Eat Smart

Meet AIP, the paleo-plus diet, which gives cells added know-how to heal and strengthen.
The AIP diet is based on the premise of healing the cells with nutrient-rich foods.

By Tapp Francke

The concept of food as medicine is not new. Dating back to Hippocrates in 375 BC, we have long known that food can harm, and food can heal. The new kid on the block of healing foods diets is the AIP Diet. AIP, which stands for autoimmune protocol, or paleo autoimmune protocol, focuses on foods that help heal the gut, reduce inflammation and diminish immune stimulators.

This type of diet is most impactful on individuals with chronic and autoimmune disease, though adopting it will likely make most people feel better. Autoimmune disease is one in which the body starts attacking itself. Conventional treatment usually centers around reducing circulating immune complexes, which means turning down the dial on the immune system to get it to stop self-destructing. The problem with these types of medication is that they deactivate immune cells causing the damage, as well as healthy immune cells. This leaves the autoimmune patient more vulnerable to infections and other diseases.

What if food could do the job of controlling the immune system without decreasing the immune system’s potential?

Dr. Terry Wahls, an expert on autoimmunity, author of The Wahls Protocol and an MS patient, claims that her diet saved her life. Confined to a zero-gravity wheelchair due to advanced MS, Wahls changed her eating habits, and her body. After embarking on a nutrient-rich, whole-foods meal plan, she’s now out of her wheelchair and spends her free time cycling and horseback riding.

Functional medicine doctor Mark Hyman of the UltraWellness Center in Massachusetts has created a diet called the UltraSimple Diet, which he prescribes to his patients with everything from psoriasis to irritable bowel syndrome.

Author of The Plant Paradox, cardiologist Dr. Steven Gundry speaks about the trouble with lectins, a plant-based protein found in nightshade vegetables, legumes and some fruit. These carbohydrate-binding proteins are being blamed for digestive distress, chronic fatigue, inflammation and brain fog.

The AIP takes all three of the above concepts and blends them into a single powerhouse diet, based on the premise of healing the cells with nutrient-rich foods. The concept is simple: Cut out all processed foods, added sugar, chemicals, additives, MSG, alcohol, trans fats, refined flours and dairy. Exclude nightshade vegetables like tomatoes and potatoes. Avoid legumes and grains. So, what do you eat? Lots of whole foods dominated by vegetables, including sweet potatoes; bone broth; nondairy fermented foods like sauerkraut; coconut milk; non-seed herbs like oregano, basil and mint; wild-caught and grass-fed animal proteins; low-sugar fruits; and healthy fats such as olive oil and avocados.

If you think of food as information for your cells, it is easy to understand how these diets work: Data comes in the form of amino acids, minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids and antioxidants. These nutrients inform your cells how to behave. With the correct nutrients bearing the necessary data, cells will heal and regenerate. To build cells properly, you need the right tools. The AIP diet might just have the perfect tool set.