Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) 101
Most people diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, or psoriasis, are familiar with flare-ups – episodes where symptoms of their condition suddenly become more severe and/or resurface after a period of remission.
These flare-ups are often frustrating and uncomfortable for those living with these conditions.
Many autoimmune diseases have been linked to digestive issues – a compromised environment in the small intestine due to increased intestinal permeability and/or an imbalance in gut bacteria.
“Holes” in the gut are thought to let food particles pass through into the rest of your body, where they trigger inflammation and activate an immune response.
Autoimmune Diseases: Rooted in Inflammation
The basis of autoimmune diseases is inflammation – in the digestive system and throughout the body. One of the most common ways to manage symptoms, flare-ups, and inflammation related to autoimmune disease is through DIET.
Following an anti-inflammatory diet can help decrease fatigue, pain, and brain fog associated with inflammation, promote longer periods of remission, and help decrease inflammation and “leaks” in the digestive system.
Decreasing inflammation is thought to help calm the immune system and decrease flare-ups in the long run.
An Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Management
The Autoimmune Protocol - or AIP - is similar to the meat and vegetable-focused Paleo Diet, but it’s stricter in the foods that are allowed vs. avoided.
The following foods are thought to be anti-inflammatory and make up the bulk of the AIP diet:
Vegetables - minus nightshade varieties
Healthy fats – avocado, coconut, olive oil
Gelatin/collagen (bone broth or supplements)
Non-dairy fermented foods - sauerkraut and kombucha
Some herbs, spices, and vinegar
FYI - The difference between AIP and Paleo is the latter allows eggs, nuts, seeds, and nightshade vegetables. Both focus on increasing intake of Omega-3 fats and nutrient-dense vegetables.
Sugar tolerance is individual on the AIP diet. Some people find they even have to completely cut out fruit and natural sweeteners, like honey and maple syrup, while small quantities may be tolerated by some.
The following foods tend to increase inflammation in the body and should be avoided on the AIP diet:
Legumes and beans
Nuts and seeds
Nightshade vegetables - peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes
Who is AIP for?
The AIP diet is for those with inflammation and those with autoimmune disease. This is not a diet for the average person, but I wanted to discuss this because many women are suffering from chronic illness. It can be used short-term to promote digestive healing as well as to learn which foods you may be reactive to. The diet can also be followed long-term as part of an overall anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
***You should do this under the care of a registered dietician or medical doctor.***
AIP is best for people who suspect certain foods trigger their particular autoimmune condition. Some people find reducing inflammation through other lifestyle factors, like getting adequate quality sleep, stress relief, and avoiding alcohol and NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen), are enough to manage their autoimmune condition without eliminating foods. Speak with your registered dietician or doctor.
The 5 Most Important Health Concerns for Women Guide
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