The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is a complementary diet approach that focuses on easing inflammation, pain and other symptoms caused due to autoimmune diseases like lupus, inflammatory bowel disease(IBD), celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis to mention a few. This diet emphasises on supplementing the body with nutrition needed to boost the immune system, gut health, hormonal balance and tissue repairing even while eliminating inflammatory stressors from the diet and lifestyle.
Evidence revealed that people who adapted the AIP diet showed remarkable improvements in the way they feel and got relieved from common symptoms linked with this condition such as fatigue, joint pain and gut issues.
What Is Autoimmune Protocol Diet?
A robust immune system functions to make antibodies that attack harmful pathogens in the body. But, in people suffering from autoimmune disorders, the immune system tends to produce antibodies that instead of combatting infections, attack healthy cells and tissues. This can result in several symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, brain, and tissue and nerve damage.
Some of the autoimmune disorders include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, IBD, type 1 diabetes, and psoriasis, the diseases are caused due to genetic tendency, infection, stress, inflammation and usage of certain medication. Apart from this, damage to the gut barrier can also lead to leaky gut which may also trigger the development of certain autoimmune diseases. Also Read: Autoimmune Disease: Learn What It Is About
The AIP diet aims at eliminating some foods and replacing them with health-stimulating nutrient-dense foods that are well-known to heal the gut, lessen inflammation and reduce symptoms of autoimmune diseases. It also encourages in refraining certain ingredients like gluten foods which may result in abnormal immune responses.
How Does the Diet Work?
This diet almost works very similar to the paleo diet, the way in the kind of foods allowed and avoided, as well as in the phase’s .Many believe that AIP diet is an extended version of the paleo diet, however AIP is a very strict version of it.It comprises of two main phases. Also Read: Health Benefits Of Going Paleo
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The Elimination Phase
The first phase is an elimination phase which includes the removal of foods and medications thought to cause gut inflammation, imbalances between good and bad bacteria levels in the gut, or immune response. In this phase, food like grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, nightshade veggies, eggs and diary are avoided.
It is also must to avoid using tobacco, alcohol, coffee, food additives, refined and processed sugars and certain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
The elimination phase promotes the intake of fresh, nutrient –dense foods, minimally processed meat, fermented foods etc. Aside this, it also highlights the improvement of lifestyle factors like stress, sleep pattern and physical activity level. The duration of elimination phase is between 30-90 days, but in a few instances people may start showing improvements as early as within 3 weeks.
The Reintroduction Phase
As the patient start showing remarkable improvements in symptoms and total well-being improves, the reintroduction phase begins. In this phase, whatever foods were avoided are slowly reintroduced into the diet, one at a time based on the tolerance level.
The main aim of this phase is to identify the potential food triggers that had led to the development of symptoms and reintroduce the ones that do not show any symptoms while continuing to refrain those foods that still cause symptoms. It also helps the person to choose from a spectrum of foods based on tolerance.
During this phase, one food at a time should be reintroduced allowing a gap of 5-7 days before restarting a different food. This gives a person ample time to identify if any of the symptoms reappear.
Foods To Avoid And Eat
The AIP diet has very stringent recommendations regarding which foods to eat or avoid during its elimination phase
Foods to avoid
Grains-rice, wheat, oats, barley, pasta, bread and breakfast cereals
Legumes-lentils, beans, peas peanuts, tofu or peanut butter
Nightshade Vegetables-eggplants, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes as well as the product made using these veggies like paprika powder.
Eggs or foods containing it
Dairy and dairy products
Nuts and seeds –all nuts and seeds and products derived from these butter, oil, cocoa and spices like coriander, cumin, anise, fennel, fenugreek, mustard and nutmeg
Coffee and alcohol
Processed vegetable oils- safflower, canola, corn, soybean or sunflower oils.
Refined or processed foods like cane, corn syrup, barley malt syrup and also sweets, candy, desserts and chocolate.
Foods containing additives, artificial sweeteners, trans fats etc.
Foods To Include
Vegetables –all variety of vegetables except for nightshade
Fresh fruit –a rich array of fresh fruit in a moderate amount
Tubers –sweet potatoes, yams, and artichokes are allowed
Organic or grass-fed meats like fish, seafood, poultry and meat.
Fermented foods and non-dairy bases probiotic-rich foods like kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles and probiotic supplements can also be consumed.
Cold-pressed vegetable oils: olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil
Herbs and spices which are not obtained from the seed.
Apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar
Natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey in moderate amounts.
Green and black tea about 3-4 cups /day.
A moderate amount of salt
The AIP diet might not be feasible for all as its elimination phase is very restrictive. This can make it difficult to follow and may also lead to the risk of nutrient deficiency if the reintroduction phase is avoided for a long duration.
The AIP diet is an elimination diet formulated to remarkably lower the severity of symptoms linked with several autoimmune diseases. Though research on its effectiveness is limited, however the diet looks to be promising. It may be quite hard to implement on your own, hence it is strongly recommended to seek expert advice and guidance to make sure the person continues to meet nutritional demands throughout all phases of the diet.