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The AIP diet, or Autoimmune Protocol Diet, is a diet created to help heal certain autoimmune inflammatory issues by changing the way you eat. When the body has an autoimmune response, the immune system attacks itself because it cannot tell the difference between its own healthy cells and a foreign body. There are many autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, celiac disease, lupus, and psoriasis. The goal of the AIP diet is to reset the immune system, reduce inflammation, and return the gut to a healthy state.

The AIP diet starts with a strict elimination phase, where foods that are possible irritants to the gut and immune system are removed from the diet. It is similar to the paleo diet (good quality meat, vegetables, avocado, olive oil, etc.) but more restrictive.

Over time, as the body begin to heal and inflammation is reduced, foods are gradually and systematically added back into the diet. You can analyze your sensitivity to the reintroduced food, judging whether it healthful or harmful depending on how the body reacts. The key is to pinpoint which foods are causing trouble and permanently remove them from the diet so you can start feeling better.

Foods TO AVOID on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet:

These are foods that are thought to trigger autoimmune reactions in some people. They are completely eliminated.

  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Grains
  • Beans
  • Legumes (including peanuts, soy, all beans, including hummus)
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts and Seeds (including seed-based spices like cumin and fennel)
  • Nightshades (tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers, and eggplant)
  • Spices from capsicums (including cayenne, chili powder, paprika, chili pepper flakes)
  • Vegetable and canola oils
  • Processed foods (anything that comes in a package, including frozen foods, protein bars, etc.)
  • Refined and natural sugars (white sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave syrup, etc.)
  • Food additives and chemicals
  • Alcohol

Foods TO EAT on the AIP diet:

With the AIP diet, you're eliminating a lot of nutrients. So it's important to choose nutrient-rich foods, including a variety of fresh vegetables, wild-caught fish, fermented foods, organ meats, and bone broth.

  • Grass-fed meats (including nutrient-dense organ meats)
  • Wild-caught fish and seafood
  • Herbs
  • Leafy green vegetables (spinach, endive, herbs, etc.)
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.)
  • Garlic and onions
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, etc.)
  • Fermented vegetables
  • Sea vegetables
  • Avocados
  • Fruit: berries, citrus fruit, apples, cherries, etc.
  • Olive oil and coconut oil
  • Vinegars that have no sugar added (balsamic, red wine, cider vinegars)

Before beginning a restrictive diet like the AIP diet, consult your physician or a dietitian. She or he can help you manage the AIP diet, helping refine and adapt the diet to meet your individual needs, while addressing concerns about meeting vitamin and mineral requirements, the possibility of elevated levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, and so on.

*Black pepper is considered a 'grey area' ingredient. Some research shows that it can cause inflammation in some people, while others say it is fine. You can start the diet by eliminating it, and then add it back in slowly. Some of the recipes below have black pepper. So eliminate that ingredient as you see fit.

Here are some recipes to get you started: