As many know, weight management can become a nightmare when struggling with autoimmune disease, such as Hashimoto’s or Addison’s, which specifically target the thyroid. The thyroid plays an intricate role in hormone production, especially those hormones that regulate our weight, and unfortunately many people are not diagnosed until significant damage has already been done to the thyroid. If you suspect you suffer from a thyroid condition that is affecting your weight, your sleep, your energy levels, it may be time to try and AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) diet.
Why the AIP diet?
AIP diets aim to reduce inflammation, pain and other symptoms caused by autoimmune disease. Many people who have completed an AIP diet report improvement in their symptoms.
A healthy immune system produces antibodies that attack foreign bodies. But with people who suffer from autoimmune disease, their bodies produce antibodies that attack their own healthy cells and tissues. This results in joint pain, fatigue, abdominal pain, diarrhea, brain fog, tissue and nerve damage, among many other symptoms.
The Goal of AIP
The AIP diet aims to eliminate foods that increase gut permeability and replace those foods with healthy, nutrient-dense foods that heal the gut and reduce inflammation and symptoms of autoimmune disease.
The AIP diet is similar to the paleo diet, though the AIP diet is stricter.
- Elimination Phase
The first phase of the AIP diet is to eliminate or remove foods and medications that cause gut inflammation or disrupts the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, nightshades, eggs and dairy are completely eliminated during this phase. Tobacco, alcohol, coffee, oils, food additives, refined and processed foods and sugars, as well as NSAIDs are to be eliminated as well.
Minimally processed meats, fermented foods, bone broth and other fresh, nutrient-dense food consumption is emphasized. This phase can last anywhere between 30-90 days, or until reduction in symptoms is noticed.
- Reintroduction Phase
When a marked improvement in symptoms has been made and you’re beginning to feel better, reintroduction can begin. During this phase, the foods avoided in the elimination phase are slowly reintroduced to the diet, one at a time.
The goal is to identify which foods contribute to symptoms and reintroduce all other foods that provoke no symptom response. Allow for a 5-7 day period before introducing a new food so that symptoms can be noted accurately. Foods that trigger symptoms should be eliminated completely, though you may choose to attempt to reintroduce later down the line as food tolerances can change.
With each food you reintroduce, consume that food a few times per day on the testing day, then avoid it completely the following 5-6 days. Eat small amounts, 1 teaspoon should suffice. Wait 15 minutes to observe any reactions. If you feel no symptoms, eat a slightly larger portion and monitor your responses for the next 2-3 hours. If you experience symptoms, stop the test and avoid the food. If there are no symptoms you may continue to eat normal portions of the food for the test day, then avoid it the remaining 5-6 days. Note any symptoms that come up in that 5-6 day window.
Because the Autoimmune Protocol Diet is an elimination diet, and thus quite restrictive, it may be difficult for some to follow. In order to discover foods triggering to your symptoms, you must commit to the protocol. It is temporary but well-worth the effort to manage more severe symptoms. Speak with your medical professional to find out if the AIP diet is right for you.