Hi there! I’m Emily, the owner of Flawed yet Functional. I am an adult-onset, Type 1 Diabetic. For the past two years, I have been using the Autoimmune Protocol to heal my gut and prevent further autoimmune diseases from developing. Today, I’m so happy to share with my AIP coffee reintroduction!
AIP Diet History
As with any reintroduction, I like to give you a little backstory so you know my journey thus far. These posts are as much to document my health journey as to help you progress in yours. So let me set the stage for this reintroduction.
Shortly after my diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes as a 33-year-old, I found some literature pointing to gluten as the potential cause of autoimmune diseases. My husband and I are complete skeptics when it comes to most modern medicine (about its treatment of diseases due to nutrition deficiency, not acute issues. I’m an AVM survivor due to modern medicine!), so we jumped at the possibility of a food-related solution.
I stopped eating gluten that night, and immediately I could stop taking my fast-acting insulin (the insulin taken with meals). Over a week, I weaned myself off my long-acting insulin too. What in the world? A Type 1 Diabetic that doesn’t take insulin?
There’s a lot of science that I don’t know fully, but in general terms, gluten causes a leaky gut (in those sensitive to it). The leaky gut allows partially digested food particles into the bloodstream. My immune system attacked those foreign intruders, but in the process, it got confused and also attacked the beta cells in my pancreas. I know this sounds bizarre, but that is truly how an autoimmune disease occurs. The immune system is overreacting and attacking things that it should not.
That explanation is super general, but that is my level of understanding. What I know for sure is my pancreas kept working in its damaged state for 19 more months! Nineteen months of insulin-free Type 1 Diabetes! Yes! (In case you’re wondering, I would 100% do it over again, even though I’m on insulin now.)
Originally, I started the AIP diet to address high blood sugar that I didn’t understand. When I saw my blood sugar creeping up in the fall of 2017 (4-5 months post-diagnosis), I did what most diabetics do: cut carbs. Basically, I was eating copious amounts of cheese and eggs (the unhealthy version of Keto!) with no veggies. Guess what happened? My blood sugar continued to rise!
A friend told me about elimination diets to address food sensitivities and autoimmune diseases. I jumped in with two feet. My blood sugar immediately went back to the normal range when all potentially gut-irritating foods were eliminated from my diet.
I would soon find out that I’m highly sensitive to dairy and eggs. Hmm…so that’s why my blood sugar continued to rise when I only ate cheese and eggs!
After the elimination period and all autoimmune symptoms are gone, you can begin reintroducing foods. This is a painfully slow process. To begin with, no symptoms can be present. My criteria for if my body is sensitive to a specific food is blood sugar level. So if I’m not in a good place blood sugar wise, then I have to wait to try a reintroduction. Second, testing food can be tiring. Because of that, there are periods of time when I do not reintroduce foods simply because I need to sit in “normal” for a while.
Here we are though! Ready to test another food (er…I mean, drink!): coffee!
How To Reintroduce Food
Reintroducing foods needs to be done as cleanly as possible. I’m not the best at keeping things clean (check out how I reintroduced legumes), but do the best you can to single out the new food. The Paleo Mom and Autoimmune Wellness are good resources for how to reintroduce foods. Here is the process boiled down:
- Take one small bite of food then monitor reaction for 15 minutes.
- If all is well, then take a full-sized bite and monitor reactions for 2-4 hours.
- Then if no reaction occurs, eat one full serving and monitor symptoms for 3-7 days before reintroducing another food.
The reason for only trying a small bite is due to the chance of a severe allergic reaction. The AIP diet can also be used to eliminate food allergies too, so precautions are made for this reason.
Want to know what foods I’ve been able to reintroduce? Check out my AIP food reintroduction list!
- Fruit and seed spices and oils
- Wine (in small quantities)
- Chocolate (soy and dairy-free)
- Legumes with edible pods
The only failure reintroduction has been egg yolks. I know that I am highly sensitive to dairy too, so I have not tried any of the dairy products in the reintroduction stages: ghee, grass-fed butter, cream, or fermented dairy. The AIP reintroduction guide with the four stages of reintroduction is below for reference.
AIP Reintroduction Criteria for Type 1 Diabetics
As we move into determining if I am sensitive to a food or not, I must let you know that I am not a medical professional. I am not giving out medical advice (disclosure). Rather, I am sharing what I have learned through research and experimenting on my own body. Talk to your doctor then open up an internet browser and start researching! Remember, this is food, not pharmaceuticals. It is safer to change your diet than ingesting a cocktail of pills every day. Know your body then experiment at your own risk!
As a Type 1 Diabetic, my benchmark for success or failure is based on my blood sugar levels after I eat the new food, particularly my fasting blood sugar the following morning. If my gut is irritated by food, my morning blood sugar will be higher than 150 which is my primary indicator that something is going wrong. My blood glucose goals for reintroductions are as follows:
Starting/Fasting Blood Glucose Before Eating: <130
Two-Three Hour Post Eating Blood Glucose: <150
Fasting Blood Glucose the next morning: <150
**These criteria are made up by me and use common sense from my knowledge of diabetes management and my own body. This is not medical advice, but rather criteria that let me know when food does or does not irritate my gut. Do you know your body? I recommend you do!**
Why Reintroduce Coffee Now?
Coffee is a stage 3 reintroduction, and I have put it off for two years. The reason for this is that I did an unclean test last summer sometime (2018), and it didn’t work out. However, as I said, it wasn’t clean, so I don’t know that the reason it didn’t work out was specifically the coffee. Being a busy mom, working on other diet reintroductions, and my new found love for tea, I didn’t feel the need to reintroduce coffee until now.
Coffee should be enjoyed in moderation as long as it does not irritate your gut. How the body processes coffee is unique to the individual. Some people see increased immune function, and some see decreased. This is why it is so important to use a food journal and track your reactions to food as you work through the reintroductions (source).
Caffeine is considered to be anti-inflammatory, but coffee can react differently in every person according to their genetic makeup. Coffee triggers the production of the hormone cholecystokinin which triggers the gallbladder to release bile. If there is a deficient gallbladder function, there will not be enough bile to neutralize the coffee so when it travels to the intestines, it causes inflammation. Beyond just relying on bile, consuming coffee with food can also help limit its inflammatory effect on the intestines (source).
The potential issues for Type 1 Diabetics consuming coffee in this Paleo Mom article are concerning. Low blood sugar and decreased insulin sensitivity have been found in some diabetics that consume four or more cups of coffee per day. No one, especially diabetics, should be eating a lot of a food that decreases insulin sensitivity! That is bad news for everyone! For that reason, my coffee consumption will be limited to 2 cups or less per day and infrequent, max one time a week.
The research for coffee is murky and has many contradictions. So that is why coffee is not allowed during the elimination phase, and that is why everyone needs to test how coffee affects them personally (check out this coffee reintroduction for some great tips to try to make coffee work for you!).
Type 1 Diabetic AIP Coffee Reintroduction Stats
Let’s take a look at the stats for an AIP coffee reintroduction! I challenged plain, black coffee after breakfast one morning, and here are the results.
Pre- Breakfast Blood Glucose: 131
Two-Three Hour Post Blood Glucose: 109
Fasting Blood Glucose the Next Morning: 116
Those are phenomenal readings! I do take this reintroduction cautiously though given all the research on coffee causing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and decreased insulin sensitivity in diabetics. For the near future, I will treat my consumption of coffee like wine, drinking it infrequently, and watch my blood sugar closely for it to go low.
Coffee and a Foodie Lifestyle
Okay, I need to take a step back from the AIP coffee reintroduction and talk about coffee in the Stauch household. We are go-big-or-go-home when it comes to anything food-related. Coffee was one of the first areas that my husband researched how to do it best. We used to pride ourselves on our excellent coffee making. When I started the AIP elimination phase, I was so disheartened to give up my coffee tradition.
Knowing that, I hope you can understand my joy when this tradition is introduced back into our lives. I’m sure you feel the same way when you reintroduce a much-loved food back into your diet!
Since coffee is back on the menu, even though limited, I’m going to share our coffee-making method with you on Wednesday. It’s go-big-or-go-home. You might think it’s extreme, but it makes the best cup of coffee every single time. Don’t you want awesome coffee every time you take a sip? Check back on Wednesday for all the details!
My AIP coffee reintroduction was a success! Since I do not want to undo any of the health and healing I have seen in my body, coffee will be consumed sparingly. Right now, I see it fitting nicely with our Saturday morning pancake routine. If you are still working through reintroductions at a snail’s pace, be encouraged that I am too! Let me know in the comments how your reintroductions are going!