What is the autoimmune protocol AIP?
The autoimmune protocol (AIP) is a nutrition and lifestyle protocol specifically designed to minimize autoimmune symptoms and maximize immune health.
The nutrition side of the AIP is comprised of three phases: the elimination phase, the reintroduction phase, and the maintenance phase.
AIP Diet Step #1: The Elimination Phase
In the elimination phase of the autoimmune protocol, foods that trigger an immune response are temporarily eliminated to give the immune system a chance to rest.
Many autoimmune disease sufferers find relief from their autoimmune symptoms during the elimination phase. While many people experience a gradual improvement in their symptoms over time, others find quicker relief.
The autoimmune protocol is not a one size fits all protocol and will look a bit different from person to person. Just as every autoimmune disease is different, and even the same autoimmune disease can look differently in different people, the AIP will look a bit different from person to person.
The amount of time spent in the elimination phase varies, and depends on the individual.
Typically, the elimination phase lasts a minimum of 30-90 days. Although some stay on the elimination phase much longer, it is not designed to be lifelong.
A general list of foods excluded during elimination phase includes grains (including gluten), dairy, soy, eggs, nightshades, nuts, seeds, legumes, alcohol, processed vegetable oils, processed food ingredients and chemicals, refined sugar, and sugar substitutes. You can find a complete list of foods in exclude and include on the AIP here.
While many foods enjoyed on the standard American diet are excluded temporarily during the AIP elimination phase, there are many, many nutrient dense whole foods that are included.
Foods to include while on the autoimmune protocol include: quality meats, fish, shellfish, organ meat, vegetables except nightshades, fruit, healthy fats, fermented foods, herbs, and gut microbiome superfoods.
AIP Diet Step #2: The Reintroduction Phase
After finding relief from autoimmune symptoms, individuals transition into the next phase of the autoimmune protocol, the reintroduction phase.
During the reintroduction phase, excluded foods are gradually and systematically reintroduced back into the diet, one at a time.
The goal of the reintroduction phase is to add back in as many nutrient dense foods as possible, using caution to identify any food sensitivities or intolerances.
There is a recommended order of reintroductions, as well as a recommended timeline for reintroductions. You can read all about the ins and outs of the reintroduction phase here.
While reintroducing a food, the return of autoimmune symptoms is usually a sign that a food needs to be eliminated again. After further elimination, the food can then be retested for reintroduction, if desired.
Subsequently, foods which repeatedly trigger a return or worsening of autoimmune symptoms should be considered for long term elimination.
The length of time spent in the reintroduction phase of the autoimmune protocol is highly dependent on individual needs and circumstances.
AIP Diet Step #3: The Maintenance Phase
The AIP maintenance phase is the third, and final, phase of the autoimmune protocol (AIP).
It is also known as modified AIP, or personalized AIP.
After going through the AIP reintroduction phase to the extent you feel comfortable with at this point in your journey, you enter the maintenance phase, or your own personalized AIP.
You can revisit the AIP elimination phase, or AIP reintroduction phase at any point.
While many who start the AIP focus on nutrition, the AIP lifestyle factors are incredibly important for autoimmune health and wellness.
The autoimmune protocol also includes lifestyle factors that support living well with autoimmune disease, bolster the immune system, and improve overall wellness.
Lifestyle factors emphasized on the autoimmune protocol include:
- Reducing and managing stress.
- Improving the quality and quantity of sleep.
- Movement/exercise while avoiding overexertion.
- Connection with others and nature.
- Reducing exposure to toxins.
- Spending time in nature.
AIP QUICK TIPS
There are many ins and outs when it comes to the autoimmune protocol. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when considering or starting the AIP:
- Focus on foods to include, rather than foods to exclude.
- Remember to include a variety of nutrient dense foods, and avoid the trap of eating the same thing everyday.
- If eliminations feel overwhelming, consider adopting eliminations in phases over the course of a number of weeks, rather than all at once.
- Work with your medical team to address any root causes, underlying gut issues, nutrient deficiencies, or concerns you have.
There are many AIP resources available! There are many, many free AIP articles available here on my website, as well as many AIP videos on my YouTube channel.
Looking for more support when starting or restarting the AIP? I’ve got your back! I offer an incredible AIP group coaching program several times a year, and you can learn more here.
Understand the science behind autoimmune disease, and why many autoimmune disease sufferers find relief through the AIP can help you can the willpower and strength to start the elimination phase. The science based AIP resources I recommend include:
Living with autoimmune disease and starting the AIP can feel so lonely and isolating. Please know you are not alone.
There are so many of autoimmune warriors, and many online AIP and autoimmune support resources online.
I am sending you so much love and support! Reach out anytime. I’ve got your back!
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