There seems to be a new fad diet hitting the news every day, each promising fast weight loss and better health. The Autoimmune Protocol diet, or AIP, is one of the most recent diets to hit the spotlight, which focuses on eliminating certain food groups and returning to a more primal way of eating.
Many people managed to reverse their autoimmune symptoms and experience better overall wellness with the AIP diet, but where’s the evidence? In this article, we’ll take a look at the science behind the AIP diet.
What is the AIP Diet?
Autoimmune diseases are diseases in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells. Some examples include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, celiac disease and multiple sclerosis. While some of these conditions can be caused by genetics or environmental factors, it is widely believed that the standard American diet causes a widespread, systemic inflammation that causes our immune systems to overreact to the constant threat.
The AIP diet focuses on anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense foods that are less likely to trigger intestinal inflammation and promote unhealthy bacterial growth. Initially, the AIP diet eliminates dairy, eggs, grains, legumes, alcohol, nuts, seeds, nightshades, refined sugar and food additives, instead focusing on the consumption of fresh, nutrient-dense foods that are closer to a natural diet to promote healthy bacteria in the gut and reset the immune system.
Following this initial elimination period, each food group is slowly reintroduced to see which one is causing the immune response. Food additives and refined sugar are always off the menu, however.
Food Sensitivities and Gut Health
Unlike some diets, the AIP protocol doesn’t arbitrarily eliminate foods. There’s evidence behind each eliminated food and its effect on gut health.
Grains and legumes have been proven to cause permeability in intestinal cell lines and have a high concentration of saponins, which trigger immune responses and contribute to leaky gut. Grain-free diets have been shown to reduce inflammatory responses in the body.
Nightshades, such as tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplant, also contain high concentrations of saponins. Chili peppers and similar spices contain capsaicin, which is a compound known to increase intestinal permeability.
Dairy is a common sensitivity for many people. Even in those who aren’t lactose-intolerant, the proteins in dairy can trigger a systemic immune response.
Eggs are another common food allergy, and many of the same proteins that trigger an anaphylactic response can also trigger an immune response.
Alcohol consumption, even in moderation, disrupts the balance of gut bacteria, increases intestinal permeability and puts undue stress on the liver.
Nuts and seeds are another common food allergy that can cause gastrointestinal upset. Fortunately, nuts and seeds are one of the few food groups that can be reintroduced without problems for most people.
Refined sugar and additives feed unhealthy gut bacteria and increase intestinal permeability, not to mention that they can both cause glucose intolerance.
While most of these foods can be reintroduced without issue, they’re all sources of food allergies and sensitivities that warrant their elimination for a certain period of time.
Learn More About the Science Behind the AIP Diet at Paleo Angel
The AIP diet requires a lot of willpower, but for those suffering from inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, the benefits can be dramatic. Fortunately, the AIP diet can be a little easier with the right tools, such as the AIP-friendly Paleo Power Balls. These delicious, on-the-go snacks are gluten, nut, nightshade and egg-free, ensuring you can satisfy any cravings without breaking the protocol. Shop our wide variety of Paleo Power Balls or contact us to learn more about the AIP diet!