The Autoimmune Protocol (or Autoimmune Paleo Diet) is commonly recommended for people with chronic, inflammatory and autoimmune disease.

But what is this protocol, and who is it suitable for? Let’s take a closer look at AIP, its benefits and drawbacks.

What is AIP?

The AIP diet is a protocol that involves eliminating and then reintroducing a number of potentially problematic foods.

The major purpose of AIP is to identify foods that may be causing issues and reduce inflammation in the gut. However, other benefits such as fat loss, improved energy, relief of brain fog and reduction of pain may also highly likely.

When you follow AIP, you will eliminate grains, dairy and processed foods. Some healthy options such as nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and nightshades are also removed as they can be inflammatory for some people.

Instead, you’ll focus on wholefoods such as fruits, vegetables, organic meat, eggs and wild-caught fish. You can continue to use healthy oils and fats and flavour your meals with herbs.

Who is likely to benefit from using AIP?

Although AIP is primarily designed for addressing autoimmune conditions, it could potentially benefit any health concern that has inflammation. Examples of conditions that may improve using an autoimmune protocol include:

  • Hashimoto’s disease
  • Coeliac disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Sjogren’s
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Lupus
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Graves disease
  • Psoriasis

Everyone is unique, so just because you have an autoimmune condition doesn’t mean you have to follow AIP. But if you find that your autoimmune symptoms and flares are causing issues, it is worth considering.

Remember that AIP is not a long-term diet

The right amount of time to follow AIP can vary from person to person. Some will only need the elimination phase of the diet for 30 days, whereas others may up to 3 months.

It is a therapeutic diet used to reduce inflammation and reset the body. It is not a ‘diet’ that you should be following long-term as it restricts many foods that offer health benefits.

That’s why it’s important to proceed with the reintroduction phase and continue to eat as much variety as possible without triggering your symptoms.

My tips for following AIP

As a practitioner who has personal experience with AIP, I know that it’s not the easiest protocol to follow! But there are some ways that you can make it easier on yourself.

Focus on the foods you can eat, not what you eliminate. Get creative with meats, fish, fruit and veggies. You can still make plenty of delicious meals using the ingredients included on AIP. Think of it as an opportunity to reset your taste buds and your gut.

Choose what works for you. People ask me whether they should go into AIP cold turkey, or go step by step with eliminating foods. It depends on the situation – where you’re at physically and mentally and what your overall knowledge and experience with wholefoods is like.

Eliminating foods overnight can be a massive stress, which is a problem when you’re working on a condition where stress is a trigger. So if you prefer to take it slow, go for it.

Reintroduce slowly. Start with one food group that doesn’t contain any other groups – for example, don’t reintroduce dairy using ice cream, as it contains sugar and potentially additives.

Work with an experienced AIP practitioner. Any elimination diet should be done under the supervision of a qualified nutritionist who has worked with AIP clients. They can guide you through what to eat, what to look for in terms of symptoms, and how to proceed with reintroduction.

Have you been considering the AIP diet for your autoimmune or chronic health concerns? Get in touch for a free 20 minute consultation to see if it is a good protocol for you.