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AIP: The Ultimate Guide to Healing Autoimmune Disease

CEO Tinh Phung
Note: This post has been updated as of January 2024 and reflects the most recent updates to the Autoimmune Protocol. Keep this page bookmarked to stay informed on the most current protocol instructions that reflect...

AIP Guide

Note: This post has been updated as of January 2024 and reflects the most recent updates to the Autoimmune Protocol. Keep this page bookmarked to stay informed on the most current protocol instructions that reflect emerging nutritional science, straight from the source.

Important: You are here because you want to know everything about the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). With various sources of protocol information available, it's crucial to rely on accurate and up-to-date resources. This page, along with the Autoimmune Wellness site, is the best and most accurate public resource for AIP information. It adheres to the latest updates and research taught in the AIP Certified Coach Practitioner Training Program. In this post, you'll learn everything you need to know to get started with the Autoimmune Protocol, as well as find further resources to assist you.

What is AIP?

The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is a science-based elimination and reintroduction diet and lifestyle protocol. It focuses on repairing gut health, balancing hormones, and regulating the immune system. By removing food-driven sources of inflammation and restoring nutrient density, AIP aims to help manage autoimmune diseases. AIP can be used alone or in combination with conventional treatments, depending on individual needs. Research has shown its efficacy in managing conditions like Hashimoto's thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, eczema, and psoriasis.

Who created and maintains AIP?

The Autoimmune Protocol has its roots in the Paleo diet and functional medicine communities. Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, a researcher with a personal experience of autoimmune disease, spearheaded the research and development of AIP. Over the years, researchers and AIP Certified Coaches have refined and maintained the protocol. Today, there are two versions of the Elimination Phase: AIP Core Elimination and AIP Modified Elimination, allowing for personalization based on individual health conditions and requirements.

AIP Guide

The Three Phases of AIP

Transition Phase

The Transition Phase involves gradually moving towards the elimination phase while focusing on nutrient density. Some opt for a slow transition, removing foods one or two at a time over weeks or months. Others prefer a quick transition, eliminating all non-compliant foods over a shorter period. A gradual transition allows for a more sustainable approach and minimizes overwhelm.

Elimination Phase

During the Elimination Phase, only foods compliant with the AIP protocol are consumed. This phase aims to maintain food eliminations, while emphasizing nutrient-dense additions to support healing. It is recommended to stay in the elimination phase for a minimum of 30 days, with 60-90 days being ideal for maximum healing.

Reintroduction Phase

The Reintroduction Phase begins after spending 30-90 days fully compliant in the elimination phase. This phase involves systematically reintroducing eliminated foods one at a time, testing their impact on symptoms and well-being. The goal is to determine a personalized, sustainable, and nutrient-dense diet that promotes the best health for each individual.

The Elimination Phase: Two Options

There are two versions of the elimination phase:

  • AIP Core Elimination: The original version that has been in use for years. It eliminates a comprehensive list of foods.
  • AIP Modified Elimination: Introduced in 2024, this version is less restrictive and includes a wider list of foods. Research and clinical experience have indicated that these additional foods are often not problematic for autoimmune patients.

AIP Guide

AIP Core Elimination Foods to Avoid

The AIP Core Elimination includes avoiding certain foods:

  • Grains (including ingredients derived from them)
  • Gluten
  • Pseudo-grains and grain-like substances
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Legumes
  • Nightshades (including spices derived from them)
  • Processed vegetable oils
  • Nuts and nut oils
  • Seeds (including oils and spices derived from them)
  • Nonnutritive sweeteners and sugar alcohols
  • Processed food chemicals and ingredients
  • Alcohol

AIP Modified Elimination Foods to Avoid

The AIP Modified Elimination also includes avoiding certain foods:

  • Cereal grains (except rice)
  • Gluten
  • Dairy (except ghee)
  • Eggs
  • Nightshades (including spices derived from them)
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts and peanuts (including ingredients derived from them)
  • Nonnutritive sweeteners and sugar alcohols
  • Processed food chemicals and ingredients
  • Alcohol

What are the Differences Between Core and Modified AIP?

The Modified AIP includes certain additional foods like rice, pseudo-grains, ghee, legumes (except soy), and seeds (including coffee and cocoa). These eliminations are often not problematic for autoimmune patients, making the elimination phase more convenient, affordable, and sustainable.

What is the Scientific Basis for the Elimination Phase?

Research on the Autoimmune Protocol, primarily using AIP Core Elimination, shows promise in managing symptoms and improving quality of life for conditions like Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The exact mechanism behind its efficacy is not fully understood, but potential reasons include avoiding unknown allergies or sensitivities, consuming anti-inflammatory and nutrient-dense foods, increasing fiber intake, and supporting a healthy microbiome. Lifestyle factors such as sleep, stress management, movement, and connection also play a significant role.

Nutrient-Dense Additions

Both AIP Core Elimination and AIP Modified Elimination emphasize adding nutrient-dense foods to support healing. These additions include healthy fats, bone broth, organ meats, colorful fruits and vegetables, fermented foods, fish, and shellfish. These foods provide essential nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties.

AIP Guide

The Reintroduction Phase: What and Why?

The Reintroduction Phase is a crucial part of the AIP protocol. After spending time fully compliant in the elimination phase, reintroduction allows individuals to test their response to eliminated foods. This systematic process helps determine an individualized, sustainable, and nutrient-dense diet that supports their best health. Reintroduction should be done in a specific order, starting with the least likely to cause a reaction and most nutrient-dense foods, gradually progressing towards foods that are more likely to cause a reaction.

It is essential to enter the reintroduction phase at the appropriate time, as staying in the elimination phase for longer than necessary can be detrimental in the long run. Reintroducing foods also provides valuable nutrients, ensures practical and social sustainability, and promotes psychological well-being.

Implementation: How to Do AIP?

Implementation of the Autoimmune Protocol involves three phases: transition, elimination, and reintroduction. Each phase requires careful planning and considerations.

Transition Phase

During the Transition Phase, you have the choice to transition slowly or quickly towards the elimination phase. A slow transition involves gradually eliminating non-compliant foods, while a quick transition involves an immediate shift. Both approaches have their benefits and drawbacks, and it's essential to find a method that works best for you. Slow transitions are more gentle and sustainable, while quick transitions are suitable for those who are highly motivated or in severe health conditions.

Elimination Phase

The Elimination Phase goes beyond maintaining food eliminations. It involves learning to meal plan, source and budget for higher-quality foods, and adopt new cooking and lifestyle habits. This phase requires support and resources from existing AIP materials to ensure successful implementation.

Reintroduction Phase

The Reintroduction Phase follows a methodical process of reintroducing eliminated foods one at a time. Foods are categorized into stages based on their likelihood to cause a reaction and nutrient density. Patience and organization are crucial during this phase to track individual responses and determine the best dietary approach for each person.

The Lifestyle Aspects of AIP: What and Why?

AIP is not solely about dietary changes but also incorporates lifestyle modifications. Four key areas to consider throughout all phases of AIP are sleep, stress management, movement, and connection to others and nature. These lifestyle factors have significant impacts on immune system regulation, hormonal balance, and the healing process. Emphasizing both diet and lifestyle is essential for overall well-being and improved quality of life.

Combining AIP with Conventional Medical Treatment

AIP can be combined with conventional medical treatments. In fact, the medical research on AIP focused on patients who integrated the protocol with conventional medical care. It's important to note that autoimmune diseases often require a comprehensive approach that includes surgical or pharmaceutical treatments alongside AIP. Collaborating with healthcare providers and sharing information about your AIP journey is crucial in achieving the highest standard of wellness.

Will AIP Help My Autoimmune Disease?

The extent to which AIP can help an individual's autoimmune disease varies. While research has shown promising results for specific conditions, individual experiences may differ. Results typically start to manifest within a few weeks, with significant progress observed around the 30-90 day mark before entering the reintroduction phase. Anecdotal evidence from individuals with various autoimmune diseases demonstrates the potential benefits of AIP in improving health and overall well-being.

Professional Support

If you feel overwhelmed or require professional support, there are AIP Certified Coaches available. These healthcare providers have been trained in implementing the Autoimmune Protocol according to the latest evidence. They come from various backgrounds and can offer guidance and personalized assistance based on individual needs. The AIP Certified Coach Practitioner Directory is a valuable resource for finding a practitioner near you.

Looking for More AIP Resources?

If you're seeking hard-copy resources for the Autoimmune Protocol, consider The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook, The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook, and The Nutrient-Dense Kitchen. However, Autoimmune Wellness's mission is to provide free, accessible information, and resources for AIP. The website hosts over 100 articles, 250 compliant recipes, and numerous other valuable resources. Tune in to The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast for audio content related to AIP and the autoimmune community.

Downloadable Resources

To get started with AIP, sign up to receive the AIP Quick Start Guide. This comprehensive resource includes printable food lists, a 2-week meal plan and shopping list, a batch cooking video, and guides on reintroductions and reactions. By signing up, you'll also be subscribed to the occasional newsletter, delivering free, exclusive content, and keeping you up-to-date with the autoimmune community.

Remember, embarking on AIP is a journey towards better health and well-being. It's normal to experience a range of emotions, and additional resources are available to support you through the process. Take the first step towards healing and discover the transformative potential of the Autoimmune Protocol.

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