS, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
One study even found that chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response.
The researchers theorize that the stress connection may explain why women have a higher prevalence of autoimmune disease than men do.
Chris says:“If you’re not doing some form of regular stress management, you will sabotage all of your best efforts with diet, exercise, and supplements.”
Minimizing stress is non-negotiable for my clients with autoimmune disease.
There are dozens of different ways you can manage stress, from yoga, to meditation and prayer, to planned social occasions with loved ones.
Petting a dog, getting a hug from a significant other, or getting a monthly massage can all be stress-relieving activities, as well.
There are so many ways to reduce stress; the most important thing is to pick a few that work best for you and your lifestyle.
Sleep is another non-negotiable factor in my clients’ autoimmunity management plans.
Chronically poor sleep is not only a source of stress, but also a source of inflammation.
When circadian rhythms get misaligned from weeks or months of inadequate sleep, inflammatory immune cells are produced excessively, leading to an increase in “friendly fire” against the body’s own tissues.
If you’re concerned about your sleep, check out the recommendations provided in this article, and read Dr. Ballantyne’s excellent post on the role of circadian rhythms in regulating hormone cycles and how to get your rhythms back on track.
Spend Time Outdoors in the Sun
Sunshine is the best source of vitamin D, and healthy vitamin D levels have been shown to directly influence the activity of the immune system.
In fact, not only has vitamin D deficiency been connected with a higher risk of developing autoimmune disease, but the vitamin is also used as a treatment for reducing the symptoms of autoimmune disease.
So don’t be afraid of the sun, particularly if you live far from the equator and/or have darker skin!
And if regular sun exposure isn’t an option, you may benefit from supplementation.
(Work with a professional to determine your optimal dose.)
Finally, avoiding toxins in everyday life can reduce the burden on your immune system.
As an example, one study in mice showed an increased risk of developing autoimmune disease when exposed to phthalates.
Phthalates are relatively common chemical “plasticizers” that are found in everything from detergents, to building materials, to plastic food and beverage containers, to cosmetics.
You can minimize your exposure to chemical toxins by using natural products for cleaning your house and laundry, drinking out of glass bottles instead of plastic, and minimizing your use of industrial cosmetics.
A great resource for DIY cosmetics is Liz Wolfe’s Skintervention Guide, and there are dozens of blog articles about how to clean without using toxic chemicals.
Get Help When You Need It!
By following these five tips for personalizing your AIP diet, I believe the majority of people with an autoimmune disease will see significant improvements in their symptoms.
That said, there are those who will need additional tweaks, deeper testing, and personalized changes to their diet, supplement, and lifestyle plan before they see the improvements they’re looking for.
This is especially true for people with severe gut issues, long-term neurological involvement, or compounding issues like surgical intervention or pharmaceutical dependency.
For those who need in depth testing and/or pharmaceutical intervention, I strongly recommend finding a qualified Functional Medicine practitioner to work with.
And for those who may simply need more advice about how to tweak their diet, supplements, and lifestyle to optimize their results on the AIP diet.
Some people with autoimmune disease need to follow a strict AIP diet—but for many with an autoimmune condition, that’s not necessary.
They may find, while working with a dietitian or nutritionist, that they’re able to tolerate some foods, while others exacerbate their condition.
How does AIP food reintroduction work?
When you try to control your eating habits and gauge your reaction to different kinds of foods that you like eating, adding them to your diet all at once is something that you definitely should avoid.
The most important thing here is that you go slow because it will allow you to determine the foods that are causing issues in your body.
Also, you want to avoid overloading your body with the foods that potentially do harm to your system.
Here are a few steps you need to take when reintroducing the foods that are not on the AIP diet list:
- Follow the protocol for about 30 days until you get to the point where you can recognise that the healing process has started and that your body is experiencing some positive changes
- Start with the level 1 reintroduction schedule
- Eat one kind of food and wait for the reaction to happen
- Make sure you prepare your food at home instead of eating out
- Start writing your reactions to foods in a journal so that you can easily track if there is anything that causes autoimmune conditions. You should be looking for symptoms like headaches, mood swings, fatigue, skin changes, bloating and other things
- Add foods that work for you and remove the foods that seem to be causing bad reactions
- Repeat the entire process
And, how do you know that your body started healing from auto-immune disease?
The answer to this question can be different for everyone. But here are two ways you can use to estimate whether you are healing or not.
- There is a change in your labs/blood work
- There is a noticeable reduction in your symptoms
As we have mentioned the details are different for anyone which means that you need to consult your dietician who will explain to you how the healing may look like for you specifically.
AIP diet daily menu
To help you start with the diet more easily, we’ve compiled a list of foods you should eat for each meal.
When it comes to an AIP breakfast, smoothies are your friend, believe me.
They’re the perfect way to start your days full of tasty nutrients, and it should last you until lunch!
- ½ banana
- ¼ avocado
- 1 cup vegetable juice
- 2-3 cups fresh leafy greens (for example, spinach and kale)
- 1-2 scoops AIP-friendly (collagen) protein powder
Continuing with the island theme, here’s a super tasty Teriyaki bowl from the team over at Forest and Fauna.
- 2 boneless pasture-raised pork chops
- 4 slices pineapple
- 1 small red onion
- a little coconut oil for the grill
- 4 cups green leaf lettuce
- pinch of green onions or cilantro
Teriyaki Sauce + Marinade
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
- 1 teaspoon ginger juice
- 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice (optional – recommend if marinating pork overnight)
- 1/2 a head of red cabbage
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- 1 to 2 teaspoons honey
- pinch of sea salt
These AIP Orange Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs from AIP lifestyle are so good, and the meatballs are extremely simple.
- 2 pounds ground chicken
- 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
- 2 tsp orange zest (2 oranges worth)
- big pinch salt
- 2/3 cup fresh orange juice (juice of 2 navel oranges)
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 1 tbsp honey
Need something to get you through the day? Here are a few common AIP snacks:
- AIP Granola
- Root vegetable fries
- Make your own AIP trail mix
- CHOMPS Italian and Sea Salt Beef
What does a typical day on AIP diet look like?
Breakfast: Plain (homemade) coconut yogurt with pumpkin puree, cinnamon apples, pomegranate arils, and AIP granola (still perfecting my granola recipe!).
I drizzled a tiny splash of maple syrup on top of the whole bowl.
I was totally sugar-free (not even adding natural sweeteners) for about six weeks, but I’m slowly bringing some honey and maple syrup back into my life.
Breakfast on AIP can be really tricky, because almost all of the “normal” breakfast foods are out (eggs, toast, pancakes, oatmeal) – even this yogurt bowl, while technically AIP compliant, isn’t 100% in the spirit of AIP (it’s not nutrient-dense enough and focuses too much on fruit).
I’ve mostly been rotating between two breakfasts – loaded yogurt bowls and what I’m calling sweet potato scrambles – bacon, garlic, onion, sweet potatoes, and some sort of greens all scrambled together.
I can’t wait to bring back eggs in!
Lunch: Instant Pot beef stroganoff over mashed cauliflower with spinach salad and apple cider dressing.
Before August, I was eating an almost entirely plant-based diet (plus eggs and the occasional serving of fish or seafood), so going back to eating meat has been a transition, to say the least.
We cut out meat for a variety of reasons, and it’s been an emotional journey to get okay with bringing meat back onto my plate regularly.
Thankfully, cutting out dairy last year made that part of AIP no big deal at all!
I truly believe that there is no one-size-fits-all optimal diet for humans.
What I need nutritionally might be different from what you need.
And what I need now might be different from what I need in six months.
I think we do the best we can with the information and resources we have at the time, and right now, having meat as a regular part of my diet is my best.
And I hope eventually I can bring back some plant-based protein sources (beans, I miss you, please wait for me), and get back to more of a flexitarian diet.
Snack: Part of AIP is really not focusing on snacking a lot (only doing it if you need a snack not because it’s “snack time”), and I honestly haven’t really needed to do much snacking since going AIP.
I think part of it is that my meals are so nutrient-dense now that they’re keeping me fuller longer, but also, my appetite still isn’t 100% back to where it was pre-illness.
When I snack, I grab an apple (hellooooooo, honeycrisps!) and some plantain chips.
Dinner: Chicken gnocchi soup (based off of this recipe, but made AIP with sweet potato/cassava gnocchi and coconut milk).
One of my biggest symptoms during my mystery illness has been a lack of appetite.
It’s gotten better in the past month or so—for a while there, it felt like I was chewing wet cement anytime I put food in my mouth—but I still rarely have an appetite after about 3pm.
Now that the weather is cooler, soup has been my answer to my lack of appetite.
A small bowl of soup is enough to give me some nutrition without making me feel nauseous.
Sometimes, I’ll also just heat up a cup of chicken broth and have that for dinner.
One of my doctors (gosh, I can’t remember which one), said a lack of appetite is a pretty typical immune system response when you are fighting something—hence why you never really want to eat a full Thanksgiving dinner when you have the flu.
Your body switches energy from digestion to illness fighting, and you just aren’t as hungry—and that’s totally fine.
I’ve been told to go with it.
I listen to my body and focus on simple foods when I’m not feeling hungry but know that I “need” to eat—smoothies, soups, broths, applesauce, etc.
Is An AIP Diet Safe?
As mentioned above, special care needs to be taken with patients with anatomical abnormalities.
There is a risk of obstruction in patients with narrowing of the gastrointestinal tract with the increased fecal load from the high-fibre diet.
Another potential risks of this protocol includes reactivation of a latent eating disorder.
Orthorexia is a very real syndrome and possible risk of the autoimmune protocol.
This is where people become obsessed with what they eat (anorexia is where people are fixated on minimizing calorie intake, while orthorexia relates to the content of what people eat).
It is imperative that any foods to which somebody has a significant allergy or anaphylaxis should not be reintroduced during the rechallenge phase.
Cost and time can also be issues as fast foods and processed foods are sometimes unreasonably cheap.
Cost can also be an issue if only one member of a household is doing the autoimmune diet and needs special/extra foods as part of the autoimmune protocol.
Micro nutrient deficiencies can occur but realistically this can also happen with the standard American diet as we well know.
Social isolation is another possible issue.
It’s back to our friends again.
It could be difficult to be all ‘paleo’ or ‘autoimmune protocol’ if your friends are having a beer and pizza movie night.
AIP Diet Benefits
- Restores Gut Integrity
- Boosts Beneficial Gut Bacteria
- Helps You Learn More About Your Body
- Identifies Foods that Trigger Symptoms
- Rich in Nutrient-Dense, Healthy Foods
- Can Help Reduce Inflammation
- May Decrease Symptoms of Autoimmune Conditions
Restores Gut Integrity
First and foremost, the autoimmune inflammatory diet is a healing diet meant to restore the integrity of your gut and reduce inflammation to alleviate symptoms.
For those with an autoimmune disease, this can make a world of difference when it comes to improving quality of life.
Leaky gut syndrome is a condition in which toxins and bacteria are able to pass through the walls of the intestine, contributing to symptoms like inflammation, digestive issues and food sensitivities.
Studies show that widespread inflammation can increase intestinal permeability, upping the risk of leaky gut syndrome.
Because the AIP diet puts the focus on cutting out foods that cause inflammation, it can help restore gut integrity and prevent leaky gut syndrome to keep you feeling your best.
Boosts Beneficial Gut Bacteria
Research has found that the diet can have a significant influence on the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which may impact symptom severity for those with an autoimmune disease.
The beneficial bacteria in your gut play a central role in just about every aspect of health, from immune function to weight control and beyond.
Not only can the AIP diet help relieve symptoms of an autoimmune condition, but it can also promote overall health and wellbeing as well by enhancing the health of your gut microbiome.
Helps You Learn More About Your Body
The AIP diet can also help you learn more about your body and understand the ways that your diet can impact your health.
It also can help you learn how to follow a nutritious diet in the long term and discover which foods work best for you to meet your nutritional needs and enhance your health.
Identifies Foods that Trigger Symptoms
On the same note, the AIP diet can help you figure out which foods may trigger symptoms for you.
Although it can be a challenging diet to follow initially, learning which foods you should cut from your diet can be incredibly valuable and can help you understand what may be behind your symptoms.
It can also be incredibly beneficial to know which foods can help or hurt your symptoms to make meal-planning even easier in the long run.
Rich in Nutrient-Dense, Healthy Foods
The AIP diet prioritizes nutrient-rich, unprocessed and anti-inflammatory foods, such as vegetables.
Regardless of whether or not you have an autoimmune disease, we can all benefit from including more of these nutritious foods in our diets.
Incorporating more healthy foods in your diet can protect against chronic disease, reduce the risk of nutritional deficiencies and maximize your overall health.
Can Help Reduce Inflammation
One of the biggest benefits of the AIP diet is its ability to alleviate inflammation, which is key to reducing symptoms of autoimmune conditions and promoting better health.
Eliminating a few specific foods from the diet and filling up on nutrient-dense whole foods instead can have a powerful effect when it comes to inflammation.
This was demonstrated in a recent 2017 study out of California in which 15 people with inflammatory bowel disease followed the AIP diet for 11 weeks, including six weeks of elimination and a five-week maintenance phase.
By the end of the study, researchers found that intestinal inflammation had significantly decreased in participants, resulting in improvements in symptoms and overall quality of life.
7. May Decrease Symptoms of Autoimmune Conditions
Although research is still limited on the ability of this therapeutic diet to treat autoimmune disorders, many people have reported that following the AIP diet has improved the way they feel and decreased common symptoms of autoimmune conditions, such as fatigue, chronic pain and brain fog.
Studies have also found that the AIP diet could help improve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, a class of autoimmune disorders characterized by inflammation in the digestive tract and symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
14. What Are The Benefits Of AIP Diet?
As said before in the text, this diet can help you reach success if you are determined and strong-willed to do your best.
There are numerous benefits this diet can bring to your body and help you recreate your lifestyle and live a better life in general.
So, let’s see what are some of the biggest and the most important benefits of this diet:
It restores gut integrity – Most importantly, an autoimmune inflammatory diet is a healing diet that is meant to restore the integrity of your gut and reduce inflammation in order to alleviate symptoms.
To those suffering from these treacherous diseases, this can mean a world of difference when it comes to improving the general quality of life.
The leaky gut syndrome is a condition where bacteria and toxins cause inflammatory and digestive issues as well as food sensitivities.
According to studies, widespread inflammation can increase intestinal permeability increasing the risk of the leaky gut syndrome.
Since this diest is focused on eliminating foods that cause inflammation, it can help restore gut integrity and help you feel your best.
It boosts beneficial gut bacteria – Based on studies this diet can also have a beneficial effect on your gut, which may impact the severity of symptoms for those suffering from autoimmune conditions.
From immune function to weight control, beneficial bacteria in your gut lay a major role in just about every aspect of your health.
So, not only does the AIP diet decrease the symptoms of autoimmune disease, but it also helps you improve the health of your gut microbes as well as your overall well-being.
In other words, it can help you build healthy lifestyle habits.
It helps you learn more about your body – In this fast-paced modern world, most of us find it hard to keep track of our daily eating habits.
We usually grab something to eat because we don’t have enough time to have a decent meal three times a day.
Unfortunately, this may damage your health and prevent you from following a nutritious diet which can then have a bad effect on your health.
By following the AIP diet, you will get an insight into how your body works and what it needs to enhance your overall body health.
Put simply, although this diet you will find out more about what brings benefits to your body and what causes damage to your health.
Identifies foods that trigger symptoms – As we have said, through this diet, you can learn about which foods trigger symptoms with you and then avoid them.
Although this diet is definitely a challenging one as it requires you to be highly disciplined and stick to your ultimate goal, it can also be very beneficial for you to know which foods cause symptoms and make meal planning even easier in future.
Rich in nutrient-dense, healthy foods – One of the foods this diet promotes is vegetables because they are nutrient-rich, unprocessed and anti-inflammatory.
Regardless of whether you are suffering from any kind of autoimmune diseases, these insights can help you find out more about healthy foods that you should incorporate in your diet.
This can protect you against chronic diseases as well as decrease the risk of nutrition deficiencies and bring your health to a whole new level.
It can help reduce inflammation – one of the biggest benefits of this diet is its ability to alleviate inflammation which is the key to decreasing symptoms of the diseases.
All in all, eliminating foods that have a negative impact and introducing the ones that have a positive impact on your well being can have a powerful effect on your health and significantly reduce inflammation.
For instance, in a recent study carried out in 2017, 15 people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease followed this AIP diet for 11 weeks.
This included 6 weeks of elimination of certain foods and 5 weeks of maintenance.
By the end of this study, the researchers discovered that the inflammatory symptoms significantly decreased in participants which ultimately resulted in the improvement of the quality of life and symptoms in general.
It decreases symptoms of autoimmune diseases – Since the ultimate goal of this diet is to treat autoimmune diseases this is exactly what this kind of a diet does.
Many people said that following this diet helped them improve the way they feel as it helped decrease fatigue, brain fog, chronic pain, etc.
Also, according to studies, this diet helped improve the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease with some people.
This is one of the autoimmune disorders characterized by inflammation in the digestive tract as well as the symptoms including abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating.
15. What Is The Best AIP Diet Breakfast?
It isn’t a good idea to skip breakfast because this will lead to too-low blood sugar and the subsequent unpleasant symptoms. At the same time, the specialists don’t recommend eating AIP pancakes or AIP waffles for breakfast.
They can be used as a reward on weekends and special occasions.
The best foods for an autoimmune diet breakfast that follows the AIP diet specifically are proteins, lots of vegetables, and healthy fats.
Adding a warm cup of bone broth to your breakfast is always a good idea.
This could be especially helpful if you wish to replace a morning routine that includes drinking coffee.
There are also breakfast shakes that can be prepared from vegetables, with or without additional protein in it.
Is there an AIP diet for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
The paleo diet has become the “remedy” for any manifestation of autoimmunity, but it may not be the answer for everyone.
Many people diagnosed with Hashimoto’s are aware of the advantages of an AIP-based diet.
Indeed, this diet can help alleviate some of the unpleasant signs of autoimmune thyroiditis, such as fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, gas, and bloating.
However, patients should always remember that they have to follow their doctor’s advice and therapy.
And some patients won’t see significant improvement on the paleo diet.
What can I eat as AIP diet snacks?
Some easy AIP snack ideas are the following: black, green, or Kalamata olives; coconut butter and coconut flakes; protein bars; plantain, sweet potato, or cassava chips; kombucha; prosciutto and porkitos (baked prosciutto chips); sardines or smoked salmon; avocado; and veggies, like carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, and radishes.
You can always use small servings of leftover food and broth.
Dried and fresh fruits are the most natural thing if you haven’t anything else that’s AIP-suitable.
There are also plenty of autoimmune diet recipes for snacks that can be included in your daily routine.
What’s the process of reintroducing the foods from the AIP diet food list?
After the diet’s first phase, if properly followed, you should begin to see improvement.
After this, it’s time to think about some of the restricted foods again.
Reintroduction should be slow and systematic, to reduce the risk of reactions.
Through this process, you’ll learn which foods you’re sensitive to.
Is the AIP diet the one thing you are missing from finally taking control of your autoimmune disease?
It turns out that there are probably better options for you and some things that you should seriously consider before using this diet.
Like other diets, it can actually cause more problems than it can help.
Use this guide to determine if the AIP diet will be helpful in YOUR specific case and what to do before you start the diet:
Is AIP diet safe?
The AIP diet stands for the autoimmune protocol diet.
It is a very restrictive diet that was designed to help improve GI functioning while reducing both autoimmunity and inflammation.
The basic premise of the diet is to remove all potential inflammatory or immunogenic sources from food.
As a result, the diet is basically a more strict version of the paleo diet.
Remember that the majority of problems relating to autoimmunity likely stems from the GI tract and the influence of certain bacteria populations and the influence of environmental factors:
The goal with changing your diet is directed towards improving this cascade, improving GI function and reducing inflammation which should theoretically lead to an improvement in immune function and a reduction in your autoimmune symptoms.
But the main question here is this:
Is the AIP diet safe and should you actually use this diet?
Like most subjects I cover, there really isn’t an easy answer (unfortunately).
And like most topics, it really depends on YOU.
But I have to say that in a general sense not all patients need to use the AIP diet. In fact, I would suggest that most patients are probably fine not using this diet provided they go through the topics listed below.
In addition, there are several subsets of patients who might actually do worse on the AIP diet.
Let’s talk about the potential pitfalls of the AIP diet and why it may be harmful to certain people:
- May result in unwarranted calorie restriction leading to worsening metabolism
- May cause intolerances to foods if used long term (oral tolerance)
- Difficult to adhere to long term for some people
- Difficult to manage macromolecules for certain hormone imbalances (leptin resistance)
- If not done correctly may result in nutrient deficiencies
- May NOT improve your autoimmune disease unless underlying factors are also addressed (infections, nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalances, etc.)
This list might not make sense until you dig a little bit deeper.
Consideration before going on the AIP Diet
Before you consider using the AIP diet I recommend that you take a personal inventory of this entire list and make any changes necessary.
If you’ve already done every part of this list then you should consider using the AIP diet, but most of you will still find areas that you can improve upon first.
1. Clean up your existing diet FIRST
Before going on the AIP diet you should absolutely evaluate your existing diet to see if you can improve upon it first.
Most patients can dramatically improve GI function and boost their immune system by making basic changes.
While the AIP diet definitely can help lower antibody levels it’s been my experience that sometimes the change from a “regular” diet to the AIP diet results in reduced adherence and therefore the benefits are only temporary.
Probably because the AIP diet is so strict.
Your goal should be to make a change that you can STICK with, something that will result in long term improvement to your immune function.
Assuming you haven’t made these changes to your diet already, you should attempt these changes first.
How to clean up your existing diet:
- Remove all sources of added sugar (hopefully, you’ve done this already, but make sure you look at the ingredient list of all foods you may be eating to look for hidden sugars)
- Remove ALL processed foods (this means no food with more than 1-2 ingredients, you should be able to pronounce and identify all of the foods in any given meal)
- Stop eating industrial seed oils or inflammatory oils and fats (these fats are cheap and can be found even in “healthy” versions of foods like protein bars and gluten-free/dairy free quick snacks)
- Stop consuming artificial sweeteners altogether
- Avoid soft drinks, soda, energy drinks and cheaper teas (use herbal teas or high-quality teas instead)
- Avoid condiments like ketchup, pre-made salad dressing, etc.
- Add in some version of fermented food at least 2-3x per week (something like kefir, coconut kefir, kombucha or sauerkraut)
- Avoid healthy versions of crappy food (protein bars, most pre-made protein shakes, low-fat anything, etc.)
- Stop eating out (at least 60 days) and make ALL of your meals
- Actively avoid gluten and liquid dairy products
- Stick to a whole food based diet (whole 30 or paleo-esque)
This list might seem like a lot but it’s actually MUCH less restrictive than the AIP dietary guidelines.
Most people if they follow the outline listed above AND get tested for food sensitivities (listed below) will notice a significant improvement in their symptoms.
2. Get tested for food sensitivities & for gluten antibodies
Another step I often see missed by patients is the testing for food sensitivities.
Undiagnosed or missed food sensitivities can promote chronic low-grade inflammation in the GI tract which can increase permeability leading to leaky gut and increasing your risk of developing autoimmunity through molecular mimicry.
When I say food sensitivities I am not referring to true allergies.
Instead, you need to consider that your body may simply not tolerate certain foods or certain food groups due to inflammation from your current diet. It’s critical to find out which foods may be triggering this problem and ELIMINATE it.
You can do this by undergoing a delayed IgG sensitivity test through your serum.
This test will help pick up IgG antibodies to various food groups which can help identify which foods you are reacting to.
This type of sensitivity should be differentiated from skin “prick” testing which looks for IgE antibodies to certain foods.
The delayed IgG sensitivity test is more accurate than the skin test for various reasons and should be the test of choice.
Another seemingly obvious test is the test for gluten antibodies. I continually pick up 2-3 people every month with antibodies to gluten via lab testing.
The problem with gluten sensitivity is that the majority of the symptoms may be EXTRA INTESTINAL meaning away from the intestines.
This means that you might be reacting to gluten and presenting with symptoms like depression, changes to your mood, irritability, rashes, reduced immune system, etc.
For this reason, it’s very important to get evaluated for antibodies to gluten, you can do this by ordering the following tests:
- Tissue transglutaminase antibody
- Deamidated peptide antibody
You can see an example of a positive blood test above from a patient presenting only with depression.
I recommend that you at least try going gluten-free for a short period of time before trying AIP anyway, but it’s always good to know if you have antibodies in your serum.
3. Try basic gut supplements
Believe it or not, you can do a lot with just a few basic supplements.
Before taking the plunge of going on the AIP diet you should consider using several supplements designed to help your GI function.
As you may know, much of your immune system resides in the GI tract.
Improving your GI tract will improve your immunity which may help treat any autoimmune diseases or other hormone imbalances you may be suffering from.
In addition, by improving basic GI function you can help balance hormone levels (20% of thyroid conversion occurs in the gut), increase neurotransmitter levels, improve immunity and increase nutrient absorption.
This can all be done with some basic supplements (note that some people may need more dramatic GI supplements).
Consider these gut supplements:
- L-glutamine: L-glutamine is required for maintaining proper epithelial cell tight junctions (2) in your GI tract. These tight junctions protect your body from absorbing harmful proteins and bacteria that can cause inflammation and lead to autoimmune disease.
Taking L-glutamine can protect this intestinal barrier and help heal “leaky gut”. Use up to 5 grams per day of high-quality L-glutamine for best results.
- Probiotics: Probiotics have been shown to reduce inflammation, improve immune function and help reduce the duration (3) of GI infections. High-quality probiotics in high enough doses are required for optimal results. Stick to probiotics with well studied strains of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.
- Digestive enzymes: Proper stomach acid and enzyme production are required for the absorption of nutrients and the breakdown of food products and bacteria. Hormone imbalances like hypothyroidism lead to a reduction in stomach acid production which can reduce nutrient absorption and promote overgrowth of harmful bacteria and fungi. Supplementing with digestive enzymes can reduce the “load” that your body must produce and make digesting your food easier and more effective. For best results take digestive enzymes with meals and in between meals (3-4x per day).
- Combination DGL + Marshmallow + Aloe + Slippery elm: This combination of herbs helps to improve GI function by protecting your GI lining. They also help promote regrowth of epithelial cells and protect against acidic damage. This combination of herbs should be used if you suspect (or know) that you have “leaky gut” or increased intestinal permeability. Take 1 scoop a day and combine with other GI supplements listed above.
These basic GI supplements specifically target common GI related issues that may be contributing to your autoimmunity.
Often times just using these supplements can result in dramatic improvement.
For best results, you should use at least 3+ supplements listed above.
Obviously, it’s best if you target your GI supplements to your specific conditions, but if you aren’t sure where to start or how to proceed then these supplements will act as a great starting point.
4. Check ALL hormone systems
Your hormones play a huge role in immune function and your GI tract.
Thyroid hormone influences kinetic GI movement and promotes normal stomach acid production.
Through this mechanism, low thyroid hormone results in decreased nutrient absorption (This is a big deal for people with B12 deficiency and iron deficiency).
Your sex hormones (specifically, testosterone) also impact your immune function and low testosterone levels are associated with an increased risk of autoimmunity.
Estrogen and testosterone also influence nutrient absorption (like iodine) which can reduce thyroid function or increase your risk for developing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
The point is this:
If you have untreated hormone imbalances then you will HAVE to address these problems in order to see significant improvement in your symptoms.
Understanding what is happening in your body is critical for long term treatment.
Simply jumping on the AIP diet may slightly improve your autoimmunity but it won’t fix any underlying hormone imbalances present in your body.
However, treating hormone imbalances might just be enough to improve your immunity without resorting to drastic dietary changes.
5. Evaluate & Treat GI Issues (SIBO, SIFO, IBS, IBD, etc.)
Another commonly missed problem is the presence or intestinal abnormalities like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or small intestinal fungal overgrowth.
Like hormone imbalances changing your diet is not enough to fix these underlying problems.
And also like hormone imbalances, the presence of these GI related issues may actually be causing or potentiating your autoimmune disease.
This makes assessing your GI function your #1 priority.
The connection between your brain, GI tract and immune system is well established (5).
Anything causing local inflammation (such as bacterial or fungal overgrowth) perpetuates low-grade inflammation in your GI tract.
This inflammation reduces the tight junctions that normally act to protect your body from harmful breakdown products and bacteria.
As this lining is damaged your intestinal starts to absorb larger than normal particles (including bacteria) that increase systemic inflammation and alter immune function.
Eventually, your body recognizes these particles as enemies and creates antibodies.
These antibodies often look similar to your own tissues and you get cross-reactivity and boom you now have an autoimmune disease.The underlying theme here is GI dysfunction.
So make sure that you get a complete GI evaluation including advanced stool testing if necessary prior to undergoing the AIP diet. I’ve seen dramatic improvement in patients (including autoimmune markers in Hashimoto’s patients) after treating SIBO.
It’s also worth pointing out that patients with thyroid dysfunction are at increased risk for developing SIBO due to the influence of thyroid hormone on the GI tract.
Some studies show that up to 50% of hypothyroid patients have SIBO. So special attention should be given to this group of patients.
What’s Your Next Step?
To reach the best results from Autoimmune paleo diet, you need to be a true believer.
With that in mind, you need to start by setting clear goals, adopting a new mindset and sticking to it.
In order to help your body heal and bring your health to the next level, you need to have a lot of insight into all the details regarding the AIP diet.
Hopefully, this ultimate guide that we have compiled for all of you who are either suffering from an autoimmune disease or just searching for some info to be able to recognize symptoms to help you be in the know and start your healing process.
By following these steps and tips you will be able to find the right formula to start your journey and get better in no time.
In case you have any questions feel free to contact ys, we will be glad to help at any time.