Autoimmune disease is a bizarre medical condition where your immune system starts targeting the beneficial microbes and the healthy cells of your body. The immune system normally defends your body against invading microbes that are hazardous to your health, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The antibodies, produced by immune system, turn against healthy cells instead of fighting only against harmful invaders.
The different types of autoimmune diseases will affect everyone’s body differently and the amount of damage done to your organs and healthy cells will also vary. There are around 80 types of medical conditions known to be autoimmune diseases and a person can experience unusual organ growth and malfunction in some cases.
Factors that can Lead to Autoimmune Disease
There is a mixed debate over this heated issue of what causes autoimmune diseases. Some experts emphasize environmental factors, food, and lifestyle while others claim that this has links with genetics and this runs in families.
The American Autoimmune Related Disease Association (AARDA) found out that 75% of American women are predisposed to autoimmune disease simply by their genetic makeup. Many other experts all over the world blame the environmental and dietary factors for autoimmune conditions.
Research has proven that autoimmune disease is a consequence of certain elements of your:
- your job
- most importantly, the food you consume
- higher levels of estrogen
- exposure to radioactive metals and toxins
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Symptoms of Autoimmune Disease
The symptoms of autoimmune disease can differ greatly and are usually hard to distinguish because of the variety of different diseases. The basic symptoms include fatigue, constantly falling sick, and frequent fever. These symptoms may go away themselves but can give you a harsh experience during flare-ups. You can also have a combination of many symptoms of these various diseases.
According to Hopkins Medicine, the following symptoms can indicate if you are suffering from autoimmune disease:
- Sensation of inflammation in the muscles and joint pain
- Swift heartbeat, insomnia, and weight loss
- Dullness of skin, rabies, and harsh rashes, especially on the neck, nose, and hips
- Dizziness by the exposure to extreme sunlight
- Lack of focus
- Constant feeling of tiredness
- Unusual hair loss
- Bloating and inflammation in the gut
- Digestive disorders, ulcers, and diarrhea
- Multiple blood clots
- Insensibility in the hands and feet
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Why Does a Person Need an Autoimmune Protocol?
One of the effective treatments to counter these autoimmune conditions is the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, also known as AIP. AIP consists of a specialized diet and healthy lifestyle that are crucial for the rejuvenation of your immune system. It limits the consumption of all the foods that are considered a menace for your gut and ultimately the immune system. A person who is suffering from intense autoimmune symptoms should follow this focused diet plan.
AIP puts huge emphasis on special nutrients that are essential for healing the gut, hormone production, and keeping the immune system in balance. The foods that AIP features contain vital nutrients for the growth and perfect function of the body. They have no elements that hinder your health. These foods include vegetables, leafy greens, seafood, and white lean meat.
On the other hand, the food it eliminates from the diet usually contains harmful ingredients that deteriorate several systems of your body inducing various diseases. Prime examples of these foods are artificial sweeteners, refined grains, and fatty oils.
This AIP diet is designed with many complexities but it judges the food on the benefits and drawbacks, thus concluding whether to allow it or not. Ultimately, it only allows the most nutrient-enriched foods and rejects foods that contain elements that can cause harm to your gut and possibly cause your gut to malfunction. Even the neutral food items that have both benefits and drawbacks (nightshades such as chili peppers and tomatoes) are completely prohibited. This prevents any risk that is posed to the health of your body.
This diet can be very strict because it simple does not compromise even a little bit but it has proven benefits. This diet is a collection of all the benefits that many other diets offer. Research has proven and bolstered its restorative potential to cure autoimmune condition and halt the process of severe sclerosis.
How Does The Autoimmune Protocol Work?
The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) focuses on four important aspects that play vital roles in the rejuvenation of immune system and elimination of other chronic diseases. The AIP operates to ensure that conditions are sufficient for your body’s ultimate health.
The first aspect
The first is nutrient density. The human body is comprised of a complex system where the immune, neurotransmission and digestive systems are the most significant features. This system needs a constant supply of mixed nutrients to function properly.
These vital nutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, amino and fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and some other microbes such as probiotics. The AIP diet concentrates on a balanced supply of these rich nutrients that interact and combine their benefits to modulate the immune system properly.
This diet also repairs all the damage done to your organs and other parts of the body.
The second aspect
The second aspect is your gut and the digestive system. Gut dysbiosis and bloating can cause the immune system to malfunction, which results in autoimmune disease. The gut bacteria (also known as probiotics) have a symbiotic relationship with the immune system as they promote the growth of antibodies. Foods that destroy these bacteria and cause digestive disorders are completely condemned while foods that recover your gut barrier function are encouraged.
The third aspect
The third key aspect is the regulation of hormones in your body. These microorganisms are responsible for all the actions and reactions in your system.
Eating certain foods or overeating can cause an imbalance in the production of these hormones that directly affects the immune system.
The AIP avoids the foods that stimulates or hinder the production of hormones that affect your immune system both positively and negatively thus keeping them in balance.
The fourth aspect
Last but most importantly, AIP directly affects immune system regulation and ensures that the diverse microbes are working in harmony. All the important features of this diet are linked with the healing and enhancement of your immune system. AIP is vitally important in reversing inflammation, which can severely harm the immune system and induce many chronic diseases.
What to Eat and What to Avoid
The Autoimmune Protocol has built its reputation by recommending only a nutrient-rich diet that is composed of health-boosting foods. It completely condemns those foods that provoke inflammatory conditions and factors that autoimmune diseases thrive on.
The following food items are encouraged for you to eat in moderate quantity while following AIP:
- Organ meat: heart, kidney, liver, and brone both ( try eating these organ meats at least three times per week)
- Seafood: mainly fish and shellfish, including cod, catfish, halibut, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, clams, prawns, shrimps, crabs, lobsters, oysters, octopus, and squid (try eating them more often because they are rich in protein and essential minerals)
- Vegetables and herbs of all varieties: leafy greens that include beet greens, carrot tops, collard greens, spinach, kale, lettuce, cabbages, turnips, and mustard greens
- Root vegetables: these include carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkins, squash, and jicama
- Sea vegetables and edible fungi that includes mushrooms, arame, dulse and wakame
- All fruits and berries but keep the fructose intake in balance
- Rich-in-protein meats that include beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, mutton, pork, and pigeons (try consuming them five times a week)
- Beneficial fat and fatty acids: including animal meat, fish, coconut, avocado, and olives
- Fermented and fiber-rich foods: chives, onions, garlics, shallots, kombucha, kefir, coconut milk yogurt and kimchee (these are prebiotic and probiotic-rich food so try taking them on a daily basis)
Following are the foods that should be excluded from your diet:
- Alcohol: beer, wine, and all spirits
- All sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners
- Processed food chemicals and ingredients, including artificial food colors, all preservatives, yeast extract, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and all other processed products
- Refined grains and some whole grains: barley, corn, millets, oats, rice, rye, and all kind of wheat
- Refined sugars and oils
- Coffee beans
- Dairy products: milk and all the foods that are made from milk, including butter, cheese, yogurt, and cream
- Legumes: Adzuki beans, black beans, black peas, peanuts, lentils, kidney beans, and all other kinds of beans
- Spices and Nightshades – These include bell peppers, cayenne peppers, chili peppers, eggplant, huckleberries, tomatoes, paprika, and other nightshade spices
Another important part of this AIP diet consists of balancing sugar, salt, and fatty acid intakes. Fructose can be taken in the form of fruits and vegetables around 10 to 25 grams per day. High fructose intake, even when supplied by healthy berries and fruits, can raise the blood sugar too high, which can affect the way the body digests its food.
The AIP diet plan is specially devised to cure those who suffer from autoimmune diseases. This diet contains essential nutrients required to prevent many disorders furthermore, it is free from all those constituents that upsets the gut, cause dysbiosis and stimulates your immune system.
Everyday Life Factors that Influence Autoimmune
The AIP will play the key role in suppressing the autoimmune condition but living your life with balance and healthy tactics is also equally crucial. Sleeping is important for you to recover and keep your system functioning properly. Deprivation of sleep or insomnia can cause fluctuation in metabolism that triggers the appetite and sugar cravings. This can lead to various inflammatory diseases, mainly diabetes, that indirectly induces autoimmune diseases. Your body requires at least 8 hours of sleep to operate vigorously and many adults survive on much less each night.
Stress is yet another leech that can exacerbate the immune system. Try meditation and relaxing exercises to counter stress on regular basis. Morning exercises are vital for regulation of a good energy flow and combat against many chronic diseases. It is not necessary for the exercise to be intense. Yoga or simple stretches early in the morning can do wonders for your health and your stress level. Keeping busy with other activities and socializing will keep you distracted from stress and other negative thoughts. Consider spending time with friends or enjoying any of your favorite hobbies.
Removal and Reintroduction
The autoimmune protocol diet is an unorthodox one and some complexities may occur in this very strict diet based on ample nutrients. It can be excessive in calories and there is an absence of some major nutrient-containing foods, such as grains and dairy products. The plethora of some nutrients, your health history, and your adaptation to certain foods can cause fluctuations in your everyday life. There is a chance you may suffer from food intolerances and on the other hand, cannot cope up without some foods that are eliminated in the AIP. The AIP is definitely a nutrient-rich diet that is free from foods responsible for health problems but the removal of these foods can be reversed with time. This means that you can reintroduce the foods, banned by the AIP, in your diet after some time of healing your body.
The reintroduction of foods has a certain procedure
It is ideal to follow AIP for 3 weeks or a month before reintroducing the prevented food. Normally you should do it after you start feeling positive effects of the AIP diet on your body. You will feel the effects yourself if the AIP has replenished your body back to its ideal condition. The best way is to reintroduce a single food in every week and analyze if you feel any reaction.
Following are symptoms to observe after the reintroduction:
- The return of fatigue
- Problems with digestive system – bloating, abdominal pain, problem passing stool, nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, or some other gastric problems
- Dizziness and sweaty palms
- Yearning for coffee and sugar
- Sore eyes and dry mouth
- Inflammation in tissues, joints, and chronic pain in bones
- Constant depression
There is a specific strategy for reintroduction of the food which will yield quick results and identify whether the food is causing any reactivity or it is now safe for you to consume.
Pick a food you desire but make sure it is not too harmful. Grains or eggs are ideal to start with. Experiment by consuming it three times a day and then refrain from it for the next few days. Eat it a little at the start and wait for any reactions to happen in the next two or three hours. If any of the symptoms occur, prepare to stay away from that food for a very long time. If nothing happens, consume it at least twice in your meal. For the next five to seven days, do not consume it while analyzing for any possible reaction of an autoimmune symptom.
Reintroduce this food if the results are clear and you did not suffer from any of the mentioned symptoms. It would be wise not to rush in this regard and take your time to implement the reintroduction phase.