The auto-immune diet can reduce inflammation in IBD

The auto-immune diet can reduce inflammation in IBD

The autoimmune diet may help to pinpoint foods that are triggering your symptoms


The autoimmune protocol diet, or the AIP, is aimed to reduce inflammation in those with IBD, lupus, arthritis, celiac disease, and other autoimmune conditions. But most people don't realize that the AIP has two different stages. Because certain foods are thought to cause or increase inflammation, the AIP removes these foods from your diet in the first stage. Then you slowly introduce them back to pinpoint which foods are fine to eat and which may be causing your problems.

The diet itself is very similar to the paleo diet, emphasizing most of the same foods. But it's not certain how the foods trigger inflammation, and those trying the diet should also know that

  • The first, elimination stage isn't healthy long-term because of the nutrients missing
  • When adding foods back, in the second stage, you should do so gradually. For example, don't add all grains at once. Try one, then another, spacing out the re-introduction over several days or even a week between the foods
  • If symptoms return after introducing a food, stop it; other foods can still be tried, but wait a week before doing so.
  • You may be able to get help with the dietitian or nutritionist familiar with the diet
  • The diet doesn't help everyone  

What gets eliminated in the AIP first stage

●  Grains

●  Nuts

●  Seeds

●  Nightshade Vegetables (see below)

●  Eggs

●  All dairy

●  Coffee

●  Oils

●  Food additives

What the AIP encourages

●  Meats

●  Fermented foods

●  Bone broth

●  Fruits

●  Non-nightshade vegetables

What are nightshade vegetables?

Common nightshade vegetables include tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers, okra, eggplant, paprika, and cayenne peppers. These vegetables are rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fibers, and antioxidants. However, some studies claim that the alkaloids contained in these foods can aggravate the intestinal linings. While more studies need to be done, nightshade vegetables are eliminated in the first stage as a precaution in case they contribute to your inflammation.

The AIP second stage

Within a month, you should see an improvement in how you feel. If you feel better, you can begin to reintroduce the foods slowly one at a time, perhaps one a week. If you experience symptoms as a food is introduced, it may be one of these foods that are causing your problems. You should then wait a week and try to introduce one of the other foods back to see if that's a safe food or if it's causing problems. You should continue to introduce the restricted foods to make sure that you're only eliminating a few that may be causing your issues because the diet in the first stage eliminates many nutrients a person needs.

If you don't improve from the AIP in the first stage, it probably means that these foods aren't contributing to your inflammation and it's not worthwhile to continue the diet. You might want to look for other causes of your inflammation with your doctor's help.

Bottom Line

The autoimmune protocol diet can help you find foods that are triggering your symptoms, but it's a two-stage process: eliminating a lot of potential sources (and the nutrients that go with them) and them adding foods back one at a time, since just some of the foods may be a problem.  

If you are concerned that you're not getting the nutrients you need, or you're having problems in either phase, meet with a dietitian.

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