Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) in a Nutshell
What is Autoimmune Disease?
It is estimated that over fifty million people in the United States are affected by one of 140 different autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. The common denominator to all autoimmune disease is that a person begins producing autoantibodies, or antibodies against themselves. Antibodies, which normally act as an alarm system against pathogens, begin alerting the immune system to destroy our own tissues causing damage to an organ or body system.
Autoimmune disease occurs when there is the perfect storm of genetic predisposition, environmental triggers like an infection or chemical exposure, and of course, diet and lifestyle. There isn’t much you can do about your genetic influence or being exposed to a virus or bacterial infection, but you do have control over what you eat and lifestyle choices.
Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) Protocol to the Rescue
The Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) Protocol was born out of a vast body of research on the relationship between autoimmune disease and diet, gut health, hormone regulation and lifestyle factors such as sleep, exercise and stress. There are certain compounds in food that can undermine health and act as anti-nutrients, toxins, adjuvants and carcinogens when ingested. In this sense, food can actually work against you and cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies. In fact, many of the nutrients we are commonly deficient in are necessary for immune regulation!
In a nutshell, the AIP Protocol focuses on removing some of the compounds that could potentially deplete the body of nutrients or do damage to our gut health and floods our cells with the most nutrient-dense foods that we need to function optimally. While we eliminate potentially irritating foods for a period of time, we simultaneously increase our intake of healing, nutrient-rich foods such as organ meats, seafood and lots and lots of vegetables! Some examples of foods to include and foods to avoid are below:
You’re probably wondering how some nutrient-dense foods ended up on the “no” list. Don’t fret — many of these foods can be reintroduced back into the diet for a lot of people, but the only way to know for sure is to do an elimination and rechallenge to make sure they are not causing you more harm than good.
After the elimination phase, you reintroduce foods in a methodical manner and test for a reaction. Symptoms might include insomnia, digestive issues, mood swings, fatigue, aches and pains, a rash or even cravings. The idea is that through this process, you will determine which foods are safe for you and what foods you will want to cut out for the long term. This phase is arguably one of the most important parts of the protocol.
The Role of Gut Health
In addition to the diet portion, there is an element of gut healing and rebalancing of the flora found in your large intestine. A hallmark of autoimmune disease is intestinal permeability or “leaky gut syndrome” where the gut lining is compromised and pathogens or food particles that haven’t been fully broken down are entering the body and causing systemic inflammation. There is also the issue of gut dysbiosis, or an imbalance of gut flora. During the AIP Protocol, you will work with your practitioner to bring balance and integrity to the digestive system through the protocol itself along with targeted supplements and lifestyle changes.
The AIP Lifestyle
When it comes to health in general, sleep, stress reduction and exercise are a big deal! Did you know that while you sleep, the glymphatic system, which is part of your nervous system, clears away waste? Or that exercising can reduce levels of pro inflammatory cytokines in fatty tissue? On the AIP Protocol, there are specific guidelines to follow to ensure your lifestyle habits are supporting your health in addition to diet. This is a holistic approach to restoring wellness.
Partnering with an AIP Certified Practitioner
Are you ready to get started on a path to better health? Working with a certified practitioner can benefit you in many ways.
An AIP Certified Coach can:
- Assist you in determining where you stand with your current diet, sleep habits, stress level, and physical activity through assessment tools
- Create a personalized road map taking into account your specific diagnosis or symptoms, current lifestyle, budget, personality type, and support system
- Provide you with tips and recipes to take the guess work out of meal planning, shopping and preparing meals
- Be your cheerleader as you implement these major life changes
- Provide you with questions to ask your primary care doctor and be a member of your healthcare team
- Troubleshoot any challenges that may arise through the elimination and rechallenge phases
Chrissy Hayden is a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Autoimmune Paleo Certified Coach. Schedule a complimentary phone consultation with Chrissy to learn about her approach and how can be of help to you. Specific health questions will be addressed in an Initial Consultation, but she can answer your general questions during this 15-minute phone conversation.