Returning to our ‘roots’ and eating caveman style is no more of a fad diet than eating vegetarian or vegan. Whether it’s for health or as a lifestyle choice these diets are definitely here to stay. The vast majority of people can tell you ‘milk gives me lots of mucus’ or bread makes me bloated; but further than merely avoiding trigger foods or intolerances, we can also use diet as a form of treatment for many medical conditions. And while lots of people still find other short term dietary changes such as periodic fasting highly beneficial to their health and happiness, one diet has particular importance (and success) to anyone with hormone imbalances and inflammation. It’s known as the autoimmune protocol, autoimmune paleo, or AIP and it’s advocated by health specialists around the world.
Autoimmune conditions can differ greatly, and two patients with the same diagnosis may also have very different symptoms and experiences. For many, it’s tricky enough just to get diagnosed. As in integrative clinic, our goal is to guide you not only in pathology or supplementation or getting you prescribed natural hormones; but also is how to get as well as possible, as soon as possible. It may be upsetting and daunting for those who get diagnosed trying to figure out what to eat by themselves. The AIP dietary approach is hitting the underlying causes of autoimmunity and inflammation, allowing the body to rest up and heal from the inside out. The autoimmune dietary protocols are designed to be short term (8-12 weeks) before starting to broaden the range of food eaten. It doesn’t starve you of immediate energy sources of natural carbohydrates. The bare minimum for this diet is recommended as 30 days. Our Lucy Rose patients are given more specific and personalized guidelines in addition to the basics that are provided here to help you out. There are always foods, namely processed goods, which we should cut out of our diets and remove permanently (such as preservatives including aluminium and MSG).
Don’t worry, it still has carbs, and fats, and proteins, even sugars are allowed. What it doesn’t have is anything that may trigger the immune or inflammatory pathways, be they natural acids or tricky to digest compounds or food additives. We now understand that in certain circumstances food previously thought to be extremely healthy for us can actually inhibit our health instead. The strong antioxidant super food kale can block thyroid function (but much less so when cooked), the super healthy cooked tomato which provides an antioxidant lycopene can also trigger inflammation (its related to the potato), nutritious raw nuts and seeds are largely indigestible (we don’t actually absorb a lot of those calories), and the ‘healthy alternatives’ may not be good for you at all (think artificial sweeteners for example). Now, before you jump into it, please discuss this carefully with your health practitioner and definitely do thorough pathology testing. Knowing the nature of your symptoms and the underlying cause is essential to understanding if you should do this, when to do this, to monitor your success, and to know when to finish/reintroduce a broader range of foods.
Benefits of eating an Autoimmune friendly Diet
Fast results for improved symptoms
Short term approach for long term improved quality of life
Educates you on your own body
Increases nutritional intake, and there is no calorie counting or restrictions on intake
Each food is either a big yes, or a big no
Lots of free recipes online to provide you with adequate flexibility
Cost effective ways to make many foods at home
Breaks dependencies and addictions to stimulants like caffeine and sugar, even when you are no longer on this protocol
May be repeated any time you feel the need: acute stress, travelling and other life events sometimes severely impact your health and you can use this diet to reduce he effects on your body.
Includes lifestyle changes necessary to health and healing, not just what we eat
After its done and you start reintroducing foods: you are more aware of your body and how to prevent symptoms returning, and gain more flexibility in what you can eat
Disadvantages of eating an Autoimmune friendly Diet
You will need to change what’s in your cupboard/stock up on the alternatives and recipes
You do need to be very strict
You may initially experience withdrawal symptoms as some additives and foods are actually addictive
It takes time to prepare food when you are not eating everything from a packet, and to experiment with lots of recipes to find what you and your family enjoy
If you do buy things ready-made it is much more expensive, though time saving
After its done and you start reintroducing foods: you may find something you really loved like bread is still a problem for you and brings on symptoms. True allergies and intolerances will still be present so some food changes may need to be permanent (but at least now you know which food it is!)
WHAT DO I EAT WHILE ON AIP??
These have been arranged in food groups, we highly recommended having regular appointments with your practitioner. You don’t have to manage this alone! But here are the basics:
VEGETABLES– Alphabetical order alfalfa sprouts, artichoke, asparagus, avocado, baby spinach, beetroot or beet greens, bok choy, broccoli/broccolini, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, cucumber, dandelions, endive, fennel, garlic, ginger, artichokes, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, nasturtium leaves or flowers, naturally fermented vegetables, olives without preservatives, onions, pak choy, parsnips, pumpkin, radish, rocket, scallions, seaweed, spaghetti squash, spinach, spring onions, squash, swedes, sweet potato, turnips, yucca and zucchini. Aim for organic sources that don’t have sprays & pesticides or refer to ‘the clean 15 & the dirty dozen’ for those which are less chemically treated.
FRUITS & SUGARS- AIP says up to 3 is still very healthy. Smaller amounts of the following are also allowed (approx. 1Tbsp per meal) of raw honey, molasses, maple syrup/sugar, or coconut sugar. About 1 cup of freshly juiced fruit or veg is reasonable daily instead of the above fruit and sugars, this is because juicing removes the fibres which slow absorption of natural sugars. We should not drink and suddenly consume more than what we could eat in a sit down meal of a whole food.
PROTEINS– fresh meats with particular emphasis on grass fed, organic, or wild game: chicken, pork, beef, lamb, venison, kangaroo, turkey, veal, rabbit, duck, goose, pheasant, quail, and sea foods: salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, whiting, octopus, calamari, prawns, oysters, crab/lobster, yabbies, and organ meats are very rich in nutrition such as liver kidneys or hearts (think yummy pate`). Try for lean meats if not organic or wild as fats stores are where the majority or animals store their toxins. Gelatine is particularly healthy and its recommended to use it for dessert making, or cook some bone broth.
FATS– natural fats from grass fed meats, unrefined oils from avocado or extra virgin olive oil. Coconut butter and coconut milk, or oil, anything coconut based is fine.
GRAINS NUTS & LEGUMES– none allowable. If you need a ‘flour’ it is normally considered acceptable to have small amounts a substitute like arrowroot, banana, coconut flour or tapioca. This means you can add them in small amounts to sauces and meals but it is not meant to make up the majority of the meal. Even when sprouted, these are still restricted initially.
SPICES & CONDIMENTS– Himalayan or Celtic sea salts. All plant herbs are allowed basil, bay leaves, chamomile, chives, dill weed, dulse flakes, fennel leaf, kaffir limes leaves, lemon grass, lemon balm, oregano, marjoram, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, savoury, tarragon, thyme. Spices you can have are cinnamon, cloves, garlic, horseradish, saffron and turmeric (not the seeds). You can eat pickled foods, depending on the ingredients ie; sauerkraut or pickled onions, made with natural salts or vinegars. Nutritional yeast is an incredibly popular condiment too, to give a cheesy flavour to meals.
DRINKS & DRESSINGS – apple cider vinegar, coconut aminos, coconut vinegar, fish sauce. Fruit and hibiscus & rooibos based tea’s, water and soda water, coconut milk or cream. There is mixed feedback on Kombucha, it’s rich in probiotics and good for the gut, but some batches may still have sugar and lots of caffeine especially shorter ferments. Read more about Kombucha truths and myths here. Water kefir or beet kvass are other fermented drinks you can make at home to drink. Bone broth is easy to make, get the recipe here.
WHAT FOOD CAN’T I EAT WHILE ON AIP??
The foods have a broad range of negative impacts. Did you know that inflammation can be a good thing for your body? It’s designed to trigger the immune system to defend against infection and for healing any damage. Most people only need to avoid the ENTIRE list shorter term while undergoing health treatments.
VEGETABLES– inflammatory nightshade vegetables potato, tomato, capsicum, chilli or eggplants, fresh green beans and pea’s are technically legumes and can irritate the body so are also avoided.
FUITS & SUGARS – Don’t have any stevia and xylitol or other refined sweeteners like sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol, same for artificial sweeteners or alcohol, agave, rice syrup, raw sugar, cane sugar, rapadura, sucrose, added fructose.
PROTEINS– any processed meats, deli meats, sausages or marinated meats. (You can of course marinade your own). Gut/immune irritants such as eggs, ALL nuts, ALL seeds. No dairy foods, cows or goats or similar, whey proteins, milk kefir.
FATS- Avoid oils that are refined or come from nuts or seeds or grains like rice bran, safflower, rapeseed, sesame, sunflower, macadamia etc, and any olive oil that not virgin or cold pressed. No dairy (including butter or ghee) or soybean oil.
GRAINS NUTS & LEGUMES- eat none whether fresh or dried; corn, wheat, rice, barley, spelt, kamut, soy and soy products like tempeh, ALL beans like chickpeas and lentils even when sprouted, green beans and peas, gut irritants ALL nuts, ALL seeds (even chia and other super nutrients), coffee, carob, cacao, psyllium husks, sunflower seeds. Speak to your Naturopath about Vanilla bean, its low reactive but at the very least practice moderation and get one with no sugar or alcohol.
SPICES & CONDIMENTS- any that comes from nuts, seeds or the nightshades family: all spice, anise seed, annatto, caraway, cardamom, cayenne, celery seed, coriander seed, chilli, cumin, curry, fennel, fenugreek, juniper, mustard seed, nutmeg, paprika/capsicum, peppercorns, poppy seed, red pepper, sesame seed, star anise, sumac and vanilla beans.
DRINKS & DRESSINGS – Milks that are refined or come from nuts, seeds or grains like soy milk, milk almond milk, cashew milk etc are not allowed. Caffeinated drinks like tea should definitely be limited or avoided: coffee and carob are grains to avoid, and tea decreases nutritional absorption and will often provide a high intake of fluoride. Kombucha is also made from tea, speak to your Naturopath about your iodine levels. Soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Alcohol is very inflammatory and damaging so is aspirin and NSAID’s like ibuprofen. Avoid refined vinegars made from grains like distilled white vinegar and sushi vinegar. Learn more about dairy free diets here.
ADDITIVES & FILLERS- Carefully look up ay numbers on packaging to see what they are. Same goes for ‘natural flavours’, ‘thickeners’ and the like: guar gum, carrageenan, cellulose gum, lecithin, xanthan gum, hydrolysed vegetable protein, monosodium glutamate (MSG), added nitrates or nitrites, olestra, phosphoric acid, propylene glycol, textured vegetable protein, trans-fats and fully or partly hydrogenated vegetable oil, stevia and xylitol or other sweeteners.
When our practitioners consult with patients of a AIP diet, we also provide lots of additional information as needed, such as:
How to start and how to finish, but we have a few recipes you may like to use when trying to reintroduce foods like chocolate mousse or zuccini pesto noodles
When to start and when to finish
Extra Tips to make Life Easier and get better results
Extra links, resources, recipes and guidelines
Cookbooks and recipes listings
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Adv Dip Naturopathy, Adv Dip Western Herbal Medicine
Head Naturopath Kimberly Orbons is passionate about encouraging and empowering each person to facilitate their own good health with Nutrition, Herbal Medicine and preventative lifestyle management. Using a combination of diagnostics and symptomatology to identify the different metabolic processes contributing to disease allows her to treat the root or cause of poor health, providing relief of symptoms and long term recovery.
Kimberly believes it is extremely important to build a personalized healing plan, taking all the complexities of a patient’s health and illness into consideration. Her consults have a strong focus on client care and treating each patient as an individual, and may therefore co-ordinate with other medical treatments. The goal is to establish each patient’s ability to live in the best possible state of health, naturally. Her mentors in clinical practice include Founder Lucy Herron, Dr. David Brownstein, Naturopath Angela Hywood and Dr. Sarah Wine. Since achieving her qualifications in 2007 she has extensive clinical experience, and also 3 years managing the natural health sections and seminar within pharmacy.
Kimberly works closely with our Head office team and all The Lucy Rose clinical staff to ensure our patients are provided with the best and most up to date health services and quality health advice. She has actively contributed to our online media, patient guidelines, patient support and informational services for the past 5 years and enjoys providing excellent free to access health data to patients across Australia daily.
Recommended Resources & References:
Podcast breakdown (actual podcasts need to be paid for) Podcast Breakdown: The Autoimmune Protocol with Dr. Sarah Ballantyne. http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2014/10/12/episode-03-the-autoimmune-protocol-with-sarah-ballantyne/
A step by step guide, with recipes http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2014/04/27/introducing-my-e-book/
When reintroducing foods or following a healthy wholefoods diet, we recommend ‘STOP, think Paleo’ cookbook by David Thornton. Available through The Lucy Rose Clinic, call 1300THYROID
http://www.dealpdf.com/download/nightshade-free-pain-free- will give you access to titles such as Michael Fowlers ‘Nightshade Free Pain Free’ & The Paleo Approach by Dr. Ballantyne
Chef Pete Evans made this great foods list, even handy when you don’t want to pay for his 10week program https://thepaleoway.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/TPW_AIP-Food-List.pdf
The Lucy Rose Clinic: Bone Broth Guidelines for Thyroid Metabolism (FOR PATIENTS ONLY)
Bordoni et al., (2015) Dairy products and inflammation: A review of the clinical evidence. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 19
Sarah Ballantyne, PhD The story of how her work came about – https://www.thepaleomom.com/about/about-sarah/
Kombucha myths (good & bad) http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2013/03/25/kombucha-myths-vs-truths/
Inflammatory Foods and Irritable Bowel Disease – https://www.ibdrelief.com/diet/role-of-diet-in-inflammatory-bowel-disease/inflammatory-foods-and-ibd