Benefits of AIP Diet (Auto-Immune Paleo) & Why It’s For Everyone
This past weekend I was at a functional medicine conference titled “Leaky Gut and Auto-Immunity” presented by Dr. Kari Vernon. She brought together more than 20 years of clinical practice plus several hundred articles to highlight one thing – more and more Americans (an all humans for that matter) are developing autoimmune conditions – everything from acid reflux (immunity to the stomach acid producing cells), diabetes (immunity to the pancreatic islet cells) to systemic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis thyroid, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, Sjögren’s and even osteoporosis (yes, an immune condition to your bones!)
Autoimmune diseases begin whenever one’s immune system begins to attack the healthy cells in your body. According to Dr. Vernon, the #1 trigger in all autoimmune disease is exposure to GLUTEN. Research points out that today’s gluten is not the gluten of our ancestors – thanks to hybridization and genetic modification of wheat. Adding insult to injury is RoundUp (glyphosate) which also has been shown to have a causative effect towards autoimmunity – mostly due to the fact that it looks very much like Glycine, an essential amino acid needed for gut and hormone receptor health. Gluten specifically acts like a foreign particle (virus/bacteria mimicker) which signals an immune response for infection. Constant daily exposure creates consistent firing and over firing of the immune system which leads to auto-immune disease. In addition, Gluten stimulates the release of a protein called Zonulin, which widens the spaces between the cells of the small/large intestine creating a “leaky gut” which also stimulates the immune system. Couple gluten (wheat/grains) and the fact that most are sprayed with RoundUp and you can see the problem facing Americans alike.
The standard nutrimental recommendations for American’s is to eat more grains than fruits/vegetables/meats and fats (i.e. it’s the majority 60%+ of foods consumed). Don’t believe me? Take a look at a hotel’s continental breakfast (toast, croissants, pastries, bagels, rolls, cereals and muffins/donuts) and you will soon see its almost all grain based (it should be renamed “Autoimmune Breakfast”
The autoimmune protocol diet, or AIP diet, focuses on reducing autoimmunity by healing the gut through eliminating foods that cause gut damage which in turn calms down the overactive secretion of antibodies.
The AIP diet is similar to the Paleo Diet which restricts many of the same foods, such as grains and legumes. The main difference it’s the restrictions are towards Paleo Foods that have been connected with immune inflammation.
Foods to Eliminate: All Grains, All Legumes, Vegetable Oils, Dairy, Sugar, Eggs, Nuts/Seeds, Seeded Herbs, Coffee, Chocolate, Dried Fruits, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Night Shades (eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and okra), sugar alcohols (xylitol, mannitol etc) and all alcoholic beverages.
Foods to Focus On: Coconut Products (meat, milk, flakes, oils etc), bone broth, non-seeded herbs, all vegetables other than night shades, meats and poultry (fish, chicken, turkey and eggs), kombucha/fermented foods, collagen/gelatin, green tea and root alternatives (cassava, arrowroot etc.)
The AIP diet may very well be the way you need to eat, simply because of the fact we live in a modern society with gluten/grains in almost everything (it’s even now in skin care and beauty products!)
Restores Gut Integrity
First and foremost, the AIP diet mimics closely the Healing Diet I recommend which is designed to restore the strength of your gut lining, reduce inflammation and tighten the gap junctions to eliminate “leaky gut” and alleviate symptoms.
Leaky gut syndrome is a condition in which toxins and bacteria are able to pass through the walls of the intestine, which leads to local gut inflammation, digestive issues, food sensitivities/intolerances and eventually antibody production (aka auto-immunity). Several studies show that patients diagnosed with an autoimmune disease almost always
(90+% of the time) test positive for leaky gut via urine or bio-market testing. Once grains/gluten is removed in its entirety, along with supplementation of Glutathione, Turmeric/Curcumin, Ginger, Quercetin, Resveratrol, Glycine and NAC) the AIP diet can help restore gut integrity and prevent leaky gut syndrome offering hope to anyone with autoimmune conditions.
Boosts Beneficial Gut Bacteria
Research has directly connected the quality of your gut bacteria to the overall quality of your health and likelihood to develop various diseases (cancer, heart disease, diabetes etc.). One of the most powerful aspects of AIP is it will naturally encourage your gut bacteria to reset via the use of fermented foods and strict avoidance of gluten, lectins, casein and other known microbiome invaders.
Identifies Foods That Trigger Health Issues
As with any elimination diet, the AIP will help you to become more aware of your body’s connection to food – i.e. its reaction or resolution. Most people who follow the AIP for any length of time will notice when they “slip” and eat one or more of the “forbidden foods” notice an almost immediate reaction/return of symptoms in one or more parts of their body. As a personal testimonial – anytime I eat an eggplant or yellow pepper (nightshades) I usually get a low-grade headache 2 days later – as if you could set your clock to it. This took me a while to pin down because of the 2-day delay – but once I eliminated night shades completely, the headaches stopped for good. While challenging, this can help you to develop our own personal “eat this, not that” list for your long-term diet.
Rich in Nutrient-Dense, Healthy Foods
The AIP diet prioritizes nutrient-rich, unprocessed and highly anti-inflammatory foods such vegetables, natural proteins and fermented foods. Regardless of whether or not you have an autoimmune disease, trust me when I say you can all benefit from including AIP regulations into your daily intake. It’s always important to learn how to incorporating healthy foods in your diet, and climate disease causing foods, no matter your situation.
Can Help Reduce Inflammation, i.e. A Known Cause of All Disease
A 2017 study followed 15 people who had IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) that implemented the AIP diet for just 11 weeks. At the end of the study, intestinal inflammation had significantly decreased in 100% of the participants and the majority expressed a significant reduction in their symptoms and improvement in their quality of life. Most participants also lost weight – a healthy side effects of reducing inflammation. Inflammation has been connected to a major cause of nearly all human health suffering and one of the most powerful aspects of the AIP is its elimination of foods that promote inflammation while focusing on nutrient dense foods that are scientifically shown to be anti-inflammatory.
#1 Question Asked: Is AIP a therapeutic diet or a lifestyle change? Technically therapeutic – i.e. until the condition you are using it for resolves, however most who use it people say they will never go back to the way they ate before!