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Diets for Autoimmune Diseases

By Luci Phillips

If you or someone you love has recently been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease than you are probably facing a lot of confusion right now. There are articles out there that talk about reducing inflammation in the body. The things that I have read blame lack of sleep, chronic stress, and what you eat causing flare-ups of the disease. There are a lot of things that are connected with diet and lifestyle. Some of the following #Diabetes, #lupus, and what I have #Sharps Syndrome or #MCTD.

I am not a doctor and you should reach out to one before trying any kind of diet. I personally am going to a rheumatologist and a dietician.

#AIP Diet is the Autoimmune Protocol Diet. This diet aims to reduce inflammation, pain, and other symptoms caused by autoimmune diseases such as lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, celiacs disease, rheumatoid arthritis as well as MCTD. Many people on the diet report that they have less symptoms such as fatigue and gut or joint pain. Research is limited on this though. Some research suggests that in some individuals damage to the gut barrier can lead to "leaky gut", which may trigger the development of some autoimmune diseases.

The AIP diet focuses on eliminating these foods and replacing them with health-promoting, nutrient-dense foods that are thought to help heal the gut, and ultimately, reduce inflammation and symptoms of autoimmune diseases. It also removes foods certain ingredients like gluten, which may cause abnormal immune responses in susceptible people.

The first phase is an elimination phase that involves the removal of foods and medications believed to cause the inflammation. During this phase foods like grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, nightshade vegetables, eggs, and dairy are completely removed from the diet. Tobacco, alcohol, coffee, unhealthy oils, food additives, refined and processed sugars, and NSAIDS should be avoided. On the other hand this phase encourages the consumption of fresh, minimally processed meat, fermented foods, and bone broth. It emphasizes the improvement of lifestyle factors such as sleep, stress, and physical activity.

The length of the elimination phase of the diet varies. It is usually for at least thirty days. People usually notice improvements by the third week. The next phase will be one of reintroduction of some of the foods. The recommendations are to add foods back one at a time and keep a journal. This allows for the person to see if there are any side effects for each food. Foods that are well tolerated can be added back. Any of the foods that cause a reaction you would want to avoid on a daily basis or stop all together.

It is also recommended to reintroduce foods in a particular order. For example when reintroducing dairy choose products with the lowest lactose concentration. Like starting with yogurt first and working your way up to milk.

Foods to avoid

  • Grains: rice, wheat, oats, barley, rye, etc., as well as foods derived from them, such as pasta, bread, and breakfast cereals

  • Legumes: lentils, beans, peas, peanuts, etc., as well as foods derived from them, such as tofu, tempeh, mock meats, or peanut butter

  • Nightshade vegetables: eggplants, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, etc., as well as spices derived from nightshade vegetables, such as paprika

  • Eggs: whole eggs, egg whites, or foods containing these ingredients

  • Dairy: cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk, as well as foods derived from these milks, such as cream, cheese, butter, or ghee; dairy-based protein powders or other supplements should also be avoided

  • Nuts and seeds: all nuts and seeds and foods derived from them, such as flours, butter, or oils; also includes cocoa and seed-based spices, such as coriander, cumin, anise, fennel, fenugreek, mustard, and nutmeg

  • Certain beverages: alcohol and coffee

  • Processed vegetable oils: canola, rapeseed, corn, cottonseed, palm kernel, safflower, soybean, or sunflower oils

  • Refined or processed sugars: cane or beet sugar, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and barley malt syrup; also includes sweets, soda, candy, frozen desserts, and chocolate, which may contain these ingredients

  • Food additives and artificial sweeteners: trans fats, food colorings, emulsifiers, and thickeners, as well as artificial sweeteners, such as stevia, mannitol, and xylitol

Foods to eat

  • Vegetables: a variety of vegetables except for nightshade vegetables and algae, which should be avoided

  • Fresh fruit: a variety of fresh fruit, in moderation

  • Tubers: sweet potatoes, taro, yams, as well as Jerusalem or Chinese artichokes

  • Minimally processed meat: wild game, fish, seafood, organ meat, and poultry; meats should be wild, grass-fed or pasture-raised, whenever possible

  • Fermented, probiotic-rich foods: non dairy-based fermented food, such as kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, and coconut kefir; probiotic supplements may also be consumed

  • Minimally processed vegetable oils: olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil

  • Herbs and spices: as long as they’re not derived from a seed

  • Vinegars: balsamic, apple cider, and red wine vinegar, as long as they’re free of added sugars

  • Natural sweeteners: maple syrup and honey, in moderation

  • Certain teas: green and black tea at average intakes of up to 3–4 cups per day

  • Bone broth


great photo under tree_edited.jpg

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