I finally wrote my AIP Journey down. If you’ve followed me for even a minute you know I’ve been doing AIP now for 5 months. I started in August 2017. It’s now January 2018. So many of you may be wondering what is AIP? Well, it stands for Autoimmune Paleo or Autoimmune Protocol. It’s the paleo diet with some modifications. Specifically removing nuts, alcohol, seeds, butter, ghee, eggs, chocolate/cocoa, coffee and nightshades(tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, all chiles(and chile spices), sugar alternatives like stevia, xylitol. I found these guides from Paleo Autoimmune Protocol really helpful. The purpose of the AIP protocol is to heal the gut, reduce inflammation and lower antibodies. Now that you know what it means, you may be asking another question- why did I do it?
Ahh yes, why avoid SO many foods! Well I have an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s is a condition where your immune system attacks your thyroid. Literally your body is attacking itself- not cool! Your thyroid is part of your endocrine system and produces hormones. Overtime people can develop hypothyroidism(an under active thyroid) as a result of Hashimoto’s from an inflamed thyroid.
I ended up reading Hashimoto’s Protocol by Izabella Wentz and it really opened my eyes to what Hashimoto’s was, how I could get it under control and didn’t have to succumb to it. I ended up following her protocol she lays out in the book. I extended mine past the 90 days per my naturopath’s recommendation.
There are many different autoimmune conditions out there, not just Hashimoto’s. Many people who suffer from an autoimmune condition from rheumatoid arthritis, to lupus, celiac, graves, IBS, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis, could possibly benefit from an AIP protocol. Although there is no cure for autoimmune disease, it can be put into remission.
*The information discussed in this blog post is not a substitute for your own physician- please always seek a medical professional.
Symptoms Of Hashimoto’s-
- Hair Loss
- Weight Gain
- Puffy Face
- Joint Aches/Stiffness
- Memory Lapses
- Brittle Nails
- Pale Dry Skin
- Sensitive to Cold
To be honest the only symptom I had was fatigue. Even that I questioned because I had an infant and a toddler, which any mom knows accounts for sleepless nights. I also had some hair loss but it seemed normal since I had a baby in the last 6 months and it followed what had happened to my hair with my first child. Many people who have Hashimoto’s will tell you their symptoms are blaring and so obvious. Mine were not. I’ve never felt any weird digestive issues or had stomach problems either. Sure, if I have a big bowl of ice-cream I don’t feel the best but who does? I really don’t think anyone should be pounding straight up dairy ice-cream on the daily.
I really don’t think I would have discovered I had Hashimoto’s if it wasn’t for my blood test. My naturopath did a complete thyroid panel on me. When I say complete thyroid panel here is what I mean:
Complete Thyroid Panel-
- TSH(thyroid stimulating hormone)
- T4(free thyroxine)
- T3(free Tri-iodothyronine)
- Reverse T3
- ATA(Thyroglobulin antibody)
- TPO(Thyroid Peroxidase antibody)
Most conventional doctors will only test your TSH. However, there in lies the problem. Your TSH may read normal but you could still have a thyroid issue. To get a good picture of what your thyroid is doing you need a complete thyroid panel. Check out the Thyroid Pharmacist for more information on thyroid labs and why to get them.
You can even order your complete thyroid test on your own and have a functional doctor interpret it for you. Check out True Health Labs.
So once I got my blood test results back I learned I had antibodies in my blood. My antibodies were at 374. So 0 antibodies is the ideal of course. People can range all the way up to past 1,400. They say the higher the antibodies the more noticeable your symptoms may be. Which may explain why I may not have symptoms. The thyroid is tricky too. Some people may have really obvious symptoms but their test results come back and they have little or no antibodies. However, their friend could have hardly any symptoms and have antibodies. From what I’ve read this shows that the person with symptoms and no antibodies, may have a very compromised/weak immune system. You actually need some antibodies and sometimes your immune function is so weak to produce any.
The bottom line- I wanted to bring down my antibodies and figure how what was triggering an inflammatory response in my body. Once you have an autoimmune disease it’s easier to to get more in the future if you don’t address it. I really wanted to get to know my body and understand what was happening. So often I’ve just relied on doctors but for the first time I wanted to take control of my health. Food is a powerful tool in healing your body and I knew the first step was to eliminate foods so I knew what was happening in my system.
That is why I started AIP. In a nut shell AIP takes out all the foods that may cause an inflammatory response in your body. This gives your body a chance to heal. You can’t heal if you’re constantly putting out fires. Even healthy foods for some can produce an unhealthy immune response and trigger inflammation in the body. The elimination phase of AIP can last anywhere from 30 days to 6 months for most people. Once you’re done with the elimination phase and are starting to feel and see improvement you can start reintroductions slowly. It’s really about getting to know what works for you. Some people may go through AIP and when they reintroduce foods they can tolerate most foods again. But other people find out what foods were bothering them. Who wants to eat eggs if every time after eating them you feel nausea and your joints hurt? Not me! It gives you the power back to know your body and how it works best.
AIP is all about healing your gut. When inflammation goes down and your gut begins to heal your antibodies will start to go down. It really varies from person to person. Be patient and trust the process. Besides diet, stress and sleep are huge when it comes to overall healing of your body. Don’t neglect them! I know for myself, stress and sleep are the hardest for me. I can follow a diet easily but my management of stress and getting enough sleep can be poor. Throughout these 5 months my stress has gotten better but I still need to work on my sleep.
Was AIP Hard?-
Probably one of the questions I get asked the most is if AIP was hard. It really wasn’t for me. As I mentioned, I ate paleo for the most part before transitioning to AIP so it wasn’t a complete 360. The hardest part was making sure I had food prepared as you can’t just grab a bar. But once I found a system and knew snacks I could have it really helped. I didn’t eat out at all hardly. There were times I just brought my food to the restaurant if I didn’t want to miss out on something. However, for the most part, restaurants are really accommodating. You can order a salad almost anywhere, so that helps. I just customize the salad and then ask for olive oil as the dressing.
I would prep at the beginning of the week and that helped me to know I had some things on hand. I also knew I could have a smoothie if I was in a pinch as well. Snacks were hard to find at first but then you realize what you can have and you just make sure you have things on hand.
Favorite AIP Snacks-
- Terra Chips Chip Plantain Sea Salt
- Sweet Plantain Chips at Trader Joe’s
- Barnana Organic Chewy Banana Bites
- My AIP Energy Balls(download the recipe below)
- Kale Chips(I would just put coconut amino and coconut oil on them and then dehydrate them)
- Bare Natural Apple Chips(the ones with just apples, no added sweetener)
- Raw Veggie Bread(I make mine in the dehydrator, all recipes from @realfoodlab E-book/Course)
- AIP Muffins(I get my recipes from a lot of blogs)
- I also liked making a cup of tea. I would use Traditional Medicinals Peppermint or Ginger a lot. I would add a little honey and some coconut milk for extra pizazz! I really like this Aroy-d Coconut Milk 100% .
So after doing the AIP protocol for 5 months I noticed significant improvement in my overall health.
- No bloating
- Less mood swings
- Didn’t feel tired in the afternoon
- Increased energy
- Cut my antibodies in half
Plan Going Forward-
Going forward I am now reintroducing foods into my diet again. I started with macadamia nuts(a less allergenic nut) and eggs. When introducing foods it’s important to start with the foods that are the least likely to cause a reaction. Here is a great resource for figuring out which foods to start with and which foods to not. For ex. gluten is probably a food that would be last on the list. Whereas seeds and eggs are easier for your body.
The next step as far as medical procedures is to do a stool test. My naturopath recommended this as it helps to really see what’s going on in the gut. I may also do a food allergy test in a couple months. I don’t want to be consuming foods, even though they may be good, if it’s causing my body inflammation. I’m realizing the more time goes on that there isn’t a finish line but a lifestyle and mindset shift. Not that I think the AIP diet is forever. From what I’ve read, AIP isn’t meant to be a long term diet. Avoiding that many foods for so long can actually cause more problems. Obviously everyone is different and should consult with their doctor. I’m not where I want to be but I am better than I was. I’ve learned it’s about getting to know your body and giving it what it needs in each season.
My next focus is to incorporate foods slowly and see how I react and feel. Do a stool test, and focus on getting quality sleep each night. Sleep is the hardest thing for me and something I know needs improvement.
- Hashimoto’s Protocol by Isabella Wentz
- Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson(this isn’t a thyroid book, but it has really opened my eyes to the importance of sleep for total body healing)
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis by Izabella Wentz
- How to Heal Hashimoto’s by Marc Ryan
- The Loving Diet by Jessica Flanigan
- Autoimmune Wellness
- The Paleo Mom
- Grazed and Enthused
- Healing Family Eats
- Phoenix Helix
- Unbound Wellness
- The Paleo Mom also has a list of AIP bloggers here.
*Phoenix Helix is full of so many nuggets and protocols for AIP. I get sucked into here website every time I visit. I highly recommend you check her out!
- Phoenix Helix Podcast- Can’t say enough about the quality of information and nuggets- so good!
- Unbound Wellness Podcast- Love how they address topics everyone is asking about. Feels like you’re chatting with your friend.
- Autoimmune Wellness Podcast- Such a useful resource! They cover it all.
I hope you found this post helpful! I would love to hear about your AIP journey, what’s been like for you and any tips you’ve picked up along the way!
Recipe To Download: AIP ENERGY BALLS