Autoimmune protocol - making the best of it!

Answered on August 09, 2015
Created June 14, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Dear all,

I am thinking about starting autoimmune protocol, but I am afraid I won't be able to be 100% compliant with it.

It would be of huge help if you could rate each of the following "gray area" foods on 10 scale, 1 being ok and 10 extremely dangerous for autoimmune conditions. Please, also tell what's your opinion is based on: your personal experience, some expert's positions or a study.

  1. White rice
  2. Buckwheat
  3. Cheese (good quality Parmesan)
  4. Milk
  5. Nuts: walnuts, almonds and Brazil nuts
  6. Nightshades: potatoes
  7. Nightshades: tomatoes
  8. Nightshades: eggplants
  9. Nightshades: potatotoes
  10. Coffee
  11. Chocolate
  12. Huckleberries

Also, do I understand correctly that ALL fruit, ALL meat, ALL fish, almost ALL berries, mushrooms, radishes, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, green tea, are totally fine?

Also, consumption of which foods one should consider INCREASING if he/she has autoimmune issue?

Could you please also share how long it took you to get better on autoimmune protocol?

Thank you very much!

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1 Answers


on August 09, 2015
at 02:11 AM

I started gluten free, then went to paleo, then AIP. Saw improvements at each step. Here's my opinion on these foods:

White rice: 2   Lots of people report being able to tolerate white rice. I can tolerate it for 2-3 servings per week, but I do have a few minor symptoms. According to experts, most of the anti-nutrients and inflamation producing chemicals are in the rice husk, so white rice is better than most grains.
Buckwheat: 7     It's a seed. No gluten, but lots of other problematic anti-nutrients, and husking it doesn't seem to help much. According to the Phadia Immunologic Reference Library, it is very allergenic.
Cheese (good quality Parmesan): 6    You can use a small amount of parmesan to get a lot of flavor, so it might be an OK "cheat". My mom is lactose intolerant and has a few allergy issue, but not the major immune problems my aunt and I have. She can have a tiny amount of parmesan each day without much trouble.
Milk: 10   I haven't seen anyone recommend or even waffle about milk on Paleo. Lactose intolerance and milk allergies are both very common in Europe and the US. You won't know if you have one or both until you go for several weeks without trying them.
Nuts: walnuts, almonds and Brazil nuts: 4   I haven't tried nuts since I started Paleo AIP because I don't really crave them. But lots of people eat nuts on Paleo with no major problems. They're also on the list of food to try reintroducing early in the The Paleo Approach book.
Nightshades: potatoes: 5   I love potatoes, and crave them often. So I've done a lot of research on them: glycoalkaloid content in potatoes varies widely by variety, age/season, and location on the potato. I have been able to tolerate skinless frozen russet potatoes: the skin has more antinutrients than the center, russets have the least of the common US varieties, if it's frozen at the factory it has less chance to develop them in the presence of oxygen and light. Still I only eat them 1-2x per week - usually when I'm over at a friends and they ask "so what can you eat?". There little nutritional value in potatoes though, and lots of people have trouble with the starch in them. They do give me heartburn sometimes.
Nightshades: tomatoes: 10  I have heard that if you skin them and seed them, and they're organic heirloom varieties, the reactions are less bad. But just not worth it, IMO. Lots of anti-nutrients, seen lots of reports of a single tomato setting off weeks of reactions. I make tasty catsup out of apple sauce, blueberries, or cranberries. Not eating pasta anyway, so I don't need tomato sauce. I miss salsa - but cucumber gaspacho is pretty good.
Nightshades: eggplants 10   Similar to tomatoes.
Nightshades: potatotoes. See above
Coffee: 10   There's a proven cross-sensitivity between coffee and gluten, meaning that a protien found in coffee can bind to gluten antibodies.
Chocolate: 4   Chocolate is early on the list of foods to reintroduce in The Paleo Approach book, because it has lots of good effects on health. But I'm allergic to it, and so are a lot of other people.
Huckleberries: 1   I'm pretty sure blueberries and huckleberries are recommended on AIP. I eat loads of berries: blueberries, raspberries, currants, blackberries, cranberries.

I eat all meat (grass-fed and/or organic are better), all fish (look out for histamine poisoning in fish stored at too high a temperature), most fruits but not juices (I'm allergic to oranges and pears), lots of veggies including a lot not on your list, green and black tea. But a lot of people can't tolerate the tea, for others green tea can be good.

Early on I struggled to get enough calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and B vitamins. The cure: bone broth and green leafy veggies every single day. I'm OK with sugars, so I also make sure that I get molasses several times a week. I hate liver, but learning to cook and eat it was key to my early healing. Offal has a lot of nutrients that are not easily digested out of vegetable if your gut isn't working property. I've read lots of advice on Paleo AIP and talked a lot about it to my allergist and my aunt (who's a nurse midwife with similar food allergies and a history of autoimmunit diseases). #1 takeaway: everyone is different. You have to listen to your body, track your food and your symptoms, and make adjustments.

I've been AIP for almost a year, and found a BIG improvement in my health when I manage to truly go full AIP with no cheats. I started reintroducing foods after 3 months of full AIP, but very slowly: about 2 per month. I see improvements in my health every month, but expect it to take 3-5 years to fully heal. I also have learned to expect setbacks every month, and be prepared to adapt to deal with them. But I haven't felt this healthy in 15 years!!!

The first improvement I saw was reduced asthma, then less muscle/joint pain, then less gut pain, then fewer headaches, then better mental altertness, then needing less sleep, then able to wean off my heartburn meds, then getting sick less often, then more energy, then more resilience to stress/accidental allergen exposure.

Here's a few tidbits I've found that aren't in typical AIP information:

- Quercitin is a natural chemical found in fennel, capers, and dill weed (not seed) that can reduce histamine responses to food.

- Allergy testing can help customize your plan, but be aware that a positive skin test for a food means you have about a 50% chance of being allergic to it. Food allergies and food intolerances are different: allergies usually show up on a skin test, and intolerances don't, but both can make you sick.

- AIP sources usually talk about how hard it is to switch, and give some good general advice like "stick with it" "have patience with yourself". I had to have support from: my GP, an allergist, a gastroenterologist, an accupucturist, a masseuse, a chiropractor, and a psychologist. Even then, I came close to losing my job, wanted to pull away from several friends, and had huge fights with my husband. I hope my experience is not typical, but you will need a lot of support from other people - professionals, family, and friends. Getting that in place at the beginning could make a huge difference.

I hope this helps. Good luck, and good health!

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