Getting Started on the Autoimmune Protocol: Part 1
The Autoimmune Protocol is a real food elimination diet that focuses on healing the gut and reducing inflammation in the body to improve symptoms of autoimmunity, digestive disorders, or other health concerns. In addition to eliminating the foods that are restricted in a general real nutrition template, the Autoimmune Protocol takes it a step further by temporarily removing certain foods, gut irritants, and environmental factors that are known to have a negative impact on gut health. The foods that are restricted on the Autoimmune Protocol include:
- All Processed Foods
- Refined Fats & Oils
- Refined Sugars
- Processed Dairy
- All Dairy (Including Grassfed Butter)
- Seeds (Including Cocoa and Coffee)
- Seed-based Spices (Dill, Fennel, Sesame Seed, etc.)
- Nightshade Vegetables (Including Tomatoes, Eggplants, Potatoes, Peppers, Tomatillos, Spices Derived from Peppers, etc.)
Other Factors to Consider
Stress reduction and adequate sleep are both key elements to implementing the Autoimmune Protocol, as well as restricting high intensity and chronic endurance exercise. The body’s overall toxic burden should be minimized by reducing exposure to toxic cleaning products and conventional hygiene and beauty care products. Although you should consult with your health care provider prior to discontinuing any prescribed medications, the use of over-the-counter pain medications, such as NSAIDs (aspirin and ibuprofen) and acetaminophen can interfere with the healing process while following the protocol. Many prescription medications, such as hormonal birth control and corticosteroids also affect the gut, which may be something to consider if the Autoimmune Protocol is not working well for you. Consuming nutrient-dense foods, such as organ meats and bone broth, and monitoring the use of whole food sweeteners is also advised.
Is the Autoimmune Protocol Right for You?
If you are struggling with symptoms of autoimmunity, digestive distress, or other nagging health concerns, you should first consider transitioning to a general real food nutrition template, if you have not done so already. Many people discover that a general real food diet works well to control their symptoms and improve their quality of life. If you are still having distressing symptoms despite following a strict real food diet, then you should consider the Autoimmune Protocol. You do not need to be officially diagnosed with an autoimmune disease to try the protocol. Some types of autoimmune disease are notoriously difficult to diagnose and waiting for a diagnosis isn’t necessary. If followed correctly, the Autoimmune Protocol is a balanced, nutrient-dense diet.
In Part 2 of this series, we will continue to explore the Autoimmune Protocol and how it works, as well as how you can go about reintroductions of foods on the Autoimmune Protocol.