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No, it doesn’t have to be scary

It is never easy to start a new diet. You want to make a change in your health, but it’s a challenge to stay committed to your diet. Your body gradually grows accustomed to the diet, but it can still be frustrating.

Medical professionals are currently recommending the Autoimmune Protocol diet (AIP). This is a relatively new, food-based diet that works as a 30-day reset to remove the foods that affect your autoimmune illnesses.

The diet heals your gut and eliminates any inflammation in your body.

So, what does the anti-autoimmune diet look like? Which foods should you avoid? Which foods are you encouraged to eat? If you suffer from an autoimmune disease or wish to develop a healthier lifestyle, it’s vital to consider ditching your current meal plan and try something new.

But first, what are autoimmune diseases?

The term “autoimmune disease” might be confusing. An autoimmune disease is any condition in which your immune system attacks your body. As we know, your immune system protects your health against germs, like bacteria and viruses.

When it’s working correctly, the immune system identifies the difference between germs and your cells. It sends fighter cells to attack the germs.

The most common autoimmune diseases include Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, psoriasis, and Addison’s disease.

With an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes a part of your body as a foreign enemy. It releases proteins, known as autoantibodies, that attack these healthy cells, thus making you susceptible to developing these diseases.

A diet that helps

For years, patients who have autoimmune diseases had to suffer from the painful symptoms associated with their illnesses. But now, there’s a solution. The AIP diet is a food-based approach to reducing the inflammation in someone’s body caused by the autoimmune disease.

“The diet is strict and acts as an elimination-focused diet. The goal is to cut inflammation-causing foods in order to hopefully reset your body’s immune system. Some of these foods might be your favorite, but it’s worth it to heal your ‘leaky gut.'”

“It’s important to note that you’re changing your diet without leaving out any nutrients,” said Dr. Amy Myers, author of “The Autoimmune Solution and The Autoimmune Solution Cookbook.”

“You’ll be getting plenty of amino acids and proteins, lots of good healthy fats, and plenty of macro- and micronutrients and vitamins and minerals through all the vegetables and fruits.”

To start the diet, it’s recommended to follow the nutrition plan for at least 30 days (roughly a month) before adding foods not included in the diet.

Foods to avoid

There are several foods you are recommended to avoid while on the AIP diet. This includes:

  • Grains
  • Legumes (beans, soy, peanuts, etc.)
  • Dairy products
  • Processed foods
  • Refined sugars (granulated sugar, white sugar, etc.)
  • Vegetable and canola oils
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplants
  • Potatoes
  • Alternative sweeteners
  • Chewing gum
  • Emulsifiers and food thickeners

It is only recommended to eliminate these foods from your diet for a brief period of time.

“The AIP diet doesn’t mean you can never drink coffee or eat a slice of chocolate cake again. All you have to do is eliminate these foods from your diet and then gradually add them back once your symptoms have subsided.”

Foods to eat

Now that you know the foods to avoid while on the AIP diet, there are several foods you are happily encouraged to eat. With an autoimmune disease, your diet should be rich in meats and vegetables, with the exception of the vegetables listed above. You can safely consume:

  • Coconut products, including coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Fermented foods, as long as they don’t contain dairy
  • Vinegar (balsamic, red wine, apple cider, etc.)
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Herbs
  • Arrowroot starch
  • Gelatin from grass-fed beef

Give the diet a chance, especially if you’re tired of suffering from the symptoms associated with your autoimmune disease. However, before starting, speak to your doctor or a dietitian to discuss if the AIP diet is best for your personal health needs.

A deeper dive – Related reading from the 101:

Learn about the risk of cancer in psoriasis, a common autoimmune disease.

The AIP diet helps eliminate any inflammation in your body. Learn which foods will work the best.