If you’ve ever suffered from an autoimmune condition like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or celiac disease, you’re probably all too familiar with the serious toll that it can take on your health. Not only can these conditions cause symptoms like brain fog, joint pain and fatigue, but they can also start to slowly damage the lining of your digestive tract over time, resulting in leaky gut syndrome.

Leaky gut syndrome is characterized by increased intestinal permeability, meaning that substances are able to pass through the walls of your digestive tract more easily. This allows food particles and waste products to enter the bloodstream, leading to increased inflammation and setting off symptoms even more.

Enter the autoimmune protocol diet, also known as the AIP diet. This diet works to heal the gut and provide relief from symptoms by cutting out any foods that cause inflammation. Like the Paleo diet, the AIP diet involves eliminating foods like grains, legumes, dairy and soy, but also goes a step beyond and cuts out other foods including nightshade vegetables, nuts, seeds and eggs.

After strictly following the diet for a few weeks, these foods can be slowly re-introduced and closely monitored to find which ingredients may trigger symptoms for you. While the diet can certainly be restrictive and challenging to follow, it can also make a huge difference in providing symptom relief for those suffering from an autoimmune disorder.

Stocking up on the right ingredients is the best way to get started and ensure success on the AIP diet. Here are a few tips and tricks for building the best AIP pantry possible:

Top 7 Tips for an AIP Pantry

1. Read Labels Carefully

In order to really do well on this diet, label reading is an absolute must. Arming yourself with a list of prohibited ingredients can make grocery shopping a breeze and can help you discover which of your favorite products can still fit into your diet, plus which ones should be nixed altogether.

2. Stock up on Spices

Herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and cilantro can really add flavor to your favorite dishes and can make it easier than ever to follow the AIP diet. Keep in mind that seeds and nightshade veggies are off the table, so steer clear of spices like dill seed, celery seed, nutmeg and chili powders like cayenne or paprika.

3. Add Collagen to Your Routine

Collagen is a superstar supplement when it comes to gut health. Composed of amino acids that line the tissues in your digestive tract, collagen supplements have been shown to strengthen the barrier of the intestines to protect against leaky gut syndrome. (1) Try adding a scoop to smoothies, soups or baked goods to help boost gut health and bust inflammation.

4. Switch up Your Recipes

Just because you’re following the AIP diet doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy many of your favorite foods. Swap applesauce in place of eggs, switch out butter for coconut oil and try using nutritional yeast in place of cheese. Coconut milk, arrowroot powder and maple syrup are just a few other staples you should try to stock up on to make simple substitutions in your recipes.

5. Keep Canned Fish on Hand

Canned tuna, sardines, anchovies and salmon are a few quick and convenient sources of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids that you can easily squeeze into your diet if you’re running short on time. Be sure to opt for wild-caught fish and BPA-free cans whenever possible to maximize the nutritional benefits of your meal.

6. Pack on the Probiotics

Probiotic foods should be a staple ingredient in any healthy diet. Probiotics help promote the growth of the good bacteria in your gut, which can have far-reaching benefits on just about every aspect of health, ranging from immunity to weight loss and beyond. (2, 3) Some good non-dairy options to stock up on include kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles.

7. Trade in Your Cup of Coffee

If you’re used to starting your morning with a hot cup of coffee, it may be hard to make the switch and cut it out of your routine altogether. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives available to help ease the transition to going coffee-free. Tea is allowed in moderation and can supply a small dose of caffeine for an extra pick-me-up when you’re low on energy.

Alternatively, a hot cup of bone broth can provide a burst of nutrients to start your day on the right foot. You can also try experimenting with other coffee alternatives as well, such as chicory coffee or maca.

Conclusion

Although following the AIP diet can be quite a challenge, keeping your kitchen pantry well-stocked is a good first step for making it a seamless transition. Having plenty of healthy, AIP-compliant ingredients on hand at all times can make it easy to heal your gut and improve your health through the AIP diet.