AIP Diet - FAQ | Harmony Hunter


Autoimmune Disease & the AIP FAQ’s

Q. Just what is an autoimmune disease?
A. An autoimmune disease is when your immune system, which protects your body against disease, decides your healthy normal cells are foreign. This Results in your immune system mistakenly attacking healthy cells, organs and tissues. Depending on the type, an autoimmune disease can affect one or many different types of body tissue. All autoimmune diseases have an overactive immune system; this causes chronic inflammation which causes the destruction of tissues. What differs between different types of autoimmune diseases is the part of the body or tissue that is being attacked. For example Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is when the immune system attacks the thyroid, rheumatoid arthritis is when the immune system attacks your joints etc.

Q. How does it affect me?
A. Autoimmune diseases affect many parts of the body. The most common organs and tissue affected are:

  • joints
  • blood vessels
  • muscles
  • endocrine glands
  • skin
  • red blood cells
  • connective tissue

pic-for-toxic-chemicalsQ. What causes the immune system to attack itself?
A. The root cause of autoimmune disease is really unknown. There are many theories about what triggers autoimmune diseases, including or a combination of:

  • unhealthy eating habits
  • leaky gut
  • bacteria or virus
  • drugs
  • chemical irritants
  • environmental irritants
  • genetic predisposition; if you have a parent with an autoimmune disease this places you at a much higher risk of developing an autoimmune disease.

Pic for finding the right doctorQ. What are the symptoms when you have an autoimmune disease?
A. There are so many diverse types of autoimmune diseases, the symptoms differ. However, the most common symptoms are pain in the body, fatigue, fever, and generally feeling unwell all the time. Symptoms get severely worse during flare-ups and lessen dramatically during remission.
Autoimmune diseases affect many parts of the body. The most common organs and tissue affected are:

  • joints
  • muscles
  • skin
  • red blood cells
  • blood vessels
  • connective tissue
  • endocrine glands

Q. How are autoimmune diseases diagnosed?
A. Normally, your immune system produces antibodies which are in fact proteins that recognise and destroy specific substances against harmful invaders in your body. These invaders include:

  • viruses
  • bacteria
  • parasites
  • fungi

When you have an autoimmune disease, your body produces antibodies against some of your own tissues. Diagnosing an autoimmune disease involves identifying the antibodies your body is producing.

The following tests are used to diagnose an autoimmune disease:

  • autoantibody tests: any of several tests that look for specific antibodies to your own tissues
  • antinuclear antibody tests: a type of autoantibody test that looks for antinuclear antibodies, which attack the nuclei of cells in your body
  • complete blood count: measures the numbers of red and white cells in your blood; when your immune system is actively fighting something, these numbers will vary from the normal
  • C-reactive protein (CRP): elevated CRP is an indication of inflammation throughout your body
  • erythrocyte sedimentation rate: this test indirectly measures how much inflammation is in your body

Here is a list of some of the most common autoimmune diseases

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: inflammation of joints and surrounding tissues
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus: affects skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs
  • Celiac sprue disease: a reaction to gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley) that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine
  • Pernicious anaemia: decrease in red blood cells caused by the inability to absorb vitamin B-12
  • Vitiligo: white patches on the skin caused by loss of pigment
  • Scleroderma: a connective tissue disease that causes changes in skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs
  • Psoriasis: a skin condition that causes redness and irritation as well as thick, flaky, silver-white patches
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases: a group of inflammatory diseases of the colon and small intestine
  • Hashimoto’s disease: inflammation of the thyroid gland
  • Addison’s disease: adrenal hormone insufficiency
  • Graves’ disease: overactive thyroid gland
  • Reactive arthritis: inflammation of joints, urethra, and eyes; may cause sores on the skin and mucous membranes
  • Sjögren’s syndrome: destroys the glands that produce tears and saliva causing dry eyes and mouth; may affect kidneys and lungs
  • Type 1 diabetes: the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas

Q. What are the current treatments options for autoimmune disease?pic-for-stress-management
A. Autoimmune diseases are unremitting conditions with no current cure. Modern treatment involves attempts to control the process of the disease and to decrease the symptoms, especially during flare-ups. The following is a list of things you can do to alleviate the symptoms of an autoimmune disease:

  • follow the autoimmune protocol
  • find a functional medical practitioner who supports integrative medicine
  • maintain a balanced and healthy eating lifestyle, preferably one that is tailor made for you via the AIP
  • exercise regularly at your own pace and have fun!
  • get plenty of good quality rest
  • take high-quality vitamins & supplements
  • decrease stress
  • get plenty of sun exposure without risking being burnt, or take a high-quality vitamin D supplement
  • avoid any known triggers of flare-ups e.g. eating foods that cause inflammation or reactions in your body, stress
  • meditation or mindfulness to reduce stress

Current medical interventions include:

  • drugs
  • hormone replacement therapy, if necessary
  • blood transfusions, if blood is affected
  • anti-inflammatory medication, if joints are affected
  • pain medication
  • immunosuppressive medication
  • physical therapy

Mainstream medicine treats autoimmune diseases with immune-suppressing and anti-inflammatory medications, this works by closing down the immune system. As you can appreciate, this type of treatment is only a temporary fix and not a good solution. Additionally, repressing your immune system is treacherous to your health; it weakens your immune system and makes you defenceless against fighting infections’. This is one of the reasons why those with an autoimmune disease are vulnerable to contracting additional types of autoimmune diseases (it’s not unusual to have multiple autoimmune diseases at the same time), illness and co-infections (e.g. Candida, Epstein Barr)

Q. What is the autoimmune protocol is there science behind it and, why do we and many others believe it is the best approach to addressing autoimmune disease and remission?
A. The concept of the AIP is to reduce inflammation by eliminating all potentially harmful inflammatory foods, and eating foods that heal your gut. There are many eating protocols e.g. Paleo, Dr Wahls protocol, each has their merits. However, the autoimmune protocol was designed by Dr Sarah Ballantyne specifically for those with autoimmune disease. And yes there is science behind the approach. If you want to know more the best person I can refer you to is Dr Sarah Ballantyne who is, in mine and many others opinion, the authority on the AIP, you can find out all you need to know here
I can, however, tell you why I and many others believe the AIP is the best approach for those with autoimmune disease, it is due to the AIP food elimination and reintroduction process which provides you with a total holistic protocol to address inflammation, gut healing and to provide you with a tailor-made solution to suit your body. Everyone is different, some people can eat certain things with no reaction where others cannot the AIP addresses that with its elimination and reintroduction process.

Q. What does it mean when your autoimmune disease is in remission?
A. This can be quite complicated to express. Here is an honest wonderful heartfelt article to read which explains a bit more on this topic
However, I can tell you what not being in remission is for me –

  • Not being able to sleep
  • Being in a great deal of painFeeling Broken
  • Not being able to get out of bed
  • Feeling exhausted all the time
  • Being depressed all the time
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feeling like a failure
  • No hope to live a normal life for me and my family
  • Wanting to just give up and run away
  • Constant guilt I am letting my family and loved ones down
  • Not being able to go out
  • Lying in bed in the morning crying due to the pain in my body and not sleeping a wink all night
  • Having no strength, no energy, feeling fatigued all the time
  • Crying at the drop of a hat, all the time for no reason
  • Feeling overwhelmed all the time
  • Not being able to control my emotions
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Taking my frustrations out on my loved ones

And the list goes on but, I hope you get a general idea.

Hippocrates said, “all disease begins in the gut.” It has only been recent that the association between the gut health and our mental and physical health has been coming into the spotlight and researched. Hippocrates also said “Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food” He must have known something! Most of us by now have heard the term leaky gut and how disastrous it is to our health! By closing up the holes in your gut wall, our immune system can calm and do what it normally is supposed to do. Reducing inflammation is the key here. When you have eliminated inflammatory foods and healed your leaky gut, after a while the immune system is strengthened and will able move from survival mode into healing mode, and start repairing the tissues damaged by all the chronic inflammation.
Once the gut is healed and you have put the brakes on chronic inflammation, the immune system returns to functioning normally again, autoimmune diseases can go into remission.

How do you heal a leaky gut I hear you ask? That is what the autoimmune protocol (AIP) lifestyle is all about!

The key to the success of the AIP is that due to the extensive elimination phase. This will create an ingredients integration list through the reintroduction process that is tailor-made for you. Through the reintroduction process you will learn to identify foods that you can or can not tolerate, this is ideal as everyone is different and that is why we believe the AIP is the best protocol for everyone. You will learn to listen to your body when it is trying to tell you something isn’t right.

There are many reasons why so many people who have autoimmune diseases don’t even try to fix their health… some people are just not aware that autoimmune disease can be put into remission to significantly reduce their pain and drug dependence. Some mainstream doctors are not aware of the health benefits of the autoimmune protocol either. They go by what they have been taught, which is not much when it comes to nutrition, they tell their patients they cannot do anything to make their lives better, like my mainstream doctor told me ‘you have autoimmune disease now so you just have to live with it and manage it by taking drugs for the rest of your life’. Some people are not even aware their disease is an autoimmune disease, like Multiple Sclerosis, Type 1 Diabetes, Arthritis and even Type 2 Diabetes is currently under review to being recognised as autoimmune. Autoimmune sufferers are not told about nutrition because most mainstream GP’s just don’t know enough about it.

I hope this article family-591581has been educational and given you hope that, like me, you can overcome, and you too can live a vibrant healthy life for you and your family by observing the AIP lifestyle.

Please Note: the autoimmune protocol is a great way to reset your gut health whether you have an autoimmune disease or not.


To help you get started I have developed an AIP pre-start guide to take all the guess work out for you, you can download your free copy by clicking on this link Download Now

Yours in Health & Harmony,