In this blog, you will discover:
- What the Autoimmune Protocol is
- Why AIP is different than Whole30 Diet and LEAP
- How Leaky Gut is related to AIP
- What Specific Type of Dietitian You Can Trust
The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is not just another elimination diet. Unlike other plans, AIP was designed to specifically address the chronic symptoms brought on by autoimmune diseases. However, many people without these diseases have chosen to follow the AIP because of other food sensitivities they might have or believe they have. The results, if followed, are impressive with participants finding relief from a host of ailments even beyond those typically associated with autoimmune diseases.
What is the Autoimmune Protocol?
The Autoimmune Protocol is a comprehensive elimination plan aimed at reducing intestinal inflammation. To be clear, there is no cure for autoimmune diseases, but the AIP has been shown to reduce and even reverse the symptoms that come with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, celiac disease, psoriasis, Hashimoto's, Addison's, Graves', and type 1 diabetes. However, following AIP is not limited tho those who actually have an autoimmune disease since many people have food sensitivities and do not know it. I often coached CrossFit athletes who didn't realize a sensitivity was hurting their workout performance. Therefore, many people have found relief from a host of issues by following the protocol. Different professionals have varying takes on AIP, but here is a basic list of foods that are eliminated at the start.
- No grains, sugar, alcohol, dairy, and legumes (basically a Paleo lifestyle)
- No nightshades which include peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes
- No eggs
- No nuts and seeds
- No food additives
- No NSAIDs which stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
As you can see, the AIP is a very restrictive plan to begin with. However, the restrictive nature of the protocol is what gives it a great deal of power.
How is AIP Different than Whole30 Diet and LEAP?
Whole30 is a 30 day elimination plan that has participants eliminate all grains, sugar, alcohol, dairy, and legumes from their diet. After 30 days, there is a slow reintroduction where participants try only one food at a time every 3 days. While many follow Whole30 as a weight loss diet (eating healthy usually results in weight loss), it is not the intended purpose. While similar to AIP, Whole30's purpose is not to specifically look at autoimmune diseases and instead focuses on common food sensitivities that many people have. For that reason it is less strict and often for a short duration than AIP.
Other elimination programs like LEAP are much more personalized and start with a blood test of 150 different foods and food substances. It is not an allergy test though. It is a food sensitivity test and it is considered very accurate. Once you get your results, you work with a LEAP therapist to help with both the elimination phase and the reintroduction phase of the program. Like AIP, the reintroduction phase can last anywhere from 90 days to several months depending on the severity of a person's sensitivities. While LEAP is highly specific to the individual, its focus remains on sensitivities. You can learn more about LEAP and the MRT test here or by contacting me. I am a certified LEAP therapist.
How Is Leaky Gut Related to AIP?
You have probably heard the term "leaky gut." It is a condition where the lining of the intestinal walls breaks down and allows larger food particles and toxins to enter the blood stream instead of being disposed through the bowels. However, you might not know that it isn't a medically recognized condition outside of celiac disease. So why is it important? Well, despite conclusive evidence, many doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians (including me), believe there is enough evidence to support the claim that most Americans have leaky gut to some extent due to the typical American diet. So elimination plans like AIP are a great way to begin healing by systematically removing the foods and toxins that are potentially causing irritation and contribute to leak gut syndrome.
Who Can You Trust for More Information?
The internet has no shortage of sites devoted to AIP or similar diet plans. While there are certainly many you can rely on, I have found two books to be a great starting point for anyone looking to try AIP. The first book is by Amy Myers, MD and titled "The Autoimmune Solution". Dr. Myers is a popular authority on the subject and her book is filled with tons of information about her plan which she calls the Myers Way and begins with a 30 day elimination plan. The other book by Dr. Susan Blum is called "The Immune System Recovery Plan" and it includes 40 recipes to help with her four step plan. You can find both books here.
Of course, if you would like to discuss your particular issues with a dietitian, I always welcome you to reach out to us so I can talk with you personally. You can do that easily by going to our contact page here and requesting to speak with Amanda. She can either discuss options for working with you or point you in the right direction. If you are not sure what to do next, we recommend reading our 3 part blog series called "How to Create and Amazingly Personalized Nutrition Plan." In it we break down the 3 tiers of our program called Focus, Personalization, and Performance Optimization. We discuss why any valuable nutrition plan starts with the proper progressions. You will learn why elimination plans like AIP are important, but not necessarily the first thing you should try. You can read Part 1 here.