Individualizing Autoimmune Paleo
Following the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol can be a formidable undertaking, especially if you’re not feeling well! Yet, successful implementation of AIP can significantly contribute to eliminating symptoms, achieving remission, and enhancing quality of life!
Unlike the paleo diet on which autoimmune paleo is based, AIP is not intended to be followed indefinitely. Furthermore, people living with autoimmune disease do not need to permanently avoid the foods included on the elimination list, as not everyone with autoimmunity is intolerant of every one of these foods.
The objective is to discover the least restrictive diet for yourself but still get the maximum benefits that will support healing and reducing inflammation. While individuals with autoimmunity have less flexibility than the average healthy person, AIP is designed to be time-limited.
To have the most health-boosting plan possible, here are some ways to make AIP more manageable and suited to your individual needs:
Commit to a Thirty Day Elimination Diet
To kickstart some indisputable symptom relief and recovery, start a thirty day strict adherence to the autoimmune protocol. This means no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no eggs, no nuts or seeds, no nightshade, and so on. For more information, download a AIP food guide here.
A 100% compliance with the 30 day elimination phase gives your body a chance to calm the autoimmune response, reduce inflammation, and repair the tissues that were subject to the autoimmune attack. This commitment is pivotal for individuals who are seeking authentic healing and quality of life.
Consider extending the elimination phase to 60, or even 90 days, depending on the severity of your condition. Many people experience such striking results within the first month, they continue with AIP to maximize healing and amelioration of symptoms.
Maximize Nutrient Density
Removing the problem foods from your diet isn’t enough. In addition to eliminating the bad, you need to be intentional about adding foods that provide the nutrients your body needs to repair damaged tissues, calm the immune system and heal the gut.
It is essential to add in nutrient dense foods such as high quality meats, large quantities of colorful vegetables and fruits, fish and seafood, healthy fats, fermented foods, bone broth, fermented foods, and organ meats, like liver. These foods are known for being rich in nutrients that are essential for modulating the immune system, maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal tract, balancing microbiome in the gut, and reducing inflammation.
Adding unpopular foods like liver, sauerkraut or bone broth can be a struggle, yet these foods are an integral part of what makes AIP so effective for healing autoimmunity. Keep an open mind and find clever ways to integrate these foods into your meals, such as hiding liver in your favorite meatloaf recipe!
Careful and systematic food reintroduction
There are three benefits to reintroducing non-AIP foods:
If you can tolerate nutrient dense foods such as milk or eggs, adding these foods back into your diet can further assist in the healing process.
You will have a clearer picture of which foods you need to avoid until further healing has taken place, or need to avoid altogether.
Adding back foods broadens your menu choices, making eating more enjoyable, improving quality of life.
Food reintroduction can be challenging aspect of AIP. Some people have an immediate and strong reaction to a food, whereas other have a delayed response of hours, days or weeks. In both cases, people will see a return of symptoms, such as joint pain, rashes, or digestive distress.
The best way to reintroduce a food is to choose “safer” options, such as eggs, before progressing onto more problematic foods like tomatoes. For people with autoimmunity, attempting to reintroduce gluten-containing foods is strongly discouraged, but many people discover that they can safely eat eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds or nightshades, or non-paleo foods like white rice. For more information, download the AIP reintroductions guidelines here.
Food reintroductions can illicit a return of your autoimmune symptoms, but if you’ve reintroduced a food and are unable to observe any reactions, you can generally assume this food is ok to eat.
Make lifestyle a priority
What we eat or don’t eat is paramount in the healing of autoimmune disease, but maintaining unhealthy lifestyle habits can undo the benefits of a healthy diet. Taking responsibility for our lifestyle patterns is an essential aspect of the recovery process.
Exercise: daily low to moderate intensity exercise is best for individuals with autoimmune disease, such as yoga, walking, bike riding or swimming.
Manage stress: engage daily in activities aimed at relieving stress, including meditation, massage, a hug from a loved one, or petting a dog.
Sleep: prolonged sleep deprivation is not only a source of stress, but promotes inflammation. Aim for at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
Sunshine exposure: twenty minutes of daily sunlight exposure increases vitamin D levels and reduces symptoms of autoimmune disease.
It is possible to see significant improvements in your health through adopting an autoimmune paleo approach to diet and lifestyle.Still, there are people that need additional assistance to see the health benefits they are seeking. Finding a functional, integrative or naturopathic physician can be advantageous for making necessary recommendations and monitoring your progress.
If you need assistance to maximize results on Autoimmune Paleo for yourself, please contact me here.