What is AIP Paleo… And Why?

WHAT IS AIP? AUTOIMMUNE PROTOCOL (AIP) FOR PALEO.

Sounds exciting, right? Well, it kind of is. At least for health and food nerds like me. Here is a recap on my AIP journey. Keep reading to learn more about my new lifestyle.

Let me start with what AIP is NOT. AIP is not a trendy or fad diet that exists to help you lose weight. If you’re reading my blog to learn how to lose weight through healthy eating tips, then good for you; however, AIP is not for that. AIP is a lifestyle that many people have to do to help heal their autoimmune disease. I do not encourage someone to follow AIP for weight loss. Trust me, you will not be successful. Instead, feel free to learn from my experience and recipes as a way for you to better get to know and love your body.

AIP is a scientifically studied proven way to help potentially heal bodies suffering from autoimmune diseases based on dietary fact. AIP is a structured food program that kickstarts gut healing. It is an elimination diet during which foods must be taken out of the diet and slowly reintroduced in order to learn which foods are triggers for your disease. AIP is based on rules from the Paleo diet; however, much more restricted– so mostly based on vegetables, meat, fruit, and healthy fats. If you want all the background information on how it works, check out the doctor who actually knows this– her name is Sarah Ballantyne and her blog The Paleo Mom is amazing.

AIP is intended to help leaky gut, which is basically what it sounds like. Bodies with autoimmune diseases are compromised in a way that others usually are not. Unfortunately, many foods disrupt hormonal functioning and cause the gut to become unhealthy, which leads to many digestion issues and other bodily reactions depending on the autoimmune disease (such as diabetes, IBS, etc).

SO WHY AM I ON AIP? LET ME TELL YOU A LITTLE STORY.

Eight months into it now and all I can say is that my life has changed for the better. In late June 2015, I was diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS for short) which is a very uncommon, often misdiagnosed, and overall misunderstood autoimmune disease. I will not post pictures here because it can potentially look very gross; however, feel free to Google image search. Proceed with caution… HS manifests itself as lumps that look like acne or boils around areas with lymph nodes, because it turns out HS is a lymphatic system malfunction that occurs when unhealthy bodies cannot rid of toxins the correct way. Autoimmune diseases do not and will not occur to everyone who is unhealthy, only those who are genetically predisposed as well as have the environmental (behavioral) factors– such as an unhealthy lifestyle.

That being said, at the time I did not really think much of it. I only had a few bumps under my armpit and groin area. I had them for a few years, but because no doctor ever told me what they were, I never did anything about it. The doctor always said it was acne and I needed to wash better (which was not ever a problem, I was always hyper aware of cleanliness).  The doctor offered two “solutions” to the problem: 1) low dose of antibiotics for everyday forever; 2) surgery to lance the boils. Neither sounded particularly alluring at the time. And because my pain was not bad, I decided not to proceed with either.

Then, a month later in July, and a month before my big move, I had a major flare up. Under stress from work and making a huge life change, I then had to deal with the most excruciating pain in my life. I had a huge boil in my groin area. It was so bad that I could not walk for two days and I had to miss work. That night, I spent 24 hours researching HS and I learned the devastating news that even my own doctor did not know… HS is an autoimmune disease, which means that I have to live with this for the rest of my life. And all of the blogs and books I read about the disease seemed overwhelmingly discouraging, explaining that most people become depressed and socially isolated because of the pain and embarrassment. I also read many accounts of how surgery and antibiotics made the situation worse.

WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO?

All I wanted was to feel better. Thankfully, in my research I found out about AIP Paleo. I figured if anything, I had to try it before surgery or antibiotics. I started immediately by cutting out everything that was not included on the AIP list of foods to eat in addition to stopping my hormonal birth control. The change was drastic. Within a week, I was completely free from depression and my anxiety had decreased significantly (I will have more posts on this later).

My mood instantaneously improved and I lost 10lbs within two weeks. I felt so much better mentally. Thankfully, on the physical side I was healing. Within 8 days of the diet change combined with topical treatment of tea tree oil and coconut oil, my flare up subsided.

WHY DO AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES FLARE UP?

This simple question has complicated answers, and it truly depends on your disease. For HS, it is primarily related to stress and then food (because of gut health). There is tons of research today about how overall body health is related to gut health. However, the most important factor that goes into this health is stress and managing it to ensure that your body does not react in a negative way by triggering an autoimmune response (I will have another post on this too).

WHAT TO DO NEXT?

If you are visiting my page to simply learn more, then thanks for reading! If you are just beginning your AIP journey, keep a look out for my next blog posts which may help you in your journey. It is a bit of a scary time; however, stick with it and you can make a huge difference in managing your life and your disease. Whatever you may have does not have to define you.

Thank you for reading!

XO, Kelsey

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