What is the AIP Diet and Who Can Benefit From It?
Autoimmune disorders affect more and more people every year. These conditions arise when something causes the immune system to attack the body's own cells instead of attacking foreign invaders or pathogens. This causes damage to the body's tissues, producing inflammation, pain and cell damage of all sorts. Over time, this constant damage leads to full blown conditions or diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis is a very common autoimmune disease. Other autoimmune disorders include allergies like hay-fever, skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, gastrointestinal problems like IBS and Crohn’s disease, as well as multi-system conditions such as lupus.
Autoimmune conditions are still not well understood. The causes are often hard to track down and treatment can be very tricky. Medications can help but aren't always effective (and may come with their own problems). To tackle autoimmune disorders, many people look toward lifestyle changes -- particularly special diets.
One such diet is the autoimmune protocol or AIP diet. The AIP diet is an elimination diet that offers hope to people suffering from various autoimmune disorders. The diet involves cutting out certain foods, such as grains, legumes and certain vegetables. While the AIP is very similar to the paleo diet, it's somewhat more restrictive in order to determine which foods might be causing inflammatory responses in the body.
The AIP is often implemented to help address altered intestinal permeability, also known as a "leaky gut". In this condition, the junctions or gaps between the cell walls of the intestinal lining open up, causing various substances, even compounds present in food to escape into the body, triggering an inflammatory or allergic response.
The theory behind the AIP diet is that the body's immune system is triggered by these compounds, which cause it to attack native tissues instead of pathogens. By allowing the gut to heal, it is theorized, the immune system will no longer be provoked to attack the body. In some cases the AIP is only implemented for a temporary period, with foods being reintroduced once symptoms improve. Some people, however, choose to continue with the diet indefinitely.
The AIP can help individuals who suffer from autoimmune conditions. The purpose of this diet is to reduce and calm inflammation in the body, reducing symptoms and ideally shifting disease conditions into remission.
Foods excluded on the AIP are: dairy, eggs, legumes, sugar and high-glycemic foods, nuts and nut oils, seeds and seed oils, Spices derived from seeds, Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers), alcohol, coffee, and chocolate
Foods to include are: meat, fish, vegetables (except nightshades), bone broth, coconut products (yogurt, oil and butter), olive & avocado oil, fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, apple cider vinegar), small portions of fruit and green and black tea
An AIP diet might seem very restrictive but with a few adjustments, meals can be varied, tasty and exciting.
A daily AIP meal plan might look something like this:
Breakfast: a hash of ground beef or turkey, with two cups of permitted vegetables, olive oil and permitted herbs to taste.
Lunch: Salmon fillet with AIP vegetables.
Evening meal: Roast chicken with herbs, served with permitted green vegetables and roasted AIP-safe root vegetables such as carrots and beets.
Snacks: Collard green wraps using AIP fillings; crudities with guacamole; arrowroot muffins; coconut yogurt. There's even ways to enjoy a slice of cake on the AIP diet, with recipes like Primal Plates Auto-Immune friendly pumpkin spice cake.
Drinks: Water infused with fruit; vegetable juices such as carrot; green or black tea; herbal infusions made with non-seed ingredients. Avoid sodas and coffee drinks. Some honey and maple syrup can be used in place of other highly processed and artificial sweeteners. Fruit juice should be kept to a minimum.
Followed with care, the AIP diet can be a varied, healthy and delicious way to help deal with autoimmune disorders and chronic inflammation. If you’re interested in learning more about health and wellness, we invite you to contact us at any time.