Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system starts attacking the healthy cells functioning normally in your body. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and celiac diseases are just some examples of the most common autoimmune conditions.
Autoimmune diseases are capable of damaging the epithelium lining your small intestines. This results in an increase of the intestinal permeability, otherwise known as leaky gut. This permits the food and the waste products to enter the blood and cause inflammation.
There are certain foods that greatly increase the intestinal permeability and can increase the risk of acquiring a leaky gut. For example, gluten, a component in barley, wheat, and rye, has been found to activate a particular protein that increases the intestinal permeability.
The autoimmune protocol diet, abbreviated as AIP diet, emphasizes on healing the leaky gut by eliminating all the food items that lead to inflammation and reduce the symptoms in people suffering from autoimmune disease.
The AIP diet is quite similar to the famous Paleo diet plan. This is because both of these diets pretty much restricts the same food items including legumes and grains. However, it is slightly more restrictive as compared to the Paleo diet and does not allow a lot of food items that are normally permitted in the Paleo diet.
During the first few weeks of following an AIP diet, it must be strictly followed. Once this period has passed, you can slowly introduce the restricted food items back into your life, while monitoring if it produces any side effect
Is the Autoimmune Protocol Essential and Does It Really Work?
Food can greatly affect the severity of different symptoms in people suffering from autoimmune conditions. A study conducted in 2017 indicated that 24 percent of the people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis have positive impacts on their health after controlling their diets.
The AIP diet might not necessarily for all the people, though. For some, modifying life, reducing the element of stress and getting proper sleep can manage most of the symptoms without having to introduce any major changes in the diet.
However, if you are suffering from a particular autoimmune disorder and your symptoms are reduced by controlling what you eat, the AIP diet can be a perfect attempt to keep your disease under control.
Not only will this diet cut out the food that usually triggers inflammation in your body, but it will also improve the consumption of nutritional foods and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.
AIP Diet vs. Paleo Diet
The AIP diet is similar to the Paleo diet in many ways, including most of the food items which are restricted and allowed on every diet. In fact, the AIP diet is often called as the autoimmune Paleo diet. However, there are certain differences for sure.
First, it is important to define Paleo diet. The Paleo diet is based on the eating habits of our ancestors during the Paleolithic Age. This diet particularly limits the use of legumes, soy, dairy, and grains, while focusing basically on fish, meat, vegetables, and nuts.
The autoimmune diet is different in a way that it eliminates a lot of food items that are normally permitted in Paleo diet plan. For instance, the AIP diet prohibits the use of eggs, seeds, nuts, and nightshade vegetables.
The diet also has different purposes. The Paleo diet is usually adopted by people who want to lose weight, improve health, and enhance their performance. However, the AIP diet is most adapted to reduce the symptoms of inflammation due to autoimmune disorders.
What are the Benefits of AIP Diet?
First and foremost, the AIP diet is actually a healing diet that purposefully restores the integrity of the gut and decreases the inflammation. For people suffering from autoimmune diseases, this can make a whole lot of difference when it comes to the restoration of their life quality.
Research has indicated that your diet can have a major impact on the beneficial bacteria present in your gut. This may impact the severity of your symptoms if you are suffering from an autoimmune disease.
The AIP diet can also help you to know more about your body and the food that may be triggering the symptoms of any autoimmune disease. An AIP diet can be challenging to follow, but learning that which foods you should limit from your diet can be extremely valuable.
This diet prioritizes the food rich in nutrients and anti-inflammatory foods, for example, vegetables. It does not even matter if you have an autoimmune disease, we can all benefit from this diet by adding the highly nutritious foods in your diet.
Finding the foods that comply with the AIP diet can be really hard and may require a lot of hunting. Even if you have a shopping list with an autoimmune diet, taking trips to the grocery store may require some extra time for reading the labels to ensure that you don’t eat any of the prohibited ingredients.
Additionally, food just makes one piece of this puzzle. Most of the autoimmune diseases require medical treatment along with other lifestyle modifications, such as exercise, getting proper sleep and moderating the sun exposure.
While an AIP diet may let you identify the foods that trigger your symptoms and may even increase the quality of your life, it should not be considered as a complete cure for the entire disease.
Who should Adopt an AIP Diet?
If you are suffering from autoimmune disease and are stable with only a few side effects bothering you, an AIP diet might be right for you. The diet works its magic when you are stable because only then can you determine how much of an effect a diet may have on the symptoms.
However, it is important to keep in mind that this diet is restrictive and everyone who is suffering from an autoimmune condition needs to follow it strictly.
For instance, some people may even have an allergy to grains but can work perfectly with other food items such as dairy products, eggs, and legumes. In that case, you can stop consuming grains instead of limiting all the food groups normally permitted in the AIP diet.
Moreover, there are a lot of factors that may play a role in each autoimmune condition in addition to food. These factors may include sleep patterns, stress, exercises, and hormone levels. All these factors can contribute to the severity of the symptoms.
You have to keep in mind that an AIP diet must only be used as a tool to understand which food items may trigger the symptoms. It does not actually mean that you have to exclude these food items permanently from your diet. In fact, there are a lot of food-restricted on the diet that is nutritious and is important for your health, as long as they don’t aggravate any negative symptoms.
Additionally, it is important to remember that there is no single best diet for autoimmune disease. Certain factors might affect every patient differently, but the main aim of this diet is to develop an understanding regarding the types of food and how they affect your problem.
If you have tried out the AIP diet and have felt no change in the negative changes such as joint pain, fatigue, or swelling, talk to your doctor.