What is the Autoimmune Protocol? | Harmony Hunter

What is the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)?

The Autoimmune Protocol is, “in a nut free shell”, a food elimination and food reintroduction process which has been purposely designed for people suffering from an autoimmune or other chronic diseases. The goal is for people to identify the foods and or ingredients which cause them to have allergic reactions, food sensitivities and inflammatory responses in their bodies.  The AIP will turn around nutrient deficiencies, restore gut microbiome to obtain and re-establish overall health and wellbeing in your body and mind. The AIP lifestyle is the ultimate path for those with autoimmune or another chronic disease that will empower you to develop your own personalised healing eating regimen to suit your body.

Autoimmune diseases are now at epidemic levels. But what is the cause? It is the general consensus that genetic predisposition will account for one-third of risk for developing an autoimmune disease, the remaining two-thirds is from your environment, what you eat and lifestyle choices. Professionals and experts in the field recognise certain dietary habits is the chief culprit to contracting an autoimmune disease. This means autoimmune diseases are in the same diet/lifestyle related disease category as cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. In short, autoimmune disease is directly connected to our food and lifestyle choices. The amazing news is this also means you can manage and reverse autoimmune disease via making the right decisions in your eating habits and lifestyle choices!      

A good book to start with for beginners to the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is “The Paleo Approach” by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD. In her book, Sarah gives a detailed comprehensive breakdown of the AIP. You will find a ton of  information on Sarah’s website www.thepaleomom.com, including the science of why the AIP works.

The AIP concept

anatomy-160524The scheme is simply to remove all potentially inflammatory foods/ingredients for a period of time so that you can provide healing to your gut and restore your bodily health. Some of these foods you might not think are causing you any grief, however, they have been proven to be on the high probability list so to speak. Therefore best practice is to eliminate any and all potential causes right at the outset. We are convinced that no one knows your body better than you so, after the preliminary elimination period and commencement of the food reintroduction period you will learn to listen to your body so you can identify any foods or ingredients that cause a negative reaction in your body, thereby developing an eating and living routine that personally suits you and your lifestyle. At the outset, this requires the removal of all legumes, seeds, grains, dairy, eggs, and nightshades, nuts, cane sugar, as well as any processed food, all additives and chemicals when commencing the elimination period. These particular foods and food groups have been revealed in studies to aggravate leaky gut syndrome.  The removal of these from your menu will provide the opportunity for your gut to heal and, improve and strengthen your immune system.

Your body is like an F1 motor car, it is a finely tuned complex machine and the engine is like your stomach. You would not put the wrong fuel in your car because we all know it will affect the engine, and eventually breakdown. So why would you put poor fuel in your body?

Where to start and when? Here are some things to consider and suggestions

There is no point starting and then having to learn as you go, you may become frustrated which would not be a good start, would it?

I suggest you commence AIP when you have done enough research to completely understand it and, have the available time to plan and organise yourself.

I also recommend that you talk with your family, especially if you have children, and explain to them what you are going to do and why, even ask them for their help and understanding as you go through this voyage of discovery for healing, ask them to help by allowing you to cook the same kind of food for them (perhaps not full AIP though), this way it will reduce the workload and help the whole family.

 You need to decide whether you are going to eliminate foods over a short period or get right into it straight away. Once you have made that decision setting a commencement date making a plan is a great idea to prepare yourself for what you are going to do and when you are going to do it e.g. cleaning out the cupboard and preparing food. 

The beautiful foods you will now be eating will be rich in gut-healing nutrients and vitamins for example lots of fresh caught fish and seafood, wonderful bone broths, rich stews, fresh vegetables and fruit etc.

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Is there anything else we suggest you do?

Yes, we recommend you to do a detox before commencing. I also suggest you also learn about chemicals in the home like dishwashing liquid, shampoos, hair conditioners, washing powder, drinking pure water etc. Reducing all chemicals in the home can only help you on your healing voyage, for example, our bodies are more than 70% water so it stands to reason that clean pure water is vital to good health. You will want to ensure that there are no other inhibiting factors contributing to your rehabilitation.

The program

The first step is for you to decide if you are going to go straight into the AIP elimination process or if you want to eliminate ingredients over a short period of time e.g. in a month. Once you have made that decision you can plan your approach.

Understanding, planning and being organised is essential for your commitment and success.

How long before I can reintroduce foods and how do I do it?

I recommend a minimum of 90 days on the elimination phase before you commence the reintroduction process. Reintroducing foods is a vital and critical element of the AIP process and needs to be gradual, structured, systematic and strategic so that you can identify, without any doubt, if you have a reaction to any food reintroduced. This process will assist you in listening to your body and its reactions to foods or ingredients. 

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Other concerns

There are other elements to regaining and taking control of your health like stress, sleeping well, professional support i.e. a good integrated/functional health practitioner, family support, getting plenty of sunshine and drinking pure water etc. All these are vital to your wellbeing and strategies can be introduced to address these a little at a time. However, the first step is to change the way you think and eat food. As you grow and learn to listen to your body you will become in tune with what it is saying to you.



Before starting any new diet and exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise and/or diet changes with them before beginning. We are NOT doctors, nutritionists or registered dieticians. We do not claim to help cure any condition or disease. We do not provide medical aid or nutrition advice for the purpose of health or disease nor do we claim to be doctors or dietitians.  See our full disclaimer here