AIP Diet: What Is the Autoimmune Protocol Diet?

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Any form of immune malfunction can cause serious disruption throughout the body. However, perhaps of the most impactful form of immune dysregulation is autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease is well-known for causing a wide range of symptoms and being difficult to treat. Interestingly, studies show that through proper implementation of the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet, those with autoimmune disease may ease or begin to resolve their condition. Read on to learn more about the impressive efficacy and benefits of the Autoimmune Protocol diet.

What is Autoimmune Disease?

Autoimmune disease causes the immune system to misidentify healthy cells and tissues as a threat. When the immune system labels these structures as a dangerous it releases autoantibodies to eliminate them. As these autoantibodies assault healthy tissues, they induce significant inflammation that can cause serious and, sometimes, irreparable damage. This leads to the development of an array of symptoms and often other illness.

Resolving autoimmune disease requires that the body’s immune response be reset or normalized. Experts argue that an essential element of this is limiting unnecessary immune activity. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by adopting the Autoimmune Protocol diet.

What is the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Diet?

The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet is a highly restrictive nutritional program focused on resetting immune function, limiting inflammation, and keeping the body well-nourished.

Perhaps the most important component of the AIP diet is avoiding problematic foods known to cause inflammation or trigger unnecessary immune activity. During the first 30 days, the AIP does not allow consumption of the following substances:

  • Alcohol
  • Beans and legumes
  • Caffeine
  • Canned or processed foods
  • Coffee
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Foods with a high glycemic index
  • Gluten
  • Grains including corn, quinoa, buckwheat, and rice
  • Nightshades
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Potatoes
  • Soy
  • Sugars including honey, maple syrup, and agave

Consuming any of the above foods can trigger an autoimmune response that can linger for days or even months. Such a response negates any prior efforts to normalize immune function. Therefore, adhering to the strict dietary regimen for a minimum of 30 days is essential. Limiting immune activity in this manner gives the body the time it needs to reset immune function, quell inflammation, and repair damaged cells and tissue.

After the initial 30-day period, or once the immune system has normalized, some foods may be reincorporated. However, it is important that foods be reintroduced one at a time. This allows for easier identification and subsequent elimination of problematic substances.

Healing the Body Through Effective Nutrition

Regulating immune function is critical for alleviating autoimmune disease. However, healing the body is also essential. In order for the body to engage in such repairs, it must be supplied with the proper nutrients.

The AIP diet encourages consumption of foods that are unlikely to instigate an immune response and also contain nutrients that support immune modulation, mitochondrial energy production, tissue repair, promote a healthy gut microbiome, and reduce inflammation. The following nutrient-dense foods are highly recommended inclusions for the AIP diet:

  • Bone broth
  • Coconut and coconut products
  • Fats and oils
  • Fermented foods
  • Herbs and spices
  • Low-glycemic organic fruits
  • Organic or grass-fed meats
  • Organic organ meats
  • Organic vegetables (except those mentioned above)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Wild-caught fish

Recommended Lifestyle Improvements of the AIP

Unhealthy lifestyle factors also contribute to immune malfunction. Besides the above dietary improvements, AIP dictates that participants should strive to:

  • Get a minimum of eight hours of good quality sleep per night
  • Limit stress and practice stress-relieving activities such as meditation, yoga, or gardening
  • Be outside and get at least 30 minutes of sun exposure per day
  • Avoid stagnating by getting up and moving at least once per hour
  • Create or find a network that provides emotional and physical support when needed

Enacting the changes to make these recommendations a reality removes a great deal of strain on the immune system, facilitating greater healing.

The Efficacy and Benefits of AIP

The AIP diet is recognized for providing impressive benefits, specifically for this with autoimmune disease. One study composed of patients diagnosed with at least one autoimmune condition showed that 75% of the participants felt better and 43% had a reduction in antibody count while following the AIP diet.

Research shows that autoimmune patients who adhere to the AIP diet experience a notable reduction or complete relief of symptoms associated with autoimmune disease. Some symptoms most often eased by AIP include joint pain, muscle aches, fatigue, bloating, diarrhea, brain fog, tinnitus, skin rashes, and decreased food sensitivities.

These and many other studies illustrate the impressive benefits of treating autoimmune disease with the AIP diet.

Getting the Best Results from Your AIP Diet

Each case of autoimmune disease is unique, meaning that there is not a single one-size-fits-all approach. Despite the AIP diet providing an excellent framework, there are still individual optimizations to suit each patient’s needs. Therefore, each person’s AIP diet plan will look slightly different. For example, some may tolerate specific foods that would cause severe autoimmune activity in others. Identifying these specific needs and making the appropriate changes to meet them is the key to achieving results with AIP.

Conquering Autoimmune Disease with the AIP Diet

There are many approaches to attending to and treating autoimmune disease. However, one of the most effective appears to be proper diet. The Autoimmune Protocol diet focuses on restoring healthy immune activity by regulating various factors of immune function and supplying the body with the resources it needs to heal. Even though following the AIP diet can be challenging, the results are worth the effort. It has been shown that proper implementation of the AIP diet significantly improves, and sometimes completely resolves, autoimmune disease symptoms. So, what are you waiting for? If you are suffering from autoimmune disease, speak to your doctor about creating an AIP diet that’s right for you.

Resources

1. Abbott RD, Sadowski A, Alt A. “Efficacy of the Autoimmune Protocol Diet as Part of a Multi-disciplinary, Supported Lifestyle Intervention for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.” Cureus. 2019 Apr 27;11(4):e4556.