What is the AIP Diet?
AIP means autoimmune protocol and is a diet that aims to decrease inflammation and lessen autoimmune disorder symptoms.
Autoimmune disorders cause the immune system to harm healthy organs and tissue mistakenly. Typical instances include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis.
An autoimmune disorder can frequently cause inflammation as well as fatigue. Depending on the particular disease, other symptoms can include pain, swelling, changes to the skin, and fever.
Adopting the AIP diet can reduce inflammation and other autoimmune symptoms.
Following the AIP diet
When on the AIP diet, you can eat almost all vegetables. However, the AIP diet involves eliminating certain types of food for weeks at a time and then carefully recording any health effects.
Medical research views the AIP diet as an extension of the paleo diet, which involves eating lean protein, veggies, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Similarly, the AIP diet emphasizes food loaded in vitamins and nutrients and avoids added sugar or additives that may trigger autoimmune responses.
The AIP diet must be strictly adhered to for several weeks. Food that’s been avoided can then be slowly reintroduced, and any reactions noted. Any flare-up of symptoms is indicative that the food should be cut out in the long-term.
Foods eligible under the AIP diet include:
- all vegetables apart from those of the nightshade variety
- omega 3-rich seafood
- fermented edibles
- lean meat and liver
- modest amounts of fruit
- oils such as coconut, olive, and avocado
Generally, AIP concentrates on whole foods and those that contain no additives.
Foodstuffs you should avoid
There are several foodstuffs to forgo on the AIP diet. Although there is little guidance for specific autoimmune conditions, a study of IBS patients suggests avoiding the following:
- tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other nightshades
- dairy products
- certain vegetable oils
- nuts and seeds
- food additives
How does the AIP diet work?
The AIP diet rationale is to eliminate foods that irritate the gut and consume nutrient-rich food that help reduce inflammation.
One popular hypothesis is the leaky gut theory, which holds that toxins and bacteria can breach the intestines and affect other body parts. This is believed to happen if the gut’s bacterial composition is imbalanced.
Backers of the theory insist that eating the right food types can prevent inflammation, but experts remain skeptical. It is thought that the AIP diet can deter the immune system from damaging healthy tissue and reduces autoimmune symptoms.
Does AIP work?
There is currently a dearth of clinical studies on the AIP diet. However, researchers in 2017 concluded that eliminating specific foodstuffs alleviated inflammatory symptoms.
In 2019, a study of women aged 20 to 45 with the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, participated in a 10-week AIP diet trial.
They reported fewer symptoms and a better quality of life. While there were no direct disease changes, the researchers suggested that the AIP diet could help people with that condition.
Other scientific research is indicative of a link to gut health and inflammation. Yet more studies suggest a definite relationship between gut bacteria, inflammation, and autoimmune disorder, Crohn’s disease.
Other studies hint that gut bacteria composition is responsible for triggering immune and inflammation reactions outside the gut.
Other researchers have recorded that inflammation impacts gut wall function and that food allergies can make the gut porous. Further study will be required to confirm a link between the gut wall and autoimmune disorders. Likewise, new research is needed to conclusively prove that the AIP diet reduces other autoimmune symptoms and inflammation.
Conversely, there is research demonstrating that specific foods can aggravate symptoms.
Before starting any diet – particularly an elimination diet like the AIP – discuss the matter with your doctor.