It is known as AIP diet o Autoimmune Protocol and aims to reduce processes of inflammation, pain and symptoms related to autoimmune diseases. Among them we talk about heart disease, arthritis, lupus or inflammatory bowel disease, among others.
According to the opinion of many people who suffer from any of these diseases and have tried the AIP diet, they recognize that they have felt better, with reduction of the usual symptoms that cause pain, fatigue or intestinal damage.
The objective of our article is to make known what relationship the AIP diet with the reduction of the symptoms of autoimmune diseases from the scientific point of view. From the outset we anticipate that there is little information and research related to the Autoimmune Protocol.
What is the AIP diet or Autoimmune Protocol?
Chronic or degenerative diseases cause disorders in the immune system. Our body is trained to produce antibodies that fight against any foreign object that can initiate damage in our body.
This immune system is what keeps us alive in the face of the usual threat of viruses, fungi and bacteria.
However, the autoimmune diseases cause defects that cause our antibodies to attack healthy cells, tissues or nerves. From here, a wide variety of pain-related symptoms begin, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, psoriasis, lupus and a long etcetera.
The AIP diet focuses on reducing food that can cause damage to our body and trigger negative reactions. Many of the recommended foods have anti-inflammatory properties and improve gut health, closely related to this type of autoimmune diseases. [See information]
This autoimmune protocol reduces the intake of gluten-rich foods, as it is a foretaste of various immune responses in the body.
Many investigations relate the leaky gut with the inflammatory response of people suffering from this type of autoimmune disorders. However, the current little research means that the scientific community does not anticipate in conscientiously believing this statement.
How the AIP diet works
In general, the AIP diet is quite similar to the foods recommended in the paleo diet, where foods from natural origin and some are restricted to those who have been prosecuted, as a general rule.
However, since the AIP diet is linked to the prevention and improvement of disease symptoms, it is much more restrictive than paleo.
In general, there are 2 separate parts of this autoimmune protocol. Let’s try to differentiate them clearly.
Phase 1: Food restriction
In an initial phase, the AIP diet recommends the elimination of foods that are related to the inflammation of the intestine. These products cause variations in the microbiological balance of our gut and encourage our body’s immune response. [See information]
The foods that are “banned” in the initial phase of the autoimmune diet are the following:
- seeds and nuts
In turn, general recommendations are also made where the consumption of oil, alcohol, coffee and, of course, tobacco is avoided. On the other hand, it is recommended to avoid, as far as possible, medicines related to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Among the recommendations of the AIP diet, is to consume fermented foods, meat and vegetable broths and, in general, fish and little processed meat.
In addition, it emphasizes a healthy lifestyle: good sleep, physical activity and limiting stress.
Phase II: Food reintroduction
The AIP diet does not deny food, but eliminates it in a first phase and incorporates them progressively in the next one. Therefore, phase II of the autoimmune protocol replaces the non-recommended foods of the first phase.
Little by little, we are analyzing the tolerance to them by people with autoimmune disorders.
With this, what we achieve is to identify what foods cause us harm, so that we can eliminate ourselves from our diet definitively.
Therefore, in this phase we are introducing foods d 1 in 1, leaving a period of prudence of 1 week.
If within 7 days in which we have introduced the food into the AIP diet does not cause us any problems, we will introduce the following.
Phase II Protocol
To structure the entry of food in this phase II of the AIP diet, we can look at the following scheme.
- Process 1: choose a food from those restricted in phase I. Consume several times a day for 7 days.
- Process 2: if we notice any negative symptoms, we finish the test and restrict that food. If there are no negative symptoms, we increase the dose of the feed.
- Process 3: if we do not experience any problems with the food, we move on to the next food and restart process 1.
Foods allowed in the AIP diet
In general, these are the foods that are allowed to be consumed:
- Fermented foods: among them some such as, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, etc.
- Lightly processed meats: proteins of natural origin and without additives or preservatives, if possible raised outdoors or on grass.
- Non-Solanaceous vegetables and tubers: family of compounds such as beans, sweet potatoes, cucurbits (zucchini, cucumber), lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.
- Fresh fruit: the one with low fructose content is recommended.
- Lightly processed vegetable oils: olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil
- Vinegars: any type of natural origin, such as apple, wine or balsamic.
- Infusions with low theine: white tea or green tea and others with low caffeine content
- Natural sweeteners: maple syrup and honey, but quite in moderation.
Restricted foods in the AIP diet
The recommendations of foods to avoid in the AIP diet are quite restrictive and rigorous. These are the ones that should be avoided in phase 1 of the diet.
- Processed sugars: we talk about corn syrup and others, cane sugar, desserts, soft drinks or sweets.
- Seeds: all seed families and seed derivatives.
- Cereals: rice, wheat, oats, barley, rye, etc., and all derivatives that come from these cerales.
- Dairy products: any animal product, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ghee, etc.
- Processed oils: from cereals (canola, corn, soybeans, sunflower, etc.)
- Vegetables: lentils, beans, peas, peanuts, etc.
- Family vegetables Solanaceae: tomato, pepper, potato and eggplant.
- Eggs: any egg-related foods, from white to yolk.
- Stimulant drinks: any type of tea, coffee or alcohol.
- Artificial sweeteners and additives: saccharin, thickeners, emulsifiers, mannitol, xylitol, etc.
Depending on the severity of the autoimmune disease, some experts also recommend eliminating any fructose-containing foods, especially fruits. Or, at least, reduce the intake to a maximum of 40 grams of fructose daily.
Does the AIP diet really work?
In this part we will analyze if the AIP diet is really effective or can help us reduce the symptoms of autoimmune responses.
The objective, according to those who support it, is to reduce the inflammatory symptoms of the illness.
Reduction of chronic inflammation?
The results analyzed in a small group of people is positive, but there is still research of greater progress.
Studies conducted in small groups of people with inflammatory disorders found significant improvements at the end of the diet. However, there were also people who found positive symptoms. [See study]
Another study conducted on women who suffer Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and who followed the AIP diet for 2 1/2 months found a reduction in inflammation and disease-related symptoms.
The people subjected to the study improved their quality of life, but no evidence of positive changes in torus levels. [See study]
Does it improve gut health?
People who suffer from leaky gut syndrome typically experience greater intestinal permeability than healthy people. There are theories and evidence that certain foods directly influence the body’s immune response and intestinal function.
Therefore, they are also related to the inflammatory processes.
Therefore, it is thought that with the restriction of certain foods, intestinal permeability can be improved and, therefore, reduce general inflammation.
There is not much scientific review, but the one that exists establishes a good relationship with the AIP diet. [See information]
Are there disadvantages to the AIP diet?
In general, this autoimmune protocol is considered to be very restrictive in terms of food choice. Many of them are a source of vitamins and antioxidants, especially those present in fruits, vegetables and seeds.
Therefore, it is very important to progressively recover limited foods in phase I and progressively reintroduce them in phase II.
However, those who experience a reduction in symptoms after this diet may be reluctant to advance to the reintroduction phase, for fear that symptoms will return.
In any case, this type of diet should always be carefully followed by expert nutritionists.