People often ask me if they should do an autoimmune paleo diet (AIP) to help heal their hashimotos, lupus, graves, rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune disease that they have been diagnosed with.

That’s actually not a bad idea, and it 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 always 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 can indicate 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) 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 helps a person get focused on what is actually going into their body on a daily basis – which, for most modern folks, is not a top priority. Until, of course, they get sick with some debilitating condition.

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.

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 (giving us energy) and support the health of the helpful fungus (candida albicans) that naturally populates the large intestine to help us digest our 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 becoming more narrow (you can digest less and less)
  • You have digestive trouble – even with foods that are on your protocol
  • You felt great in the beginning, but now you don’t feels so good
  • Your autoimmune symptoms are returning
  • You are exhausted

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!