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Why I'm Glad I Did The Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP).


The Autoimmune Paleo Diet is tough. It's incredibly restrictive and reveals how our western diets and lifestyle may potentially be leading us down a path to chronic illness. It flips how we currently live and eat on its head and reminds us why consuming what our ancestors ate most of, is the key to good health.


It's a hypoallergenic, nutrient dense elimination diet that helps us to rebalance and heal our gut microbiome and provides the nutrients we need in order to heal. It takes out everything that may potentially be causing us a problem and keeps in what most of us can tolerate to get better. This includes: preferably organic and wild meat, fish, offal, most fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices and good fats from organic animal sources, coconuts, olives and avocado. Ancient foods such as ferments and bone broth are also encouraged. This isn't to say that the foods excluded aren't healthy or beneficial, but many plant-based foods contain defence mechanisms that can damage our gut lining and challenge our digestion. These include compounds such as lectins in grains and legumes, alkaloids in nightshades and difficult to digest proteins such as casein in dairy for example.


After a personalised period of exclusion, foods are reintroduced so that each person can acquire a personally tailored diet that suits their own body. It is not a diet for life and reintroductions are actively encouraged as soon as you start to feel better.

I tried to do this diet on several occasions, trying and failing twice to get it right. On my third and final attempt I didn't do it perfectly but well enough. I have spent the last six years improving my health with sustainable habits and I didn't have any major symptoms that I wanted to address. But I did want to know what foods I could tolerate and which ones were unknowingly causing me issues still.

AIP is not just about eliminating the required foods but it is also about nailing the planning and preparation, balancing your blood sugars, getting enough of the good stuff in and reintroducing foods properly. Perfection is of course the enemy of progress, so in the end we all have to just give it our best shot.

It may not be the right diet for everyone especially at the start but here's why I'm glad I did it.


I discovered that I can tolerate nightshades. Many people have an issue with nightshades, especially people with Hashimoto's. But this kind of blanket information is exactly what the diet clears up. I had been vaguely avoiding nightshades for over five years because I had this fear that they probably weren't good for me. Nightshade vegetables and spices can be incredibly nutrient dense and good for you. There is no need to avoid them if you can tolerate them. But you'll never truly know until a well executed elimination diet is done. I experienced such a relief in knowing that my body is actually ok with them.


Your first reaction does not exclude that food forever. So I should explain that when I first tried the diet I think I reacted to nightshades. But because I didn't reintroduce some foods properly I was never entirely sure. This caused me to vaguely avoid them. But if you continue to improve your diet and heal your gut you can reintroduce those foods again without an issue. The food is never the problem, it actually comes down to the state of your gut health and immune system. So it was of great benefit to know for sure that I can tolerate them.


The foods I reacted to also showed up on my food intolerance test. There has been some controversy over these tests in the past, as their accuracy has come into question. But the science is improving and they can be a useful starting point if you're feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of this new diet. I always recommend the Autoimmune Protocol as the gold standard to discover food intolerances but these tests can identify foods that you would not otherwise have excluded on the AIP diet.


I have a huge problem with corn and other cross-reactive foods. Since doing AIP, one of the biggest lessons I have learnt is the huge reaction I have to corn. It's the same strength and type of reaction I have to gluten, most likely because corn can cross-react and behave like gluten. As does Dairy. I had absolutely no idea about this before doing AIP and often my clients discover issues with food they had no idea of too.


My food reactions got stronger when I took everything out. My reaction to anything like gluten gives me extreme brain fog and a sensation that feels like pins and needles in my brain. It's indicative of brain inflammation. I feel like a zombie and cannot focus for hours. I never experienced reactions like this before and especially at the start of my wellness journey. In fact in the beginning like many of my clients, I didn't think I had an issue with gluten. As time went on I'd notice reactions to bread and pizza but now I have cleared out a lot of the 'noise' and inflammation I can notice a reaction to small amounts of gluten or corn in crisps or a stock cube.

Doing AIP is like removing the music and people from a nightclub. It clears out the noise and allows the gut to calm down. When you do that, you can hear a pin drop and that's what happens when you reintroduce foods. It's why you need to take everything out at once because the reaction will be heard much more clearly.


I'm still in the process of reintroducing foods but I have reached the point where I know whether most of what I used to eat affects me or not and now I am increasing the variety of foods that I eat after years of fears and restriction which feels exciting and liberating. I can finally feed my body in a way that is highly personalised to me to optimise healing, my microbiome health and wellbeing without any guilt or confusion.


So if you are considering the diet or want to do it or find out more, I can work with you as a certified AIP Coach and nutritional therapist. I help all of my clients to do the diet to the best of their ability with real life taken into consideration. Regular sessions, handouts, strategies and recipes are given to ensure you enjoy the process as well as change your diet and lifestyle habits for good.


Contact me: sarah@autoimmunehub.co.uk or book a free mini consultation here





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