The Best Diet For Autoimmune Disease

I wanted to address something that has come up a lot lately. People stumble across this site as a result of a link or a google search for natural ways to manage their autoimmune condition. They find out about the autoimmune protocol, and dive right in, but are then unhappy when it doesn’t “work” after a week or two. This can be very confusing after reading stories like mine of people who have been successful using an elimination diet to get to the bottom of their autoimmune disease.

I love a plan. In my search for healing, I tried many diets and cleanses, every time hoping and believing that they would heal me. Every time came across a new diet with testimonies and claims to fix my problems, I was overwhelmed with a sense of hope. I thought that if I could just stick to it perfectly, then my problems would subside. If I didn’t feel well while doing it, I read that it was “detox” or that I “wasn’t doing it right”. This would cause me to push through even though I felt worse, to the point where I could not do it anymore, and in many cases caused my health to be worse than it was when I started.

Eventually I swore off getting sucked into the trap of finding a new diet and instead vowed to go by how I felt. When I discovered the Paleo diet, I was put off by it because I had already spent 10 years as a vegan; I did not want to swap one dogmatic diet for another. I decided to start letting my diet be informed by the ancestral health movement, while paying attention to how I felt and ultimately letting my body decide which foods were best for me. I quickly found out that beans and grains were indeed a problem, but also some foods that were very Paleo – like eggs. I found the autoimmune protocol, and although the diet made sense to me, I was cautious about diving in too soon. I started to research the reasons why certain foods affect those with autoimmune disease, and came across leaky gut for the first time.

Next I toyed with eliminating and reintroducing certain foods over a three month period, with no plan or strict elimination phase – I just went by how I felt. After experiencing some surprising reactions, I decided that to do this right, I needed to make a plan with a strict elimination phase. The difference here, was that instead of expecting a cure or healing, I was going to allow myself to be empowered by a process that could help me feel how foods were affecting my body. This was very different than my previous way of thinking about dietary interventions in the name of better health – more gentle and collaborative with my body, instead of forcing it to have a certain outcome.

Obviously I am very invested in the autoimmune protocol, and I know that it is something that can be of great help to many people – I just wrote a cookbook for it! But I will be the first to admit that it is not a prescription that will produce and expected cure for everyone. Instead, it is a framework from which you can build your ideal diet. Yes, the elimination phase has strict parameters and must be adhered to for a period of time. Some people don’t feel better and need to take it even further – like starch, sugar, salicylates, or histamine, for example, before they can experience relief. This can be tricky to wrap your brain around, especially for people like me, who have a history of forcing themselves to go through a difficult process in the name of getting healthy. The problem is, if that process isn’t making you get healthy, you need to know when to stop, reevaluate, slow down, or make modifications.

I am not advocating that anyone with an autoimmune disease give up these foods for a lifetime. Instead, I am trying to give you the tools that you need in order to implement a thorough elimination diet, so that you can find out for yourself where your gut is at and which foods are causing you trouble. Of course, studies and experiences of others can guide our attempts at which foods are more likely to cause problems. The autoimmune protocol is the result of the work of a lot of very smart people who have discovered the science behind what proponents of elimination diets have known for years – removing food allergens can have a profound impact on a person’s health and vitality, especially those with autoimmune disease.

If you have an autoimmune disease and are looking for a way of eating that will best enable your body to heal, the autoimmune protocol is a great place to start. I encourage you to do your research thoroughly, and don’t forget to make the process your own. Those who are most successful accept where they are at, implement change gently, and are constantly checking in with themselves to see if a protocol is working for them. Don’t compare your progress to mine, or anyone else for that matter.

I believe the best diet for autoimmune disease is the one that minimizes the immune response that comes from eating foods that a person is allergic/sensitive to or those that contribute to leaky gut. This can be different foods for different people (with the exception of gluten, which anyone with autoimmunity should never eat). In addition to this, it is very important that the diet is extremely nutrient-dense and full of the fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals that contribute to health and vitality. We may all have a common starting point in the autoimmune protocol, but where we land as far as what our bodies can tolerate may be very different, and can also change with time. My goal here is not to confuse you, but to inspire you to go about this process in a way that will produce lasting lifestyle changes that are in tune with your unique body in order to bring you healing.

How does this resonate with where you are at with your healing journey? Have any of you had a similar experience?

Comments

  1. Sarah says

    Great post! Do you have any books or resources you would be willing to share about that helped you understand the autoimmune protocol in more detail? To be honest, I’m having trouble knowing where to start and I’m afraid I will end up being one of the people who needs to go further than the usual eliminations. Is it helpful to do detox baths/scrubs while doing an elimination diet? I have read varying responses on this, so I’ve been rather confused. Any advice or help you can give would be appreciated. Thanks so much! :)

    • autoimmunepaleo says

      Hi Sarah,
      I have lots of information on the autoimmune protocol here on the site – click the tab above that says “autoimmune articles” and you will find everything I have written about it. In addition, there are lots of resources under its respective tab, the best of which is thepaleomom.com. She is coming out with a book this fall all about the protocol, and it is going to be very thorough. Until then, both of our websites have a plethora of information that should be able to get you started.

      I would suggest trying the autoimmune protocol without extra restrictions first. I don’t think its necessary to make extra restrictions unless you already have a known intolerance to something allowed. If you aren’t finding any relief or are having some additional symptoms, then I would say it is time to re-evaluate and maybe try something new.

      I love doing epsom salt baths to help with detoxification. Dry brushing and rebounding on a mini trampoline are also good ways to aid your body’s natural cleansing abilities. I think these are good things to incorporate into a healthy lifestyle as part of a routine, and they could certainly help move things along a little quicker when on an elimination diet – especially if you are coming from a processed, toxic diet.

      Good Luck!

      Mickey

      • Sarah says

        Thanks so much, Mickey! I have pre-purchased the Paleo Mom’s book and I’m SOOO looking forward to October so I can read it! :) I haven’t had a lot of time to look around so many of the paleo blogs/websites I have come across in the last few months, so I will most certainly take a look through your blog and the PaleoMom blog to get started. Thanks so much for the advice! I’ve lived without hope for WAAAY too long…And now I have so much hope that my health issues can improve (if not completely resolve)!

        • Darcie says

          I highly recommend listening to The Paleo View podcast with The Paleo Mom and Stacy Toth of Paleo Parents. There are AIP specific podcasts, but also good introductions to paleo eating in general. An easy way to get some of that information that is hard to digest when you are just clicking around on the internet. Good luck!
          http://www.thepaleomom.com/podcast

      • Karolina says

        Hello Mickey!
        I wanted to ask a question about Hashimoto’s and leaky gut and could not find an appropriate place on the blog, so I am posting it here. I suffer from Hashimoto’s thyroditis.
        A couple of years ago I started to research the condition and came across the ‘leaky gut’ description.
        The thing is I still don’t know if I have one. I had gluten and dairy intolerance tests and both came back negative. Does that mean I am ok with eating gluten? To be honest I tried going gluten free last year (as I read that that might lower the antibodies) for 3 months and was so miserable and did not feel good at all. Eating bread and pasta does not irritate my stomach. So basically my question is, can I have Hashimoto’s without having the leaky gut syndrome?
        I did recently go sugar free however after reading Sarah Wilson’s claims that her antibodies dropped after going sugar free. I did a test last month and they did indeed drop, but not sure if it was the sugar free diet that caused it.
        Any feedback would be much appreciated.
        Thank you so much!

          • Karolina says

            Thank you. But I did the test for gluten intolerance and it was negative. Doesn’t that mean that I am ok to eat it? If the test comes back negative that means my body does not produce antibodies against gluten, right? So is the suspicion, that even though I do not have gluten intolerance, my body produces thyroid antibodies as a reaction to gluten? I tried going gluten free for 3 months, but did not feel good at all and my bloodwork did not change at all in the 3 months. The antibodies were just as high :(.

          • says

            Karolina, no, it does not mean you are fine to eat gluten. I don’t believe anyone with a thyroid condition should eat gluten ever. Chris Kresser has a great article here: http://chriskresser.com/the-gluten-thyroid-connection

            You may not be making progress because you have some other foods included in your diet that you are reacting to or are inflammatory. Have you tried an elimination diet?

            Mickey

  2. Amy says

    I reeeeaaaally appreciate this post. I just finished 30 days on strict AIP and honestly it was awful. I lost a lot of weight and struggled with appetite issues and extreme diet – related stress (which is not great for autoimmune disease! )I also did not find the relief of my symptoms that I was so hoping for. I backed it off to just strict paleo for a while to see how that goes. I feel that in the future I will try eliminating those additional foods again but this post really helped me to forgive myself and the diet. Thank you!

  3. says

    Totally agree. I’m allergic to beef and chicken so the intros of the SCD and GAPS diet destroyed my intestines. I felt even worse on those intros then ever before. I have to stick with pork, fish and turkey or I get really bad gerd and intestinal gastritis.

    Getting tested for allergies really opened my eyes a lot as to what was hurting me and what may be safe.

    • autoimmunepaleo says

      This is a common reason why a lot of people feel worse on elimination diets – they are eating less of some things and MORE of things they could be allergic to. Your case is a perfect example. I am happy you figured it out!

  4. MomLadyOR says

    Excellent post! Mirrors my experience with a few tweaks. But for anyone reading, aip really is about YOU not someone else’s idea of what you should or shouldn’t eat. I’ve been on this autoimmune journey for over 30 yrs and it wasn’t until 1 1/2 yrs ago when I started to eliminate foods and test with provocation was I able to “hear” my body. Right now my diet is extremely strict but I truly believe I’m healing my gut and once I get there I’ll be able to add some foods back in. But one thing is for sure; I’ll never add gluten, gmo, soy, HFCs or other chemically laden foods. I feel too good to ever not treat my body right again. Thanks Mickey for sharing!! :)

    • autoimmunepaleo says

      I agree! Its easy on this plan to steer clear of all those terrible non-food creations, but it becomes a pickle once you start healing and are confronted with those items once again. I still never eat out while at home, but vacations have been tricky!

  5. Jenny says

    Thank you for this article, it was very timely for me. I’ve been on paleo and AIP for 2 weeks for RA and, while my gut is loving it (no more bloating!) my joint pain slowly worsened until I was no longer be able to sleep at night. Two days I crumbled and went back on the meds. So now I’m feeling in a much better place. Nevertheless food-wise I feel this has been a great learning journey and I only hope this might be detox of some sort or else I will need to tweak again. I guess the only trick now is trying to gauge the diet’s effectiveness while on meds..! Thanks for the post, and the reminder that we are not all the same

    • autoimmunepaleo says

      Thank you for your comments Jenny! That is great to hear about your digestion, but a bummer about the pain. Healing usually starts in the gut first, so its a good sign of future improvements if a diet helps your digestion. I know a couple of people who are feeling good on AIP with their RA but still take meds sometimes. Heck, I take thyroid medication, I gave up considering myself “successful” in healing when I was med-free long ago. Sometimes if disease has been going on long enough it isn’t possible to heal completely, and medication might be a part of what it takes to keep you happy and healthy, along with a the right mindset, your ideal diet, and all of the other lifestyle factors we talk about. Hang in there!

      • Kris says

        I needed to hear that, I’m feeling pretty awful about having to go back onto meds after 6 weeks trying without (with autoimmune hepatitis). I keep wondering if I should persist for a little bit longer, because I’ve really felt the benefit of AIP after 3 months, but too scared of proper long-lasting liver damage.

        • says

          Hi Kris,
          I would suggest finding a functional medicine practitioner at this point, if you aren’t enlisting the services of one. I would check out functionalmedicine.org or primaldocs.com to find someone to help you. I don’t advise continuing AIP long-term without improvements (especially if you have stopped your medication – I hope you are collaborating with your doctor!)

          Mickey

          • Kris says

            Thanks Mickey, I’ve found a functional medicine practitioner who I’ll be seeing soon. I definitely need the help now as I’m having a bad flare and back on high doses of steroid. Very disappointed as I had put all my hopes in AIP. Still on the diet though, as I’m convinced by the science and the theory. But I do feel like I can’t tell if a food might have contributed to a flare, so I’m not really confident to start reintroducing.

    • says

      I’ve had RA since 1-1-13, started doing paleo for 6 weeks joint pain continued, but i got my memory back, and no brain fog. 2-15 saw functional dr and i did 7 days liquid diet (700 calories/p/day) followed by 14 days of steamed veggies and salads- i was 95% joint pain free, i had 2 fingers with a slight stiffness, but feet and hands were fine. then he suggested adding apples, tomatoes, a list of new foods, but the only thing i added was tomatoes and raw bell peppers. well the very next morning i had flare ups on my feet hands, and even worse flareups on my knees and wrists that were horrible…i had carpel tunnel in both wrists for a week. not sure why i listened to him. that really set me back into depression, so when my first appt with dr. rheumy on 5-16 , i started the methotrexate, cant say that i see a difference one way or the other but when i ate dairy a couple of times it causes bad pain. so 2 days ago i started the strict Ai paleo and see how it goes. i can’t believe how my social life has changed because of food. sheesh it seems i spend a lot of time shopping, planning, cooking, looking for new recipes, and avoid going to hang with my friends. i wish i had the stamina to do the liquid diet again, so i could sensibly reintroduce foods, but i lost way too much weight already.
      Thx for posting a great article,,

      • autoimmunepaleo says

        Hey Denise,
        Sounds like you are really sensitive to nightshades, which is common in people with RA. They are also particularly tricky to avoid. I am unfortunately very sensitive to them and also get really bad joint pain when I consume them. I hope the autoimmune protocol helps you figure out what else could be triggering your flares!

      • Selma says

        I’m not sure if this helps but I saw an interesting presentation by Clint Paddison on youtube who reversed his RA and no longer takes medication-he has a website with the program. I believe it is very low fat vegan-but it sounds like he started out on a raw diet/not sure of specifics–he says he has helped over 2000 people with RA. Sounds similar to your diet of salads and steamed veggies. I have a friend who did gerson for almost 2 years for her RA. She saw improvement but discovered she could not do the oatmeal. Later she found all raw means no pain for her. She is following the 80-10-10 diet by Dough Graham and says she feels great-but she has not been on the diet very long.

  6. Kelly Robbins says

    Great post Mickey! I have had great success with beginning this process but as you mention, tweaks happen along the way that fit my body and reactions. I personally have chosen to do this process with the guidance of a functional doctor. He has been able to address neurological, and other issues along the way that also contribute to the problems at hand. There seems to be a fine balance of systems that have gotten off balance and it is our task to find our way back to the balance that allows our body to heal – it knows how to help itself heal if we give it a chance!

    Keep up the great work!

    Kelly

  7. Melanie says

    Hi, Mickey! Another great post, thank you! I was wondering if in some upcoming posts you could do some recipes using the pressure cooker? I recently purchased an Instant Pot, but have been wondering how to make autoimmune friendly, and tasty, recipes. I’m also wondering how to make bone broth with it.

    Take care!

    • JC says

      Hi Melanie – I also purchased the instant pot 2 weeks ago. Regarding the bone broth, I asked Sarah from the paleo mom and she recommended that you include all the ingredients for the broth (go on her website and look at the broth recipe)…after you put all the ingredients, select the soup cycle and cook on 2 hour increments for a total of 8 to 10 hours. I have done the broth once and it is delicious! Note that the veggies will be in one piece as opposed to dissolved at the end of the process bc of the pressure cooker. Sarah also has a great lamb stew AIP recipe on her website…pls let me know if you have found other AIP pressure cooker recipes…

  8. Linda says

    Thanks for this post! I did a cold-turkey 30-day Paleo+AIP about 6 months ago hoping for a miracle cure for my RA, but no miracle, and I couldn’t sustain it any longer to methodically reintroduce things. But over the last 6 months straight Paleo has become second nature, and I’m beginning to test out the Autoimmune Protocol again – but backwards. This month I’ve eliminated nuts, in July the plan is to cut out nightshades as well, and then I will work through the list of possible suspects until the AIP is my new “normal” where I can start testing if need be. It’s going to take a loooong time, but I *think* by setting it up this way I can make some progress.

  9. Mellan says

    Are you familiar with ALCAT testing for food intolerances and chemical allergies? I’m thinking of getting this done to help me know what I should avoid.
    I have RA and really react to the barometer. I really don’t have a way of knowing if my pain is coming from something I have eaten or the changing weather. It just seams that the ALCAT would help me define that. Any experience with it being used?
    Thanks!

    • says

      Mellan,
      I have heard for some that those tests can be useful, but others find them unreliable and not worth the expense. An elimination diet seems to be the best method for figuring out sensitivities, but that can be complicated when your condition is affected by the weather. I would suggest not doing any reintroductions until the weather is “favorable”, then you know if it is the pressure or the food you are eating.

  10. says

    I’m gluten free now for almost a year and I might take my diet a step further now for healing my Hashimoto’s disease. My question is: besides the elimination diet, are there any reliable tests on the market for finding out for which foods or allergens (like histamine i.e.) you are allergic or sensible? That would help a lot, but I got the feeling that none of the tests are really reliable….

    • says

      Mieke, I have not found a test that is reliable. Doing an elimination diet and learning how to listen to your body to determine which foods are causing you problems is an extremely important tool in making progress with autoimmunity. Even if you got a test, and then you avoided those foods, things can change, and if you don’t know how that feels, then you are reliant on going back to that test. It is much easier, in the long run to learn how to listen to your body :)

  11. Ellie says

    Hi Mickey,

    Do you know much about salicylates allergies/ intolerance? I am pretty sure that I’m sensitive to them, which is really unfortunate because so many staples of the AIP are high in salicylates (like coconut oil, for one). I feel like I’d be eating nothing but meat if I were to eliminate them completely, but then again I have had moderate to severe nasal congestion in addition to Hashi’s for years and years.

    • says

      Ellie,
      I am not too familiar with them, other than I know that some people are sensitive to them. I would do an AIP that is based on meats, broth and fats for a few days and then introduce the AIP-friendly fruits and vegetables, one at a time starting with the ones least likely to be problematic. Then you will know for sure what you tolerate and can include in your personal version of AIP. Good luck!

  12. Sheryl says

    I have Hasimoto’s and have been struggling with my health for 25 years. I finally went to see a functional Doc and it has turned my life around. I did take the ALCAT test -I wanted to know ASAP because I already had wasted so much time. The ALCAT test did work for me. It pointed out foods that I had a feeling were causing me distress as well as those I had no clue of. I went on the UltraLite cleanse diet and I have never felt better. Just recently introduced a food back into my diet and had an immediate adverse reaction so I am sticking to my fruit, vegetable, meat diet, and absolutely no processed food. I do take a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement, vitamin D, omega 3-6-9, and probiotic. I would like to add a note to those of us that have had a weight issue. I have been brutal to myself for not being able to get the weight off, exercising like an Olympian and eating like a bird, only to be unable to sustain this crazy lifestyle. I blamed my lack of will power, laziness, whatever, when it was really the food itself that was setting off these inner land mines! So please do your research! I am so grateful for sites such as these because the support and knowledge is priceless. Don’t be discouraged because you will find a way. To paraphrase Edison at least you will “know all the ways that don’t work”! It took me many years but I found my way.
    Thanks Mickey!!!

  13. Vettori says

    Hello everyone. I wanna say something. If will get permit from Mickey then I will tell.

    Answer please Mickey.

    • says

      Hi Vettori,
      I don’t really know what you need to say that you would feel the need to ask permission. I don’t approve any comments that are rude or don’t help cultivate the spirit of healing and community I try and foster here.

      Mickey

  14. Lucy says

    Wonderful post and very encouraging. I was vegan for three years but felt horrible. I decided to eat whatever I wanted for a year and had allergies to so many things. I discovered Paleo and thought this makes sense so I dove right in only to realize eggs do not work for me. My allergies continued. I recently discovered the Whole 30 and really felt this could be it , but again the eggs were a problem. I found your blog and the paleomom and this is it!! I have never been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease but I am pretty sure I have a leaky gut. I am starting today, hoping to feel better and beginning to heal. I am wondering if 30 days will be enough time or do most people just continue to eat this way? I am excited to try more of your recipes and plan to invest in your cookbook! Thank you for sharing your story…..

    • says

      Hi Lucy,
      You never know how long it will take until you try to reintroduce foods. A lot of us with more serious issues stay on the protocol, or a modified version fairly long-term (I have been eating this way, with the addition of nuts, seeds, and occasional eggs for a year and half). Good luck!

      • Lucia says

        Yes, because i am paleo 6 months ago and my hashimoto synthons were better, My TSH in 1, Ft3 in 2,9, antibodies controlled. Then my practitioner told me about taking sea water (quinton therapy) 150 ml in 210 ml of water and i felt awful for two months (so tired, depressed, not sex (hahaha), etc). I week ago, i did my TSH and it was 3,7 and Ft3 2,1!! i felt very sad! later, i did a little research and think that was the iodine in sea water. Finally, i give up the iodine 4 days ago, and i hope to feel better. I begin the autoimmune protocol too.

        What do you think about it?

        thanks from Venezuela!

  15. Carol says

    Do you think that this diet would also help with Myasthenia Gravis which is also an autoimmune disease?

    • says

      Carol -
      Doing an elimination diet, especially if you start with the most likely problematic foods for autoimmune (like the autoimmune protocol) will most likely help anyone with autoimmune disease. It isn’t a cure, and the range of improvement varies from person to person, but it is certainly worth a shot. I find the best results in conjunction with the lifestyle changes that I write about here and that Sarah Ballantyne writes about at thepaleomom.com as well as working with a functional medicine practitioner. Good luck!

  16. Sandy says

    Mickey, My thought is, if the AIP is to see what food Allergies you may have – as you introduce the foods back into your diet, could you not take the an allergy test [ie 96 AllergG Spot (Candida) test]? Wouldn’t this show you the same thing? I am on week 6 of the AIP and I feel wonderful (mind you I am not doing this due to a health issue but for support to my daughter who has been following AIP).

    • says

      Hi Sandy, I find those tests unreliable and expensive. It is much better to learn to feel your own body to see what you tolerate. You don’t want to be dependent on an expensive test every time you want to reintroduce foods. Hope it helps!

  17. Sarah says

    Hi there, I’m just wondering what you should be looking for when you do introduce these foods again? Can you provide any guidance? Thanks so much.

  18. Jo says

    What a great article. My husband was diagnosed with Sero Negative Spondarthritis 2 years ago and was off work for 6 months but has never really been right since. He would have probably about 2-3 weeks being symptom free and then get symptoms for about 3-4 weeks. It seems to me that the doctors only give you pills etc to make things easier but dont really research into the cause. So we have decided to take health into our own hands and have been researching Paleo for a while now and have read lots of good things about it. Would be interested if anyone else has had this condition and if they went Paleo / AIP and any advice about where to start. We are on a very tight budget and would love to start but not sure how. Thanks

    • says

      Hi Jo,
      I don’t really keep a log of all of the autoimmune diseases people write me about, so I don’t know about his particular condition. I do know that the autoimmune protocol is designed to work for any type of autoimmune disease, because they all have the same foundation, which is leaky gut. I would start by reading my articles on the autoimmune protocol under the “articles” tab up above. I have print-out guides with information about what to eat and what to avoid, as well as info on a variety of other topics pertaining to this lifestyle. The facebook page is also a great way to get updates and meet others on a similar journey. Best of luck to you!

      Mickey

  19. nostalgia says

    Hello Mickey!
    I recently discovered your site, so i am really thrilled about all the stuff i am reading(which is really a lot to cope with).
    Well i havent been diagnosed with any aid but i am soooo worried i could suffer from one.I have mild joint paints now and then, everyone says that it is the bad posture from holding thebaby and the continuous breastfeeding(i gavebirth a few months ago), but i am terrified it could be something else like RA or lupus.My blood tests are all fine, except crp which is positive.I thought i have celiac but i have been tested and the tests came back negative-thought a little bit higher than expected.I am in a gaps diet plus excluded sugar and starches a month now.At first i was feeling superb.It hasbeen 10days now that i wake up feeling tired, thebrain fog continues to exist and the energy levels are particularly low.Again, eveyone is thinking that it is due to the breastfeeding and the waking up several times in the night.What am i doing wrong?i have no idea.I think i cant tolerate so much meat.So my question to you, is this: do you think that i should ditch the gaps diet and follow a strictlier protocol? In theory,could the ai protocol prevent an aid from appearing? COuld you please, please give me some advice,something to start with, i could really use?perhaps i should test the antibodies for those autoimmune diseases..i am really new to all the healthy stuff, there have passed several years by with eating every cr@p that you can name, so i am worried something would happen to me..Thank you for your excellent work, and your time,

    • says

      Hi there,
      Have you looked into adrenal fatigue? This is very common with new mothers as it is obviously very stressful having a new baby and not getting a lot of sleep. I would look into the work of James Wilson – he has a great book called “The 21st Century Stress Syndrome”.

      I don’t know that I would be certain mild joint pain now and then necessarily means you have an autoimmune disease as serious as RA or lupus. Have you been tested for Hashimotos? Cyrex has a comprehensive antibody test if you want to continue ruling out autoimmunity.

      I’d also want to make sure you are eating enough with nursing. If you can tolerate them, starchy carbs like sweet potato, plantain and winter squash would be good to include.

      As far as GAPS vs AIP I am not quite sure which would be better for you. To be honest, if I were you I would take a step back and just eat Paleo, excepting any foods you have clear reactions. You may be restricting yourself too much, causing yourself more stress and making your condition worse. Just a hunch!

      Wishing you the best!

      Mickey

  20. Brian says

    I’m very grateful for the work you and others have done on the AIP issue. I’ve been chipping away at finding what ails me for 27 years. The AIP is a perfect fit for what is wrong and as a treatment protocol. For once I don’t have to discover or figure something out for myself.

    Started on the Paleo in May (~7 months ago). I have been a type diabetic for 40+years. Very labile or “brittle”. I would get huge swings in blood sugars. After going on the paleo my blood sugars evened out and became very stable. I also gained in strength and did not feel “wired and tired” any longer. Going on the AIP for almost a month helped even further. Fortunately my body is very sensitive so any foods ingested that I should avoid sends my blood sugars soaring. (It certainly keeps you from cheating). A note about low stomach acid. I’ve known for years I’ve had it and also discovered in an amino acid profile that I am low in histidine which is necessary to produce stomach acid. Seems to be a vicious cycle. You lack stomach acid which reduces absorption of histidine which further reduces your ability to produce stomach acid. At least I never get a histamine response.

    • says

      Sounds like you are on the right track Brian, putting together the pieces yourself. Congrats on your progress, and wishing you continued success in the future.

  21. Cindy says

    I was wondering if you knew anything about going paleo and auto immune skin conditions , I was diagonsed with thyroid disease 5 years ago and then vitilgo 2 years ago. I went to a dermatologist and took cream and steroid shots with no help. I then started going to get acupuncture and taking chinese herbs. I have been doing that for 6 months now with also elimanating gluten for 6 months so far.. I have noticed a slow down in losing pigment but i still find new spots here and there. Going paleo is my last resort ..

    • says

      Cindy,
      I would consider trying the Autoimmune Protocol with any autoimmune disease, and have heard lots of good reports from those with skin conditions. Regular Paleo may not be enough, as many people have triggers such as eggs or nightshades which are included on the Paleo diet. Best of luck to you!

  22. Paige says

    Hello, I have iritis wich is like having arthritis in my left eye. This last year the flair ups have been coming on way too often. My rheumatologist put me on methotrexate to help. I feel sad that I have to be on medicine at such a young age. I realize that it is there to help me but I understand that diet has a lot to do with it. I just started cross fit again after taking a year off and one of the trainers recommend this web sight for me. When I read all of the post I have a lot of the same symptoms like major brain fog, fatigue, stomach aches trouble sleeping and for some reason my left pinky keeps going numb and tingly. We have been trying to figure out what causes the iritis. I have HLA b27 and something like MTHFNR. The allergist says my body is not absorbing vitamin B correctly. This could be why Im so tired all the time besides being a busy Mom of four beautiful children! Any way…I tried paleo a year ago and liked it ok but I need a jump start again! Any suggestions for a busy Mom like me? I feel like my body is a puzzle piece and Im trying to figure it out!

    • says

      Paige,
      Often figuring out our health is like a giant puzzle, with teeny tiny pieces that take years to figure out where to place! I also have MTHFR, and it is something worth finding a practitioner to help you with. Anything you can be doing to move yourself to a diet full of nutrient-dense, whole foods, and away from processed grains and sugar will help you. Wishing you the best of luck on your journey!

      Mickey

  23. Lee says

    Any success stories anyone with ms…was on a recovery diet for 8 months which included nightsades and nuts…3 weekschanged over to paleo ai….losing to much weight …trying to eat more sweet pot,butternut squash…any suggestions for snacks or weight gain ???

    • says

      Lee,
      Yes, many with MS have been brought to remission using these principles. You should look up Dr. Terry Wahls, as well as Whitney from Nutrisclerosis – both have healed their MS. It is very important to avoid nightshades.

      For weight gain, I would suggest making sure you get enough starchy carbs, and use them as vehicles for fat. Make sure whenever you eat veggies, they are covered in high-quality fat (coconut oil, lard, tallow, evoo etc). I would also eat a moderate amount of fruit (1-3 pieces a day).

      Good luck!

      Mickey

  24. Cato says

    Hi!

    I have a condition called CIDP that apparently became active after a food poisoning I got in the Himalayas last year. The condition makes it hard for me to walk properly, and so has it been for the last seven months. I`m looking into different diets. Would this be something to try for me with my diagnosis? Are there any research on this in relation to CIDP?

    • says

      Cato, not that I know of, but a healing protocol that avoids allergens as well as includes tons of nutrients can’t be a bad try. Let me know if you have success with it!

      Mickey

  25. Selma says

    Hello-great blog! I fall into the undiagnosed or chronic lyme category-diet has been a journey for me from Blood typeO, to weston price to gf/df and most recently high raw vegan. Progressive type neuro symptoms developed in the last 7years of the 15 year illness which was originally diagnosed as FMS. Right now I’m eating a high raw diet with cooked veggies and meat/fish a couple times a week. My body has not given me clear signals. I have eaten very clean for 20 years and mostly local grass fed, organic etc last 15. I am fascinated by diet since I have read recovery stories on everything from low fat vegan, to raw, to lowfat raw, to paleo. I have a friend who is doing really well with RA on an all raw 80-10-10 diet (lots of fruit, low fat, low protein). She says she can eat tomatoes as long as they are raw and any cooked food causes pain. I recently listened to Clint Paddison’s RA recovery story on youtube and was fascinated. He claimed a low fat, no animal protein diet healed his leaky gut combined with bikram yoga/movement-it sounds in the beginning he did raw for about 8 months. I don’t have the details of his program. Do you have any thoughts on why people like himself are thriving on no animal protein/low fat vegan diets such as his/mcdougall and others on meat/paleo? I was wondering what you thought about the LEAP food sensitivity testing. Though in the earlier years of the illness I ate high protein/lots of animal protein, I read so much on cancer being linked to high animal protein diets-I am a bit concerned about that. Just trying to make sense of it all. Thank you for your great work.

    • says

      Hi Selma, I think people thrive on vegan and raw diets initially, because they do get a lot of food that causes inflammation out of their diets–mostly processed foods, conventional meats, wheat, etc. Personally, I felt AMAZING for the first two years of being vegan, but the last 8 my health steadily went downhill. I think that eventually, the nutrient deficiencies will catch up to them. When I was vegan and looking for the best healing diet for autoimmune disease, I could not come up with anyone who had successfully used vegan or raw diets to manage their condition (And I know there are people out there who have just changed their diet, but I was really looking for people who had been in remission for years). That finding, ultimately is what led me to start AI paleo after 10 years of veganism. Not saying there aren’t any people out there who can be successful, but I think it makes it much harder for the body. Thanks for the great discussion, and I hope you find your path soon!

      Mickey

  26. says

    Hello…..I am happy I found this blog. I have excema and asthma. I’m so tired of pumping these inhalers in my body and allergy medicine. Now I have ointment for my excema and it’s clearing up but not 100%. I am willing to try anything. I’ve been reading a lot about autoimmune disease. Could you tell me or point me the direction I need to go to start this paleo diet.
    Thank you much :)

    • says

      Mindy, there are tons of resources here! Check out the “articles” tab up above, and click on the article that says “start here”. Good luck!

      Mickey

  27. Amy says

    Hi Mickey. I have your ebook and I have been browsing your website and paleomom’s website for a few months now. I really like all of your recipes and ideas.

    I have systemic lupus erythematosus, but I had it diagnosed before having any significant joint pains since my first symptom was a rash that would come and go every few weeks for years on my arms and back before I was diagnosed. Since starting to take plaquenil about 3 years ago, I have not had the rash (THANK GOD). I have wanted to incorporate a healthier diet that is more anti-inflammatory, so I started eating “paleo” July 2013. I tried to do AIP but so far I have only gotten 2 weeks…maybe because I’m not sure I need to do it (without any symptoms that I know of to give me the motivation to go all 30 days). I am still interested in making a lot of autoimmune-protocol recipes because I haven’t completely decided against going back to it. So in the mean time, I’ve just been practicing AIP every once in awhile.

    If you were me, do you think you would give yourself a whole 30 days of Autoimmune Protocol? I’m just curious what others would do in my situation.

    • says

      Hi Amy,
      That is strange you got a diagnosis of Lupus with just a rash… usually you need 4 of the 11 defining characteristics to get a diagnosis. Has the rash been your only symptom?

      I’m not sure if you really “need” to do AIP if you have no symptoms, but it wouldn’t hurt to try and see if there are any foods that are unknowingly affecting you. Even if you don’t have your rashes anymore, you may find some other chronic issues that you didn’t think were related to your autoimmunity resolve, as many of us have. Or, you could feel the same, and you might not feel the effects of the diet change much because of your medication.

      If anything, I think a Paleo template is closest to what most people need for optimum health, so you are on the right track! :)

      Mickey

    • says

      Yes, I went through the NTP program through the Nutritional Therapy Association which is affiliated with Weston A. Price.

  28. Elizabeth Sheirer says

    Great post! I really love your site and all your recipes!

    I have been on a paleo diet (not AIP) for about 6 months and feel I have pretty much cured my gut issues. But I do have Hashimoto’s and my thyroid is 5 times the normal size. I’ve been taking thyroid med for about a year now, and my thyroid has shrunk a little since then. I’m wondering if I need to do the AIP, if I’m not having gut issues, and am already feeling better on the regular Paleo diet. If I did the full elimination phase, I’m not sure what to look for when reintroducing foods if it’s not gut related. Hashimoto’s symptoms are vague at best and often asymptomatic.

    • says

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Congrats on your success so far, but that is a bummer about the enlarged thyroid. The autoimmune protocol isn’t just for those autoimmune diseases that affect the gut–I did it originally to help with my Hashimoto’s. Yes, the symptoms are more subtle and harder to place on food, but once you get everything out of your system you may find some trigger foods you didn’t know were lurking (for me nightshades are a big no-no). Good luck on your process!

  29. says

    Hi Mickey,

    I’m new to the wonderful world of thyroid disease. I have been feeling horrible since Aug of 2013 and I was just diagnosed in Jan. I was given a low dose of levothyroxine, because my T3 was not that far off. Unfortunately there are no changes in my condition. I started the AIP diet a few days ago. I have no problem finding organic veggies, chicken and fruit; however I have a hard time finding grass fed beef and when I do it is incredibly expensive. Would it be best to just avoid it or limit consumption? I really want to feel better! Thoughts?

    Thank you for your website. It gives me hope on days I feel I’ll never get better.

    Kim

    • says

      Kim, If you can find hormone-free at the very least that is doable. Have you checked eatwild.org for a farm near you? I find buying meat in bulk and freezing is the best way to keep the high quality stuff at a price I can afford it. Good luck!

      Mickey

  30. Larissa says

    Hi Mickey
    I have RA and have been on meds a little over a year. They are no longer working as we’ll and my rheumy wants to add more. I’m not prepared to do that yet and decided to give AIP a go. I have been on it for two weeks and am finding my gi issues and joint pain is getting progressively worse. Is it possible that things get worse before they get better? The only thing that’s diff to me is the in protein. Thanks
    Larissa

    • says

      Larissa,
      You should not be feeling worse, although some people do have lower energy and some GI changes as they make the transition. Are you being sure to include enough starchy carbs in your diet? Its hard to troubleshoot without knowing exactly what you are eating. I would suggest finding one of the online support groups (There is a great one called The Paleo Approach Community on FB) and seeing if some of the members there can help give you some ideas.

      Wishing you the best of luck!

      Mickey

      • Larissa says

        Thanks Mickey. I’ve been following your 4 week meal plan from your book to the letter. I’m wondering if the increase in red meat is causing the joint flares. Any idea when I should see some improvement? I know it’s a tough question but I feel a little like I’m backed into a corner. The pain of RA can be quite debilitating but the thought of more drugs is really scary – the one I’m on is bad enough (low dose chemo). thanks again
        Larissa

        • says

          Hi Larissa,
          That is troubling your pain is worse. I doubt it is the meat, unless you are eating a lot of chicken and conventional red meat and not enough grass-fed meat or seafood to up your omega 3/6 ratio. Sarah Ballantyne’s book The Paleo Approach has a great discussion on this for managing inflammation. Hope it helps!

          Mickey

  31. Selma says

    Mickey- You mentioned above that you had only found long term remission from autoimmune on the paleo diet versus vegan variations. Can you point me to those? I seem to only find them for vegan- the lupus recovery diet, I found another MD with 10 year remission from very serious lupus on vegan. Rising up by Anna York- reversed her 25 year progrssive MS with vegan and qi gong… still sorting it all out.

    • says

      Selma, they are all over the internet. I never found anyone who recovered from Hashimoto’s with a vegan diet, which is what I was looking for. So many people have recovered with Paleo, which is why this movement is exploding.

      Hope it helps

      Mickey

  32. says

    I love this post! I can totally relate to it. I’m have such a strong reaction to eggs but they’re supposed to be so good for you. It really is a matter of finding what works for you. I wish I could find one thing. I wish I could be told what to eat and be okay with that but my body doesn’t react the way other body’s do. Thanks for this.

    • says

      Margit,
      This is the hardest part, figuring out what works for you and not listening to what others think will be best for you. I wish you luck in figuring that out for yourself.

      Mickey

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