A core premise of most therapeutic diets is to remove foods which cause inflammation or damage within the body, then slowly reintroduce foods to determine which ones work well for you and which ones don’t (bio-individuality). The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is one such therapeutic approach which has an Elimination Phase then a suggested 4 stage framework for re-introducing foods back into your diet.
The world of Functional Nutrition, how the body responds to food and the individual components of food in the raw and cooked forms is still relatively new and continues to evolve. As more is understood about the human body and the role that food and its individual components can play in its overall wellness, or demise, the frameworks we use in therapeutic diets continues to be updated so that people can maximise their overall health and well being.
Here are the latest three latest updates to the re-introduction stages of the Autoimmune Protocol:
Legume Sprouts have always sat in a bit of ‘no mans land’ and not specifically covered in the Reintroduction List. They have tended to be grouped with Legumes with edible pods eg green beans, runner beans, peas, snow and sugar snap peas as suggested Stage 1 re-intros.
Sprouted legumes only contain a small amount of phytates and agglutinates compared to legumes such as black beans, pinto beans and peanuts. The small amount of phytates and agglutinates in sprouted legumes can also be easily deactivated by heat / cooking.
Now for clarity Legume sprouts are being given their own mention as a Stage 1 re-introduction.
Sprouting legumes are a relatively cheap to by and easy to grow and are a great way to increase fibre, mineral and vitamins (especially vit C) in your diet. Just check the sprouts have not been heat treated as they will not sprout. The mesh lids and mulitlayer sprouters are readily available at health food shops or even Bunnings! You can sprout most legumes, the most common ones are mung beans, lentils and peas.
Sprouted Legumes are great on salads, sprinkle them on soups or you can toss them into a stir-fry if you think you maybe particularly sensitive to phytates and agglutinates.
Split peas, lentils and garbanzo beans (or more commonly called chick peas here in Australia and New Zealand) were originally a Stage 4 reinto with other beans and legumes but have been moved to Stage 3. Here is what Sarah Ballantyne has to say:
”Peas, lentils and garbanzo beans (aka chick peas) are especially beneficial for the gut microbiome while containing lower amounts of anti-nutrients and agglutinins that are more easily deactivated by heat than other legumes like kidney beans, soy, and peanuts. For this reason, it seemed prudent to separate them from other legumes and encourage reintroduction earlier than previously.
Both pea protein and pea fiber are beneficial for the gut microbiome. Pea protein has been shown to increase levels of important short-chain fatty acids in the intestine, indicating that it feeds SCFA-producing bacteria in the gut. In a rat study comparing the effects of different legumes in diets with equal protein and calorie levels, pea consumption resulted in higher counts of Bifidobacterium than any other legume tested. This has been confirmed in humans, with pea protein significantly increasing levels of beneficial Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus while suppressing Escherichia. Pea fiber increases abundance of Lachnospiraceae and Prevotellaceae and shifts the microbiome to a phenotype responsible for better glucose tolerance. In addition, the changes in the microbiome that result from pea fiber supplementation coincide with increased expression of genes relating to gut barrier health. Lentils increase abundance of probiotic strains of Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes, while increasing resistance to pathogen colonization in the gut. The microbiome changes resulting from high lentil consumption are also associated with leanness and lower cardiovascular disease risk factors. Garbanzo bean / chick pea fiber increases levels of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus in addition to promoting the secretion of SCFAs (especially propionate and butyrate). Garbanzo bean fiber (at least in mice) can even protect against the dysbiosis caused by high-fat diets.”
For some reason Chia has been grouped in with other psuedo-grains such as ammaranth buckwheat and quinoa, even though it comes from a different family. These psuedo-grains, which are often considered “healthy” or in the case of quinoa a superfood, are rich in substances which can be disruptive to the gut and have typically been left until Stage 4 for reintroduction. However, Chia does have fewer problematic compounds so is being moved to a Stage 2 re-intro. Sarah Ballantyne is following the research closely on Chia at the moment as what limits Chia from being in the Elimination phase is its high mucilage fiber content. She highlights that “While mucilage tends to be beneficial for the gut microbiome, it also modulates the immune system in complex and potentially detrimental ways for anyone with autoimmune disease. In particular, some types of mucilage specifically stimulate either the Th1 immune response (like flaxseed) or the Th2 immune response (like natto). Because there are many unanswered questions about the impact of chia mucilage on immune function, it is initially eliminated on the AIP.”
Chai seeds can be a great addition to the pantry opening up an array of snack and meal options.
Note: if you have a known gluten issues, and in-particular celiacs, do test / reintroduce quinoa and amaranth, at Stage 4, with care or avoid as they are know to be gluten cross-reactors.
A Finishing Note:
While following the stages from 1 to 4 of re-introduction protocol is generally recommended, it is also designed to be a flexible guideline which can and should be tailored to your specific needs. If you wanting guidance on how to navigate this process and have it personalised to your needs, do reach out.
Helping you to Rediscover Your Wellness,