Paleo vs. Vegetarian: Which Diet is Better for Autoimmune Recovery?

paleo vs vegatarian

While I don’t follow a Paleo or Vegetarian diet, I am very curious about how our diets affect our health and recovery. As you can probably guess by now, I would recommend Paula’s Purple Rice food supplement as making the critical difference in management of my health issues. You can watch the story of my Purple Rice Discovery here (full disclosure — I am nervous and awkward in front of the camera, so don’t expect an Oscar-worthy performance). In addition to that, I have of course tried different elimination diets and supplements and since I do see lots of interest around it, here’s what I have found out about the influences of Paleo and Vegetarian diets on autoimmune disorders.

Autoimmune disorders encompass many medical conditions that are attributed to the body’s immune system attacking its own organs. Thyroiditis is the body attacking the thyroid gland, Crohn’s disease attacks the gastrointestinal system, multiple sclerosis the nervous system, and so on.

The major problem when dealing with autoimmune conditions is that there is no absolutely curative treatment. Current therapies are generally aimed at just managing the symptoms.

Paleo Diet and Autoimmune Disease

There is just tons of info out there on Paleo and autoimmune disorders. In my non-scientific and non-medical opinion, Paleo diet by itself is not baseline “more healthy” for anyone. If our Paleolithic ancestors did have diets like this, think about their lifespans. Maybe 30 years old? Why would you try to emulate their lifestyle?! Ok, got that rant off my chest, ha ha. But, it turns out that a very popular and reportedly effective diet for treating autoimmune disorders is a variant of a Paleo diet. Many people claim the AIP (Auto Immune Protocol) has helped them a great deal, even if they don’t make it a way of life, but go “hardcore” for 30-60 days and then follow it “mostly” after that. I won’t go into detail here, but there are books on AIP if you are interested in learning more about it.

The high level summary is:

AIP followers can reduce symptoms and somewhat heal their underlying imbalances by decreasing inflammation and healing gut dysfunction. The diet focuses on a nutrient-dense intake that also eliminates inflammatory and allergenic foods in order to calm down a hyperactive immune system. The main idea is that if you have an autoimmune issue, you most likely have a poorly functioning digestive tract. Because your gut is damaged, byproducts of the digestive process passing through the intestines are leaking through your gut barrier into your blood stream, triggering your immune system to respond and attack something, which since there isn’t a genuine threat, it picks on another body part or system. Here’s a nice chart outlining do’s and don’t’s of the AIP from The Ultimate Paleo Guide


If you think you have or you’ve definitely been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, it’s probably worth trying this diet for a time and then adding back in the foods you miss the most one at a time to see if there is a correlation in inflammation or symptoms.

Vegetarian Diets and Autoimmune Disorders

This is a bit harder to research since there isn’t one, overarching “Vegetarian Diet”. While the Paleo Diet can usually be reduced to a list of foods to definitely avoid and a list to eat, vegetarians eat pretty much whatever foods they like, but not meat or meat by-products. Some also avoid eggs. This can mean a very narrow or very wide range of options, depending on personal preference. Many faux meats are highly processed, chemically treated, “pseudo-foods”, so vegetarians who still crave the texture and taste of meat may be satisfying that craving, but not really providing much in the way of nutrition to their bodies.

There has been some speculation that since plants in the nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes), nuts, and legumes (beans, soy, peanuts) — in other words, the main sources of protein for many vegetarians — all tend to provoke autoimmune responses, some vegetarian diets may cause or exacerbate autoimmune disorders. Naturally, this hasn’t been scientifically verified yet, and you can obviously still avoid meat and also avoid the food groups thought to trigger inflammation. It would just be somewhat more difficult for a vegetarian to to say, follow the AIP diet, although some certainly do so, substituting things like pea protein for the meat and seafood.


Paleo Diets may have some definite benefits when it comes to managing autoimmune disorders, simply through “outlawing” many of the foods believed to trigger inflammation in the body. If you are interested in trying it, go ahead and attempt the AIP version of Paleo, as many people believe it to be most helpful.

If you are Vegetarian, assess your primary food groups to see if you are hitting high on the “trigger foods” scale. If so, you can make adjustments while remaining on a plant-based diet, but do make sure that if you’re avoiding dairy, meat, soy, nuts, and beans, that you have a good protein source and are still getting balanced nutrition.



If you’d like to add the restorative (also vegan and organic) superfood supplement of Paula’s Micronized Purple Rice to your diet, you can order it here.


Want to know more before you order? Read “About Purple Rice” Here’s an excerpt from the article on my website:

  • Micronized Purple Rice supplies nearly everything except oxygen and water for creating ATP. It directly targets the mitochondria (power plant) of the cell to create ATP (cellular energy).
  •  Micronized Purple Rice does not have to be actively transported across cell membranes. Active transport process (digestion, absorption, circulation) consumes up to 35 units of ATP energy in order to make 36 units of ATP, netting only 1 ATP, while Micronized Purple Rice allows the entire 36 units of ATP to be netted.
  • Micronized Purple Rice contains all of the essential amino acids, (making it a source of all proteins that could be needed for making repairs).
  • It also contains all of the essential fatty acids (GLA, ALA, LA, SDA, EPA, DHA, and AA)
  • and all of the essential functional sugars as well as an abundance of vitamins and minerals.

You can follow me on Facebook and join the conversation in my private facebook group.

Do you have a favorite diet that has helped you alleviate autoimmune disorder symptoms? Tell me about it in the comments!

All the information presented on this site is for educational and informational purposes only. No responsibility can be taken for any outcomes resulting from the use of this information. Whilst every attempt is being made to provide information that is both accurate and effective, the website owner does not assume any responsibility for the accuracy or use/misuse of this information. Always consult your doctor or health care professional if you suspect you have a serious illness and before embarking on major lifestyle changes.

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