This specialized diet is Paleo — only harder
Q What is the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Diet, and why is everyone talking about it?
— Jessica, Sioux Falls, S.D.
The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet is basically a super-strict version of the Paleo diet specifically designed for people who are dealing with the challenge of autoimmune disease. If you had to describe it in an elevator pitch, you’d probably say, “It’s like Paleo—only harder.”
A much more complete answer would be the one offered by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, autoimmune expert and author of The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body (Victory Belt Publishing, 2014): “AIP is a specialized version of the Paleo diet, with an even greater focus on nutrient density and even stricter guidelines for which foods should be eliminated.”
How Does AIP Work?
AIP stands for autoimmune protocol, also referred to as Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (they mean the same thing). You start with basic Paleo principles: No gluten, dairy, beans, legumes, sugar, or alcohol. (Yes, there’s some division in the Paleo world over dairy, and some Paleo programs do allow it, but on AIP, dairy is off the menu.)
The autoimmune protocol goes one step further than Paleo, banishing foods that may be healthy, but that have been found, at least anecdotally, to provoke inflammation in a lot of folks. (How many folks? The Autoimmune Protocol takes a “just in case” approach, banning these foods because they are known triggers in an awful lot of people, particularly those with autoimmune challenges.)
Take nightshades. Members of the Solanacea family of plants, nightshades include a lot of Paleo-friendly foods like bell peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants. But nightshades contain a substance called solanine (an alkaloid), and therein lies the problem.
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