rheumatism & the aip diet

The effect of the Autoimmune Protocol Paleo Diet (AIP) on rheumatism

8 August 2023

Rheumatism is a chronic disease most commonly associated with pain, stiffness, and fatigue in joints and muscles. It affects more than 2 million people in the Netherlands. Rheumatism can lead to significant limitations in daily life. In this blog, we will delve deeper into what rheumatism is, its symptoms, and the possible treatment options, where lifestyle and diet (possibly the AIP diet) play an essential role in treating rheumatism. If you want to learn more about how the AIP diet can help with rheumatism, consider getting professional coaching. Read more about coaching on this page.

What is rheumatism?

Rheumatism is a collective term for more than 100 different conditions affecting the body. The most common form of rheumatism is rheumatoid arthritis, where the body attacks the joints, leading to pain and inflammation. Although the exact cause of rheumatism is not fully known, it is believed that genetic predisposition, age, gender, environmental factors, and lifestyle factors (such as sleep, diet, and exercise) may play a role in its development.

Early rheumatism symptoms

Rheumatic complaints often start with swollen joints, reduced flexibility in movements, and a painful or stiff feeling in muscles or joints, especially after waking up in the morning. If you experience these complaints for an extended period (four weeks or more), it is best to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Rheumatism symptoms

Every person is unique, which means people with rheumatism may experience different symptoms depending on the nature and severity of their condition. Rheumatism can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and inflammation in the joints, muscles, tendons, and bones. These symptoms can vary from day to day, making it challenging to pinpoint specific symptoms.

Pain due to rheumatism

A common symptom of rheumatism is pain, which can range from mild to severe and may be described as burning, stabbing, or aching. The pain can occur in various locations, depending on which joints or muscles are affected. People with rheumatism often experience pain in their hands, lower back, hips, knees, or neck.

Stiffness caused by rheumatism

In addition to pain, people with rheumatism may also experience stiffness in their joints and muscles. This stiffness may be most noticeable in the morning or after prolonged periods of rest, such as lying in bed. It may take some time for someone with rheumatism to get moving as the stiffness needs to be resolved first.


Fatigue is another common symptom experienced by people with rheumatism. This fatigue can be caused by the condition itself, the pain and stiffness associated with it, or the medications or supplements used to treat the symptoms.

Reduced mobility and flexibility

Rheumatism can also lead to reduced mobility and flexibility. For example, people with rheumatism may have difficulty climbing stairs, running, participating in sports, or performing daily activities such as cooking or cleaning. This can lead to frustration and a decreased quality of life, especially when experiencing persistent nagging pain and feeling like it won't go away.

Isolation and frustration

Having rheumatism can also take an emotional toll. People with rheumatism may feel isolated because they are unable to participate in activities they once enjoyed. They may also feel powerless and frustrated due to their condition's impact on their daily life. Therefore, having a good social support system is essential. This can be anything from family and friends to Facebook groups or forums where you can connect with people who truly understand your story.

Treatment options for rheumatism

There are several treatment methods for rheumatism, depending on the severity and specific condition. Treatments can range from medications and physical therapy to surgical interventions and alternative therapies. Medication is often the first step in rheumatism treatment. Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms. Physical therapy may also be recommended to improve mobility and muscle strength. Surgical procedures, such as joint replacement, may be considered if other treatment options are ineffective. Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and massage, may also be used to alleviate rheumatism symptoms. The choice of treatment depends on the severity of your rheumatism and how you, as an individual, respond to different treatment methods.

Difference between rheumatism & fibromyalgia

The main difference between rheumatism and fibromyalgia lies in the cause of the conditions. Rheumatic conditions are caused by inflammation in the body, while fibromyalgia is caused by increased nerve sensitivity. Additionally, people with rheumatism often experience joint pain and inflammation, while those with fibromyalgia mainly experience muscle pain and stiffness. However, this can vary from person to person. If you want to learn more about fibromyalgia, I would recommend reading the blog post about it. Click on the link to read more about it.

The effect of the AIP diet on rheumatism

If you have rheumatic complaints, there are several things you can do to manage the bothersome symptoms and improve your overall health. A healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, and regular physical activity, is essential. Especially on busy days, people with rheumatism can experience many complaints if they haven't had enough sleep the day before. This can lead to feelings of guilt and helplessness. Read here more about how a good night's rest can be realized. The AIP diet is an anti-inflammatory diet designed to eliminate foods that can trigger the immune system and cause inflammation. As rheumatism is an autoimmune disease where the immune system targets healthy body tissues, the diet may help reduce the disease's symptoms and lower inflammation levels.

Promoting intestinal health

Furthermore, the AIP diet may help improve intestinal health, which, in turn, could aid in alleviating the mental symptoms that people with rheumatism may experience. All diseases begin in the gut, and our food is our medicine. What we eat can profoundly affect our mood. Consuming the wrong foods can make you feel out of balance, leading to symptoms such as sadness or anxiety.

Increased energy levels

Finally, the AIP diet may help with weight loss and increase energy levels. People with rheumatism often experience fatigue and reduced mobility. By eating unprocessed foods rich in nutrients, they will strengthen the body instead of harming it. This can help provide more energy throughout the day. What can you eat within the AIP diet? Order the meal plan for delicious recipes for your breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

An AIP lifestyle can improve rheumatic symptoms

The AIP circle goes beyond just the food we consume. The circle includes minimizing stress by, for example, regularly spending time in the forest and walking, optimizing sleep by avoiding late screen time and consuming food too late. Additionally, there is the AIP diet, which is ideal for reducing inflammation levels and, hopefully, alleviating your symptoms. By avoiding inflammation-promoting foods and consuming foods rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, the diet can help reduce inflammation levels often associated with rheumatism.

The Autoimmune Paleo diet: A useful addition

The autoimmune Paleo diet can be a helpful addition to the treatment of rheumatism. However, the AIP diet should not replace medication or supplements, and it is essential to focus on the entire AIP circle. This means taking good care of your lifestyle, sleep, and diet. Your illness is not your personality; it is just the unpleasant symptoms that remind you that you are sick. Regularly check your vitamins and minerals, and if you have elevated inflammation levels, the AIP diet may be an option to reduce your symptoms. And remember: "Happiness is found in your health."