No matter how many times the ‘you are what you eat’ drum gets beaten there are always some doubts that follow. Like many of the oldest and soundest pearls of wisdom, newer research doesn’t so much overturn but adds nuance to these beliefs.
If you’re considering an autoimmune protocol diet (AIP diet) you probably have some questions. Chief among these is ‘does it work?’ because why bother with other information if the answer is no.
The answer is… it can and evidence points in that direction but it’s not conclusive. Like most nutritional information, coming to a firm conclusion is difficult. Newer research does a better job at considering the nocebo effect but trying it yourself is safe and worthwhile.
Autoimmune Protocol Don’ts
The AIP stands in with several other examples of elimination diets. Like the low FODMAP diet or a Celiac protocol, these diets consist of heavy restrictions upfront.
They very much are about what you don’t get to eat and then gradually reintroduce foods so that you isolate trigger foods. They share a certain kinship with things like Keto or Paleo diets as well, being noted more for what you can’t eat than what you do.
Ideally, adhering to the protocol lowers pain and flare-ups of autoimmune diseases that work through inflammation. This includes rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Of course, diet is but one way to go about reducing symptoms, and institutes such as Healthy Living Family Medical use AIP as an early step in designing treatments.
The AIP diet begins with the elimination of grains, legumes, sugars of most kinds, additives, nuts, coffee, seeds, alcohol (of course), dairy and eggs, and nightshades. The latter being a subject of controversy when it comes to tomatoes.
While some dieters go in all at once, removing several items per week helps others adjust to the restrictions. The only difference is the time it takes to complete the elimination phase.
A month or so after getting all the forbidden items eliminated, you start adding in foods one at a time. This means adding a single ingredient such as legumes back in and eating them in addition to other foods for a week or two. If you experience inflammation flaring up, you remove that food and move on to the next.
Careful charting of reactions and portions is important. Given the number of foods that are removed, it takes upwards of six months to chart your reactions.
If possible, it’s better to have foods introduced by someone else to limit the placebo effect of each ingredient but that is rarely completely possible.
Once you’ve finished charting what ingredients cause issues and at what levels, you need to keep with the diet restrictions. Even a few ‘cheat days’ per month become possible once you have a good idea of your tolerances and can prepare accordingly.
In the end, the autoimmune protocol helps you determine what the best diet for autoimmune for you is. Your body will respond differently than someone else’s for reasons that keep nutritionists up at night.
Added in with medication and exercise, the AIP diet helps reduce inflammation and improve your overall quality of life. For more health advice and information, keep checking back here.