The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is a diet that works to reduce inflammation, pain, and other symptoms caused by autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Individuals who have followed the AIP diet report improvements in the way they feel, as well as reductions in common symptoms of autoimmune disorders, including fatigue and joint pain. Learn more about what the AIP diet involves and some AIP diet recipes and ideas!
What is the AIP diet for?
The AIP diet is an elimination diet designed to repair the immune system and reduce the effects of autoimmune diseases by giving your gut time to heal. It is also called the paleo autoimmune protocol.
Autoimmune diseases are conditions when the body mistakes healthy tissues for toxic or foreign tissues and begins to attack them. Individuals with autoimmune diseases have an overactive immune system which leads to chronic inflammation and destruction of health tissues. Symptoms of autoimmune diseases include inflammation associated with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriasis. Autoimmune diseases can be difficult to diagnose since their symptoms can look like other diseases.
It is recommended that you do the first elimination phase of the AIP diet for at least 30 days, or until your symptoms significantly improve. Once you are feeling better, you can start reintroducing foods and expanding your diet. The speed of the reintroduction process can vary based on your tolerance and your reactions.
What is the goal of the AIP diet?
The goal of the AIP diet is to remove foods that could trigger inflammation or harm gut health and instead eat nutrient-dense foods that promote health, such as:
- Bone broth
- Fermented foods
- High-quality meats
- Leafy and colourful vegetables
- Healthy fats from whole plants and animals
What does the AIP diet consist of?
The AIP diet is an effective tool that can be used in conjunction with lifestyle changes to help bring about relief from symptoms. The autoimmune protocol has two parts – food and lifestyle.
The goal of the AIP is to remove foods that might be problematic for those with autoimmune disease. The AIP diet also aims to add in nutrient-dense foods that will help replenish the body and allow it to heal. This results in the relief of symptoms. These potentially problematic foods are removed for a temporary period of time, usually for 30 to 90 days. After this elimination process, the foods are systematically reintroduced one at a time to help on identify any food intolerances.
The AIP diet aims to give your body a rest from constant immune stimulation and allows it to reduce inflammation. Along with the AIP diet, lifestyle factors are also very important. Lifestyle factors may include getting at least 8-9 hours of sleep, practicing stress relief and engaging in frequent exercise. Chronically poor sleep is not only a source of stress, but also a source of inflammation. Implementing these lifestyle factors can help reduce flare-up of symptoms.
AIP diet meal plan and food ideas
Here are some foods that are included in the AIP diet:
- Meat and fish
- Vegetables, excluding nightshade vegetables
- Sweet potatoes
- Fruit in small quantities
- Coconut milk
- Avocado, olive, and coconut oil
- Dairy-free fermented foods (examples: kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir made with coconut milk, kimchi)
- Honey or maple syrup in small quantities
- Fresh non-seed herbs (examples: basil, mint, oregano)
- Green tea, and nonseed herbal teas
- Bone broth
- Grass-fed gelatin and arrowroot starch
The AIP diet does not allow you to eat:
- All grains (including oats, wheat, and rice)
- All dairy
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes and beans
- Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers)
- All sugars, including alternative sugars, such as stevia and xylitol
- Butter and ghee (clarified butter)
- Oils (other than coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil, which are allowed)
- Herbs derived from seeds
- Food additives or processed foods
Steps for starting an AIP diet meal plan
Step 1 is starting with a 30-day reset. Sticking to the diet for a minimum of 30 days gives your body a chance to begin calming the autoimmune response, healing the gut lining, reducing inflammation, and repairing damaged tissues that were subject to the autoimmune attack. By removing the foods and toxins that contribute to the autoimmune response and providing adequate nutrients to fuel the healing process, you can significantly reduce symptoms and even possibly put the disease into remission.
Step 2 is to optimize your nutrient intake. It is important to be purposeful about adding certain foods into your diet to provide the nutrients and building blocks your body needs to repair damaged organs, modulate the immune system, and heal the gut lining.
In addition to removing common autoimmunity triggers, it is essential to add in nutrient-dense foods like:
- Bone broth
- Colourful vegetables
- High-quality meats and fats
- Fatty fish and shellfish
- Fermented foods
Step 3 is to systematically re-introduce foods into your diet. The best way to construct a reintroduction protocol for an autoimmune diet is to first choose which foods are the most important to you to try reintroducing, and then work systematically to bring them back into your diet.
Step 4 involves getting tested for sensitivities. Sometimes, the reintroduction protocol is not enough to discover which foods are causing you to have immune system flares. If your symptoms are not improving on a strict AIP diet, you may still be eating a food that might be causing an immune response. In this case, getting food sensitivity testing is a good option to determine exactly which foods are causing your symptoms.
AIP diet recipes and AIP diet breakfast ideas
The AIP diet removes the following food groups: dairy, eggs, legumes, and high sugar foods, nuts and nut oils, seeds and seed oils, spices derived from seeds, nightshades, alcohol, coffee, and chocolates.
Here is one of many AIP diet recipes that you might want to try out! The lemon asparagus chicken skillet is a one-pan meal that’s made with chicken breast (or thigh), asparagus, chicken broth, coconut aminos, lemon, garlic, and arrowroot starch to thicken the sauce. Another AIP diet recipe can be found here for breakfast porridge. This pumpkin spice coconut porridge is one of many great and healthy AIP diet breakfast ideas.
The AIP diet is a therapeutic diet used to treat inflammatory conditions in your body. It is recommended that patients practice the AIP diet with the guidance of a registered dietician or other health care professional. The AIP diet is designed to be done short-term in order to promote healing—with a minimum recommendation of 30 days—and after you feel well again, you slowly start to reintroduce foods and gauge your body’s reaction to them. Because your body has healed for at least 30 days, you will have a clean slate to observe food reactions. Then, you will have the necessary information to make decisions about what foods can come back into your diet regularly or occasionally.
Is the AIP diet safe and healthy to follow?
While the AIP diet is rather restrictive because it involves cutting out entire groups of foods, it is a short-term diet. Cutting out whole food groups from one’s diet over the long term can be difficult to damage while still getting balanced nutrition. While some people with extreme autoimmune illnesses feel their best doing the full elimination of foods for the long term, many people who take on the AIP diet prefer to eliminate foods for a shorter period of time.
The main goal of the AIP diet is to identify the foods that cause a reaction in your body. Once you have that information, you can relax your dietary restrictions. Most people who do AIP eventually identify a handful of foods that may exacerbate their inflammatory symptoms. After this, they can then go back to eating a full, rich and diverse diet. Some people who have had success on AIP decide to continue a paleo or paleo-leaning diet after the AIP diet. This involves limiting grains, gluten, sugars, beans, and dairy. After doing the AIP diet, individuals have the knowledge to create a diet that works best for them and their body.
Using CareClinic to track your AIP diet
Everything is even made easier with an app such as CareClinic. The platform serves as an accurate online food diary. You can install the app on your iOS or Android smartphones. This health tracker helps record your daily nutrition, symptoms, moods, levels of stress and medications. You can have an accurate daily food log which can then be analyzed at the end of the week or month to help keep track of your AIP diet recipes and ideas.
The app performs a smart analysis in which it checks the connection between symptoms and triggers in your diet. The app then provides personalized insights are so that you will be able to make lifestyle changes to improve your health. CareClinic is a product of the hard work and research by medical doctors making it a very reliable food diary app for allergies and other health conditions. Data placed into the app is secured and stored in an encrypted format.
A great feature of CareClinic is its simple and discrete design, which makes it easy to use for almost everybody. It is an excellent app that tracks your own diet and symptoms. When you are having an upset tummy or adverse gastrointestinal symptoms, it is easy to trace what you ate using the CareClinic app.
CareClinic can help with transitioning into a low-FODMAP diet
The Low-FODMAP diet is recommended for those who suffer from digestive health issues. These issues include irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. Some foods to avoid include garlic, onion, fruits that contain high quantities of fructose, wheat-based products, and certain dairy types. Recommended foods include vegetables, legumes, bananas, meat, fish, seafood, and wheat-free or gluten-free breads.
Clinicians often recommend a diet low in FODMAP foods to patients with irritable bowel syndrome. If you are experiencing such symptoms, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider in order to identify any necessary dietary changes.
The CareClinic app can help ease the transition into following a low-FODMAP diet. Patients are able to track their daily food consumption. This is essential for ensuring that they are obtaining the necessary nutrients. Caregivers and patients can work together to develop nutrition plans using the app. Patients are then able to access their nutrition plan at any time on their devices. This ensures that they are sticking to their new diet plans.
Track your foods and AIP diet recipes with CareClinic
CareClinic is a free health app that can be downloaded on Android and iOS. It can draw information from other applications such as Apple Health and vice versa. The app serves as an easy-to-use food diary. It provides beneficial information for those experiencing bowel issues and seeking potential treatment routes. The app assists individuals with developing personalized nutrition plans and ensures that users stick to their diet plans.
Keeping a nutrition log
Using the CareClinic health app, you can set meal reminders and make sure that you stay on the right track in terms of your nutrition goals. These alerts are sent through text message, e-mail or as push notifications, allowing you to eat healthily and at the right moment of the day. The app’s reports feature will log everything you ate, and provide you with charts to show your nutritional details. You will then be able to draw connections between the foods you eat and symptoms you log in the app. This can be great in identifying what foods trigger or worsen your symptoms. This way you know to avoid them next time and gradually remove them from your diet.
Creating an AIP diet meal plan
Meal prepping is another benefit that the CareClinic health app brings. You can use the app to plan your meals in advance so that you stick to your AIP diet meal plan despite having a busy schedule. You can take your time and plan your ingredients.
These recordings can be easily made into the built-in journal, which is one of the most beneficial features of the app. It might also help you document meals, in case you have specific dietary demands – for example, if you are lactose intolerant or if you are currently following the AIP diet.
Water intake for adequate hydration
You can use the CareClinic health app to document your daily intake of water, so that you ensure adequate hydration. It is also possible to set up reminders for drinking fluids.
Tracking your carbohydrate and protein intake
You can use the CareClinic health app to track your carbohydrate intake. Also, you can log your meals and break them down into macronutrients, ensuring that you are eating the correct quantity of carbohydrates. You can also record your meals, paying attention to how much protein you are consuming.
CareClinic helps you maintain nutrition logs, which can be especially helpful for those who are following the AIP diet. The app comes with an intuitive interface that makes recording any kind of information quite easy. A team of specialists continuously develops the app, in accordance with the feedback you and other users have provided. You can download the app for iOS or Android or use the web version as needed. All data from mobile is synced to the web and you can print nutrition logs or export them as needed.
Keeping a food symptom diary
This health tracker helps record your daily nutrition, symptoms, moods, levels of stress and medications. You can have an accurate daily food log which can then be analyzed at the end of the week or month. The app performs a smart analysis in which it checks the connection between symptoms and triggers in your diet. Personalized insights are then provided so that you will be able to live a healthy life.
You can print the food and symptom diary from the app if you are scheduled to visit your doctor soon. This document then serves as a basis for any treatment plan the doctor will create. From there, you will know your triggers and avoid such food in the future.
If you are prescribed certain medications, you can log these in the app with the correct dosage and schedule to take each medicine. The app sends medication notifications so that there will be no missed doses. CareClinic is vital in tracking your health.
Using CareClinic to change dietary habits
You can use the CareClinic app’s nutrition feature to log what you eat every day. You can also use the diary and symptom features to make notes of symptoms like headaches, indigestion or fatigue. As you make more and more entries, over time you will begin to see, for example, that eating a particular food leads to increased fatigue.
You can even make diary entries of how a certain meal made you feel during and after. Did you feel energized afterwards? Have an upset stomach? Were you more energized immediately after the meal and then crashed a few hours later? As you make more and more entries, you will begin to see correlations between what you eat and your symptoms.
Changing your dietary habits entirely can be very challenging. It may be better and less disruptive to add or remove foods gradually. As you slowly make changes to improve your diet, you will begin to notice a reduction in your symptoms. This may take several weeks, but over time, this will improve your overall quality of life.