Hi there! Thanks for dropping by Flawed yet Functional today! I’m Emily, and my autoimmune disease is Type 1 Diabetes. I have been using the Autoimmune Protocol to heal my gut and prevent further autoimmune diseases. Today, I’ve got another success story to share with you, the AIP reintroduction of legumes!
AIP Diet History
Let me back up a bit to catch up any of you who are new to Flawed yet Functional.
Shortly after my diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes as a 33 year old, I found some literature pointing at gluten as the potential cause of autoimmune diseases. My husband and I are complete skeptics when it comes to modern medicine (in reference to 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 with meals). Over the course of 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 allowed partially digested food particles into my blood stream. My immune system attacked those foreign intruders, but in the process, somehow got confused and attacked my pancreas.
I know that 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.)
AIP Reintroduction Phase
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, 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 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 ate only cheese and eggs!
Reintroducing foods is a painfully slow process. To begin, no symptoms can be present. My judge of a food sensitivity is blood sugar level. So if I’m not in a good place blood sugar wise, then I have to wait. Second, testing food can be tiring. Because of that, there are long 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 group: legumes!
AIP Reintroduction Phase Details
Reintroducing foods needs to be done as cleanly as possible. I’m not the best at keeping things clean (as you’ll learn in a moment), but do the best you can to single out the new food. Here is the process recommended by the AIP diet.
- 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 severe allergic reaction. The AIP diet can also be used to eliminate food allergies too, so precautions are made for this reason.
So far, I have successfully reintroduced the following foods:
- 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 four stages are below for reference.
AIP Reintroduction Criteria for Type 1 Diabetics
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’s me know when a food does or does not irritate my gut. Do you know your body? I recommend you do!**
AIP Reintroduction of Legumes
Legumes are in the fourth stage of reintroduction because they have high levels of lectin. Lectin is a protein found in legumes that damages the intestinal wall thereby causing leaky gut and autoimmune reactions, potentially.
The problem with lectin levels in legumes can be mitigated by traditionally preparing the beans. This means a true overnight soak versus a quick soak or buying canned beans from the store.
Another issue with legumes is high carbohydrate count and relatively low protein count. Legumes are touted as a great source of protein, but that is only true when comparing legumes to grains and vegetables. Animal sources of protein are far superior.
All that to say, legumes will not be a major part of my diet, but rather a treat. They will be used sparingly in soups, chilis, and the occasional hummus or cold salad.
Pre- Dinner Blood Glucose: 111
Two-Three Hour Post Blood Glucose: 125
Fasting Blood Glucose the Next Morning: 144
Woot woot! Beans are back on the menu (sparingly)!
Now I have to fess up and tell you where I was a bit careless. Like I mentioned earlier, it is very difficult to have a completely clean test.
Want to know how and where I did this test? At the hotel buffet on our most recent vacation.
I know, I know. Not the best location. Potential for cross-contamination abounded every night we ate there. However, the staff was very accommodating and helped identify the potential allergens in every dish. I had zero issues the first four days staying there!
So when taco night popped up on day 5 of our stay, I went for it. I made a taco salad: a bed of lettuce, shredded carrots, grape tomatoes, ground beef taco meat, and about a tablespoon of black beans. I’m 100% sure these were NOT traditionally prepared black beans AND YET it still worked!
I share this not to encourage you to throw caution to the wind, but to encourage you that the scene for a reintroduction might not be perfect. Go ahead and try it! Of course, you may have to try again if it fails (a buffet holds WAY too many variables to identify the true reason for a failure), but…what if it works? If you are in a good spot with your autoimmune symptoms, then I say go for it!
My AIP reintroduction of legumes was a success! Since I’m still on a low-carb, Paleo minus eggs diet, legumes will be used sparingly. However, I am so excited to begin including beans in our soups and appetizers again!
How should a Type 1 Diabetic reintroduce legumes after the AIP elimination period?
- Start with blood sugars consistently within range.
If you have been exposed to food you are sensitive to, then wait it out until your blood sugar has dropped back to normal to continue challenging new foods.
- Reintroduce only one food at a time.
Make the only new food at the meal or snack you challenge to be legumes. Keep all other food the same AIP food you have been eating.
- Note blood sugar before, 2 hours after, and fasting the following morning.
Proper documentation is key! Write down the starting blood sugar before eating any legumes then also make note of your 2 hour post taste blood sugar level and your fasting blood sugar the following morning.
- Determine success or failure
If all 3 of the blood sugar levels from the step above are within range, and you haven’t had any other side effects, call it a successful reintroduction!