Inflammation is often a side effect of autoimmune-related diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc., more than 50 million American suffer from auto-immune related diseases. That's about 1 in 5 Americans, making it both a very common but misunderstood issue. We often associate inflammation with soreness, and while that can often be the case, the problem of inflammation doesn't stop there. Inflammation can also create issues with bloating, constipation, GI tract issues, and more. The effects on your digestive health can be devastating.
So can we find the answer to these issues on a dinner plate? Yes, and it starts with understanding what may be causing your inflammation response and how the right food could help you start to heal.
How Your Diet Could be Making Chronic Inflammation Worse
The theory behind why digestive inflammation and autoimmune diseases go together has to do with what's nicknamed a "leaky gut." Sufferers of the leaky guy issue have damage to their digestive tracts, possibly caused by inflammatory foods over time. This damage then leaks undigested food particles and bacteria into the body and the blood stream. The immune system attacks those substances, effectively attacking your own body in the process. It also slows down the efficiency of the digestive system. The leaky gut phenomenon can send your immune system into overdrive. That causes it to attack your internal systems, causing the inflammation and other painful symptoms.
Some foods cause more inflammation than others. These foods can trigger the immune response and cause your body to send out chemicals and hormones that cause the inflammation. Saturated fats and sugars are especially prone to create an inflammatory response in the body.
Foods That Cause Inflammation
- Processed sugars
- Legumes and grains
- Dairy products
- Vegetable oils
- Processed foods
This list of foods reveals why the paleo diet could help. These foods aren't a part of the paleo diet plan. Instead, you'll eat lots of nutrient-rich foods. This includes lean meat and fish as well as plant-based foods such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, and a small amount of fruit. These foods are nutrient-rich and offer healing, anti-inflammatory effects to your system.
But to get the most benefit from an anti-inflammation diet, you need to take the paleo diet one step further. That means following the Auto-Immune Protocol, or AIP, diet.
How an AIP Diet Can Help You Stop Inflammation
The AIP diet is a lot like the paleo diet but starts out with a stricter list of foods to avoid. The goal is to increase the nutrient-rich foods you consume while completely eliminating any foods known to cause inflammation in the body. You'll need to follow this stricter regimen for about a month. This allows your body's immune system to reset and the damage done to your digestive tract to start to heal.
After a few weeks, you can start reintroducing certain categories of foods one at a time and monitor how your body reacts to them. For instance, you might reintroduce dairy products and feel fine. But you might reintroduce gluten products and experience the same painful symptoms that you had before. This will help clue you into the food triggers that cause your symptoms, then take steps to remove them from your diet permanently.
Some of the Foods You Can Enjoy on the AIP Diet
- Vegetables. This should be the bulk of your diet. Make sure you avoid tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants. These are members of the nightshade family and identified as possible inflammatory foods.
- Honey or maple syrup. Keep these to a minimum but use them sparingly as sweeteners in your food. Check out other paleo-friendly sweeteners here.
- Lean meats and fish. Stay away from factory raised products if you can. Look for local suppliers in your area if possible who use organic methods and follow free-range philosophies.
- Coconut milk. You'll want to cut out dairy, but coconut milk is a great alternative.
When you start to research the AIP diet, you won't feel restricted at all! There are so many great recipes and vibrant communities that can help you create meal plans that are satisfying and delicious.
Tips for Starting the AIP Diet
- Get support. Whether it's in person or online, seek out a community of people who understand what you are going through and can help support you on your paleo journey. Plus, it's a great way to share and discover delicious paleo-friendly recipes!
- Clear out your cupboards. Don't tempt yourself with non-AIP foods by keeping them in the house. Gather up everything that's not on the approved list of foods and donate it to your friends, family, or local food bank.
- Get strict about it. It may be tough at first, but you'll want to stick to the AIP diet as closely as possible. After all, it's only for a few weeks and it could provide you with a lifetime of pain relief. Be sure you read labels and make friends and family aware of your dietary restrictions so they can help you check.
- Be patient with your body. You probably won't feel a change overnight (although some people do!). You'll need to give your body a chance to rest and heal from the damage its suffered from inflammatory foods. Practice good self-care in the meantime and try to reduce your stress, get plenty of sleep, and get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.
Need More Help with Your AIP Diet?
Think you could benefit from an AIP diet? Visit our blog archives for information about going paleo and maximizing the benefits for your health and well-being. Then visit the PaleoAngel store for AIP-friendly snacks that fuel your body and make following your paleo diet a lot more delicious. This could be the solution you need for food sensitivity and inflammation issues!