Getting Started on the Autoimmune Protocol: Part 2
In Part 1 of this series, we introduced the Autoimmune Protocol, 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. Let’s continue to explore why the Autoimmune Protocol is effective.
Why the Autoimmune Protocol Works
The intestinal lining is one of the immune system’s major lines of defense against infections, toxins, and other threats that are introduced into the body through food and drink. Normally, the intestinal epithelial cells sit together closely and are joined by tight junctions that form a barrier to prevent unwanted substances from passing through into the bloodstream. The lining of the small intestine can become damaged due to a variety of factors, leading to what is referred to as a leaky gut. The leaky gut will allow undesirable substances to pass directly from the gut to the bloodstream. The body recognizes these substances as foreign invaders and mounts an immune system attack. Research suggests that a leaky gut can eventually lead to systemic inflammation and autoimmunity. The Autoimmune Protocol focuses on healing the lining of the small intestine to decrease the permeability. The foods and environmental considerations that are restricted on the protocol are those that are known to increase intestinal permeability or cause inflammation in the body. By eliminating these factors for a period of time, the lining of the gut is given an opportunity to heal and become less permeable. Often, it may be possible to reintroduce these foods without having a reaction or a return of symptoms. Other times, it may be possible to reintroduce some of the foods, but not all of them.
Reintroducing Foods on the Autoimmune Protocol
If attempting the Autoimmune Protocol, all of the restrictions should be implemented for a minimum of 30 days, or ideally, until symptoms have improved before attempting a reintroduction. Foods should be reintroduced one at a time, waiting at least 3 days in-between food reintroductions to monitor for any symptoms of a sensitivity or reaction to the food. Symptoms that indicate a reaction to a food include a return of autoimmune symptoms, gastrointestinal distress, joint pain, headache, fatigue, skin changes, or mood fluctuations.
While the Autoimmune Protocol can be challenging to implement, it has been known to drastically improve the quality of life of many people struggling with a variety of health concerns.
Have you tried the Autoimmune Protocol? What has your experience been like?