What is the AIP diet?
The Autoimmune Protocol diet was popularized by Sarah Ballantyne, thepaleomom.com, who has written books and cookbooks on the Paleo diet. She holds a Ph.D. in medical biophysics from the University of Western Ontario. In her books and on her website, she recounts her personal experience with Hashimoto thyroiditis, weight issues, asthma and skin conditions, all of which she says were improved by the Paleo diet, which she adopted in 2011.
She saw further improvements when she adopted the AIP diet. It is much like the Paleo diet, which generally eliminates grains, legumes, potatoes, sugar and dairy, with the exception of grass-fed butter. It encourages eating organ meats, fish and seafood, a wide variety of vegetables, fruits (limiting the amount of fructose), connective tissue in food items such as bone broth and probiotic foods such as vegetable ferments.
However, the AIP diet excludes vegetables believed to “excite” the immune system — that includes nightshades such as tomatoes and peppers (also, spices such as paprika). In addition, nuts and seeds (including spices in seed form, cocoa, coffee and grain-like seeds such as quinoa or millet) are eliminated, as are eggs. Stevia is also forbidden.
Though some adherents swear by the diet, Bonnie Jortberg at University of Colorado School of Medicine notes that there is “zero” medical research supporting the idea that the diet is effective.