Alternative MethodsConventional Methods

March 29

The Autoimmune Protocol Diet: An Introductory Guide

Tracy Campbell
Core Spirit member since Dec 24, 2020
Reading time 5 min.

Autoimmune diseases are more common than ever before.

The alarming increase in asthma, Crohn’s disease and type 1 diabetes in children are testament to that fact (1, 2).

Unfortunately, our scientific understanding and treatment protocols for autoimmune conditions have not progressed at the same rate.

The Autoimmune Protocol diet (AIP) has since emerged as an all-diet approach to treatment; one that is making its way into mainstream medicine.

This introductory guide looks at the pros and cons of the AIP diet and explores how it (potentially) works.

What Is The Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP)?

The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is an elimination diet designed for those with an autoimmune disease.

It is a restrictive eating pattern said to have emerged from the Paleo movement (and sometimes referred to as Autoimmune Paleo as well as Autoimmune Disease Diet). But to describe it as Paleo seems too unscientific, and also a term I don’t like to use (for reasons outside the scope of this article).

On the surface AIP sounds like just another fad diet, but it’s simply an extremely nutrient-dense diet that excludes all known or suspected gut irritants. Emphasis is also placed on non-nutritional aspects of lifestyle known to influence symptoms of autoimmunity. This includes things like managing stress, prioritizing sleep and regular exercise.

The Autoimmune Protocol is not a cure (autoimmune diseases are not reversible) but it can make you symptom-free, at least according to patient testimonial.

Summary: The AIP is an elimination diet designed to help treat all forms of autoimmune disease. It is not a cure, but a long-term holistic approach based around the removal of gut irritants from the diet.

How Does It Work… Is It A Universal Autoimmune Disease Diet?

An autoimmune disease is a condition that develops when your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy substances and tissues in the body.

Over 80 other illnesses are caused by autoimmunity (such as Fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and hypothyroidism), but new research suggests they may all have the same root cause…

A combination of imbalances in gut bacteria (gut dysbiosis) and low-grade inflammation (inflammation in our cells) (3, 4).

The Autoimmune Protocol is said to help eliminate certain food chemicals and compounds that cause gut dysbiosis and low-grade inflammation in sensitive individuals. Cutting out these foods (in theory) reduces inflammation and gives your body the opportunity to recover and “reset”; known medically as remission.

This is what celiac patients experience when they go gluten-free, or most IBS patients when they follow a low FODMAP diet.

Once in a state of remission (symptom-free), you can then begin slowly reintroducing different foods. These so-called “food challenges” show you exactly what you can tolerate, and how much.

Based on this theory and process, the AIP is considered a “universal” autoimmune disease diet as it may help with the entire spectrum of autoimmunity issues.

Summary: It is thought all autoimmunity issues arise because of gut dysbiosis and low-grade inflammation of our cells. The AIP diet helps you to identify and eliminate foods that fuel these problems; at least theoretically.

Is There Scientific Evidence To Back This Up?

I’ll admit I was highly skeptical of Autoimmune Protocol diet at first.

It remains theoretical (unproven) because researchers in the area of rheumatology/immunology rarely do randomized trials on elimination diets (the only way to prove “cause and effect”).

But that means it has not been disproven either. The proposed mechanisms behind this theory are founded on preliminary studies and it is certainly an intriguing area of nutrition science.

And it also means that overall, researchers still cannot reliably say what foods influence autoimmune diseases and their symptoms (nor to what extent).

Does the AIP help because:

You cut out specific trigger food components?

Such a restrictive diet inadvertently forces you to eat healthier on a consistent basis?

Or is it a combination of both?

It’s hard to say, especially when the majority of elimination studies have only looked at gluten. And even that area has heavily mixed results (5, 6, 7, 8).

There are so many aspects of health where basing decisions on non-trial and anecdotal evidence (personal testimonial) is dangerous and irresponsible. But when it comes to autoimmune diseases and the lack of nutrition research, it seems irresponsible not to.

Summary: The lack of clinical trials around autoimmune diseases in general – let alone on the influence of nutrition and elimination diets – leaves us without any solid recommendations. Theoretically AIP can help, and anecdotally it has a great track record.

What Foods Are Excluded?

The Autoimmune Protocol is a strict elimination diet.

That means no food from the following categories may be consumed at any time, at least for the first 30 days:

All grains and pseudo-grains

All legumes, nuts and seeds

All nightshade vegetables (such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers (capsicum), chilli and eggplants)

All forms of dairy


All modern vegetable oils

All alcohol

All products with added sugar or sweeteners (both natural and artificial)

All food additives (such as emulsifier or thickeners).

NSAIDs (like ibuprofen and aspirin). Speak with your doctor first.

What Foods Are Included?

With so many foods cut out, there is an emphasis to eat more nutrient-dense foods including:

Vegetables of all kinds and colors (except nightshades). Especially cruciferous vegies like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.

Good quality seafood, particularly fatty fish rich in omega-3 fats.

Quality meats, especially organ cuts (offal) such as liver. Offal is some of the most nutrient-dense food we can eat.

Quality fats such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado, coconut oil (to a lesser extent).

Fermented foods (probiotic sources) such as kefir, pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi.

Fruit in small quantities.

As you can see by both the excluded and included food lists, the Autoimmune Protocol requires a lot of upfront meal preparation and a big shift in what the typical Western diet looks like. It also makes dining out with others very challenging.

Who Should and Should NOT Try It?

The Autoimmune Protocol may be beneficial for anyone with a diagnosed autoimmune disease that has not been successful in managing their symptoms.

So those who have changed their lifestyle and eating habits significantly but have yet to notice any meaningful improvements to their symptoms.

The reasons for those who should not try it are more extensive however, because of its restrictive nature. AIP may not be appropriate right now for those:

with numerous other diet-related medical conditions (always speak with your doctor first)

who are at risk of eating disorders, food aversion or emotionally fragile

with inflexible eating habits or unwilling to take on a dietary experiment right now

who do not have a diagnosed autoimmune disease.

It goes without saying that the autoimmune protocol is unnecessary if you do not have an autoimmune disease. There is no need to fear any food groups (including grains) if you are otherwise healthy.

Summary: AIP is for individuals who continually struggle to manage the symptoms of their autoimmune condition. But there are several important reasons why it may not be appropriate for certain individuals.

This article really only scratches the surface, and following the Autoimmune Protocol is a big commitment.

Although only temporary, elimination diets like AIP are highly restrictive and can get complicated if you take medications for other medical conditions or are at risk of nutrient deficiencies. It’s fundamental you speak with your doctor before beginning.

If you have an underactive thyroid I recommend you start with these dietary changes first and then re-assess.

Likewise, if food intolerance and digestive issues are your main concern, a low FODMAP diet may be more clinically relevant.

That said, for more information I recommend reading about it here and here. AIP is not guaranteed to work, but it reportedly has a solid success rate if you can stick to it properly.

By: Joe Leech For Care2


Leave your questions here

To write a comment you must
Jess Rogers
May 20, 2021

Can it be useful to children?

Category filter
Concern filter
Type filter

All categories

Spiritual Healing
$55 USD
1 Hr Intuitive Nutrition Coaching Call

Dive in and discover your biggest areas of struggle and how to tap into the intuition for guidance.
We will talk about your history and your goals for your wel…

Jess Olson
Spiritual Healing
$10 USD
Praying for the Sick and Depressed

Are you sick? Are you really depressed? Do you feel that your life is worthless?
Come book a session with me and see the changes that will occur after that.

Luck Richards Omorede
Chakra Balancing
$10 USD
Soul To Soul Reading Session

Energetic Reading

Complete Chakra System Reading to identify energy blocks.
Techniques are provided to restore balance.

What Is An Energetic Reading?


Deborah Lucero
Spiritual Healing
$222 USD
Healing from Trauma at a Quantum Soul Level

Are you burnt out from clinical therapy practices that require years of treatment with few results? Are you ready to release and transmute your trauma once and…

LunaRio Silver Deer
Spiritual Healing
$10 USD
I will do spiritual transformation for you

I will do spiritual transformation. Life occurs as a series of cycles in a single human lifetime. Cycles exist in almost a spiral pattern. There is a flow and …

Wisdom Realms
Career Coaching
$499 USD
Reset 1-0n1 Coaching and Mentoring Programme

Are you returning to work after a career break, or are you looking for a new job or career change?

This programme is for you.

I’ve developed the RESET coachi…

Carla Martins
Life Coaching
$399 USD
1-on-1 Coaching

The journey started with our discovery call, and You decided: ” I’m ready! Let’s do this!”.

We will engage in 1-on-1 coaching sessions for 90 minutes. In this…

Carla Martins
Emotional Stress Release
$800 USD
Retreat( India): Connect With Your Inner Wisdom 1st to 4th Sept

Join us for an immersive experience anchored amidst the beauty and tranquillity of Kasar Devi, Almora, India

1st Sept’22 ( Thursday) - 4th Sept 2022 ( Sunday …

Psychic Reading
$80 USD
I will do oracle and tarot card readings

I will do oracle & tarot card reading in any area of your life. You will get answer from the Angelic, Elemental, Faerie or Galactic realms. I will share wi…

Wisdom Realms
Natal Astrology
$15 USD
15 min reading of SOUL structure

[SOUL STRUCTURE]Each soul has own structure,and knowing it means to have unlimited access to inner energy. This readings are telling about your talents and str…

Ksenia Jdanova
Wellness Coaching
$10 USD
Ask a Question?

Supportive reflection of a current question that you would like clarity around. Using the SMART method to seek quidance in stepping onto your path of potential…

Beverly Lynn
$150 USD
Reiki Services (distant healing session)

In this hour long distant healing session I will use long distance Reiki, crystals and essential oils to balance your Chakras. Balancing your Chakras allows en…

Erin Kirby
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
Intuitive Tarot Reading

Affordable Tarot reading to offer guidance on any given concern.

Elphie Shoppe
$10 USD
Talk Therapy Sessions

Hello there: These times are dread. Do you need to talk with a safe professional about a troubling personal challenge? I am a professional listener and will li…

Eulalee Thompson
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
Tarot Reading

I offer tarot readings with a 100% accuracy rate. The tarot is meant to give you advice, to point you in the right direction or to provide you with clarity. Bu…

Zara Kalil
Angel Healing
$10 USD
Mental Health Advice & Tips

I can help you with past issues and give advice and tips on how to better your life. I can see through my third eye and receive messageson what you need to do …

Beings Of Light
Life Coaching
$10 USD
Discovery call

Are you interested in supporting your health with safe and effective holistic medicine? Not sure if you should switch diets, work with a health coach or explor…

Suzana Da Costa
Wellness Coaching
$50 USD
Mental Health and Holistic Lifestyle Coaching

Hi there! I’m Doug and I offer 1 on 1 Holistic Lifestyle and Mental Health Coaching sessions. Navtigating life with mental health issues of any sevarity is a h…

Doug Peterson
Wellness Coaching
$10 USD
Mental Health and Holistic Lifestyle Coaching Consultation

Hi there! I’m Doug and I offer 1 on 1 Holistic Lifestyle and Mental Health Coaching sessions. Navtigating life with mental health issues of any sevarity is a h…

Doug Peterson
Family Psychology
$10 USD
Psychic Reading

Expert in Love Relationship, Tarot Psychic Reading
I can give you more powerful insight of every part of your life. With the help of Crystal ball my Psychic re…

Aamir Bilal
Career Coaching
$195 USD
Holistic Lifestyle & Nutrition Coaching


If this sounds like you, then you don’t need a new diet… you n…

David Giddings
Bach flower therapy
$120 USD
Bach Flower Essence Consultation

Exploration of where you’re feeling stuck or limited in life and recommendations of Bach Flower Essences to help loosen and dissolve old patterns.

Suzana Da Costa
Cognitive-behavioral therapy
$100 USD
Subliminal therapy

In this service we will use Subliminal therapy and Sound healing as alternative to tradition cognitive behavioral therapy.

We are born with our thoughts. Do n…

Ahmed Amin Youssef
Spiritual Healing
$10 USD
Intro 2 Alignment Healing Chant


That is my greeting to the spirit within you. Join me for a welcome introduction session to celebrate my arrival at Core Spirit!

For 15 minutes I wi…

Ti3rc3 Fire

Related Articles