Most people diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, or psoriasis, are familiar with flare-ups – episodes where symptoms of their condition suddenly become more severe and/or resurface after a period of remission.
These flare-ups are often frustrating and uncomfortable for those living with these conditions.
Many autoimmune diseases have been linked to leaky gut syndrome – a compromised environment in the small intestine due to increased intestinal permeability and/or an imbalance in gut bacteria.
“Holes” in the gut are thought to let food particles pass through into the rest of your body, where they trigger inflammation and activate an immune response.
Autoimmune Diseases: rooted in inflammation
The basis of autoimmune diseases is inflammation – in the gut and throughout the body. One of the most common ways to manage symptoms and flare-ups related to autoimmune disease is through DIET.
Following an anti-inflammatory diet can help decrease fatigue, pain, and brain fog associated with inflammation, promote more extended periods of remission and help reduce inflammation and “leaks” in the gut.
Decreasing inflammation and repairing a leaky gut are thought to help calm the immune system and decrease flare-ups in the long run.
An anti-inflammatory type diet (like the Autoimmune Protocol) is key to managing Autoimmune Diseases.
The Autoimmune Protocol - or AIP is similar to the meat & veggie-focused Paleo Diet, but it’s more strict in the foods that are allowed vs. avoided.
The following foods are thought to be anti-inflammatory and make up the bulk of the AIP diet:
Vegetables - minus nightshade varieties
Healthy fats – avocado, coconut, olive oil
Gelatin/collagen (bone broth or supplements)
Non-dairy fermented foods - sauerkraut and kombucha
Some herbs, spices, and vinegar
FYI - The difference between AIP and Paleo is the latter allows eggs, nuts, seeds, and nightshade veggies. Both focus on increasing intake of Omega-3 fats and nutrient-dense vegetables.
Sugar tolerance is individual on the AIP diet. Some people find they even have to entirely avoid fruit and natural sweeteners, like honey and maple syrup, while small quantities may be tolerated by others on the same eating plan.
The following foods tend to increase inflammation in the body and should be avoided on the AIP diet:
Legumes & beans
Nuts & seeds
Nightshade vegetables - peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes
Coffee & alcohol
How long do you need to be on the Autoimmune Protocol?
The AIP diet can be used short-term to promote gut healing as well as to learn which foods you may be reactive to. The menu can also be followed long-term as part of an overall anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
Some people can have a little wiggle room with the AIP diet as their body heals. Some eliminated foods may be reintroduced and better tolerated once the gut heals.
Let’s preface all of that with this...the AIP diet is not for everyone.
It’s best for people who suspect certain foods trigger their particular autoimmune condition. Some people find reducing inflammation through other lifestyle factors, like getting adequate quality sleep, stress relief, and avoiding alcohol & NSAIDs (i.e., ibuprofen), are enough to manage their autoimmune condition without eliminating foods - but I think it’s certainly worth a try!
One last thing. If you find yourself drawn to the notion of lifestyle wellness, but are struggling to achieve it in your life. I have a program that offers everything a blog cannot.
I can teach you how to listen to your body, prevent injury and still stay committed to your life dreams, career aspirations and fitness goals.
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Until next time, #KeepovingTowardaBetterYou
Want to dive deeper? Check Out My Informative References:
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2014: Intestinal Barrier Function: Molecular Regulation and Disease Pathogenesis