The Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP Diet) advocates consuming whole foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables, minimally processed animal products, minimally processed vegetable oils, fermented probiotic-rich foods, non-seed derived spices, and natural vinegar.
The AIP diet is similar to the paleo diet and paleo approach (sometimes referred to as the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol) in the types of foods allowed and avoided. However, it is more strict and focuses on autoimmune wellness.
Certain foods such as sea salt, saturated fats, coconut-based foods, and natural sugars such as honey and maple syrup are allowed, but some protocols recommend moderate consumption. Furthermore, some protocols advise limiting fruits and vegetables with a high glycemic index.
Let's dive into the food list!
Enjoy These Foods on the AIP-Diet:
AIP-Compliant Animal Proteins and Animal Products
Well sourced, high-quality meat and fish products provide the body with protein, healthy fats, and energy. Grass-fed, grass-finished, pasture-raised, and wild-caught are all preferred proteins when possible but not required. Aim to purchase the highest quality of animal protein that you can find and afford.
AIP-approved animal proteins and products to enjoy:
- Bone broth
- Beef Jerky
- Bone marrow
- Duck lard
- Beef tallow
- Grass-fed beef
- Organ meats
The majority of vegetables are AIP approved, except for nightshade vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables are nutrient-dense foods filled with vitamins, minerals, and fiber!
AIP-approved vegetables to enjoy:
- Brussels sprouts
- Green onions/scallions
- Sweet potato
- Butternut squash
- Summer squash
- Bok choy
- Winter squash
- Herbs: cilantro, basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, etc.
- Leafy greens: spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, swiss chard, arugula, mustard greens, etc.
- Spaghetti squash
- Acorn squash
While fruit is filled with healthy fiber and antioxidants, it's also notably high in natural sugars. Fruits are also an excellent source of fiber!
AIP-approved fruits to enjoy:
- Star fruit
- Passion fruit
- Plantain chips
Minimally Processed AIP-Approved Fats and Vinegar
The AIP Diet excludes heavily processed fats and seed oils, but a handful of minimally processed heart-healthy fats are permitted.
AIP-approved fats and vinegar to enjoy:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Coconut butter
- Avocado oil
- Palm oil
AIP-Compliant Natural Vinegars and Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are encouraged by the AIP Diet due to their probiotic-rich nature and gut-healing properties since autoimmune disorders are commonly associated with Leaky Gut Syndrome, and other gut issues.
AIP-approved fermented health foods and beverages to enjoy:
- Water kefir
- Coconut milk kefir
- Coconut yogurt
- Pickled veggies
- Apple cider vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
AIP-Approved Herbs & Spices
- Bay leaf
AIP-Compliant Specialty Pantry Staples
- Tigernut flour
- Herbal tea
- Green tea
- Cassava flour
- Dried fruit
- Date sugar
- Tapioca starch
- Arrowroot starch
- Plantain flour
- Coconut sugar
- Coconut flour
- Carob powder
- Coconut aminos
Foods to Avoid
The AIP Diet eliminates nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, dairy, eggs, food additives, nightshade family vegetables, and processed foods such as processed vegetable oils and processed sugars during the elimination phase of the diet. You should also avoid consuming certain drugs such as tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine.
It's believed that eliminating these foods will help reduce inflammation and improve the gut lining, as well as overall gut health. Eventually, you will reintroduce foods (in the reintroduction phase) to determine which foods cause inflammation. Ultimately, you'll escape the maintenance phase and eliminate triggering foods from your diet permanently.
Avoid These Foods:
- Grains such as wheat, barley, rice, oats, rye, etc. This includes foods derived from grains, such as bread, pasta, and cereal.
- Legumes such as lentils, beans (garbanzo beans, black beans, grean beans, etc.), soy, peas, etc. This includes foods derived from legumes such as tofu, tempeh, and certain faux meats.
- Nightshade family vegetables: eggplants, bell peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, etc.
- Dairy such as cow's, goat's, and sheep's milk. This includes foods derived from these kinds of milk such as butter, cream, cheese, ghee, and protein powders.
- Nuts and seeds such as coriander, cumin, anise, fennel, fenugreek, mustard, and nutmeg, and including all foods derived from nuts and seeds such as flours, butter, or oils. This also includes cocoa and seed-based spices.
- Processed foods
- Refined carbohydrates
- Natural nightshades such as date sugar and goji berries
- Refined vegetable oils, nut oils, and seed oils
- Nightshade spices such as paprika, and chili pepper
- Seed-based spices such star anise, coriander, celery seed, and cumin
- Highly processed vegetable oils such as rapeseed, canola, corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean, or sunflower oils
- Refined sugars and processed sugars such as cane sugar, beet sugar, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and barley malt syrup
- Preservatives, thickeners, flavorings, emulsifiers, coloring, and other food additives such as guar gum
- Artificial sweeteners such as xylitol and mannitol
- Certain drugs such as alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco
- NSAID's such as Ibuprofen and aspirin
Who Is Aip For?
The Autoimmune Protocol Diet is for people suffering from an autoimmune condition. While there are hundreds of autoimmune disorders, the most common are:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Hidradenitis Suppurativa
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Hashimoto's Disease (Hashimoto's Thyroiditis)
- Celiac Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Alopecia Areata
- Graves' Disease
- Crohn's Disease
- Adrenal Fatigue
The Autoimmune Protocol Diet is also an excellent choice for those looking to lose weight, feel better, and improve their gut microbiome, immune system, and digestive system. Just be sure to consult your primary healthcare provider before making any drastic changes.
The Bottom Line
The Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP Diet) is an anti-inflammatory elimination diet that replaces foods that trigger negative autoimmune responses with nutrient-dense foods believed to help heal and reduce symptoms associated with autoimmune disorders and chronic illness.
Want to learn more about the AIP Diet? Check out our AIP Beginner's Guide for a comprehensive overview. You might learn a thing or two! And, feel free to create an AIP Diet meal plan and grocery store shopping list for yourself based on the foods to eat above–it will come in handy if you're just starting your AIP journey!