AIP for Chronic Inflammation

autoimmune protocol

While researching nightshade vegetables and their effect on people with sensitivities to them, I came across something called an AIP. This stands for an autoimmune protocol, something I had never heard of. However, through the years I know I have inflammatory issues and suspect they may be related to underlying autoimmune factors.

What is the AIP?

To clarify, the AIP or autoimmune protocol is a diet somewhat related to the Paleo diet, but slightly more restrictive. Nicknamed the hunter and gatherer diet, Paleo supports a back-to-the-basics approach. In addition to foods restricted in the Paleo, AIP also eliminates nightshade vegetables as well as other inflammation-triggering foods like eggs, seeds, nuts, and most sweeteners.

What’s left to eat on the AIP? In short, foods that fight inflammation such as leafy greens, fruit, lean meat, healthy fats, and cruciferous vegetables are all permitted.

To sum things up, this chart shows what is allowed or not, and how to swap the bad for the good. It comes from AmyMeyersMD.com:

AIP for chronic inflammation

Chronic Inflammatory Conditions that the AIP can Alleviate

Many things cause chronic inflammation. Exposure to chemicals, foods we consume, and autoimmune disorders are all culprits. Research shows that autoimmune conditions and inflammatory diseases are often connected. Both of these can be genetic, but it is the ability to be allergic that is genetic, not the specific allergy. Healthline lists some well known autoimmune conditions and symptoms:

  • joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis
  • gout
  • irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease
  • chronic fatigue, trouble concentrating, brain fog
  • skin rashes and conditions like eczema, scleroderma, psoriasis,
  • phlebitis, deep vein thrombosis, vasculitis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • type 1 diabetes
  • hair loss
  • low grade fever, achy muscles
  • numbness and/or tingling in the hands or feet

Long Term Goals

Treatment of many of these conditions and symptoms may require medication to reduce inflammation. Furthermore, exercise more, quit smoking, eliminate stress, and change diets. These actions can alleviate autoimmune and inflammatory symptoms over the long term.

Most importantly, the autoimmune protocol is never a quick fix. It may take several months for chronic inflammatory and autoimmune symptoms to subside.

Do your own research. Find reputable sites online or do your research the old-fashioned way by reading a book. Here are a few selections from Amazon on the topic:

Nightshade Vegetables: Should You Eat Them?

Nightshade vegetables

Nightshade vegetables are wonderful, versatile, and delicious if you are not sensitive to them. Unfortunately, many times people don’t realize a sensitivity to them until they are investigating unpleasant inflammatory or gastrointestinal symptoms.

What are Nightshade Vegetables?

Tomatoes (and tomatillos), okra, eggplant, peppers, goji berries, and white potatoes are all members of the nightshade family. Also included in the group are spices such as red pepper flakes, chili pepper, cayenne, and paprika.  Too bad, as all of these contain antioxidants, vitamins (C and B), and minerals. Not to mention they are tasty.

nightshade vegetables

Why are Nightshade Vegetables Getting a Bad Name?

Unfortunately, even though these vegetables are normally considered very healthy, they can cause more trouble than they are worth for many people. That’s because they also contain nutrients called alkaloids. The alkaloids in turn contain a nitrogen called solanine. While nitrogen is great for fertilizing plants, it is not so easily processed or agreeable in our digestive systems.

Research is now showing that nitrogen consumption can aggravate chronic digestive issues such as leaky gut, irritable bowel, and Celiac disease as well as arthritis and joint pain. Nightshade vegetables create an inflammatory response in many people, especially those afflicted with autoimmune disorders.

Allergies in any form can range from mild to deadly. All reactions, even mild ones, should be acknowledged, investigated, and prevented. Recognized currently are serious allergic reactions to nightshades ranging from hives and itchiness to swelling and difficulty breathing.

Confirm a Sensitivity to Nightshades with an Elimination Diet

Unfortunately, an elimination diet does not provide a quick diagnosis. When you complain of inflammatory or digestive episodes your physician may suggest you avoid nightshade vegetables. Or, you can make the decision yourself as you know your body better than anyone else. Either way, an elimination diet may provide some clarity.

Start by eliminating all of the vegetables and spices listed above for a minimum of one month. Then re-introduce them, one at a time, into your diet. Monitor your symptoms as you re-introduce things. You may react to one and not another from the group. Raw versus cooked versions may create different reactions too. It may be beneficial to keep a journal to record day to day changes and reactions.

Living with the Results

How severely you have to restrict nightshade vegetables from your diet will depend on your findings in your elimination diet as well as the severity of your symptoms when reintroducing them.

You make the call!

Hot Soup For Cold Days

Hot Soup For Cold Days

There is nothing like a delicious, comforting bowl of hot soup on a cold day. One of my favourite activities in fall is making homemade soup. I call it leftover soup because I use up all the broth and bones taking up space in my freezer as well as any leftover vegetables in my fridge. Homemade is also much more nutritious and tasty than store-bought soups.

How to Create Your Own Broth

I love to make my own broth, mainly because store-bought broth is laden with salt and other ingredients I cannot or don’t care to pronounce or put in my body. I use this homemade broth by the spoonful in sauces or larger amounts in soups and stews.

Save the pan drippings from roasted turkey, chicken, pork or beef in a bucket. Store the bucket in the freezer with additions of drippings in the same bucket. When the bucket is full, start a new one. Each addition freezes in a separate layer with the fat rising to the top of each layer. When you remove the broth for use, the fat is easy to scrape off and discard.

I also add the nutrient-packed liquid left at the bottom of the dish after steaming vegetables to my broth buckets. Another trick is to freeze the tough broccoli stalks you trim off the heads to prepare for meals. Freeze them in another bag.

Storing Bones

Bones from roasted meat also store well in the freezer for later use in soups. Simply put them in a sealable plastic bag, squish the air out, and freeze. Turkey legs go right into a freezer bag as soon as they are cut from the turkey. That’s because no one in my household likes to eat them. These legs have lots of meat on them too, which falls off the bones as you simmer them on soup making day.

Freeze only large bones; it is more difficult to separate meat from the small ones. The larger leg bones are easily retrieved after simmering them.

Leftovers in Soup

Leftovers taking up space in your fridge are also great in soups. The remainder of last night’s broccoli, mushrooms, corn, rice, pasta or quinoa all add bulk to your hot soups. If you are not making soup within a few days of preparing these leftovers, add them to the collection in your freezer.

Harvested Vegetables

If you grow your own vegetables, as many decided to do during the pandemic, you can freeze any you harvest for later use. I don’t grow that many that I cannot eat as I harvest, but I know those that do! On a recent trip to my favourite farm, my aunt sent me home with lots of tomatoes and instructions on how to roast them with garlic. After following her instructions, I gave several buckets away, but ended up with some in my freezer too.

Conclusion

By now you can probably see why I enjoy making hot soup in the fall. Not only do I end up with a delicious and nutritious meal but my freezer gets cleaned out too!

What do you put in your homemade soups?

Hot Soup For Cold Days
turkey quinoa soup

Paleo Diet, All the Details

paleo diet

Many specific diets have come and gone in popularity over the years.  We have had the Atkins, Nutrisystem, Bernstein, Zone, Weight Watchers, Mediterranean, South Beach, Raw Foods diets, and more.  Some are long gone, others still around.  The Paleo diet, short for Paleolithic, (think caveman era) is based on what our ancestors supposedly foraged for and lived on centuries ago.  I say supposedly because which one of us was around to confirm the info?

What does the Paleo Diet Eliminate?

It is not that difficult to realize that all the additives, preservatives, and other highly processed and or hydrogenated ingredients were not around back then.  The Paleo diet urges people to eliminate such items from their meal plans.  That includes salt sugar and artificial sweeteners, iodized (table) salt,  omega-6 oils (unrefined, organic coconut, olive, flaxseed, and avocado are allowed because they are omega 3s), dairy (except butter and ghee which are allowed.)

Beans and legumes (with the exception of green beans and snow peas) are not allowed on a Paleo diet either because they are (for most people) hard to digest.  The same applies to starchy vegetables like white potatoes (sweet ones are allowed in moderation) corn and squash, as well as all (even gluten-free) grains. Grains are taboo because of the lectins they contain that trigger allergic and autoimmune responses as well as leaky gut syndrome.

paleo diet

What Foods are Permitted?

Meats allowed on the Paleo diet are grass-fed, pasture-raised, and organic. Fish choices should be wild or farmed under responsible conditions.  Eggs should be free-range. Most nuts (except peanuts because they are legumes, not nuts) and seeds are allowed too.

What the Paleo Diet Does for You

This diet is supposed to prevent and eliminate immune responses and many disease states, including cancer.  I must admit, other than eliminating dairy (cheese is a personal weakness) beans and gluten-free grains like brown rice and quinoa (actually not a grain, but included in that category) my current choice of diet follows these Paleo choices very closely.  These choices came from figuring out (over many years) what works (and doesn’t work) for my body. 

Go figure, here I thought I was unique!

Leftover Soup

photo credit

I call my homemade soup leftover soup for the obvious reason; many of the ingredients of each batch are leftovers from my fridge or freezer.  Meat, vegetables, broth, gravy, rice, quinoa; anything and everything goes.

I make my own broth by keeping the pan drippings from roast chicken, turkey or beef in a container in my freezer, all mixed together.  As soon as each addition to the container starts to freeze, i scrape off and discard the fat that has risen to the top.  I also add any excess liquid from steamed vegetables to the bucket in the freezer. Then when the day comes to make soup, out comes the container to use for the base of the soup.  This is a simple, healthy and delicious way to make broth without added artificial flavors or preservatives.  If you are really organized and efficient, you can pour the broth into ice cube trays to be frozen individually instead of all together in a bucket.  This works well when you only need a few spoonfuls of broth for a recipe. I prefer the bucket method.

The broth is flavored with the roasted onions and garlic that I always add to the bottom of the pan before roasting meat.  The onions and garlic brown up nicely when cooked this way, adding color and flavor to the pan drippings.  These pan drippings can be used to baste the roasting meat and then to either make gravy when the meat is done cooking, or to add to my broth bucket in the freezer.

The other thing I freeze for homemade soup is chicken or turkey bones.  When the carcass is almost picked clean after a roast dinner, i stick it in a freezer bag and store it in the freezer until soup day.  Simmered in a pot of water with added spices such as cilantro, basil or bay leaves, it makes a great base for soups too.  If it appears too watery, I just add some of the broth from  my bucket.

I have also frozen broccoli stalks to add to simmering soup stock for added flavor.  I store them in a freezer bag as well after removing them from the florets anytime I serve broccoli as a vegetable. Once cooked, the stocks can be pureed in a blender to thicken the soup or chopped and added to the finished soup in chunks.  It is amazing what nutritious vegetables you can hide in a soup!

Once I have the base prepared, I add rice, quinoa or beans for texture and heartiness, as well as any other fresh vegetables I have on hand such as grape or cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.  Frozen corn is always an option too for added crunch to the soup.  Occasionally I will roast a batch of mushrooms, onions and peppers to add to the soup pot.  Just before serving, I often add a few tablespoons of jalapeno flavored tzatziki to give the soup a little kick.  

The only problem with this leftover soup is, no two batches of soup are ever the same!  When one turns out particularly well, it is difficult to remember what exactly was in it.  My mother-in-law used to love my  homemade soup, but would get quite frustrated when I couldn’t produce a recipe for her to follow to make her own.

The Best Gluten-Free Pizza

 

Image

 

Since I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy almost three years ago, pizza is probably what I miss most on my wheat free diet.  I have tried numerous gluten-free versions of pizza, but none of them were very satisfying until I tried the gluten-free pizza made by Sabatasso’s pizzeria and purchased at Costco.  The cheese pizzas come in a package of two and cook up beautifully so the crust is indeed thin and crispy as the package boasts.  I add my own toppings by roasting vegetables on a baking sheet while the pizza is cooking, then adding the veggies to the pizza for the last 5 minutes of the required cooking time.  I use 1 red pepper, 1/4 spanish onion and 4 sliced  mushrooms, tossed with olive oil and crushed garlic.  I love the carmelized vegetables with the melted cheese and crispy crust…delicious!

Lose the Wheat and more…

As promised in my last post, if you want to lose more than a few pounds and/or are concerned about your blood glucose levels, you will have to eliminate more than just wheat from your diet. There are many other foods that stimulate your appetite, and distort your insulin levels. These items all fall into the high glycemic index category, meaning they increase your blood sugar levels the most, which in turn causes more fat to be stored in your body. This theory is the basis of Dr William Davis’ book “Wheat Belly”. It is also the theory the “Zone” diet, popular a few years ago, is based on. I am sure there are many other “diets” based on these ideas, but these two are the ones I found made the most sense and worked the best…

Avoid: cornstarch and cornmeal (tacos, tortillas, corn chips), snack foods (potato chips, rice cakes, popcorn), desserts (pie, cake, ice cream), gluten-free foods (cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, tapioca starch), fruit juices and soft drinks (sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, colorings, carbonic acid), dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, figs, dates, apricots), some fats (hyrdrogenated/trans, fried oils, cured meats like sausage, bacon, hot dogs, salami)

Eat in moderation (less than 1/2 cup serving): rice (brown, white, wild), potatoes (white, red, sweet, yams), legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils), other non-wheat grains (quinoa, sorghum, buckwheat, millet, oats)

I know you’re thinking “WHAT CAN I EAT?”   Think back to the hunters and gatherers; vegetables should be the main component of your diet. Eat as many vegetables as you want!

Fruit, on the other hand, should be limited to small servings because modern, hybridized fruits contain too much sugar. The best (highest nutrient content and the least sugars) fruits are blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries and cherries. Bananas, pineapple, mango and papaya are the worst due to their high sugar content.

Raw (not roasted, or processed) nuts are full of good (monounsaturated) fats, protein and fiber, and are filling. Eat as many as you want of these too, they can reduce your cholesterol level and blood pressure. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, and cashews are great. Peanuts (legumes, not nuts) cannot be eaten raw, be sure they are boiled or dry roasted without any additions.

Healthy oils are good too: extra-virgin olive, coconut, avocado oils and cocoa butter. Avoid polyunsaturated oils like sunflower, safflower, corn, vegetable oil. To avoid oxidizing the oil, avoid frying and keep cooking temperatures low.

Eat meat, but try to buy meats from grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free sources, and cook  the meat at lower temperatures for shorter times. Avoid processed and cured meats altogether.

Eggs and real (fermented)cheese are also great for you to eat. A chunk of cheese and a handful of raw nuts is a great snack!  Other dairy products, such as yogurt, (unsweetened, unflavored) milk, cottage cheese and butter should be restricted to two servings a day since the dairy protein in them increases your pancreatic release of insulin. Cheese is unlimited because of its fermentation process that reduces the effect of insulin release.

Other items, such as flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, avocados, olives, coconut, spices, unsweetened cocoa , unsweetened condiments (mustard, horseradish, salsa, vinegar etc) are all unlimited.

Water is your best choice in a beverage. Avoid fruit drinks and soft drinks; 100% fruit juice is acceptable in very small quantities. Tea and coffee (unsweetened, with or without milk) are fine since they are plant derived. Red wine is your best choice in alcoholic beverages; beer is wheat brewed and off-limits!

I am anxious to try the recipes listed in the back of “Wheat Belly”, especially the bread and muffin ones.    I will be sure to let you know what I think of them…