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Anti-inflammatory Autoimmune Diet

You may have heard of the anti-inflammatory, AIP or the candida diet in the past. I began diving into this when I first experienced health concerns years ago and had astonishing success treating my carpal tunnel syndrome with this anti-inflammatory diet. With chronic illnesses on the rise, the relevance of this Autoimmune protocol has increased in recent years. As some of you know, I have a degree in Biology from one of the top research universities in the country. I spent my 20s doing independent study and investigating chronic illness in pediatric populations, before pivoting to integrative medicine and prevention. This topic has been of great interest in recent years and I have been vigilantly researching and perfecting the methodologies on this path to calming and eradicating inflammation.


With more than 100 types of autoimmune disease labels and more than 50,000,000 people suffering, this information is vitally important and for some can even be a matter of life or death. Even if you do not have autoimmune conditions, this diet will help you feel better and alleviate pain in your body. Autoimmune conditions are coded by genes spanning 10 different chromosomes and it is estimated that most people are actually partial carriers of these genes. This means less severe expression can still plague their system even though they do not have an official diagnosis. Many people suffer from digestive pain, bloating, indigestion, constipation, body aches, chronic soreness, joint pain, hormonal imbalances, not knowing that their body is actually sending them a message that something just isn't right. The truth is, comfort foods are actually discomfort foods! Since what we put in our systems is pretty much the only factor we can control, it makes sense to begin there. When we have a plant that is sick, we work with the soil. Similarly, in traditional Chinese medicine the substance you give your body is considered the soil.. Soil is the foundation for all growth. It can be growth of disease or growth of health depending on choices we make.


The AIP diet is the highest nutrient density diet there is and focuses on eliminating foods with high anti-nutrient loads. Substances such as lectins, phytates, tannins and oxalates are some of the main factors creating leaky gut, inflammation and hormone imbalance issues. After 2 years moving towards complete purity, I can honestly say this is the diet we were meant to eat to begin with. Luckily many foods are available to replace the fast foods and fast medicine in favor of truly nourishing quality fuel for your body. This is no easy feat if you are addicted to sugars, highly processed food and grains, but the main question to ask yourself is why do you eat? Has food become just another form of entertainment? Should we as a society realign our relationship to food from entertainment to fuel for this blessed life?


So what is the gist of this diet?

Cutting out grains, legumes, night shades, dairy, sugar/sugar substitutes, chemical additives, processed foods, alcohols and high glycemic substances. Why do beans and cheese cause bloating? Anti-nutrients of course! Turns out that comfort foods are actually the cause of all our discomfort.


Autoimmune Aggravating Foods
Autoimmune triggering foods that should be avoided.









For most people these foods are the staples because we are told its good for you, however once you experience life without these things, your health and vitality will flood back to you. Lectins are present in all seeds, grains, nuts and night shades. This class of molecules lodges itself in the gut lining and causes tiny leaks from the digestive system into the bloodstream. The undigested molecules then move through the system and cause systemic inflammation and chaos. Plants evolved this mechanism in order to preserve their chances of survival. When eaten, the organism has a negative reaction and is less likely to be eaten next time. Lectins can be decreased by extensively soaking and removing the water several times before cooking, but even cooking does not fully remove this class of compounds. Night shades are another problem food. When potatoes were first discovered, they were actually believed to be poisonous. Eventually people began to cook and process them leading to the potato craze we've all been living in for the last couple centuries. Their discoverers' initial reaction, however, was correct. The presence of oxalates and lectins is immediately palpable when you taste the raw roots. In terms of peppers and tomatoes, the lectins are mostly in the skin, yet still present. Phytates, on the other hand are less noticeable in their effect as they act within your gut. Instead of destroying the gut lining, these compounds (physic acid mostly) bind proteins and minerals that are supposed to be your fuel and carry them away down the toilet instead. Phytates are present in oats and other grains and therefore are considered an anti-nutrient.


When ever faced with dietary changes, I always recommend the slow and steady approach. Your gut flora needs to catch up to the changes and new habits should be developed. If your autoimmune disease is in a full swing flareup, it is best to cut out trigger foods immediately and expand your repertoire of vegetables. Also don't forget to add adequate sleep, exercise and plenty of sunshine. To begin, it is best to clear out your pantry of all the foods on the avoid list and stock your house with the new list.


Watermelon radishes are a great way to scoop roasted fennel hummus or strawberry beet salsa.

Focus on these foods:

Vegetables

artichoke, arugula, asparagus, beet, all cruciferous, all squash, carrot, celery root and celery, cucumber, endive, fennel, jicama, kale, lettuce, kohlrabiI pumpkin, mushrooms, mustard greens, radicchio, all radishes, rutabaga, seaweed, shallot, sweet potato, taro, turnip, water chestnut, watercress, yam, yucca, zucchini.

Herbs and spices

basil, bay leaf, chamomile, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, lavender, lemongrass, mace, marjoram, mintoregano leaf, parsley, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, sea salt, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, vanilla bean.

Fruit

apples, apricots, avocado, bananas, all berries , cantaloupe, all citrus, cherries, coconut, date,  figs, grapefruit, grapes, guava, kiwi, lemon, lime, lychee, mango, nectarine, olive, papaya, passion fruit, peaches, pears, pineapples, plantain, plum, pomegranate, rhubarb , watermelon

Meat

beef, bison, duck, elk, lamb, mutton, pork, rabbit, turkey, venison, yak.

Organ Meats

bone roth, gizzard, heart, kidney, liver, tongue

Fish

anchovies, bass, carp, catfish, cod, haddock, halibut, herring, mackerel, mahi, monkfish, salmon, sardines, snapper, sole, swordfish, tilapia, trout, tuna.

Shellfish

clams, crab, crawfish, lobster, mussels, octopus, oysters, prawns, scallops, shrimp, squid.

Ferments

Kombucha, kvass, lactofermented fruit and vegetables, saurkraut, water kefir.

Fats

avocado oil, baon fat, coconut oil, duck fat, lard, olive oil, palm oil, tallow.

Sweeteners

coconut sugar (maybe), coconut syrup, dates, dried fruit, honey, maple syrup, molases. In extreme moderation (less than 20g/day)

Moderation

AIP treats, baked goods, coconut products, fructose, green and black tea, high glycemic fruit and vegetables, natural sweeteners and salts.

Avoid these foods:

Grains

amaranth, barley, buckwheat, bulgar, corn, farro, kaput, millet, oats, quinoa, rices, rye, sorghum, spelt, teff, wheat.

Beans/Legumes

adzuki, black bean, black-eyed peas, calico bean, cannellini bean, chickpeas, fava bean, great northern bean, green bean, kidney bean, lentils, lima bean, navy bean, peanuts, red bean, soy bean, split peas, sugar snap peas, white bean.

Nightshades

ashwaghanda, all peppers, eggplant, gojiIberries, ground gherries, all potatoes, tobacco, tomatillos, tomatoes, (also spices down below)

Eggs

duck, chicken, goose, quail

Dairy

Butter, buttermilk, cheese, cottage cheese, cream, cream cheese, all yoghurts (yes also frozen), ghee, goat cheese, goat milk, ice cream, kefir, milk, sour cream, whey, whey protein.

Nuts and Seeds

almond, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnut, chia, cocoa, cacao, coffee, flax, hazelnuts, hemp, macadamia, pecan, pine nut, pistachio, pumpkin, sesame seed, sunflower seed, all flours/butters derived from nuts and seeds

Fats

all oils/butters derived from nuts and seeds, canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, palm kernel oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil.

Herbs/Spices

Allspice, aniseed, caraway, cardamom, cayenne pepper, celery seed, chili pepper flakes, chili powder and all pepper based seasonings, coriander seed, cumin, curry, dill seed, fennel seed, fenugreek, juniper, mustard seed, nutmeg, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, star anise, sumac, vanilla seeds.

Other

alcohol, bee pollen, chlorella, emulsifiers, food additives, food chemicals and preservatives, maca, NSAIDs, processed and refined sugars, spirulina, sugar alcohols, non-nutritive sweeteners (stevia and Xylitol), thickening agents

Over time you will discover recipes that will become staples in your home, rely on leafy greens in place of tortillas, cruciferous vegetables as your base dish, and diversify your organ meat/ seafood options. A good AIP Butternut squash soup and cauliflower rice go a long way. Also, did you know that you can use turnip and watermelon radish slices instead of crackers? Bone broth will become your best friend and sweet deserts of papayas, dragon fruit and grapefruit. Remember that all new habits take time to form and new recipes have a bit of a learning curve, so give yourself grace. Best wishes from your holistic health practitioner, Olga Brennan!


*Some of the information shared from the Autoimmune Protocol Made Simple Cookbook, which I highly recommend. This information is not not substitute for medical advise, so please use your discretion.

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