Last year, we wrote our first-ever “State of AIP 2018” here at Autoimmune Wellness. We took that step, because the AIP community had grown and changed so much since it’s small beginnings in 2011 and we wanted to try to capture all that history for this healing movement and help to frame the future from our perspective as leaders.
This year we decided that making it an annual post made sense. It’s an opportunity to introduce all the new members of our community to the roots of AIP (read more at The History of the AIP Movement), plus review the prior year and discuss potential areas of growth for the future.
We are doing our best to embody the concept of servant leadership (something we truly believe in, not just something we say!), as we can continue to strengthen the AIP movement and move it closer to mainstream acceptance. The best way to do that is by making sure you, our community, know where we have recently focused our energy and are planning to pour it in the future. Going forward this yearly post will serve that purpose, giving you a chance for input and ensuring AIP arrives as a mainstream option with your needs out front.
Thanks for being here with us! Tell us your thoughts after reading, as we always love your feedback.
2018 survey results
At the beginning of last year, we asked our community to participate in our first-ever reader survey. We had some hunches about the makeup of the AIP community, as well as some of the obstacles you were experiencing, but getting actual data from the thousands of you who participated really helped us solidify where the movement was at.
Here are some interesting statistics we learned:
- Our community is a pretty even blend of long-termers and new followers. By asking you how long you’ve been around, we got a great breakdown of how long you’ve been a part of this movement. This is what we learned:
- 15% of you have been following us for over 2 years
- 25% of you have been following us for 1-2 years
- 20% of you have been following us for 6 months-1 year
- 25% of you have been following us for less than 6 months
- And 15% of you are brand new!
- 75% of you found us from online searches looking for information about diet and autoimmune disease. AIP is not yet mainstream, so we weren’t surprised by this finding – we know that a majority of people in the AIP community are the type who have sought out answers in the face of dismissal care and lack of support from the conventional medical system. That being said… the remaining 25% of you were referred by friends, family members, doctors, or seeing our posts on social media! Which brings us to the next statistic…
- 6% of you told us your doctor recommended AIP! Now, we know 6% sounds low, but based on what we know from working in this community from the very beginning, this signals a HUGE shfit in the acceptance of AIP as a legitimate addition to managing autoimmune disease (surely the results of the AIP IBD Medical Study have something to do with that!).
- While our community is represented by over 100 specific autoimmune diseases, there are a handful that are very prevalent. This is what we learned about some of the more common autoimmune diseases our community faces:
- 45% of you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- 15% of you don’t have a diagnosis
- 10% of you have either celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriasis
- 5% of you have either multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, lupus, or Sjogrens
- 1% of you have either type 1 diabetes, Addison’s disease, or alopecia
In addition to those statistics, we wanted to share some of the common answers to some open-ended questions we asked in the survey:
What is your #1 challenge?
- Time management – this was by far the biggest response, with many of you noting that you struggled to find enough time to prep and cook food to make AIP sustainable.
- Reintroductions – many of you highlighted that you were looking for more support through the reintroduction process.
- Support – lack of support from your spouse or kids was another common challenge to being able to start or maintain AIP.
- Affordability – eating AIP is expensive, especially if you incorporate a lot of specialty ingredients, and many of you let us know it was difficult to fit it into your budget. (If this is you, check out season 3 of The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast on the topic of “Real Food on a Budget.”)
- Starting – many of you indicated you were too overwhelmed to get started. (If this is you, be sure to check out Angie’s program, SAD to AIP in SIX, for tons of support around a more gentle transition process.)
What is your biggest unanswered question about AIP?
- Will it help my autoimmune disease diagnosis? – this was a very common unanswered question that you shared with us. Of course we wish we could answer that for everyone, but the truth is that we can’t make any guarantees, but it’s probably worth giving it a shot, right?
- When should I start reintroductions? – another common unanswered question, and the answer is that this is individual, but you can learn a lot more about it in this very comprehensive guide we wrote to the reintroduction process.
- How can I combine AIP with conventional medicine? – a top unanswered question that we saw in the survey, and lucky for you, we’re working on addressing that in-depth this year.
What do you want to see more of in the AIP community?
- Over and over again you asked for more research and science – we got that message loud and clear! During 2018 we conducted (with your fundraising support!) a second AIP efficacy study, which you can read more about below. We also added Dr. Rob Abbott as the Medical Advisor here at Autoimmune Wellness, so that he could use his expertise to help us wade through medical studies and write very extensive articles for you several times a year about health and wellness topics that matter to us in the autoimmune community (you can find his 2018 articles about oral tolerance and baking soda for autoimmune disease here, stay tuned for lots more in 2019).
- Navigating the social aspects of AIP is something you want to hear more about – we love this idea and will be thinking of ways to bring more support into this area, but we also encourage you to dive into our blog archives and check out our weekly community takeover hosts on our Instagram account. Both the blog and the Instagram account explore this topic regularly with insight and tips that might serve you.
- The other big topic that came up repeatedly was mental health – at Autoimmune Wellness we most definitely believe in holistic health and wellness, which means we take into account the whole person. Naturally, it follows that we also think mental health is a very worthwhile area to examine. We’ll be thinking on ways to dive deeper here, but in the meantime be sure to catch articles by our monthly contributor, Sarah Kolman. Sarah is not only a registered nurse and AIP certified health coach, but she’s also a psychotherapist. Many of her topics look into mental health as it applies to the autoimmune journey. You can find her writing here.
So, what happened in the AIP movement in 2018?
We got more research funded and executed!
After taking in all the survey data at the beginning of this year we realized that with 45% of you indicating that you were managing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, we should try and move forward with a medical study focusing on this disease. When we met Dr. Rob Abbott, we knew we had not only found a great collaborator for a future study, but we also talked him into being our medical advisor for the site here at Autoimmune Wellness!
We put plans in place to collaborate on a medical study focusing on the impact of AIP on Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Dr. Abbott didn’t have access to funding for the study, so we asked you guys, our community, to help us crowd-source the funds, and you came through! We raised over $12,000 and connected with Genova Diagnostics to make the study happen.
In July, we put a call out to enroll 15 people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis who met the criteria for the study. They began the process of transitioning to AIP through Angie’s program, SAD to AIP in SIX in September. It is too early for results, but we are greatly looking forward to seeing the published studies sometime in 2019! (And yes, we are pestering Dr. Abbott to hurry!)
We addressed affordability and accessibility concerns through the third season of The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast!
Once our 2018 survey data started rolling in, one thing was abundantly clear–a great many of you were struggling to either implement or maintain AIP because you couldn’t fit it into your budget. We decided to create a whole podcast series, Real Food on a Budget to take a hard look at this issue and give you as many solutions as possible.
Not only did we share our personal experiences making this lifestyle fit within our budgets at varying points of our healing journeys, but we lined up a great list of folks to interview that could provide insight into some tricky areas, like even modifying AIP to include some non-compliant ingredients to fit into an extremely tight budget or fixed income. If you find yourself struggling here, be sure and visit the archives to make sure you benefit from all this information!
We graduated another group of 100 AIP Certified Coaches.
The 2018 class of AIP Certified Coaches included MDs, NDs, Pharmacists, DCs, RDs, PTs, RNs, PAs, fitness coaches, mental health professionals, NTP/Cs, CHCs, Herbalists, LaCs, and other types of practitioners. We are happy to announce that AIP Certified Coaches are incorporating AIP into their practices around the globe, with many international coaches and others who work virtually over skype. (Looking for a coach? Check out the AIP Certified Coach Directory!)
These practitioners are now part of an “army” of AIP-trained professionals, able to make an enormous impact on the chronic illness epidemic around the globe. That army is still growing–we are currently enrolling for our only cohort of 2019 (visit the AIP Certified Coach training page for more details about signing up!).
What is next for 2019?
More opportunity for fundraising and research.
During 2018 we did our best to get the word out about the first AIP medical study, including sharing the results with a poster presentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium. This year we’ll be leading a panel discussion at the annual Nutritional Therapy Association Conference with conventionally trained doctors and researchers we’ve partnered with about how to do even more of this style of research and collaboration. All of this effort has caught the attention of other doctors and researchers and we are hoping to work with them in 2019 to take the next steps in the AIP efficacy study process, showing them how Angie’s program can serve as the model. And we’ll certainly be letting you, our supportive community, know if we can use your help with funding again.
Season 4 of the Autoimmune Wellness Podcast.
We’ve got a great concept and lineup of guests to interview for our next season–stay tuned!
The Nutrient-Dense Kitchen, a new AIP cookbook release from Mickey!
The new cookbook features guidance on how to prioritize ingredients to maximize nutrient density, with 125 AIP recipes. Mickey is offering the chance to get a pre-release, signed copy for those who purchase directly from her (along with some other great bonuses!), so head on over to her site to reserve your copy if you haven’t already.
More specific resources for each facet of AIP!
As the community continues to grow we are seeing more and more individual needs being met within the AIP framework. There are new resources all the time for:
- specific dietary concerns (like, for instance, when you need to combine AIP with a Low-FODMAP diet to treat SIBO)
- specific life stages (like AIP pregnancy and breastfeeding or AIP for kids with autoimmune disease)
- specific cuisine preferences (for instance, a demand for Indian AIP recipes)
- we’re even seeing more and more pre-made AIP food options and savvy restaurant offerings popping up
These are exciting developments that make AIP a more and more viable option for the millions of folks hoping to better manage their autoimmune diseases.
There you go! This has been your 2019 “State of AIP” Address! We hope the review of last year, looking at the feedback you shared in the survey, and an overview of plans for this year was useful. Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below. We are directing our energy with some of your input and we take your contribution to this movement seriously.
And finally, thank you! Whether this is your first “State of AIP” address, your second, or maybe you were around before we started them, we sincerely appreciate that you’re here with us and hope to serve you even better in 2019. Happy New Year everyone!