Could You Benefit from an AIP Diet?
Dealing with an autoimmune disease, gut infections like SIBO, or chronic inflammation can make finding foods that help you feel good a difficult task.
There are so many healing diets out there that finding one that works for you can be frustrating.
I’ve tried my fair share of gut healing diets throughout the years. And I completely understand how difficult finding the “best” one for your symptoms can be.
One of the most beneficial diets I used to heal my gut, and to be honest, my lifestyle too, is one you may not have considered if you don’t have an autoimmune disease.
The Autoimmune Protocol (or AIP for short) is a dietary and lifestyle approach to combating chronic illness and the inflammatory processes that often accompany it.
And while, yes, the AIP diet does involve restricting certain foods, there is a heavy focus on consuming nutrient dense foods and nourishing your body, mind, and spirit.
With most other healing diets focusing on what you’re no longer allowed to eat or do, the AIP diet is a breath of fresh air that also has the power to heal your body from the inside out.
In this blog post I’m going to outline a few of the conditions that could greatly benefit from an AIP diet.
If you never thought about try AIP because you don’t have an autoimmune disease, this one’s for you! You could be missing out on the physical and mental healing power the AIP diet could offer you.
A Quick Overview of the AIP Diet
What’s great about the AIP Diet is that the foods you’re supposed to focus on, and the ones you should eliminate, don’t just benefit one area of your health.
This diet focuses on consuming nutrient dense foods.
Foods that provide your body with the resources required for immune regulation, gut health, healthy hormones, and tissue regeneration. All while removing the most inflammatory stimuli from both your diet and your lifestyle.
On the AIP Diet you remove inflammatory foods like sugars, trans fats, grains, and processed foods to allow your body time to heal, lower inflammation, and recover. But it doesn’t stop there!
While you’re eliminating these inflammatory foods, you also focus on eating plenty of vegetables, high-quality meats, healthy fats, fruits, and superfoods (like liver!).
These foods provide your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs to function at its best.
And the combination of removing health-inhibiting foods, while increasing your intake of health-promoting foods can sometimes be just what your body needs to overcome whatever it’s been struggling with.
AIP is also far more than just a dietary plan for healing. The AIP lifestyle encourages you to get sufficient sleep, to develop stress management practices, and include appropriate intensity activity to support your overall wellbeing.
While the AIP diet and lifestyle were created for people suffering from autoimmune diseases, there are far more health conditions that can benefit from these nutrition and lifestyle changes.
Keep reading to learn if you could benefit from trying AIP as well!
Who Could Benefit from an AIP Diet
AIP is just one of many healing diets. The name suggests that the dietary changes prescribed on this eating plan are intended for those suffering from autoimmune conditions.
But truthfully, many chronic conditions and health concerns can be alleviated by using the Autoimmune Protocol.
By focusing on four key pillars of health - nutrient density, gut function, hormone regulation, and the immune system - AIP addresses the main components that can help us recover from chronic illness.
Here are just a few of the conditions and health concerns that could benefit from an AIP approach.
If You Have an Autoimmune Disease
Over 70% of our body’s immune system is actually in our gut.
This means that even if you don’t have a gut mediated autoimmune disease (like Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, or Celiac Disease) your gut has a lot to do with the development and progression of your autoimmune condition.
The AIP diet focuses on eliminating gut-irritating foods that can contribute to gut dysbiosis and leaky gut - two key facilitators in the development of autoimmune disease.
Improvements in gut health that often accompany starting the AIP diet therefore bring about improvements in immune system regulation.
With an autoimmune disease, the immune system is overactive - attacking our own body tissue in response to certain stimuli. So, regaining a normally functioning immune system is often the first step when attempting to heal from autoimmune disease.
The AIP diet focuses on the consumption of nutrient-dense foods to improve vitamin and mineral levels that enable the immune system to function normally.
And with a heavy focus on plant-based foods, improvements in beneficial gut bacteria also help to regulate our intestinal immune system. This gives our bodies the ability to calm the immune system storm that often accompanies autoimmune disease.
The Autoimmune Protocol is a well-rounded approach that has provided scientifically-proven relief to certain autoimmune conditions - with more research studies in the works!
And while we don’t need a research paper to tell us that this diet works for improving autoimmune symptoms, these studies can only help to spread the word about this amazing, healing diet!
If You’re Dealing with Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation can be the culprit behind many of our chronic illnesses and mysterious symptoms.
And diet and lifestyle interventions that give us tools to decrease this systemic inflammation is often going to improve our quality of life and help reduce our symptoms.
Today, many foods we eat can be sources of inflammation. Processed foods that use canola or vegetable oils, wheat, sugar, and even the pesticides on our food are all contributors to our body’s inflammatory burden.
On the elimination phase of the Autoimmune Protocol, you will eliminate all these major food sources of inflammation.
And once your chronic inflammation has decreased and your symptoms have subsided, you can begin adding foods back in to your diet, one by one, to determine which foods you react to.
Stress and other lifestyle factors are also huge contributors to chronic inflammation.
The Autoimmune Protocol teaches you stress management techniques and how to shift your lifestyle from one of high stress, to one that supports healing and inflammation reduction.
Inflammation is so strongly influenced by what we eat, how stressed we are, how well we sleep, and our activity levels.
Taking an AIP approach to healing from chronic inflammation addresses all of these factors and gives you the best chance of healing and seeing improvements in your symptoms.
If You Have a Gut Infection
Gut infections can be a main contributor of gut inflammation, as well as systemic inflammation. And, you guessed it, this is why the AIP diet is so successful at helping our bodies heal from these nasty gut infections.
If your gut is inflamed, which can be evident by elevated levels of markers like calprotectin and lactoferrin on a functional stool analysis, healing cannot occur.
So, one reason why you might not be able to completely get rid of that gut infection you’ve been treating for so long is because your gut is too inflamed to facilitate healing.
With gut infections, inflammation is a two way street. The gut infection is causing the inflammation, and inflammation is making it difficult to get rid of the gut infection.
This is why inflammation-reducing diets like AIP are so effective as a tool to help treat stubborn gut infections.
Gut infections, or any imbalance in our delicate gut microbiome, can also contribute to leaky gut - or intestinal permeability.
If you have leaky gut, it means that the contents of your gut are more susceptible to sneak through your gut lining and enter your bloodstream.
And when there are foreign particles, like undigested food or even pathogens, in your bloodstream you can develop inflammation and food sensitivities.
Eliminating foods that are known to irritating to the gut, can contribute to intestinal permeability, and feed pathogenic bacteria are keys to providing a space for gut infections to clear.
Following an AIP diet will allow you to choose foods that are nourishing to your gut, while helping you steer clear of ones that can contribute to your gut symptoms and keep you from eliminating your infections.
If You’re Feeling Overburdened and Stressed
You might not think of starting a new diet plan if you notice you’re feeling stressed or overburdened.
However, the food we put into our mouth has a lot more influence over our emotional state and ability to handle stress than we may think.
Our gut and our brain are actually intimately connected. 90% of our body’s serotonin receptors (our feel good hormone) are located in our gut.
This means that what we eat, and how our gut reacts to it can in turn affect how we feel.
When we eat ultra-processed foods, tons of added sugars, or foods we’re sensitive to, it’s not just our gut that is affected, but our brain as well.
The AIP diet removes these foods that have the potential to affect both our gut and our brain. Making it an effective strategy for dealing with emotional stressors.
Also, the Autoimmune Protocol is so much more than a diet. When you take this approach to healing, you’re also going to learn how to better handle the day-to-day stressors and burdens in your life than can affect both your mental and physical health.
By combining both diet and lifestyle interventions, the AIP approach is an effective method to start healing your mind and your body from the stressors of life.
The Bottom Line
While the Autoimmune Protocol is one of many diets that can help you recover from chronic illness, it is also so much more.
Eating AIP is going to not only remove all of the potentially inflammatory and health-degrading foods, but it focuses on boosting your intake of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat.
And when it comes to finding true healing and recovery from a variety of conditions, the nutrient density of your food is an extremely important factor.
Beyond food, the AIP approach offers you the chance to overhaul your lifestyle - shifting it to one that is conducive to healing.
Oftentimes, when it seems like you’re doing everything right with your diet and supplement routine, but still can’t fully heal, adjusting your lifestyle is the one thing that can allow your body the room to fully recover.
And you don’t need to have an autoimmune disease in order to find benefit from starting an AIP diet. AIP can be a great tool that provides symptom relief and recovery from many chronic illnesses and conditions.
If it seems like you’ve tried just about everything on your healing journey, and still aren’t seeing the progress you know you can make, trying the AIP recommended diet and lifestyle changes could be a great next step!