The concept of food as medicine is not new. Dating back to Hippocrates in 375 BC, we have long known that food can harm, and food can heal. The new kid on the block of healing foods diets is the AIP Diet. AIP stands for auto-immune protocol, or paleo auto-immune, is focused on foods that help heal the gut, reduce inflammation and reduce immune stimulators. Essentially a stricter version of the paleo diet, AIP includes foods that are anti-inflammatory and gut healing while eliminating problematic foods that are thought to increase inflammation and decrease the integrity of the gut wall. AIP gives your body a chance to heal with food.
This type of diet is most impactful on people with chronic and auto immune disease, though adopting this diet will likely make most people feel better. Auto-immune disease is one in which the body starts attacking itself. Conventional treatment usually centers around reducing circulating immune complexes which means turning down the dial on the immune system to get it to stop fighting with itself. The problem with these types of medications is that along with deactivating the immune cells causing the damage, they also deactivate healthy immune cells. This leaves the auto-immune patient more vulnerable to infections and other diseases.
What if food could do the job of controlling the immune system without decreasing the immune system’s potential? Dr. Terry Wahls, an expert on autoimmunity, author of The Wahls Protocol and an MS patient herself, claims that diet saved her life. Confined to a zero gravity wheel chair due to advanced MS, Wahls changed her diet- and her body. After embarking on a nutrient-rich, whole foods diet she now out of her wheel chair and spends her free time horseback riding and bike riding. Functional medicine Doctor Mark Hyman of the UltraWellness Center in Massachusetts has also created a diet called the UltraSimple Diet. This is the diet that he prescribes to his patients with everything from psoriasis to irritable bowel. Cardiologist, and author of the Plant Paradox, Dr. Steven Gundry speaks about the trouble with lectins, a plant-based protein found in nightshade vegetables, legumes and some fruit. These carbohydrate-binding proteins are being blamed for digestive distress, chronic fatigue, inflammation and brain fog.
The AIP takes all three of these concepts and blends them into one diet. All of these diets are based on the same premise. Healing the cells with nutrient-rich foods while avoiding foods that are thought to cause problems. The concept is simple. Cut out the junk. Exclude processed foods, added sugar, chemicals, additives, MSG, alcohol, trans fats, refined flours and dairy. Exclude nightshade vegetables like tomatoes and potatoes. Exclude legumes and grains. So, what do you eat? Lots of whole foods dominated by vegetables including sweet potatoes, bone broth, non-dairy fermented foods like sauerkraut, coconut milk, non-seed herbs like oregano, basil and mint, wild-caught and grass-fed animal proteins, low sugar fruits and healthy fats like olive oil and avocados.
If you think of food as information for your cells, it is easy to understand how these diets work. This information comes in the form of amino acids, minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids and antioxidants. These nutrients inform your cells how to behave. With the correct nutrients the cells will heal and regenerate. With poor information from processed and inflammatory foods the message can be to harm and destruct.
To build cells properly, you need the right tools. The AIP diet might just have the perfect tool set.
By Tapp Francke Ingolia
as seen in The Purist Magazine