The Autoimmune Paleo Diet
Autoimmune diseases (such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Hashimoto’s, and rheumatoid arthritis) affect millions of Canadians, of all ages.
There are more than one hundred autoimmune diseases, and the root cause of all of them is the same: our immune system mistakenly attacking normal, healthy cells. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the thyroid gland is attacked. In rheumatoid arthritis, the tissues of your joints are attached. In psoriasis, proteins within the layers of cells that make up your skin are attacked.
Experts recognize that certain dietary factors are key contributors to autoimmune disease.
The Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP) is a dietary protocol that aims to reduce inflammation in the body. It is based on the principles of the paleo diet, which emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods and eliminates certain food groups that are thought to contribute to inflammation, such as grains, legumes, and processed foods.
The AIP diet is specifically designed for people with autoimmune disorders, although anyone experiencing inflammation can benefit from it.
By eliminating certain foods and focusing on nutrient-dense options, the diet supports gut health, regulation of hormones, and of course, immune system regulation, all of which reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of autoimmune disorders.
What Foods Are Allowed and Not Allowed on the Autoimmune Paleo Diet?
The autoimmune protocol is an elimination diet at its core (following AIP guidelines 100% is often termed the elimination phase), designed to cut out the most likely food culprits while flooding the body with nutrients.
The best part about an elimination diet is that, eventually, you get to reintroduce foods that you’ve been avoiding. There is a very specific way of re-introducing foods which is why it is important to work with a trained practitioner.
Foods That Are Temporarily Eliminated on the AIP
- Grains (especially wheat, barley, corn, and rye)
- Legumes (beans, lentils, and peanuts)
- Refined and processed sugars and oils
- Seeds (including cocoa, coffee, and seed-based spices)
- Nightshades (potatoes [sweet potatoes are fine], tomatoes, eggplants, sweet and hot peppers, cayenne, red pepper, tomatillos, goji berries etc. and spices derived from peppers, including paprika)
- Artificial sweeteners and other processed additives
- Emulsifiers, thickeners, and other food additives
- Processed foods
Foods That Are Allowed on the AIP
- Meat, fish, and seafood
- Vegetables (leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, root vegetables, onions, and garlic)
- Fruits (especially berries)
- Healthy fats (olives, olive oil, avocado, coconut oil)
- Probiotic/fermented foods (fermented vegetables or fruit, kombucha, water kefir, coconut milk kefir, coconut milk yogurt, supplements
- glycine-rich foods (anything with connective tissue, joints or skin, organ meat, and bone broth)
How Long Does It Typically Take to See Results from Following the Autoimmune Paleo Diet?
The amount of time it takes to see results from following the Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP) can vary depending on the individual and the specific autoimmune condition being treated. Some people may notice improvements within a few days or weeks, while others may not see results for several months.
It’s important to remember that the AIP diet is not a quick fix, but rather a long-term approach to managing autoimmune conditions. The goal of the diet is to reduce inflammation and repair gut health, which can take time.
Are There Any Potential Downsides or Risks to Following the Autoimmune Paleo Diet?
As the Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP) is a restrictive diet that eliminates foods common in the western diet, some people do struggle at the beginning with giving up those foods that they have grown accustomed to eating daily (grains, dairy, sugar).
Some potential downsides of following the AIP diet include:
- 1. Nutrient deficiencies: The AIP diet eliminates several food groups (for a short time), such as grains, legumes, and dairy, which can be sources of important nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is important to work with a practitioner that is trained in the AIP so that a nutrients-first approach can be taken. This will avoid nutrient deficiencies.
- 2. Social isolation: The AIP diet can be difficult to follow when eating out or at social events because of the limited food options. Planning is key.
- 3. Risk of disordered eating: For individuals with a history of disordered eating, the AIP diet may trigger unhealthy eating behaviors.
In closing, the AIP is supported by clinical trial evidence, drawing on insights gleaned from more than 1,200 scientific studies. A growing number of practitioners, especially functional and integrative medicine specialists, are recommending the AIP to their patients, adding to the large body of anecdotal evidence supporting the efficacy of the Autoimmune Protocol.
Are There Any Resources Available to Help Me Plan Meals and Grocery Shop While Following the Autoimmune Paleo Diet?
Absolutely! At the Centre for Advanced Medicine, our Registered Holistic Nutritionist is trained in the AIP and will work closely with you to provide a multitude of resources, including food lists, menu plans, preparation and planning tips, and shopping lists.
If you are suffering from an autoimmune disease, we, at the Centre for Advanced Medicine look forward to working with you on your dietary choices, managing your stress, getting you moving, and helping to promote a restful night’s sleep, all of which all help you manage your autoimmune disease.
Get in touch for a free 15 minutes consultation to solve all your doubts!