Here at Joanna Frankham Coaching, you’ll hear a lot about the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). I use the principles of the lifestyle aspects of the protocol as the basis for all my health coaching, regardless of whether the elimination diet is required.
One quarter of what you eat keeps you alive. The other three-quarters keeps your doctor alive (Hieroglyph in an Egyptian Tomb)
So, What Is The Autoimmune Protocol?
The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is an elimination diet. But, it also more than that. It is a nutrient-rich approach that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system.
AIP helps heal the gut, to restore normal/healthy gut microorganisms, to reduce inflammation and to regulate the immune system both through healing the gut, regulating hormones and addressing micronutrient deficiencies. (Sarah Ballantyne, ‘The Paleo Approach, Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body’)
A leaky gut and imbalances in gut microorganisms are believed to be involved in all autoimmune diseases. They are directly related to diet and lifestyle. According to the very knowledgable Sarah Ballantyne, AIP helps to heal the gut, to restore healthy gut microorganisms, to reduce inflammation and to regulate the immune system both through healing the gut, regulating hormones and addressing micronutrient deficiencies. Count me in!
But, what does it mean in practical terms? Well, it means you cut out all grains, pulses, refined sugars, trans fats found in modern vegetable oils, and processed food. Your pantry will never look the same again! Dairy of any kind (even grass-fed ghee) will also now be avoided for a while.
And, the following foods are part of the ‘elimination phase’, too:
- Seeds (including cocoa, coffee – yes, coffee! – and seed-based spices)
- Nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, capsicums, chillis, cayenne, and all spices derived from peppers, including paprika)
- Fructose consumption in excess of 20g per day (that’s a couple of pieces of fruit)
- NSAIDS (like aspirin or ibuprofen)
- all other food additives
So what CAN you eat?
The primary focus on the AIP is eating a nutrient-rich diet. Deficiencies in nutrients are the strongest diet-related factors contributing to increased risk of autoimmune disease. And, just as some foods are eliminated, there is also a focus on eating more of the very nutrient-rich foods:
- organ meat and offal (chicken liver pâté may well become your new best friend)
- fish and shellfish
- vegetables of all kinds (lots and LOTS of fresh vegetables)
- quality meat (grass-fed, pasture-raised and happy is best)
- quality fats (pasture-raised/grass-fed and happy animal fats, fatty fish, olive, avocado, coconut
- fruit (keeping fructose intake under 20 g daily)
- probiotic foods (things like fermented vegetables, kombucha and kefir, and probiotic supplements)
- glycine-rich foods (anything with connective tissue, joints or skin, organ meat, and bone broth)
Of course, diet is just one element of continued good health. Getting enough sleep, moving every day, spending time outside in the sunshine and managing stress – both at home and at work – are all important factors, too.
A Little Of My Story..
My interest in the correlation between the food I eat and my health probably began when I started to suspect that the chronic skin issues I have been plagued with for over two decades seemed to fluctuate depending on what I ate. I started to take more notice. When I started following the Autoimmune Protocol my more than twenty years of skin issues started to clear. Almost completely. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen!
Along the way, I discovered that the skin problems that run in my family are a form of autoimmune disease. I learned that while I have a predisposition to autoimmune problems (along with other stuff!), the way I choose to eat and live also contributes. And, I learned that in many ways I’m lucky. I could have developed a much worse autoimmune problem – Coeliac disease or Multiple Sclerosis, for example. Some of that is due to my genetic blueprint. Some of it is due to my diet and lifestyle. And, some of it is just dumb luck.
As I get older, I want to ensure, as much as I can, that I have a quality of life that allows me to move freely and not be limited by ill health. I want to be a healthy old person! So, I continue to follow the principles of AIP in an effort to make it easier to reach this goal.
If you’d like to learn more about coaching and the Autoimmune Protocol, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.