My Experience with the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)
In January 2021, the RheumatoidArthritis.net Editorial Team wrote an amazing article, “What Is the Autoimmune Protocol Diet?.” It was a fascinating article that focused on nutrition’s potential role in helping decrease symptoms in those with rheumatoid arthritis.
What is the AIP diet?
The autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet is a specialized and more restrictive version of the Paleo diet. The ultimate goal of autoimmune protocol is to use your dietary intake and lifestyle to regulate your immune system.
When I first started to explore why AIP might be beneficial for me, I quickly became overwhelmed. There was a lot of information to sort through. I realized very quickly that the protocol is extremely restrictive in the types of foods and drinks you can consume.
The AIP diet's elimination list
Believe me, in my early days of considering the AIP, I was not keen on the idea that I needed to be so restrictive with my diet. However, those of you who have read my previous articles know that I love to research.
AIP’s ultimate goal is to flood your body with nutrients and avoid foods that might be contributing to inflammation or disease.
How to reintroduce foods
You gradually start reintroducing foods back after about 3-4 weeks. Generally, you reintroduce only one food back every 5-7 days. This gives you time to monitor how you are feeling. There is a procedure for reintroducing eliminated foods back. I am not going to lie: it is a tedious task. However, from experience, it got me to understand what foods trigger my RA symptoms.
Standard procedure for reintroducing foods
- Select a food to reintroduce and eat that food 2-3 times a day. Then, avoid eating the food.
- The first time you eat the food, eat a nibble or a ½ teaspoon and wait 15 minutes.
- If you do not experience symptoms, you can slowly start eating food more frequently in your diet.
Adding other lifestyle changes
The autoimmune protocol, for me, became easier when I realized it is not necessarily a diet but it is a way of life. In addition to dietary changes, the autoimmune protocol focuses on the following areas.
- Reducing stressors - Not taking on more than we can handle and limiting the presence of negative and stressful people in our lives.
- Increasing resilience (our ability to adapt in the face of adversity) - We can participate in healthy habits that can increase our resilience to stress. Some healthy habits include increasing sleep and gentle movement, taking up daily mindfulness, playing, having fun, and connecting with others.
My personal experience
I participated in the autoimmune protocol for a little over a year. I now try my best to follow a Paleo diet. Disclaimer: I am not always successful. However, I try my best.
Understanding my food triggers
Through the elimination of foods, I realize that processed sugars, gluten, dairy, grains, and nightshade vegetables directly affect and can trigger inflammation in my joints, increase my headaches, contribute to increased fatigue and belly bolting.
I went on the autoimmune protocol from the recommendation of my rheumatologist in January of 2019. I was at my lowest point I had ever been with the disease in December 2018. My disease was out of control and biologic medications alone were not working.
Like anything new, it wasn’t easy. However, I can report that through diet, exercise, medical massage, chiropractor, and a biologic medication, I am doing well.
Right now, what RA tips would most be helpful for you?