By now, you’re probably aware that your gut plays a significant role in the health of your entire body. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s especially important because the gut is involved in so many processes from digestion to metabolic function. Today, conditions like leaky gut are a rampant problem causing so many health problems, but some experts believe that we can undo some of this damage by adopting a gut-friendly, nutrient-rich diet — enter the Autoimmune Protocol.
What is the AIP diet?
The AIP diet, or autoimmune protocol diet, was originally developed to help those struggling with autoimmune disorders like psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, and more. Autoimmune conditions are caused when the body’s immune system begins attacking normal, healthy cells instead of simply protecting us from harmful intruders. While the exact cause of autoimmune conditions is unknown, many experts believe that they could be caused by a leaky gut.
“Leaky gut” refers to damage to the intestinal lining. The lining of our intestines is made up of bacteria that protect us against disease and infection. However, when that lining becomes damaged, it’s easier for harmful bacteria to seep through the intestines into the bloodstream, which causes a host of symptoms (weight gain being one of them) and health conditions. What’s more, a leaky gut can also cause weight gain because certain bacteria can trigger inflammation, insulin resistance, and fat storage in the body. Signs of leaky gut can include chronic diarrhea or constipation, brain fog, fatigue, excessive sugar cravings, and more.
The AIP diet, then, is a diet plan designed to combat a leaky gut. It’s said to be originated by Loren Cordain, PhD, a scientist who discovered that certain foods trigger inflammation in people with autoimmune diseases. Other health experts like Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution (Buy on Amazon, $21.95), then developed eating plans based on Cordain’s discoveries, leading to the creation of the AIP Diet. According to its creators, eating the recommended foods on this plan and eliminating those that cause inflammation can help to rebuild the gut lining and eliminate inflammation for better health, weight loss, and disease prevention/treatment.
What can’t you eat on the AIP diet?
The AIP diet is very similar to the paleo diet, though with a few more restrictions. It’s categorized as an elimination diet, meaning that it’s based mostly on eliminating foods that are said to trigger inflammation. On the AIP diet, you’re advised to cut out:
- dairy products
- Fructose (fruit sugars)
- Low-cal sweeteners like stevia
- processed foods
- refined sugars
- industrial seed oils (such as vegetable or canola oils)
This list may seem pretty restrictive, but it’s said that after a few weeks of eliminating these foods completely, you can start to reintroduce them slowly to see how your body fares after having a break. Then, if you notice weight gain, bloating, digestive symptoms or others coming back, you’re aware of which foods are causing them and can change your diet accordingly.
What can you eat on the AIP diet?
Now that we’ve covered what you can’t eat, here’s a list of AIP diet-approved foods:
- Vegetables except those in the nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, etc.)
- high-quality seafood
- fermented foods like kombucha and kimchi
- lean meats
- small amounts of fruit
- Small amounts of honey and maple syrup
- olive, coconut, and avocado oils
All in all, adopting a diet like the AIP diet can help you get more nutrients and support your body and your immune system for better health and even weight loss. The AIP diet does eliminate a lot of foods, but with all the options left, creating healthy, yummy meals is definitely possible. If you’re in need of some inspiration, check out this AIP diet recipe roundup on Primal Palate!