People often ask if they should do an autoimmune paleo diet (AIP) to help heal their hashimotos, lupus, graves, rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune disease.
That’s actually not a bad idea, and can often help greatly in the short term.
But, in the long term, staying on any highly restrictive diet for extended periods of time can weaken the immune system, the digestive system, and the body as a whole.
More often than not, I see people that are at their wits end. They’ve tried all of the extreme diets, and they say it works great in the beginning, but soon they begin suffering again, especially anytime they step outside of their highly restricted food parameters.
When symptoms re-emerge it indicates that the root cause was never addressed, or that the diet is not sustainable for long-term health.
One of the great things about any extreme dieting (AIP, Paleo, vegan) is that it encourages you to tighten up your food choices and get rid of all the junk.
Usually, the first things to go are refined foods (bread, cookies, cake, pastries), sugar, caffeine, and dairy – or in the case of AIP – grains, beans and fruits, too.
Initially, this type of restrictive dieting helps a person heal.
When I was healing my thyroid condition over 20 years ago, I started with a Macrobiotic diet. It too, was highly restrictive and helped me clean up my crappy eating habits. Refined foods, sugars, junk food, caffeine and dairy were the first things to go. And, I felt significant improvements with my health.
But, after two years, I didn’t feel so good anymore. My blood pressure was very low, my immune system kept crashing, and I was suffering once again. Not with thyroid disease but with adrenal fatigue, because something was missing from my restrictive diet…. other nutrients.
It wasn’t until I widened out my food choices and began incorporating ALL of the foods that humans have been eating for centuries, that my health began improving again.
Any extreme diet is going to exclude entire food groups.
In the case of AIP and Paleo, they exclude grains and beans that have been in the human food supply for thousands of years. Those foods serve a purpose; they contain starches and sugars that feed mitochondria (that gives us energy), and the microbiome that support immunity, plus they support the health of the helpful fungus (candida albicans) that populates the large intestine to help us digest food and process waste.
So, should you be on an extreme and/or restrictive diet?
Maybe for a few months, but certainly not for a lifetime.
Here’s some symptoms that it’s time to widen out your diet:
- Your diet is slowing becoming more narrow and you can digest less and less food
- You are experiencing digestive trouble – even with foods that are on your restrictive protocol
- You felt great in the beginning, but now you don’t feels so good
- Your autoimmune symptoms are returning
- You are exhausted
- You are allergic to everything
If you are not feeling your best, something is missing. Don’t get stuck in the newest diet craze that promises to heal your auto-immune condition. It’s time to get to the root cause, eat a healthy and sustainable diet, and start feeling fabulous!
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Andrea Beaman is an internationally renowned Holistic Health Coach, Natural Foods Chef, Speaker and Herbalist. Named one of the top 100 Most Influential Health and Fitness Experts, she is also a recipient of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Award for Excellence in Health-Supportive Education and a Health Leadership award from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Since 1999, Andrea has been teaching people how to harness the body’s own preventative and healing powers using food, herbal remedies and alternative medicine.