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AIP Diet Plan 101
If you have an autoimmune disease your healthcare practitioner, more likely, have recommended you to make some diet changes. Some would even recommend following the Paleo diet. However, even within the Paleo diet, there are some modifications that could make you wonder, which one you actually need.
Autoimmune Protocol, or AIP Diet Plan, is a special type of the Paleo diet that targets specifically autoimmune diseases. Even though the Paleo diet is already quite a restrictive diet, it has been determined that certain paleo foods still may trigger inflammation in our bodies and be a cause of some autoimmune diseases. A complete elimination of these foods will allow our body to recover and feel better and healthier.
The purpose of this post is to familiarize you with the AIP basics, including some benefits, that the AIP diet plan may offer and foods that are excluded and, vice versa, encouraged to eat on the AIP.
What Is AIP?
The AIP is an abbreviation for the Autoimmune Protocol. The term itself belongs to the originator of the Paleo Diet Dr. Loren Cordain, who found out that certain Paleo foods may still trigger inflammation and be a cause of certain autoimmune diseases.
A lot of Paleo diet followers picked up the idea and further investigated this approach. For example, Robb Wolf in his “The Paleo Solution” also outlined this wave of the Paleo diet and named it ‘the elimination diet”. His idea is to eliminate certain foods for at least 30 days with re-introducing each one after and monitoring how your body will react.
The AIP is definitely the strictest version of the Paleo diet. However, it was proven to be the most effective for people with certain autoimmune conditions.
What Are The Benefits Of The AIP Diet Plan?
The benefits of the AIP diet plan are endless, especially for people suffering from autoimmune conditions. Even though the diet plan is quite restrictive for certain foods, it will allow your body to heal, will nourish your body with proper nutrients and at the same time will offer you plenty of energy.
A lot of people would notice that their energy level increased while following the AIP diet plan. One of the reasons for that is that the diet helps with decreasing inflammation happening in your body, that could also be a cause of an autoimmune condition. And if your body has fewer factors to fight with, it offers you more energy to spend.
AIP will suit perfectly to people who are looking to get some relief from the following autoimmune diseases (not limited):
- Alzheimer’s disease;
- Celiac disease;
- Chronic fatigue syndrome;
- Crohn’s disease;
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis;
- Parkinson’s disease;
- Rheumatoid arthritis;
- Type 1 diabetes;
- Vitiligo etc.
Is not it interesting, that some autoimmune diseases (sometimes called ‘diseases of the 21st century’) could be treated with just the diet change?
However, as simple as it might sound, the diet change is one of the hardest decisions to make for some people. And one of the reasons for that is that a lot of us are emotional eaters. Though, understanding that some foods could actually be harmful to our bodies and, instead, teach ourselves to make better food choices could be a great way to cooperate with the emotional eating.
So What Are The Rules?
Being a part of the Paleo diet, the AIP diet plan shares similar principles and foods. However, as it has been mentioned before, the AIP diet plan is a more restrictive diet, because it completely eliminates all foods that could potentially cause inflammation and trigger autoimmune disease. Here is the avoid food list for both diets.
Paleo Diet Avoid List
- Sugar and all artificial sweeteners
- Grains (including corn, wheat, millet, buckwheat, rice, sorghum, amaranth, rye, spelt, teff, kamut, oats etc)
- Beans/Legumes (including all beans like kidney, pinto, black, soy in all its forms)
- Dairy Products
- Vegetable oils (NOTE: olive oil, lard, palm oil, cultured grass-fed ghee and coconut oils are allowed)
- All Processed Foods
AIP Avoid List
- All foods from the Paleo Diet Avoid List
- Nightshade vegetables (including tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, paprika, mustard seeds, all chili’s including spices)
- Nuts (including as nut oils, like walnut and sesame seed oils)
- Seeds (such as flax, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and culinary herb seeds like cumin and coriander)
- Alternative sweeteners like xylitol, stevia, mannitol
- Dried fruits and/or over-consumption of fructose (it is recommended up to 2 pieces of fruit a day)
- Gums(such as guar gum, tara gum, gellan gum, gum arabic)
- Culinary herbs from seeds (such as mustard, cumin, coriander, fennel, cardamom, fenugreek, caraway, nutmeg, dill seed)
- Tapioca (it is recommended to eliminate it for the first 6-8 weeks because it is a known gluten cross reactor according to Cyrex Labs Gluten Cross-Reactivity Test)
Another purpose of the food elimination process is to understand what foods you are truly intolerant to. If you already have an autoimmune disease, that means that your body fights constant inflammation. So it is really hard for you to understand what foods could cause this state. Elimination of all potential inflammatory foods from the diet with further re-introduction (typically one food every five days) will help you listen to your body and at the end exclude the foods that are not meant for your body.Even though the AIP avoid food list might look quite big, the AIP diet plan is, first of all, an elimination diet. In order for it to work, certain pro-inflammatory foods need to be eliminated for at least 30 days to allow your body to heal.
What Foods Are Allowed On The AIP?
You will be surprised, but even with such an extensive avoid list, there is still plenty of healthy food options. Here is the AIP allowed food list included but not limited:
- Vegetables (except for nightshades)
- Fruits (limit to 15-20 grams of fructose/day)
- Coconut products including coconut oil, manna, creamed coconut, coconut aminos, canned coconut milk (with no additives like guar gum and carrageenan or BPA lined cans), shredded coconut (this list does not include coconut sugar and nectar)
- Fats: olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, lard, bacon fat, cultured ghee (certified to be free of casein and lactose)
- Fermented Foods (coconut yogurt, BPA, water and coconut kefir, fermented vegetables)
- Bone Broth
- Grass-fed meats, poultry, and seafood
- Non-seed herbal teas
- Green Tea
- Vinegar: apple cider vinegar, coconut vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic (with no added sugar added)
- Sweeteners: occasional use of honey and maple syrup (1 tsp/day)
- Herbs: all fresh and non-seed herbs are allowed (basil, tarragon, thyme, mint, oregano, rosemary, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, savory, edible flowers)
- Binders: grass-fed gelatin and arrowroot starch (watch the starch, however, if you have adrenal issues).
As you can see there is plenty of food choices. And remember, that the elimination diet has a time frame, which means that once it is passed, you will be able to reintroduce AIP eliminated foods and basically follow the general Paleo diet.
How Is The AIP Different From The Paleo Diet?
The AIP diet plan has a lot in common with the Paleo diet. However, it also has some differences that allow distinguishing this diet from the Paleo diet.
1. How is the AIP similar to the Paleo diet?
Being a part of the Paleo diet, both diets have a lot in common, such as:
a. Similar diet principles
The AIP and the Paleo diet follows the same principles such as:
- eat whole foods and;
- avoid processed and refined foods.
b. Common avoid food List
Both diets exclude similar foods such as:
- sugar and artificial sweeteners,
- refined vegetable oil,
- alcohol and
c. Similar health goals
At the same time the Paleo Diet and the AIP target overall health increase by eliminating foods that cause inflammation in our bodies. By doing so, it allows our gut and whole body to heal, increase our overall health and well-being.
2. What are the main differences between the diets?
Being a separate diet plan, the AIP has some major differences with the Paleo diet such as:
a. Extensive avoid food list for the AIP
Nevertheless, the AIP goes further and eliminates more food groups that people with autoimmune diseases might be sensitive to, such as:
- nightshade vegetables,
- nuts and seeds,
- alternative sweeteners including Stevie and xylitol,
- dried fruits,
- seed spices,
b. Different duration of the diets
Another difference is that the AIP is a short-term diet and should be followed for at least 30 days. The Paleo diet, on the other hand, is more of a lifestyle diet, which works perfectly as a maintenance program following after AIP.
c. The AIP offers a more targeted solution
Also, the AIP has a very targeted approach. as it helps to eliminate foods that could potentially cause an autoimmune response. The Paleo diet does not target specific diseases but promotes overall health by eliminating foods that our bodies may respond negatively and cause inflammation.
The Autoimmune Protocol, or the AIP, is a wave in the Paleo diet stream, that helps to control autoimmune diseases and allow your body to heal and recover without expensive medicine.
It might look like a very restrictive diet for a lot of people and the transition might not be an easy one. However, thinking of what benefits the diet may offer especially for those who suffer from autoimmune conditions, may make this transition easier.
Overall, both diet plans share similar health goals, such as decreasing inflammation happening in your body. But the AIP diet plan goes further and eliminates more food groups that could potentially cause an autoimmune response.
The AIP diet plan is not a long-term solution. Give it a try for at least 30 days and you will feel the full benefits that the diet may offer. Once the AIP is finalized the Paleo diet could be a great continuation and a lifestyle to follow to feel great and be healthy.