Should We Try Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) Protocol for Fibromyalgia?

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Last Updated on November 22, 2022 by melissanreynolds

Long have I searched for resources for the top recommended nutritional protocols for autoimmunity, specifically in relation to fibromyalgia. It’s hard to find them. The autoimmune paleo protocol is well researched, just not specifically linked to fibromyalgia.

autoimmune paleo and fibromyalgia. Vegetables around a "paleo" sign

I have read, watched and listened to a great many resources about dietary choices and chronic pain and fatigue.

It must be noted that you should always run dramatic nutritional shifts passed your medical team. It would be great if everyone had a doctor who understood the nutritional component, or a dietician, or a certified coach (there are AIP certified coaches). But in the absence of that, let your doctor know what you want to do and follow the advice of trusted advisors (Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, who I discuss in this post is a great resource).

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What is the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol?

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The Autoimmune Paleo Protocol is, in Doctor Sarah Ballantyne’s words, “a science-based diet and lifestyle intervention for autoimmune disease.” AIP Quickstart Guide, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne PHD – this is a free resources available in the free membership that the author offers on her website paleomom.com

“The Autoimmune Protocol is a specialized version of the Paleo diet with an even greater focus on nutrient density and even stricter guidelines for which foods should be eliminated. The elimination list includes some foods typically allowed on the Paleo diet that have compounds that may stimulate the immune system or harm the gut environment, including nightshades (like tomatoes and peppers), eggs, nuts, seeds, and alcohol.” AIP Quickstart Guide, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne PHD

This approach is similar to Dr Terry Wahls of The Wahls Protocol (she manages Multiple Sclerosis with similar dietary and lifestyle choices).

autoimmune paleo and fibromyalgia

The Link Between Autoimmune Paleo Protocol and Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Why are these on my radar as someone with fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome (and potential endometriosis)?

In a word, inflammation.

An in another (two), gut health.

Whether or not researchers decide fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease, inflammation and gut health are important for us to address.

Some researchers believe that the sharp rise in incidence of chronic illness is due to nutrient deficiency. In the Western world we are food rich and nutrient poor. In other words, many of us eat junk.

The Autoimmune Paleo Protocol 101

Dr. Ballantyne goes in depth into the research that is the foundation of her work in her books, The Paleo Approach (specifically about autoimmune disease) and Paleo Principles (a massive tome, full of research and guidance). She provides an introduction in The AIP Quickstart Guide mentioned above.

Essentially, the AIP is about maximizing nutrient density, while removing problematic food.

The AIP protocol is actually an elimination diet. It strips our food choices back to the most nutrient dense options, gives our guts time to heal and then reintroduces foods back in.

In a nutshell, on AIP one would eat:

  • Organ meat
  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Healthy fats

One would not eat:

  • Gluten/grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy
  • Processed and refined foods
  • Nightshades
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Alcohol
autoimmune paleo and fibromyalgia

Ideally one would follow this plan until they experience remission, or dramatic improvement in their health. And then they would embark upon a carefully controlled reintroduction phase.

It’s all outlined in her resources. You can do this using her free resources, and you can opt to purchase more resources to make it easier.

An important part of the Paleo and AIP protocols is the lifestyle portion. A focus on getting as much quality sleep as is possible (I know, extremely difficult for those with fibromyalgia), movement, stress management etc. are all part of the plan.

My Experience with autoimmune protocol and Fibromyalgia

I have chosen to leave the AIP as a “last resort”. The evidence-based approach to nutritional choices resonates with me. But a restrictive diet is going to be more stressful than helpful at my stage in life. Especially because I rarely eat refined sugars and grains, eat a good amount of vegetables and am not so far back in my wellness journey.

As I follow the nutrivore approach (also Dr Ballantyne’s creation), I do bring in components of the AIP. Research has shown legumes to be a wonderful source of nutrients, so they remain in my diet, for now. My focus is INCREASING the good stuff – meats, organ meats, seafood and vegetables. And that feels good. I will, of course, keep you updated.

If you have tried this way of eating, please do share your experience.

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