6 Best Foods to Use in an Autoimmune Diet or AIP Diet
Chronic illness is influenced by the food you eat. AIP diets and lifestyle changes can help stop or reverse the progression of the disease. Your primary source of nutrients is food. Sadly, nutritional deficiencies are one of the main causes of autoimmune diseases and their progression. You are more likely to have deficiencies in vitamins D and B12 if you are part of the autoimmune spectrum. These nutrients are essential for your immune function. These foods can be included in an autoimmune diet to help with lupus, rheumatoid and Hashimoto’s.
After working with thousands of patients suffering from autoimmune diseases, I discovered that optimal nutrition was the best way to treat chronic conditions and provide relief. This article will discuss avoiding nutrient deficiencies that can be linked to autoimmune diseases. It will also provide information on the best foods sources of essential vitamins, minerals and other useful tips to help you add them to your AIP diet. These foods can help you feel healthier and have more energy. These foods can even make you feel healthier every day.
Are you unsure if you might have an autoimmune condition? To find out if you might have autoimmunity, take this quick quiz.
What is the AIP Diet?
An autoimmune protocol is sometimes known as an AIP diet or autoimmune diet. It helps reduce inflammation and pain that can come with being on the autoimmune list. An AIP diet may be right for you if any of your symptoms are mysterious, including brain fog and fatigue. An autoimmune diet removes harmful and inflammatory foods and replaces them with foods rich in essential vitamins or minerals. An AIP diet can heal your gut and reduce inflammation. It can also help you get back on the autoimmune spectrum.
Our AIP Food List
Below are my top 6 favourite food sources for key nutrients in an autoimmune diet.
- Lamb from grass-fed
To build and repair tissues and make hormones, it is important to eat enough high-quality animal proteins in your AIP diet. To anyone suffering from an autoimmune or thyroid condition, I recommend an AIP diet that includes plenty of meat. The essential amino acids found in animal protein are necessary building blocks for thyroid hormones and immune function. These amino acids are not easily available from other sources, including foods part of an autoimmune diet.
While following an elimination diet or AIP, grass-fed lamb can be a great source of protein. It also has the highest vitamin content of any meat, at 61 micrograms per kilogram. This is three to six times higher than the current recommended daily intake (RDA).
Vitamin D stimulates T cells and teaches the immune system not to attack your cells. Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin”, helps fight viral and bacterial infections that worsen autoimmune conditions.
Experts disagree on how much vitamin D is needed each day for optimal health. Research shows that you need 25 to 100 micrograms of vitamin D per day, or 1000-4000 IU. The RDA is only 10-20 micrograms or 400-800IU per day.
Patients on AIP should be advised to eat grass-fed, organic meat. Conventionally raised animals are fed an unnatural diet of GMO soy and corn.
An AIP diet that includes lamb is a good source for the following essential nutrients.
- Amino acids (such L-Tyrosine, L Glutamine),
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid
- Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA)
- Wild-caught Fatty Fish
When following an AIP diet, fatty fish is a great source of Omega-3s. Omega-3s increase B-cell activation, antibody production and can help reduce inflammation and strengthen your immune system to fight off pathogens.
Many factors affect the Omega-3 content of fish. Omega-3s are high in cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna. There are fewer Omega-3s in fish like cod, tilapia, and bass, as well as in shellfish.
You would need to consume approximately 5 ounces of salmon and 2 pounds of lobster to meet your daily intake of Omega-3 fatty acid while on an AIP diet.
Farmed and wild-caught fish have distinct properties that you should consider when selecting the best source of Omega-3s to support a nutrient-dense AIP diet. The type of fish pellets used determines the quality of farmed fish. Young salmon pellets are often fed to farmers from animal and plant sources. To increase their size, they add fish-oil-enriched pellets to make them more fattening. They eat a lower-quality diet that provides fewer nutrients and spend more time on them. Wild-caught salmon consume a healthy, natural diet of plankton and insects throughout their lives. They are nourished with antioxidants and free-radical scavenging liketaxanthin.
You can not only see the benefits of this natural diet in wild-caught salmon’s brilliant red colour, but you can also taste them!
Avocados are a delicious and nutritious choice for AIP. Avocados are high in good fat, fibre and vitamins E, copper, and potassium. They are high in vitamins, which is good for your immune system. AIP diet high in B-vitamins can help boost immune function.
AIP diets include eating one-third of a medium avocado. This provides access to a variety of B-vitamins, including:
- 4% of the RDA for Thiamin (B1)
- 8% of the RDA for riboflavin, (B2)
- 6% of the RDA for Niacin (B3)
- 15% of the RDA for pantothenic acid, (B5)
- 6% of the RDA for pyridoxine, (B6)
- 10% of the RDA for folate
When I travel, I always have avocado with me. This way, I can have a delicious AIP-friendly snack in my purse that comes in a handy package.
Garlic is another food that I recommend adding to your AIP diet. Garlic is a Prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in your stomach. This is helpful for people suffering from an autoimmune condition. Your gut and immune system are linked together.
An AIP diet plus will help you maintain a healthy immune system and keep your bad bacteria under control.
Garlic also contains SeleniumSelenium, which regulates excessive immune responses and chronic inflammation for people with autoimmune diseases.
Selenium is also essential for thyroid health. Study results have shown that Hashimoto’s sufferers can reduce their thyroid antibodies by nearly 64% by increasing their selenium intake.
For optimal levels of SeleniumSelenium, you should include garlic, grass-fed beef, poultry, and fatty fish like salmon in your autoimmune diet.
- Beef from grass-fed cattle
Zinc is one of the essential nutrients you should include in your AIP diet. Zinc is important for your immune system. It regulates your lymphocytes, a type of white blood cells, and protects you from pathogens.
The Myers Way(r), or an AIP diet, can make it difficult to get Zinc, especially if you don’t already take a daily multivitamin. Zinc is found in whole grains, legumes and nuts. All of these foods can trigger immune flare-ups. Grass-fed beef is an excellent source of Zinc for AIP-friendly people. One serving of beef provides approximately half your daily zinc needs.
While following an AIP diet, I prefer organic grass-fed beef to conventionally raised meat. Conventional livestock is subject to GMOs and added hormones and antibiotics. Studies have shown that animals fed fresh grass and a healthy diet are more nutritious than those raised on AIP diets.
It can be not easy to find grass-fed beef. Butcher Box delivers 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef right to my door.
- Leafy Greens
A key component of an autoimmune diet is eating plenty of greens. Magnesium is an important component of a healthy immune system. Leafy greens are high in vitamins. The conservative RDA for magnesium is only 50% in the average American diet. Around three-quarters of the population could be lacking in magnesium.
Magnesium deficiencies have been linked to increased pro-inflammatory chemicals, which can increase inflammation and contribute to autoimmunity.
The current RDA is 420mg for magnesium.
Suppose you include leafy greens in your daily or AIP diet. One cup of cooked spinach contains 157mg or 39% of your daily recommended intake. You can also get magnesium from kale and Swiss chard, which provide 36% and 18% respectively of your daily recommended intake. My nutritional powerhouse Organic greens powder is a great way to reap the many benefits of greens, including magnesium, B vitamins and other essential nutrients. It can be used in smoothies or added to a glass of water. It’s also cost-effective and does not contain any GMOs, worsening autoimmunity.
The Optimal Nutrition and Diet for Autoimmune Disease
After working with patients suffering from autoimmune diseases all over the globe, I’ve seen this time and again. Following an AIP diet rich in vitamins and minerals is the first step towards reversing your condition. They are essential for your immune system to function at its best. My bestseller, The Autoimmune Solutions Cookbook, provides great information on how to make AIP and autoimmune-friendly meals as well as AIP snacks. You can even find 6 recipes in it! The Autoimmune Solutions Cookbook is more than a cookbook. It is a guide for managing and preventing autoimmune diseases. You will find step-by-step guidance on how to make The Myers Way(r) a way of living with delicious, AIP-approved dishes that are worth sharing!
You can also find tons of AIP friendly recipes on this blog.
To prevent and reverse autoimmunity and other chronic conditions, it is important to have the right nutrition. Let’s face facts; even the most healthy eaters can sometimes not have optimal levels of essential vitamins or minerals. There are many reasons this could happen, including:
- Sometimes, you don’t have time to prepare complete meals that fit your AIP diet.
- Due to environmental toxins and soil depletion.
- You might have a leaky stomach, small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO), and other conditions that prevent you from fully absorbing the nutrients from an AIP diet.
You don’t just want to the minimum RDA to avoid deficiency-related problems; you want to exceed it! Supplements are the answer!
Get the Best Supplements to Enrich Your AIP Diet
My top 4 Bestsellers will provide all the nutrients, protein, and amino acids you need while following an AIP diet.
- Collagen Protein is packed with amino acids that help maintain and promote optimal health of the gut.
- Organic Greens – Provides all the benefits of leafy vegetables, including vitamins B, magnesium and phytonutrients. Available in powder form
- The Myers Way, Multivitamin: Provides optimal levels of SeleniumSelenium and Zinc to support thyroid health, immune function and general wellness
- Paleo protein (all flavours): 21g of protein is needed to make and repair tissues, create hormones, support healthy muscles, cartilage and skin, and maintain blood health.