AIP Diet To Help Control Autoimmune Diseases

The autoimmune protocol (AIP) is a type of diet that aims to alleviate inflammation, pain and a variety of other clinical manifestations of autoimmune diseases. What does it consist of? Keep reading to find out!
AIP Diet to Help Control Autoimmune Diseases

The AIP diet, also known as the “autoimmune protocol diet”, is a dietary model that has become quite popular in recent years. It consists of avoiding the consumption of certain foods for several weeks to observe changes in health.

As stated in an article published in the journal  Inflammatory Bowel Diseasesits objective is to contribute to the control of inflammation, pain and other symptoms of autoimmune diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease, among others. What should you know about this?

What is the AIP diet?

The autoimmune protocol (AIP) is an elimination diet that involves not eating certain types of foods for several weeks to observe the health effects this has, particularly in the presence of autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease , among others.

These pathologies present with symptoms ranging from joint pain to fatigue, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nerve damage and mental confusion. Although their origin is multifactorial and encompasses genetic and environmental factors, one of the hypotheses associates them with damage to the intestinal barrier. In turn, this is related to the consumption of some foods.

Precisely, the AIP diet proposes to eliminate and replace these foods with options rich in nutrients that contribute to “repair” the intestine and promote the balance of its microbiota. In addition, it suggests the elimination of products such as those containing gluten or lactose, as they are often the ones that cause abnormal immune responses in sensitive people.

scalp dermatitis
Autoimmune skin diseases are often associated with “triggers” found in foods.

AIP Diet Phases

The autoimmune protocol (AIP) bears some resemblance to the popular paleo diet . In fact, some experts classify it as an extension of the aforementioned eating model. In any case, the AIP variant is a little more rigid and consists of two main phases.

elimination phase

In the first phase of the AIP diet, food and medication that may be linked to intestinal inflammation or microbiota imbalances is eliminated. For this, products that tend to cause allergies and unwanted reactions are taken into account For example:

  • Cereals.
  • Legumes.
  • Oilseeds.
  • Seeds.
  • Solanaceous vegetables.
  • Eggs.
  • Dairy products.
  • Vegetable oils.
  • Food additives.
  • Refined sugars.
  • Coffee.
  • Alcohol.
  • Tobacco.
  • Processed products.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such  as ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac and high-dose aspirin.

Of course, instead of these, the consumption of fresh and nutrient-rich products is encouraged, without leaving out fermented foods or foods with some probiotic content. Likewise, an emphasis is placed on improving the lifestyle through relaxation techniques, physical activity and better sleep quality.

The duration of this phase can be extended until the person feels an improvement in symptoms. This can usually take between 30 and 90 days. However, there are those who feel the effects after the 3rd week.

reintroduction phase

As soon as an improvement in the symptoms of the autoimmune disease is noticed, the reintroduction phase begins, which consists of the gradual incorporation of avoided foods, one at a time, according to the person’s tolerance level.

What is intended to be achieved at this stage of the diet is to recognize the foods that can trigger the symptoms of the disease. In addition, it seeks to reintroduce those that do not cause symptoms, to ensure a more varied and complete diet.

Each food is reintroduced little by little, with an interval of 5 to 7 days between one and the other. This period is enough to determine if any of the symptoms reappear after consumption. Those that are well tolerated can continue to be incorporated into the diet. The rest must be left out.

Steps for reintroducing foods into the AIP diet

To reintroduce foods into the AIP diet, it is necessary to follow a few steps. Likewise, you should know how to choose an appropriate time, in circumstances that do not cause inflammation. So after a bad night’s sleep or times of stress, it’s best to put it off.

If possible, the ideal is to introduce foods that  contain lower concentrations of the substance that can trigger discomfort. For example, in the case of dairy products, the ideal is to start with fermented products, such as yogurt. The steps are as follows:

  1. Choose the food you want to reintroduce. Then consume it several times a day on your chosen test day. Once this is done, it should be completely avoided again for 5 to 6 days.
  2.  Eat a small amount of the product  and wait about 15 minutes to check for reactions.
  3. If there are any symptoms, the test should be terminated and food should be avoided. Otherwise, a larger test should be performed, continuing to observe the effects for another 2 to 3 hours.
  4. If there are no symptoms,  you can eat a normal portion of the same food. Then avoid introducing a new food for 5 or 6 days.
  5. Repeat the procedure. 

Allowed and prohibited foods in the AIP diet

In order for the AIP diet to work well, it  is necessary to follow the medical recommendations regarding permitted and prohibited foods. In this regard, it is necessary to keep in mind that there are many restrictions, so the ideal is to consult a nutritionist to avoid deficiencies.

allowed food

  • Varied vegetables, except those belonging to the solanaceous and algae family.
  • Quality fish and seafood, with a high omega 3 content.
  • Fresh fruit,  in moderate portions.
  • Fermented foods and probiotics (kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles and coconut kefir).
  • Lean meat and beef liver.
  • Olive, coconut and avocado oil.
  • Herbs and spices that are not derived from seeds.
  • Natural sweeteners, such as honey, in moderate amounts.
  • Bone broth.
  • Green tea and black tea.

prohibited food

  • Solanaceous, such as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant.
  • Grains  (rice, wheat, oats, barley, rye and derivatives).
  • Legumes.
  • Dairy products.
  • Vegetable oils (except those mentioned above).
  • Coffee.
  • Eggs.
  • Oilseeds and seeds.
  • Alcohol.
  • Food additives such  as refined sugars and trans fats.

Does the AIP diet work?

To date, scientific evidence on the AIP diet remains limited. Despite this,  there are studies suggesting that it is able to reduce inflammation  and clinical manifestations of some autoimmune diseases. Let’s see in detail.

Adjuvant against leaky bowel

People with autoimmune diseases often have a leaky gut . According to research, there is a link between inflammation and bowel permeability. Thus, the person may suffer an inflammatory disorder.

In this regard, the results determined that the AIP diet, by contributing to the relief of the leaky gut, reduces the degree of inflammation and associated symptoms. Still, more research is needed.

Supplement against symptoms of autoimmune diseases

In addition to the above, it should be noted that this feeding protocol showed positive results against the symptoms of autoimmune diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In fact, a reduction in inflammation between 29% and 68% was observed.

Consultation to investigate the thyroid
The AIP diet has been shown to be effective in thyroid disorders such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

What are the disadvantages of the AIP diet?

The main disadvantage of the AIP diet is that it is a restrictive food model, especially in its elimination phase. This situation not only makes it difficult to follow, but it may not be suitable for everyone.

On the other hand, the person may experience episodes of anxiety or social isolation due to their own dietary restrictions. Without proper planning, it can also lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Among other things,  there is no complete guarantee that this protocol will reduce inflammation and the symptomatology of autoimmune diseases. Even so, many come to experience its positive effects.

Consulting a nutritionist is the best option

At first, it seems that adopting the AIP diet is simple if you take its rules into account. However, this is a protocol that must be adopted with great care, as it involves relevant dietary restrictions.

Therefore, it is essential to consult a nutritionist or doctor to receive all the necessary information about this diet. The professional will help you determine if this diet is convenient and how to plan it properly to avoid adverse effects. Keep this in mind!

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