The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet has been around for a few years and it is a food-based approach to eliminating unwanted inflammation in an individual’s body. It is a diet that is designed to help reduced inflammation and help heal your body’s digestive system which has been infected by autoimmune conditions.

The diet is restrictive and is only designed to be followed for a suggested time of 30 days as it can cause a nutrient imbalance due to only eating very few selected foods. The diet mainly includes meat and vegetables and after the suggested period, one would start adding the food they eat prior to the diet and examine whether it causes inflammation.

Elimination diets are designed to determine which foods are not compatible with a person’s body and it can be difficult to analyse which food is causing inflammation as multiple food sources are cut at once or one food is cut at a time and the gut has not been healed from the previous diet. Therefore by following the AIP diet, this gives the body the ability to reduce inflammation before exploring which foods are not compatible with the body.

The Aims of the AIP Diet

  • To cut inflammation-causing foods to reset the body’s immune system. The thesis is to reduce overall inflammation which is caused by autoimmune disorders, the diet is able to put the condition into remission due to less inflammation.
  • To treat leaky gut syndrome. It has been hypothesized that autoimmune disorders can create micro holes in the intestinal tract which means that the food is able to escape and cause inflammation to spike significantly. Therefore by only eating foods that do not cause inflammation, this will give the gut the chance to heal.
  • It focuses on following the paleo diet but a much more restrictive format and promotes the intake of vitamin and nutrient-dense foods. 

Foods and substances to avoid on the AIP diet?

The AIP diet is very restrictive therefore there is a long list of foods that you are unable to eat as they are known to cause inflammation of the gut. The list below is broken down into two sections, foods you would not eat whilst on the paleo diet and foods on the paleo diet which is also restricted.

Foods to avoid whilst on Paleo and AIP diet

Grains

Legumes

Dairy

Processed foods

Refined sugars

Industrial seed oils (vegetable and canola oil)

Foods to avoid which are included in Paleo 

Eggs

Nuts and seed ( including spices such as cumin)

Chocolate

Coffee

Nightshade vegetables, these are a family of flowering plants that are also known as Solanaceae ( tomatoes peppers, aubergine, potatoes)

Gum

Alternative sweeteners

Emulsifiers 

Substances such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, ibuprofen etc.) and alcohol should be avoided whilst on the diet as they are known to play an effect on the immune system.

Foods you can eat

Whilst the list is small, it is still achievable to eat well whilst on the AIP diet whilst your body is recovering from chronic inflammation. The following foods are:

Coconut, including oil

Olives, including oil

Fermented foods providing they do not contain dairy.

Vinegars(Red, white balsamic etc)

Honey and maple syrup (in small quantities)

Herbs

Gelatin from grass-fed beef (a lot of cows are fed a grain-based diet)

Teas derived from leaves, not seeds

Fruit – only recommended to consume no more than 2 pieces. This is due to the body’s difficulty to breakdown fructose

Does it actually work?

Research has been conducted to determine if the AIP diet can help overall inflammation of the human body. The disease in concern was Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder that can cause hypothyroidism as it causes your body to attack your Thyroid. 

The study’s findings suggest that AIP may decrease systemic inflammation and modulate the immune system as evidenced by a decrease in mean hs-CRP and changes in white blood cell (WBC) counts. Given the improvements seen in the participants’ symptom burden as well as markers of immune activity and inflammation, further studies in larger populations implementing AIP as part of a multi-disciplinary diet and lifestyle program are warranted.

The paper showed that although it did not cure Hashimoto Disease, it did reduce overall inflammation and researchers are expressing the need to do a larger generalised test to determine that this diet could be effective in combating overall inflammation.

Summary

The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet has been around for a few years and it is a food-based approach to eliminating unwanted inflammation in an individual’s body.

It is a diet that is designed to help reduced inflammation and help heal your body’s digestive system which has been infected by autoimmune conditions.

The diet is restrictive and is only designed to be followed for a suggested time of 30 days as it can cause a nutrient imbalance due to only eating very few selected foods.

The diet mainly includes meat and vegetables and after the suggested period, one would start adding the food they eat prior to the diet and examine whether it causes inflammation.