When you have psoriasis, your immune system has gone wild. It attacks your own body, creating patches of red, itchy skin covered in strange scales. The most common place for this to happen is on your scalp and the back of your knees. If you have psoriasis, you probably know that stress and flares are directly linked—the worse your stress, the worse your psoriasis gets. So what can we learn from the stress response? The immune system is a double-edged sword. When we’re fighting off an infection, it helps our bodies produce antibodies so that we don’t get sick again later. But when it’s triggered too often, or by things that don’t pose a threat to our health like pollen or gluten, it leads to negative side effects like psoriasis flare-ups and other autoimmune diseases…
What is the Autoimmune Protocol Diet?
The Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP) is an elimination diet that helps treat a wide variety of autoimmune diseases by removing common triggers. The AIP diet also goes above and beyond a traditional elimination diet by adding in targeted nutritional supplements, like vitamin D and ferritin for those with systemic autoimmune diseases like psoriasis. This increases the effectiveness of the diet for those with chronic diseases. The AIP diet is a stricter version of the Paleo diet, so if you’ve tried the Paleo diet and found it too easy, the AIP is a great next step, you can check this AIP diet food list to understand what you can eat. It is a more rigorous diet that requires careful planning to avoid nutritional deficiencies. The AIP is also a great diet for those who’ve tried other diets like a specially designed anti-psoriasis diet with no success.
Remove common high-reactivity foods (nightshade vegetables, grains, legumes, and dairy) for 1-2 weeks. Then, slowly begin adding them back in, one at a time, to see if they cause a reaction. Commonly, folks who have tried the AIP but have not followed this step report that they still have flare-ups.
Add back in Good Fats and B Vitamins. Fats promote healthy cell membranes, neurotransmitter production, and hormone balance. The best fats for the AIP diet are those high in monounsaturated fat, like avocado or olive oil. Other fats to add back in are coconut oil, ghee, and grass-fed butter. Vitamins B6, B9 (folate), and B12 are essential to immune system regulation, so they’re often recommended for those with autoimmune diseases.
Add in AIP-friendly veggies and spices at dinner time. Veggies are some of the most important foods on the AIP diet, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough variety. You can rotate through all the AIP-friendly veggies or just pick your favorites. Just make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A, which mostly comes from carrots, sweet potatoes, and greens like spinach and kale. Spices are also super important. They can help you rewire your palate and get used to the new taste of the AIP diet. Some common ones to use are nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. And you don’t have to use just one spice at a time—go crazy!
The AIP diet is a great place to start if you’re looking to reduce your autoimmune symptoms. It’s more rigorous than a standard elimination diet, which is why it’s helpful for those with chronic diseases. The AIP diet requires careful planning and a willingness to change your cooking habits, but it can make a big difference in your health.