Nuts are no small player in the nutrition world which is why it is somewhat surprising that they would be excluded from the AIP diet. Almost every diet anyone could possibly go on would allow the consumption of nuts but not AIP, why?
Well the easy and simple answer is that nuts contain lectins and phytic acid (we talk more about lectin in our nightshade post) but with a closer look we learn that there is a bit more going on than that. We will try to make it as clear as we can as we walk through each reason…we like to be thorough!
We’ll go through each of the following risks associated with nuts when it comes to the AIP diet: Lectins, Omega 6’s, phytic acid, and allergens.
What is lectin? They are carbohydrate binding proteins that are high in sugar. Don’t confuse lectin with lecithins…they aren’t the same though the word is very similar (Lecithins are fatty substances). Lectin is contained in all food but the lectin that should be avoided on the AIP and Paleo diet are the grain and legume based lectin. These lectins don’t digest well, will increase intestinal permeability, and interact with the lining of the gut which can aggravate autoimmune conditions.
Nuts have loads of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats and not nearly as many on the omega-3 end of things. One of the main objectives with the paleo and AIP diet is to normalize those levels of omegas…omega 3 intake should be equivalent to that of the omega 6 intake and with nuts this isn’t the case. Small quantities of nuts may serve one well but that is if they haven’t neglected the need to balance the omega 3’s with the omega 6’s. This is one reason for the exclusion.
What is phytic acid? It is a bound mineral which the body doesn’t absorb very well. Nuts are fairly high in this mineral so if they are overconsumed then it could lead to a mineral deficiency. If too much phytic acid exists in the stomach then it may irritate the lining of it and contribute to leaky gut as it reduces the number of other helpful digestive enzymes. Those with autoimmune already have issues with leaky gut so for this reason alone would justify the exclusion of nuts from their diet.
Probably one of the biggest reasons why nuts are included on the paleo autoimmune protocol list is that they are a very common allergen. Leaky gut afflicts most people with autoimmune disease which give much more sensitivity to food allergens. So just like an unattended fire in the woods could cause a forest fire, autoimmune folks don’t want to consume foods that could cause allergens. As people consume food they have an allergy or just sensitivity to it makes it harder for leaky gut to heal and to ultimately deactivate the immune system.
Thankfully our AIP compliant Paleo Perfection Natural Protein complies with this requirement and all others associated with the AIP diet. We are returning to the basics because we have you and your families’ interests in mind! #autoimmunehn