What is the AIP?
The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is a template for dietary and lifestyle changes designed to reduce inflammation, maximise nutrient density and thereby facilitate healing. Positive changes can be made at any stage of the autoimmune spectrum, whether you are keen to take preventative action due to early warning signs of a possible condition or a particularly strong family history of autoimmune diseases, or whether you already have one or more confirmed diagnoses. If you are unsure whether a particular disease is autoimmune in origin this article includes a downloadable list of currently known and suspected autoimmune conditions. The protocol is based on a solid foundation of scientific research, and clinical trials of this and other closely related interventions are showing fantastic results¹ with further research in progress. There is a thriving AIP community online, including many amazing bloggers and support groups where you can find a wide range of people sharing their personal experiences with the protocol, as well as a huge range of autoimmune friendly recipes and other resources.
The basics are as follows:
1) Nutrient Density
What you eat really matters! A foundational element of the protocol is the focus on maximising nutrient density of the diet, including as wide a range of health promoting foods as possible and either adding in or increasing quantities of particularly nutritious foods.
Eliminate some potentially problematic foods for a period of at least 30-90 days (and definitely not forever!), which are:
- Grains (including gluten free grains such as oats, corn, rice etc.)
- Pseudograins (e.g. amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa)
- Legumes (including peanuts, soya, peas, green beans, alfalfa, dried beans/pulses)
- Nuts and seeds (including coffee)
- Nightshade vegetables (including: tomatoes, peppers, potatoes – N.B. not sweet potatoes, aubergines, goji berries and others, for further information see this short article)
- Processed and refined foods
- Chemical additives, flavours and colours
- Refined sugar and sugar substitutes (including stevia)
- Refined fats and oils
Once measurable improvements are seen, there is a process of reintroducing foods and monitoring for reactions in order to identify any that may be causing problems – which of course looks different for every person.
Sleep, move, reach out, and unwind…
While what you eat really does matter, as you can see from the images above diet is only one block in a series that together form the foundations of health. Beyond the dietary work, there are also lifestyle elements of the protocol that are extremely important, with the key areas of focus being sleep, movement, social connection and stress management.
If this sounds like a lot, don’t panic! Many people prefer to undertake the protocol in stages, working slowly towards the necessary changes. There is a huge range of helpful resources available online (see links below for some starting points), so it is perfectly possible to tackle the protocol independently, as I did myself. However, if you feel overwhelmed by the idea of navigating the process alone, this is where I can help. I can work with you to help you to understand the process, and to provide the support, guidance and accountability that you may find helpful in formulating a personalised approach that will work for you.
Please see links below for further information on AIP.
What if I can’t commit / can’t give up / don’t have the time…?
AIP has the greatest potential when done according to the guidelines, which do evolve and change as new scientific evidence becomes available, though it is important to note that jumping in with both feet straight to 100% elimination is certainly not the only way to get there. If you have concerns about your capacity to implement significant changes in your current situation, or there are things on the list of eliminations that you feel you really cannot manage without, there will undoubtedly still be some steps that you can take that can have a positive impact on your health. You may find that having the opportunity to discuss your concerns with a coach can be very helpful in clarifying your best course of action.
How an AIP Certified Coach can help.
I have been following the protocol myself for several years and it has formed the basis of my healing. I have been through the process of discovering the potential power of dietary and lifestyle interventions, apprehension about embarking on something that seemed overwhelming in its scope, and taking that eventual leap of faith. I have undertaken the AIP Certified Coach training in addition to my health coaching certification in order to be able to most effectively support clients with the implementation of this hugely powerful set of tools. The nature of the template means that each individual path will be unique. The aim is not to squash your life into an AIP box, but to use the process to empower yourself with the knowledge and skills to identify what your body needs right now, how best to make realistic adjustments to meet those needs, and how to adapt as your needs change over time. I can coach you through the foundations of the protocol; how to transition into the initial phase (whether you are a cold-turkey or a slow and steady transition kind of person!); how to troubleshoot along the way as required, and assist you in formulating a plan to move forward once your healing has begun.
It is important to clarify that health coaching is not a substitute for medical care, particularly in the case of autoimmune or other chronic disease, but rather a valuable addition. As well as assisting you in creating the best conditions to support optimal health and healing, I can work with you to help you to get the most from your appointments with doctors and other medical professionals by being prepared with relevant information and questions. I can also work with you to identify any dietary or lifestyle adjustments that may be helpful in order to support the implementation of the recommendations given by your medical team, e.g. how to adjust your eating patterns if medications induce nausea.
It is also worth noting that I cannot diagnose or treat any condition, or order or interpret any medical testing as this is beyond the scope of practice of a health coach. My role is to support and partner with you to explore and experiment, while building in whatever form of accountability you need, in order to effectively implement practical and sustainable dietary and lifestyle changes. In addition I will help you to identify and celebrate your successes – which you will have – as they arise. This can be crucial since progress can be hard to observe and acknowledge when you may still feel a long way from where you want to be. I also have access to a range of helpful resources which I can offer to you as and when they may be relevant to your specific situation and goals. Taking steps in this direction can help you to regain some of the power you have over your own well-being, whatever challenges you may be facing, and discover how good you can feel.
ARTICLE – AIP in Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Study Results
STUDY – AIP in inflammatory bowel disease:
ARTICLE – AIP in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – Study Results:
STUDY – AIP in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis:
PILOT STUDY – Wahls Protocol in Multiple Sclerosis:
PODCAST – New AIP Science:
Links to information on ongoing research involving the Wahls Protocol: