After my UCLA appointments were cancelled, I was looking for anything that I could take control of. In a facebook group dedicated to autoimmune retinopathy (AIR), one member mentioned the autoimmune protocol diet a few months earlier. At the time, I was curious but not motivated to try a restrictive diet; however, once I was not going to get further testing or treatment for an additional three months, it felt like one of the few things I could control. I did a little research and as expected there was no data for AIR or other autoimmune eye disorders, but that was some compelling data for ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis which the pathology for both is related to an immune system dysfunction. I decided to move forward with the diet because at worst it wouldn't hurt and at best, it might help.
What does the autoimmune protocol diet eliminate? All potentially inflammatory founds for a minimum of 30 days then you add in a food approximately every week and gauge your reaction(s). Foods that are considered inflammatory include nightshade vegetables, grains, legumes, dairy, nuts & seeds, all sugars, butter & ghee, eggs, most oils, herbs from seeds, chocolate, alcohol, and all processed foods.
What can you eat on the autoimmune protocol diet? Foods that are safe to eat include vegetables that are not nightshades, lean meats & fish, fruit, coconut milk, some oils including coconut, olive and avocado oil, fermented foods, honey or maple syrup, and vinegars. Obviously, this is a very restrictive diet and is not anticipated to be followed forever.
How did it work for me? My other autoimmune conditions, psoriasis and hidradenitis suppurativa both improved. I actually didn't know that my skin had felt like it was burning for as long as I can remember until it improved so this was a very pleasant surprise! My intestinal symptoms improved. As for my eyes, I did have stabilization of my blind spot; however, it did not last and two months later, it was as larger than before. Perhaps, my decline in vision slowed but it is hard to know. Nonetheless, the diet was important to find out that eggs exacerbate my autoimmune skin conditions and potatoes do not agree with my gut. I know have reintroduced most foods and continue to avoid eggs and potatoes along with anything that contains gluten (celiac disease and was doing before this diet).
If you have an autoimmune disease, perhaps this diet will help you control flares or symptoms. Be warned, it is extremely restrictive and difficult to manage at work, traveling, or whenever eating out.