Now this is truly challenging, but when you are serious about changing how you feel, it makes total sense to look into what you eat and implement intelligent changes.
The autoimmune protocol (AIP) is a food-based approach to eliminating inflammation in a person’s body. It has originated from Paleo diet but is more restrictive, hence not easy to follow. However, when you’ve health issues, especially autoimmune conditions, you will look into anything that can help improve your immune system.
Autoimmune conditions include Type I diabetes, Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis, Multiple sclerosis, Lupus, Inflammatory bowel disease, Celiac disease, Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, etc.
The theory is that small holes in the gut cause food to leak into the body and this is thought to cause the immune system to overreact and start attacking bodily tissues in error.
The autoimmune diseases do not vanish but can be helped to ease off. By focusing on nutrient-rich foods and avoiding inflammatory ones, the AIP diet aims to heal any holes in the gut, reducing inflammation created by autoimmune conditions, reducing symptoms of autoimmune disease and preventing the occurrence of secondary autoimmune diseases.
I started looking into AIP for several reasons:
- My mother-in-law has rheumatoid arthritis – the effect it has on one’s health is way beyond swollen joint, so Mr Fox and I are looking to help as much as we can.
- Mr Fox has eczema since childhood, knowing his food choices I’m pretty some flare outs can be avoided.
- My mother has Grave’s disease, I did have thyroid a issue, which has normalized by now and, thankfully, I’m off medication (possibly thanks to delays in the NHS system), potentially
- Through working in the gym I’ve met so many people with medical gut issues and thyroid issues, that one thing becomes very clear – pills prescribed by the GPs are only masking the symptoms, the only way to improve thing is to see specialists and take control of the lifestyle and the foods that are going in, supermarket and high street pre-cooked foods, as convenient and attractive as they are, will not help improve existing conditions.
- The director of Precision Nutrition has implemented AIP to help with psoriasis, and seeing his meals during the strict phase made this restrictive diet sort of accessible
The good thing is that the recommended foods are mainly meats and vegetables.
The bad (for me) is that it excludes peanuts, all dairy including yogurt, and coffee!
Another good thing – the AIP is meant to be followed only for several weeks allowing gut to heal as much as possible, and then start adding foods not included in the diet back. New foods should be added back to your diet gradually – one new food every 4 days to once a week, so you can monitor whether you have any reactions to it. If you notice any side effects of the food, take it out of your diet again. Basically it helps you find foods that work well for you and reduce conditions, and then you adapt the AIP protocol to work for you. Some people may find they have a reaction to grains but do perfectly fine with dairy, legumes and eggs.
Keep in mind there can be many other factors that could play a role in severity of autoimmune conditions besides food – stress, sleep patterns, exercise, hormone levels. Most people will need to look beyond the diet and implement other healthy lifestyle changes as well.
If you’ve a condition and want to try the AIP for a month, below is a summary of foods to include / exclude from your plate. Give me a shout, will be great to try it together finding best options and monitoring results.
If you would like to improve your GI tract but you’ve haven’t an AI condition, a 30day Paleo could be an option – it’s less restrictive, includes eggs, nuts and seeds. Still no dairy though.
Below is for AIP, contact me for the info on Paleo.
AIP – Your diet should be rich in:
- meat and fish, preferably not factory raised
- vegetables (except nightshades – such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes, etc) – cooked or raw – artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, broccoli rabe, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, courgettes, cucumber, garlic, green onions, collard greens, mustard greens, kale, turnip greens, cavolo nero, leeks, lettuce (all varieties), marrow, mushrooms, okra, onions, parsley, radishes, spinach,
- starchy vegetables: sweet potatoes, yams, taro, yuca, plantains, pumpkin, butternut squash, parsnips – if issues with blood sugar or weight, then limit to 1 portion/day. 1 portion = 1 medium sweet potato.
- fruit – preferably berries, in small quantities to keep natural fructose down – limit to 2 portions a day. 1 portion 1/2 200ml cup
- coconut milk
- avocado, olives, coconuts, including coconut milk
- avocado oil, olive oil (incl extra virgin), coconut oil, lard, duck fat
- dairy-free fermented foods, such as kombucha, non-dairy kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi
- honey and maple syrup (to be used occasionally, i.e. less than once a week, and in small quantities)
- fresh non-seed herbs, such as basil, mint, and oregano
- green tea and non-seed herbal teas
- bone broth/soup
- vinegars, such as apple cider and balsamic
- arrowroot starch
- gelatin from grass-fed beef
- mineral water, plain soda water
AIP – Foods to avoid:
- all grains, such as oats, rice, wheat, cereal, corn, oats, quinoa, barley, couscous, spelt, buckwheat, amaranth, etc
- all dairy, including cheese, yogurt, milk, cream, butter and ghee
- processed or refined foods (ready meals, processed ham, chicken nuggets, etc), including protein powders, energy bars, dairy-free creamers
- legumes, such as beans (all kinds), soy, lentils, peas, peanuts, hummus, tofu, tempeh, etc.
- nightshade vegetables – tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes, etc including paprika, kayenne.
- nuts and seeds, including foods you might not think are in this category such as coffee, chocolate, and certain spices (for example, coriander and cumin)
- all sugars, real and artificial, including sugar replacements, including stevia, molasses, xylitol, etc (except for occasional use of honey)
- butter and ghee
- all industrial seed oils such as vegetable oil, canola, rapeseed, sunflower, safflower, peanut oil (except for avocado, coconut, and olive)
- food additives
- chewing gum
- emulsifiers and food thickeners
- processed sauces, like soy sauce, tamati, etc
- sodas, including diet and zero sugar drinks
- fruit juice
- dried fruit
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – painkillers like ibuprofen (Advil), aspirin (Bufferin), naproxen sodium (Aleve)
***While not specifically addressed in AIP protocols, apparently blue-green algae may stimulate the immune system and should thus be avoided by those with autoimmune diseases.
Here’s a link to the nice include / avoid foods printouts from from Autoimmune Wellness, please cross reference with above and add the items that might be not specified, like chewing gum! 🙂
Here’s a link to the album with JB’s tasty AIP options. I’d be happy to eat like that! Bear in mind he is strength training and he is a man :), hence the portion sizes. Feel free to replicate the food but remember to adjust portion sizes and check against AIP foods, e.g. he uses flaxseed oil, which isn’t AIP – replace with White Truffle Extra Virgin Oil, available from Tesco, Asda, Ocado, or other non-seed oils. Fruit – JB has fruit with every meal, that matches the PN post-workout plate. My understanding is that at least at the elimination phase it’s best to limit fruit to 2 pieces/portions per day – this matches with insulin resistance advice.
Here are some recipes I’ve gathered, obviously can swap ingredients to what you prefer, just see they are within the AIP.
Breakfast – watch out, these aren’t sweet options 🙂 but neither are the UK staples bacon and egg! Should be manageable for a few weeks plus saves time cooking as can prep these for dinner!
CREATE YOUR OWN BREAKFAST SKILLET from Autoimmune Wellness
TURKEY APPLE HASH from FedAndFulfilled.com
MAPLE BACON BRUSSELS SPROUTS from TheCuriousCoconut.com
POACHED SALMON SALAD WITH DILL VINAIGRETTE from Autoimmune Wellness
BEEF BACON PLANTAIN HASH from FedAndFulfilled.com
PALEO PORK BANH MI BURGERS from FedAndFulfilled.com
Chimichiken from TheCuriousCoconut.com
WEEKNIGHT CHICKEN AND VEGGIES from Eatsomethingdelicious.com
FEEL GOOD SOUP from The CastawayKitchen.com