The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet is a specialized diet that aims to reduce inflammation in the body and help manage symptoms of autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), coeliac disease, lupus and arthritis. In these diseases, the immune system overproduces antibodies that can harm existing healthy cells. It has also been though beneficial to those suffering from a damaged gut lining and ‘leaky gut’.
What is involved in this diet?
Whilst it focuses on nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods and bears some resemblance to the paleo diet, the AIP diet involves eliminating foods that are known to contribute to inflammation within the gut and autoimmune reactions.
This list includes;
· Processed foods
· Nightshades – tomatoes, aubergine, peppers and white potatoes.
· Refined Oils
· Food additives and artificial sweeteners
The diet emphasizes the consumption of meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, fermented foods, bone broth, natural sweeteners and healthy fats during this elimination stage. These foods must be eliminated until the person following the diet starts to see improvements in their symptoms. This diet is not meant to be a long term diet due to its restrictive nature and the potential to lead to nutrient deficiencies. Instead, its purpose is to be used therapeutically to help identify and eliminate foods that may be contributing to autoimmune symptoms.
After a period of strict elimination, some foods may be reintroduced to determine which one’s trigger symptoms. This is a tricky stage as each food group must be reintroduced slowly (every 5-7 days), one by one, with tolerance and symptoms being monitored very closely. If a food causes a reaction, it should be continuously avoided. It is important to mention here that food intolerances can change overtime depending on the state of your immune system and also your gut health.
Is it effective?
A study written in 2017 by Konijeti et al showed that in a group of 15 participants who had IBD there was a significance improvement in symptoms for both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Whilst this is promising, there is a general lack of research and therefore evidence of effectiveness is limited. It is important to work with a Dietitian or licenced nutritionist when attempting this diet as there is no clear standardised plan and should be approached with caution due to its restrictive nature. All in all, it can be said that this diet can help to heal a damaged gut and reduce overall inflammation.
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The Autoimmune Protocol Diet. Nourish WebMD. [Online] 07 July 2021. https://www.webmd.com/diet/autoimmune-protocol-diet.
AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) Diet: Overview, Food List, and Guide. Healthline. [Online] 25 Aug 2020.
Konijeti GG, Kim N, Lewis JD, Groven S, Chandrasekaran A, Grandhe S, Diamant C, Singh E, Oliveira G, Wang X, Molparia B, Torkamani A. Efficacy of the Autoimmune Protocol Diet for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2017 Nov;23(11):2054-2060. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000001221. PMID: 28858071; PMCID: PMC5647120.