In general, we characterize diets as a way to lose weight. However, sometimes diets focus on ensuring good body function, as well as preventing some diseases. The Autoimmune Protocol Diet serves to heal some autoimmune inflammatory diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. So, find out the science behind this diet and resource yourself with an autoimmune protocol diet shopping list.
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- Undertaking the Autoimmune Protocol Diet
- What to Eat
- Which food should be restricted on the AIP?
- Autoimmune Diet FAQ
- Autoimmune Protocol Diet Shopping List
Undertaking the Autoimmune Protocol Diet
The autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet is a diet aimed at managing immune system disease, as well as some of its triggers, such as “leaky gut”. It does this by tackling inflammation in the body caused by autoimmune diseases, which is what causes pain and discomfort.
What is Autoimmune Disease?
The autoimmune system typically defends against bacteria and viruses and thus, attacks them when they are detected. However, with autoimmune disease, age-associated B cells (ABCs) force the immune system to attack and destroy healthy cells. This results from the fact that the immune system is unable to differentiate between external and internal cells.
What are the symptoms of this disease?
Common autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The early signs of many autoimmune diseases are similar, such as tiredness, swelling and redness of the skin, numbness in hands and feet, hair loss, and skin rashes.
What to Eat
Autoimmune conditions may result from “leaky gut”. This is a condition where small holes in the intestine cause partially digested food to leak into the body. This results in an immune system response leading to the damage to the internal cells by mistake.
The autoimmune diet aims to repair any holes in the gut, strengthen the immune system, minimize the symptoms of autoimmune diseases, and prevent the autoimmune response.
Meat and Fish
Meat and fatty fish make up an essential part of the autoimmune diet. Most importantly, if they are organic, will also be free of toxic chemicals. Otherwise, these traces of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics may exacerbate symptoms of autoimmune diseases. Organic meat is a major source of Vitamin D and vital amino acids, forming the foundation of good immune function and thyroid hormone production.
As for fatty fish, try to eat wild-caught ones such as salmon, cod, and haddock as they are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.
Go for leafy greens like kale, broccoli, cabbage, and collard greens. They make up a vital part of the autoimmune diet thanks to their content of magnesium, helping to maintain healthy immune function. A lack of magnesium in your diet is likely to increase cytokines production, contributing to rising inflammation levels.
You should also eat mushrooms. Most of them contain bioactive compounds called beta-glucans. Once consumed, beta-glucans can stimulate the immune system and make the gut healthier. Moreover, they are rich in vitamin D, dietary fiber, and contain compounds that protect the liver.
Pumpkin and zucchini are very immune-friendly. Zucchini is loaded with vitamin A which supports the immune system, while pumpkin has ample carotenoids which can lead to lower inflammation in the body. They are also good at decreasing inflammation.
Turnips also play an important role in promoting a healthy gut. The nutrients found in these help to regulate the immune system and decrease inflammation. It also may decrease the risk of inflammation-related conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
Fruit, especially apples, berries, and citrus fruit, have loads of nutrients including vitamin C, folate, and potassium. These are key to the growth of body tissues and are also excellent sources of fiber that can support the good bacteria in the gut.
Oils and Fats
Oils are a vital part of various dishes, pastries, and cookies. But, if you are on the autoimmune diet, you’ll need to steer clear of oils that are high in saturated fat, like butter or your usual vegetable oils such as sunflower or corn. Instead, go for oils like olive, avocado, and coconut. All of these are low in saturated fats.
You can even go one step further with olive oil. Use extra-virgin olive oil, which has gone through minimal processing, as it contains active compounds such as lignans and oleuropein that are effective in helping curb rheumatoid disease.
Avocado and coconut oils are as beneficial as olive oil. The former, for example, is rich in monounsaturated fats and can lower heart disease and stroke risk. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect of reducing C-reactive proteins that may cause autoimmune conditions at high levels.
Keep in mind to add some healthy fats from fruit and vegetables into your diet plan.
Wait, eating more fats?
Why not, as long as they’re healthy!
Fatty acids lurking in vegetables are also important in balancing hormones naturally. As well as vitamin B-rich avocados, be sure to also add coconut to your auto-immune diet shopping list. Full of healthy fats, coconut is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It also has antibacterial and antioxidant properties that help soothe inflammation.
Herbs and Spices
Your autoimmune diet should include some herbs and spices which are diet-friendly. These include basil, dill, oregano, rosemary, as well as onion powder, thyme, turmeric, garlic, ginger, and salt. They have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer properties. These also act as preventives against diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic illnesses.
As for drinks, herbal tea might be a good alternative to black tea and coffee. This is because the caffeine in them can trigger an immune system response and cause inflammation. Just make sure they don’t contain sugar, gluten, or any other additives.
But there’s one excellent thing that you should drink that you’ve probably never heard of.
Made by simmering bones for up to 2-days, bone broth has significant amounts of amino acids in it, notably glycine. Glycine helps heal the damage done to your bodily tissues caused by auto-immune diseases. It also balances the immune system and reduces inflammation. Additionally, as it’s a liquid, it is easily digested in the body, leading to a healthier gut.
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Which food should be restricted on the AIP?
Knowing what to eat to help manage the symptoms of autoimmune disease is only one step of the process. The other is knowing what foods to avoid that will aggravate or worsen the symptoms.
Dairy and Gluten
You’ll need to get rid of gluten and dairy products whilst on the diet. Once consumed, gluten releases zonulin into the small intestine, which causes the small holes to form in the gut.
Secondly, gluten is structurally similar to bodily tissues. Therefore, antibodies may mistakenly attack your own tissues, leading to autoimmune disease. Therefore, the gluten proteins can irritate the gut, leading to excessive aggravation of inflammation and triggering autoimmune disease.
Grains and Legumes
You may wonder if grains, beans, and legumes contain beneficial properties on this diet.
Well, the answer is an emphatic no.
Prolamin found in them can damage your gut and cause an immune system response. Another substance, known as agglutinin, destroys the immune system and causes leaky gut by binding immune cells.
While on the autoimmune protocol diet, coffee is to be avoided. That’s because the caffeine in it interferes with digestion by acting as a digestive enzyme inhibitor. Therefore, it can contribute to the development of intestine permeability.
Also, excess alcohol intake increases the number of endotoxins in the bloodstream. These toxins are linked to chronic inflammation, as well as other diseases.
Chocolate contains added sugar, which is high in phytic acid and omega-6 fats. Among them, phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that prevents you from wanting to eat something. As a result, you are less likely to eat sufficient nutrients.
But did you know that chocolate can also contain caffeine, like coffee?
As this can worsen autoimmune diseases, those with autoimmune conditions, unfortunately, need to be rid of chocolate.
Nuts and seeds should also be excluded from the autoimmune diet because they contain the anti-nutrient compound, lectin. Lectins tend to bind to different cells and cause increased intestinal permeability. These snacks are also high in phytic acid which interferes with gut healing.
Being part of the nightshade family, tomatoes are not recommended. Consuming them may lead to leaky gut syndrome. This is due to the glycoalkaloids they contain affecting the intestinal permeability.
In fact, nightshades, including eggplant, may worsen some autoimmune diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease.
But that’s not all.
Do you like potatoes? Well, if you are on a diet, you’ll need to avoid them. This is due to its content of saponins which act as a defense mechanism for the plant. Once absorbed, these chemicals might release toxic particles into our digestive system that can cause “leaky gut”.
Spices, like chili powder, paprika, and chili pepper, contain alkaloids which may aggravate inflammation.
Anything other than the good oils mentioned above should be avoided. This is because unsaturated fats found in vegetable oils tend to oxidize once they’re heated. If so, they cause inflammation by damaging body cells.
Processed food, like hot dogs and bacon, weaken the intestine’s resistance to bacteria and viruses, further leading to autoimmune disease responses.
Sugar and Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are linked with some autoimmune diseases. These include aspartame and sucralose. Aspartame, for example, becomes an embalming fluid in the body and the liver can’t clear this toxin normally. That’s why it gets stuck and activates inflammation, leading to autoimmune conditions and cancer growth.
Another substance called sucralose negatively affects the gut microbiome. This microbiome helps us to absorb antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, as well as supporting your immune system. However, as sucralose isn’t easily digested, it causes the good bacteria to die off.
Sugar is also notorious for being linked to type-1 diabetes. Fructose intake leads to the formation of new bodily cells and depletes your energy due to decreasing adenosine-triphosphate (ATP) in your cells. Fructose also leads to insulin resistance which can be risky for those managing type-1 diabetes. This is because they trigger the immune system to attack the cells that produce insulin. Damage to these cells undermines the body’s ability to manage blood sugar levels.
Autoimmune Protocol Diet FAQ
Can you have vinegar on the AIP diet?
Apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties that may be helpful in alleviating rheumatoid arthritis pain. It contains a number of vitamins and antioxidants that help to speed up the treatment. These antioxidants can also reduce the swelling and pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
A common way of using it as a treatment is to drink it. But vinegar is very acidic and the taste can be incredibly unpleasant when taking it neat. Furthermore, before consuming it, make sure to dilute it with water to prevent damage to your teeth. You can also apply it into the affected area in your body about twice a day. Make sure to dilute it with an oil (like coconut or olive) and massage it into your skin.
Can you eat eggs on the autoimmune diet?
Eggs should be restricted due to their content of lysozyme found in the whites. Lysozyme creates small holes in the intestine and gets into the bloodstream, triggering “leaky gut”.
Autoimmune Protocol Diet Shopping List
AIP Diet Grocery List 🛒📃✅Copy to clipboard
Meat and Fish
- Collard greens
- Citrus fruit
Oils and Fats
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Onion powder
- Bone broth
- Herbal tea