I’ve talked about the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet briefly before and how it may be beneficial to those suffering from an autoimmune disease. Basically, the diet is pretty simple: don’t eat anything. I’m kidding, you can eat some things.
The idea is to eliminate all potential triggers, allow your gut to heal and then slowly reintroduce foods while paying attention to how your body reacts. Want to find out more? Here’s my step by step guide to the AIP.
The low down on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)
For 6-8 weeks you need to eliminate certain foods, then you can slowly reintroduce individual foods and work out what may be triggering your condition.
The foods that are eliminated aren’t random, they common gut irritants. Remember how we talked about leaky gut and food particles escaping through your weakened gut lining? Well the foods eliminated in the AIP are foods suspected of irritating your gut, thus preventing your gut from healing itself. These foods are foods excluded from the paleo diet (ie dairy & grains) along with nuts, seeds, eggs (predominantly the whites) and nightshades (a family of vegetables that include tomatoes and eggplants). So what’s out and what’s in?
- Nuts (including nut oils like walnut and sesame seed oils)
- Seeds (including flax, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and culinary herb seeds like cumin and coriander)
- Beans/Legumes (this includes all beans like kidney, pinto, black as well as Soy in all its forms)
- Grains (Corn, Wheat, Millet, Buckwheat, Rice, Sorghum, Amaranth, Rye, Spelt, Teff, Kamut, Oats etc)
- Alternative sweeteners like xylitol and stevia
- Dried fruits and/or over-consumption of fructose
- Dairy Products
- All Processed Foods
- Nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, capsicum/peppers, eggplant, mustard seeds, all chili’s including spices)
- No vegetable oils (olive oil, lard, cultured ghee and coconut oils are permitted)
- Culinary herbs from seeds (mustard, cumin, coriander, fennel, cardamom, fenugreek, caraway, nutmeg, dill seed)
- Vegetables (except nightshades)
- Fruits (limit to 15-20 grams fructose/day)
- Coconut products including coconut oil, manna, creamed coconut, coconut aminos, canned coconut milk (with no additives like guar gum and carageen or bpa lined cans) shredded coconut (this list does not include coconut sugar and nectar). Here’s a lifesaving tip – make your own coconut yoghurt. It’s how I coped!
- Fats: olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, lard, bacon fat, cultured ghee (certified to be free of casein and lactose)
- Fermented Foods (coconut yogurt, kombucha, water and coconut kefir, fermented vegetables)
- Bone Broth
- Grass Fed Meats, Poultry and Seafood
- Non-Seed Herbal Teas
- Green Tea
- Vinegars: Apple Cider Vinegar, Coconut vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic (that has no added sugar)
- Sweeteners: occasional and sparse use of honey and maple syrup (1 tsp/day)
- Herbs: all fresh and non-seed herbs are allowed (basil tarragon, thyme, mint, oregano, rosemary, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, savory, edible flowers)
- Binders: Grass Fed Gelatin and Arrowroot Starch (watch the starch however if you have adrenal issues)
Get creative with meat and veggie dishes, flavoured with herbs and coconut. Don’t think about what you can’t eat (you’ll just get depressed) and focus on what you can. I have used the AIP in the past and I won’t lie, it is HARD. But it does work. No tomatoes, seeds or chocolate were the killers for me.
One of the best resources for those who want to try AIP is Sarah Ballentyne’s site, The Paleo Mom. Her blog has so many useful resources and recipes to help heal your gut.
Next up: Healing your gut.
This part is the easier and potentially tastier
I’ve talked about some of my favourite healing foods before, but I want to draw specific mention to probiotics and gelatine.
Comes in all sorts of forms. Bone broth is one of the best homemade sources of gelatin and it’s pretty easy to make. Broth (or technically, stock) is a mineral rich infusion made by boiling bones of healthy animals with vegetables, herbs and spices. Broth contains collagen and the amino acids proline and glycine that can help heal your damaged cell walls.
However if you’re like me, you may just want the shortcut version, try gelatin. NOT the generic store-bought kind, but the grass-fed kind. This is the one I use and love. I love using collagen hydrolysate, a type of gelatin. My information about this product came from the Wellness Mama blog, so rather than rehash what’s she’s already said so well, I’ll let you read it for yourself here.
Are the most important supplement to take because it helps replenish good bacteria and crowds out bad bacteria. I recommend getting probiotics in both food and supplement form. It’s so important to re-inoculate your gut with beneficial bacteria that will keep bad bacteria at bay. Some of the best and most delicious ways to increase your intake is with fermemted vegetables, such as Sauerkraut, Kimchi, and Kvass, which also contain organic acids that balance intestinal pH. I also recommend drinking kombucha tea and consuming either kefir or coconut yoghurt.
Healing your body naturally is unfortunately not as easy as taking a pill or using a lotion. After years of damage it does take a while for your body to repair itself. But it is far more beneficial to your overall health and well being by doing it this way. Plus it helps you understand how your body works and how it responds to triggers. I found the AIP far more empowering because it allowed me to understand how my body works and take control over it.
Like any new diet, it’s hard at first, but once you get into the swing of it it will get easier. What kept me going was the pain associated with my autoimmune condition, I kept reminding myself that each piece of chocolate I turned down would be worth it when my scalp didn’t itch anymore. Remember, the pain of turning food down is nothing compared to the pain associated with autoimmune conditions!
Are you keen to give the AIP a go, or have you already tried it? Share your stories with me below