AIP – Autoimmune Protocol
It was only in the past six months that I heard of the autoimmune protocol (AIP). I wish I had learned about it sooner because I believe it has helped me improve significantly. I encourage those with AI issues to try it but I do so with a word of caution — if you are not willing to change your dietary habits, and just want a pill to take, this is not the option for you. Starting back almost 20 years ago, the biggest improvements in my health have occurred when I was willing to change my diet.
Our immune system is designed to fight off foreign invaders — like viruses and bacteria. Sometimes our immune system will identify a part of the body as a foreign invader and start attacking it. I’m sure you have heard of lots of autoimmune diseases – Lupus, Hashimoto’s, Celiac disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, Sjogren’s Syndrome. There are many more. With each one, the immune system is attacking a different part of the body.
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Hashimoto’s & Celiac Disease
About four years ago a health care practitioner finally tested me for autoimmune diseases. Thyroid antibodies showed up in my blood work. Despite having had symptoms of thyroid issues for many years, my thyroid hormone numbers were still in what is considered a normal range. However those number are not normal for me. Starting on thyroid meds was a good thing for me. I also have a few thyroid nodules. These nodules have decreased in size after starting on the thyroid meds. Celiac disease often goes hand-in-hand with thyroid issues. I react to gluten almost 100% of the time.
Auto Immune Protocol is a dietary method of dealing with autoimmune issues. I have been using AIP for about six months and my health has improved. There is a book by Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt called The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook – A guide to living well with chronic illness. I think it is an excellent resource for those with autoimmune issues. I have listened to multiple podcasts done by Mickey and the healing stories are very motivating to me — to hear stories of others who are incredibly sick who get better using the AIP.
What is a nightshade?
My family thinks the name nightshade is funny. It is actually a family of vegetables that contain glycoalkaloids which are often related to chronic pain and inflammation. I had never heard of nightshades until 9-12 months ago. After learning about them, I decided to go ahead and remove this family of vegetables from my diet and within 2 weeks my joint pain decreased significantly. Here is an article that talks about the link between nightshades, chronic pain and inflammation. And another article that explains more about glycoalkaloids.
What veggies are nightshades?
Eggplant, tomato, potato, okra, tomatillo, goji berries, all peppers, lots of spices — like paprika, which is added to soooo many things. If you are serious about trying AIP, gather information before you dive in (like the above mentioned book). You need to have a plan in place before you start. Cutting out tomato, potato, and peppers were hard for me. Something in my brain does not want to accept that veggies can be bad for me.
What happens if I eat nightshades?
Last week I was at the store and bought some Pringles potato chips for my kids. Pringles have gluten in them (who would have thought), so I don’t eat them. Then I was at another store and saw Lay’s potato chips on sale so I bought a bag for me — thinking that I could eat them because they don’t have gluten. The next morning I was talking to my sweetheart and told him that I didn’t understand why my joints were hurting so much. I mentioned that I had eaten some potato chips the day before … as the words came out of my mouth I remembered about potatoes being a nightshade. So that was what I call a “confirmation day.” That yes, if I eat nightshades, I will hurt soon thereafter.
Food is powerful — it can hurt and it can heal. With all the pollutants in our environment, pesticides, herbicides and such, some bodies really struggle. But there is hope. Changing one’s diet can significantly alter how one feels. I encourage you to read more about the connections between diet and health if you struggle with chronic pain or chronic health issues of any kind. As I was reviewing information for this post, I was reminded that onion, garlic and black pepper are all things that are suggested to be removed when one is AIP. I have not chosen to remove those (hoping that removing others would be sufficient) but since I am still struggling with some joint pain and very low energy, I may need to remove those from my diet as well.
Wishing you peace, hope and joy!