The Beginner’s Guide to the AIP DietFriday Jul 22, 2022
Autoimmune disorders like celiac disease, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis can cause some pretty uncomfortable and embarrassing symptoms. From stomach and joint pain to itchy skin, constipation, and everything in between.
Desperate for some much-needed relief? The Autoimmune Protocol diet (more commonly known as AIP), might be the thing for you. So keep reading on for a guide on the AIP diet for beginners!
What Is the AIP Diet?
Similar to the low FODMAP diet, the AIP diet is a short-term elimination diet where you stop eating foods that may cause inflammation or stir up symptoms associated with a wide variety of autoimmune disorders.
Who’s the AIP Diet for?
Think the AIP diet might be for you? The AIP diet mostly benefits people with the following autoimmune conditions:
- IBD (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Celiac disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Multiple sclerosis
- Hashimoto’s disease
- PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
- Adrenal fatigue
Benefits of the AIP Diet
Here are some of the best reasons why you should use the AIP diet:
1. Improves gut health
When it comes to autoimmune diseases, leaky gut is often considered to be one of the primary culprits. When the bad microbes that inhabit your gut start to overrun the good, it can lead to leaky gut, which occurs when your gut lining becomes damaged and the contents of your gut start spilling out into the bloodstream. This can have a serious negative impact, not just on your gut, but your overall health.
Going AIP removes foods from your diet that damage the lining of your gut, which allows your gut to heal and restore its lining. Foods you’ll eat on the diet (such as vegetables and fermented foods) help diversify your gut microbiome and promote healthy gut bacteria.
The AIP diet steps in by helping reduce inflammation, which is at the heart of pretty much any autoimmune disease.
With autoimmune disorders, your body starts attacking itself, which is where the inflammation comes from. If inflammation is left unchecked, it can lead to chronic inflammation, which has been linked to conditions like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer. Luckily, your diet is one easy way to reduce inflammation.
At its core, AIP is an anti-inflammatory diet, which means you won’t be eating foods known for causing inflammation, like processed carbs and dairy.
Corrects nutrient deficiencies
Your immune system can’t operate at optimal efficiency without the correct amount of certain nutrients. It requires many antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.
On the AIP diet, you’ll fuel up nutrient-dense foods, such as fatty fish, green leafy vegetables, avocado, and dairy-free fermented foods (kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi).
This will help fill in the gaps with any nutrient deficiencies and provide your immune system and other systems with the nutrients they need to operate at full capacity.
How Do I Start the AIP Diet? What Are Some Rules?
The first step in the AIP diet for beginners is simply keeping something in mind; AIP is not a long-term diet. You’ll start the diet with a brief elimination phase, where you remove certain foods. Then, you’ll follow that up with a reintroduction phase, where you’ll reintroduce foods back into your diet to see how your body reacts so you can make smarter food choices.
During the elimination phase, you’ll want to nix foods like grains, legumes, dairy, and processed carbs from your grocery list.
Here’s a more comprehensive list of foods to avoid on the AIP diet:
- Grains (bread, oats, rice, wheat)
- Legumes (lentils, black beans, etc)
- Nightshade vegetables (tomato, eggplant, potatoes, and peppers)
- Sugar and processed carbs
- Nuts, seeds, and spices that come from seeds (mustard, cumin, etc)
- Cooking oils (avocado oil, olive oil, and coconut oil are OK)
- Food additives
Also, you want to avoid certain medications during the elimination phase, particularly non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). NSAIDs like ibuprofen irritate the lining of your small intestine, increasing gut permeability and making symptoms of leaky gut worse.
What Can I Eat With The AIP Diet?
You can have foods like fish, meats (such as chicken, turkey, or grass-fed beef), leafy greens, avocado, sweet potatoes, and cooking oils like coconut or olive. AIP-approved fruits include pineapple, grapefruit, and strawberries, just to name a few.
How long you’re in the elimination phase depends on the person, but typically, you’ll start to see results after a few weeks. For the average person, the elimination phase can last from anywhere between 30 and 90 days.
The second phase of the AIP diet is the reintroduction phase. During this phase, you’ll reintroduce eliminated foods one by one. Slowly reintroducing one food at a time can help you pinpoint the foods giving you issues, which enables you to make better food choices moving forward.
As a general guide, you’ll get the best results by waiting at least a week before reintroducing another new food back into your diet. If you reintroduce foods back to back, it might make it hard to tell exactly which foods are problem foods.
As for which foods you should introduce first on AIP, the order doesn’t really matter too much. Our main AIP diet for beginners tip would be to start with foods you really like first to see if you can start incorporating them back into your diet ASAP. Again, the key here is making sure you're only reintroducing one food at a time.
Is the AIP Diet Right for You?
And that wraps up our guide on the AIP diet for beginners. So if you suffer from autoimmune disorders like celiac disease, IBD, or rheumatoid arthritis, consider giving this diet a try.
Remember, the AIP diet isn’t a long-term diet. It’s broken out the way it is (between elimination and reintroduction phases) to help you identify specific foods giving you issues and to help you make more informed food decisions after the diet ends.
If you’re interested in learning more about your gut and what may be causing you issues, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get your gut tested. Check out our blog post on gut health tests where we break down the different types, so you can decide which one is right for you.
About the Author
Chad Richardson is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, OH who also enjoys going to the gym and doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation, scrolling through Netflix trying to find a new binge-worthy show, and catching a game to root on his hometown sports teams.