What is AIP Diet?

Also known as the autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet, the autoimmune paleo (AIP) diet is designed to help reduce inflammation in the body. This reduction in inflammation, in turn, helps relieve the symptoms of autoimmune diseases [1]

 

An autoimmune disorder is any medical condition where the body's immune system starts attacking and damaging its own tissues. Inflammation is one of the most commonly observed symptoms of any autoimmune disease, for example, in rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and psoriasis. 

The AIP diet plan is a reasonably new food-based technique of eliminating inflammation in the body. The AIP diet plan is believed to help heal the gut and decrease inflammation that is created by autoimmune diseases. 

However, the AIP diet is very restrictive and primarily focuses on vegetables and meats, due to which many people are not able to follow through with it. You are typically expected to follow the AIP diet list for several weeks before you can start adding foods outside of the diet.

AIP Diet plan basics

Basics of the AIP Diet Plan

 

Some of the basic elements of the AIP diet plan includes:

1. The AIP diet focuses on treating the 'leaky gut syndrome': Researchers believe that tiny holes in the intestines may cause certain autoimmune disorders. These small holes end up allowing food to get released into the rest of the body, triggering further immune system reactions. By eating the foods prescribed in the AIP diet list, you can help this leaky gut and, therefore, feel better. 

2.     AIP diet list is an elimination-based diet: The ultimate goal of this diet is to reduce the intake of inflammation-causing foods to help reset the body's immune system. The idea behind the AIP diet is to decrease inflammation in the body and to put the autoimmune disorder into remission based on better and healthier eating habits. 

3. The AIP diet is similar to the original paleo diet, but it is even stricter than the original diet guidelines and restricts even more foods.[2]

4. AIP diet plan promotes the intake of vitamins and other nutrient-rich foods and also stresses the importance of including foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. [3,4]

When on the AIP diet, you will need to follow the strict and restricted eating plan for a couple of weeks before you are allowed to add foods that are not in the AIP diet list. Some people opt for following the AIP diet for a shorter period, while others prefer to adopt the AIP diet as their lifestyle choice and follow it for the longer term. 

Remember to add new foods gradually to the diet. You can choose to add a new food type once every couple of days or once a week, and also closely monitor any adverse effects you may have to the newly-added food. If you notice possible side effects from the food type just added, take it out of your diet plan again.

Foods to include in an AIP Diet

When following the AIP diet plan, certain restrictions need to be strictly followed. Your diet has to be rich in vegetables and meats, except for nightshades, as there is some evidence that nightshade foods cause inflammation.5

Foods you can consume while on the AIP diet include:

● Olive oil

● Coconut products including coconut oil and coconut milk

● Meat and fish, preferably those that are not factory raised

● Vegetables (but not nightshades like eggplants, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes)

● Sweet potatoes

● Avocado oil

● Fruits (in small quantities)

● Green tea and other non-seed herbal teas

● Bone broth

● Vinegar including balsamic, apple cider, and red wine (as long as they don't have any added sugar)

● Dairy-free fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir made with coconut milk, and kimchi

● Maple syrup and honey (in small quantities and to be had occasionally)

● Fresh non-seed herbs such as mint, oregano, and basil

● Arrowroot starch

● Gelatin from grass-fed beef

You can also incorporate some other foods on a limited basis. Fruits remain a controversial food in both the paleo and AIP diets. 

Some proponents of the AIP diet recommend that you eliminate fruit altogether, while others recommend having just 10 to 25 grams of fructose every day (about two pieces of fruit a day). 

Foods to Avoid in an AIP Diet

Since the AIP diet is highly restrictive, there is a long list of foods you need to avoid while on the AIP diet plan. These include:

● Grains

● Legumes such as peanuts, beans, soy, hummus, etc.

● Processed foods

● Dairy products and even raw dairy products

● Refined sugars

● Industrial seed oils eg canola or vegetable oils

● Eggs

● Nuts and seeds such as coffee, chocolate, and even certain spices such as cumin and coriander

● Gum

● Nightshade vegetables such as peppers, eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes, and more

● Alternative sweeteners

● Food thickeners and emulsifiers

AIP Diet Recipes

Here are some easy to follow AIP diet recipes to make your life easier while following the AIP diet.


1. AIP Flatbread

Ingredients: Cassava flour, coconut flour, baking powder, mixed dried herbs, garlic powder, water, gelatin powder, olive oil, nutritional yeast flakes

Instructions: Combine both the flours, baking powder, garlic powder, dried herbs, and salt and set aside. Dissolve the nutritional yeast flakes in boiling water and keep aside. Mix the gelatin into the flour mixture and combine everything to make a dough. Then proceed to roll out the dough into a flat ball and roll them out into whatever size suits you. They will be ready for breakfast after an oven time of15 minutes.

 

2. AIP Coconut, Shrimp and Grits

Ingredients: olive oil, garlic, button mushrooms, shrimp, coconut cream, lemon juice, coconut, salt

Instructions: Use olive oil to fry and sauté the mushrooms and garlic for 5 minutes. Then, add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp becomes pink. Squeeze the lemon juice and season with salt. Keep aside. Heat a desiccated coconut in the coconut cream to make coconut grits. Put the dish together by putting the shrimp and mushroom mixture on top of the grits. Garnish with bacon bits and parsley if you like. 

 

3. Lemon Fried Avocado

Ingredients: Coconut oil, avocado, lemon juice, salt to taste

Instructions: Halve the avocado, remove the seed, and cut the avocado into slices. Put the avocado slices in the frying pan with coconut oil. Fry the avocado slices until they are slightly brown on all sides. Add a dash of lemon juice and sprinkle some salt to taste on top.

Summary

Following the highly restrictive AIP diet may help your autoimmune disorder as the diet eliminates foods that cause inflammation in the body. However, remember that no solution works for everybody when it comes to managing autoimmune diseases. It is always best to consult your doctor or a dietitian to understand whether the diet will be beneficial for you or not. Following a healthy lifestyle, along with a healthy diet, can also help relieve some of the symptoms of your autoimmune disorder.

References

1. Rose, N.R. and Mackay, I.R. eds., 2019. The autoimmune diseases. Academic Press.

2. Eaton, S.B., Shostak, M. and Konner, M., 1988. The paleolithic prescription: a program of diet & exercise and a design for living. New York: Harper & Row.

3. Simopoulos, A.P., 2002. Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 21(6), pp.495-505.

4. Mori, T.A. and Beilin, L.J., 2004. Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammation. Current atherosclerosis reports, 6(6), pp.461-467.

5. Childers, N.F. and Margoles, M.S., 1993. An apparent relation of nightshades (Solanaceae) to arthritis. Journal of Neurological and Orthopaedic Medicine and Surgery, 14, pp.227-227.

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