Autoimmune Protocol Diet — Genesis Performance Chiropractic of Elverson, PA (2024)

The Autoimmune Protocol diet, commonly referred to as AIP, is a branch of the Paleo Diet specifically targeted to help people who are on the autoimmune spectrum.

You may have a few bothersome symptoms - perhaps headaches, fatigue, joint pain, depression - but no diagnosis yet. Or you may already have a full-blown autoimmune disease (or two, or three) - Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac, and beyond. This diet is designed to support your body by giving it nutrients that will help calm the chronic inflammation that has brought harm as well as eliminate foods that your body has difficulty using to its advantage in its already weakened state. You want to give your body every fighting chance by working with it rather than against it.

Just as with paleo, AIP avoids processed foods and heavily relies on fruits and vegetables with high nutrient content, as well as healthy fats and proteins. Organic farming practices usually produce foods with higher nutrient content than those from the depleted soil of industrial practices which result in deficiency of important vitamins and minerals. Therefore, organic is best when choosing fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables help control harmful free radicals roaming the body. They also support the immune system and promote detoxification and repair of cells which is critical for a body already damaged by chronic inflammation. Healthy fats support the nervous system and the building of cell membranes and their proper ability to function.

AIP is an elimination diet, so there are foods allowed on paleo that are not allowed on AIP. The hope is that when you give your body enough time to heal you will eventually be able to tolerate some or all of the foods that have been eliminated. But because each body is unique, the reintroduction of foods can look different for each person.

Like paleo, grains, dairy, and sugar will be avoided. (These can be particularly harmful for those with autoimmune disease, including of the thyroid.)

In addition, here are a few more things to look out for:

Abstain from Eggs

To a healthy person, pastured eggs can be good. To a person with autoimmune, they can cause havoc that probably wouldn’t happen in a healthy person. Eggs can allow proteins (usually lysozyme, from the egg white) to cross the gut barrier where they don’t belong and contribute to molecular mimicry. This is when antibodies form against not just foreign protein but also the normal protein in your body, as if it too is foreign.

Egg yolks are a common food sensitivity for those with leaky gut. Food sensitivities are not the same as a true food allergy. Sensitivities can often be addressed by healing the gut while food allergies should always be avoided.

Leave the Lectins

Lectins are proteins found in grains, legumes (including peanuts), and nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes. They are one of nature’s ways of defending plants and are not digestible when raw. A healthy body may be able to produce the proper enzymes to break these down, especially in small amounts and when cooked, but against an already stressed body some lectins are too much of an additional stress and therefore keep your immune system in overdrive. They can also prevent your body from properly absorbing important nutrients when your body needs all the nutrients it can get!

A Note About Goitrogens

Goitrogens can be problematic for thyroid function and are found in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale), some fruits and starchy plants (peaches, pears, strawberries, sweet potatoes, cassava), and soy (including soy milk, tofu, tempeh). Cooking cruciferous vegetables can lessen the effects of goitrogens, and because it’s important to get as many nutrients as you can (cheers to leafy greens!), this may be a better option than eliminating cruciferous vegetables altogether.

Ready, Set, Go

Start by purging your kitchen of anything you won’t be putting into your body.

Take our list of foods to eat when you go food shopping (SEE BELOW). NOTE: If you are dealing with weight, blood sugar imbalances, or candida, it’s best to avoid many high carb fruits and vegetables - follow the guidelines provided for these conditions.

Try consuming a wide variety of the allowed foods to get the benefits of different vitamins and minerals. (While food variation is recommended, you may have specific medical issues to take into account. For example, if you need to keep an eye on your blood sugar, you would want to stick to low carb options for vegetables and avoid high sugar fruits like bananas.) Opt for local, fresh and organic when possible.

A yummy AIP recipe to try is AIP Peach Crisp. Yes, start with dessert!

Getting enough sleep each night, learning what triggers stress and how to address it, and having a moderately active lifestyle are other important pieces of the puzzle. Diet alone cannot address the big picture of autoimmune. But while there is no cure for autoimmune, diet can be part of what helps you feel good and live a normal lifestyle.

To print our user-friendly PDF guides on FOODS TO AVOID and APPROVED FOODS on the AIP diet, fill out the form below.

Autoimmune Protocol Diet — Genesis Performance Chiropractic of Elverson, PA (2024)
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