The AIP Diet: The Autoimmune Protocol Diet
The importance of the AIP diet in connection with autoimmune conditions begins with understanding the nature of immune system disorders. The cause of autoimmune diseases could be one’s immune deficiencies where the body responds weakly to harmful bacteria, germs, medications, etc.
When one’s immune system attacks its own organ, tissue, and cells, it causes autoimmune disease such as rare genetic disorders and drugs intended to suppress the immune system.
The AIP diet focuses on conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, and others result from an immune system where antibodies attack the body. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association lists more than 100 autoimmune diseases.
Antibodies are necessary for responding to attacks from microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. However, unspecified triggers can send the immune system into overdrive leading to autoimmune disease where antibodies attack tissues and cells that are intended to protect the body.
One of the results of this excess of antibodies is inflammation. Inflammation is considered one of the leading symptoms of autoimmune conditions. The AIP diet is said to reduce inflammation through a protocol that eliminates inflammatory producing foods and promotes anti-inflammatory foods in the diet.
Inflammation and Intestinal Permeability
Autoimmune diseases can lead to intestinal permeability also known as leaky gut. Intestinal permeability happens when damage to the small intestines creates an entry point for food and toxins to enter the bloodstream. The result is inflammation and other problems.
Specific foods increase the risk for leaky gut especially in certain individuals and those with autoimmune diseases. The AIP diet is said to heal the gut thereby reducing inflammation and the symptoms of autoimmune diseases.
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.
The AIP Diet
The AIP diet is also considered as an assessment diet protocol done in phases and emphasis nutrient-rich foods. Strictly following the diet for thirty days, eliminated foods are gradually reintroduced. The diet requires meticulous attention to detail to determine which foods cause reactions and worsen symptoms: New foods are introduced every five days, and adverse reactions to the food are tracked.
The diet is intended for the individual to understand how certain foods can contribute to symptoms as well as how eating healthy can improve disease outcomes. It can determine which foods trigger symptoms. Although, most experts think the diet is too restrictive to be used as a permanent diet.
Some of the foods that can be eaten on the AIP diet are:
- All vegetables except for nightshade vegetables
- Organic, grass-fed meat and poultry
- Fermented foods except for made from dairy such as yogurt
- Arrowroot (a starch similar to cornstarch)
- Herbs except for those that come from seeds like herbs such as anise, cumin, nutmeg, fennel, etc.
- Bone broth
- Coconut products
- Green tea
- Raw organic honey and maple syrup in small quantities
Some of the foods that are not to be eaten are:
- Grains and legumes
- Nightshade vegetables
- Dairy products
- Processed foods
- Nuts and seeds
- Oils that come from seeds like canola and vegetable
- Refined sugars and sugar substitutes – no chocolate, desserts, etc.
- Dried fruits
- Thickeners and emulsifiers like cornstarch and carrageenan
- Chewing gum
AIP Diet Benefits
Because the diet is so new, there is not much research in determining its effectiveness for improving the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. Though, a 2017 study found that the elimination of certain foods on the AIP diet improved inflammatory bowel disease symptoms.
Other studies have shown a link between inflammation and autoimmune diseases and gut wall function. Food allergies have also proved to cause imperiality in the gut wall. Proponents of the AIP diet say that it can provide these benefits:
- Reduce symptoms of autoimmune diseases
- Reset the immune system
- Heal leaky gut
- Reduce inflammation
- Prevent other autoimmune disorders
- Improve beneficial gut bacteria.
Anyone considering the AIP diet needs to speak with their doctor first because many factors are at play with autoimmune diseases. Also, the diet is very restrictive and may cause additional symptoms. So, it should only be done under the guidance of a health care professional.
This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or recommend any form of therapy or treatment.
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