Before I begin this post, offering my results, links and information on the Autoimmune Protocol of Paleo work, let’s take a moment to thank Diane Sanfilippo for creating her definitive guide and information source on all variations of applying a customized approach to Practical Paleo living. For, if it hadn’t been for her book, I likely wouldn’t have figured this all out.
Today, her book was announced as a New York Times Bestseller, a title held by only 2 other paleo books. I cannot congratulate her enough. I am thrilled to personally know Diane and am in awe of her never-ending desire to help heal people through nutrition and lifestyle. Her book is a literal masterpiece and the fact that it’s available to the random person searching for answers at Target, Wal-Mart or Costco blows my mind.
I remember the scene when Cordain’s book was the only one out there, and seeing the progress we’ve made in 2 and a half years give me hope. It gives me literal motivation and a desire to keep trucking along and using our voices the best way we know how, too.
The point to all of that, in case you’re skimming, is that although I’m going to tell you my opinions and n=1 experiment results in this post, it’s Practical Paleo that helped me figure this all out. So, if you’re remotely curious – go check it out from the library or buy it for yourself. I don’t think there’s a single person in this whole world that wouldn’t benefit from at least parts of that book.
I get asked, almost on a daily basis, “what is Autoimmune protocol?”, “Why can’t you eat eggs on Paleo?” and a host of other questions I’ve already answered on this blog. So, I’m putting all the info below in order for you not to have to search around for it. You can also search by the Autoimmune Tag we created for more.
If you recall, I decided to go on the autoimmune protocol in my Stacy WTF post
Then I talked about reading Practical Paleo and going Egg-Free as a result
I went on even more about how Practical Paleo AI’s section helped me in my review of the book
Lastly, I blogged about how AI Paleo helped me with Beating Post-Nursing Depression
After realizing how limiting food choices were, we posted a bunch of recipes that worked within the parameters of my limitations:
Stacy’s N=1 Foods
As you can see by some of the recipes linked above, they include chocolate chips, sunflower seed butter and egg yolks – all usually eliminated in the Autoimmune paleo protocol. The good news for me is, after being paleo for 2 1/2 years and having done a STRICT 30 day autoimmune protocol – I was able to reintroduce those foods with little to no impact!
The bad news? I’ve realized that I cannot yet reintroduce nightshades, nuts or egg whites to my diet. The grey area? Spices, butter/ghee and coffee. I realize I have a slight reaction – but sometimes the benefit outweighs the cost.
Reintroduction is done by adding in ONE eliminated food in 2 or 3 meals in a row in a large enough quantity to produce a result. Wait a few days and see if you have a reaction.
My major signs of my autoimmune issues are tingling skin around the mouth, facial acne, joint pain, headaches and the “every body out” gut reaction. Everybody’s results are different – so listen to your own body. The Paleo Mom recently posted about reintroduction of foods on AI if you want more info.
I happen to know two incredibly smart and talented people who are working on more complete reference and resources for autoimmune, so you’ll have something better than just blog posts soon! In the meantime, I posted (a long time ago) about the list of what conditions are Autoimmune – even Type 1 diabetes could potentially benefit from evoking this protocol!
I feel great. I crack my knuckles and joints less. I rarely get a headache and (most importantly) have perfect eliminations! Oh hush-up if you’re squeamish; this is an extremely big deal for someone with Celiac and without a gallbladder!
I believe I finally have significant progress on healing a leaky gut. I believe my body likely responds to nuts, much the same way it does legumes and grains – immediate gut reaction. I didn’t have gas after I ate nuts before, but I do get it now. So clearly, digestion isn’t going perfectly.
As a Celiac, I will likely always have a leaky gut – so whatever I do to help it heal as much as it can is a huge step in the right direction. With going nut-free for so long, it has been a huge help!
Nightshades and dairy are a joint and skin issue for me, rather than digestive, so I’m a little more forgiving of myself if I end up with spices or butter in my food. Long term, it’s not causing huge damage to occasionally have minor amounts of both. However, I unfortunately will probably never sit down to a huge bowl of tomato soup without feeling and looking awful the next day.
Recent photos of my skin & nails – sans issues!
p.s. I did not eat that rice, only a huge amount of ribs – also, that lovely red hair color is courtesy henna hair dye!
The true test for me was when I got glutened last week (we’re renovating our house and have been eating out a lot, cross-contamination happens when we sometimes try new places) and my reaction was minimal. I was nauseous and had a headache – but after a good night’s sleep it was gone. I had emotional problems, as I’ve described before as the gut-brain reaction I have, but it only lasted 18 hours – instead of the 3-7 days I’ve experienced before. And my severe gastro-intestinal problems didn’t even happen!
I honestly couldn’t believe how amazingly my body responded. Beyond the relief of facial acne and joint pain as well as improved hair, nails and skin – it was clear to me I need to treat non-autoimmune foods the way I treat non-paleo foods, because my body thinks of them all as equally bad.
It’s a Lifestyle
Just like paleo, the autoimmune protocol is now a forever lifestyle for me. I take pride in the fact that most people in my life have no idea of my further limitations. It’s a lot for even Matt and I to keep track of, I don’t want to overwhelm anyone.
It’s an important distinction between paleo and autoimmune paleo. It can be overwhelming for someone else to think about (no grains, legumes, dairy, refined-sugar, eggs, seeds, coffee, chocolate, insoluble fiber, nuts or nightshades – including spices). If they didn’t know what to cook for you or what restaurant to choose before, imagine their horror if you tell them all that!
I’ve finally figured out how to integrate it into my lifestyle (spices and butter were huge for this) so that I’m not trapped by only eating at home. But it means I make conscious decisions to make lifestyle decisions daily to help my body heal.
- I don’t overbook myself and learned to say No.
- I remember to always take supplements to help my gallbladder-less body digest foods.
- I drink or eat fermented foods daily.
- I use beauty balm on my face and take fermented cod liver oil daily.
- I switched a few beauty processes to less chemically versions (henna hair dye, eyebrow threading and a chemical-free nail salon were added to my already pretty green at-home routine).
- I further reduced BPA in the house with a clay vegetable steamer and glass food storage devices.
- I make time for the family.
- Most importantly, I make time for me.
Do I enjoy slathering myself in fermented cod liver oil and ingesting it daily? Not my favorite thing. Is it embarrassing to pull out a huge container of supplements at every meal? Of course. Do I feel sexy going to bed with fermented fish oil on my face? Not exactly. But that’s not what matters! I’m healing myself and I’ve prioritized ensuring I take care of me.
I MUST sleep. I MUST exercise.
First of all, how exciting that for the first time since bringing out this strong autoimmune response with the stress of finishing Eat Like a Dinosaur and Wesley weaning, that I finally have energy and a desire to exercise!
Going on walks with the boys and doing yoga with a DVD in the basement with the boys joining me has been one of the most personally rewarding and enjoyable things in my life. By figuring out how to implement psychical activity in my life, I saved myself an hour from going to and from the gym, and I added quality time with my family by having the boys join me in the mornings!
In order to make time for these things, I often find myself saying not to friends who are having parties, inviting me to yoga classes or wanting to hang out and do stuff. Saying no to fun sounding things can be frustrating; but, I know it’s for the best in my long-run. I find that if I plan activities, I can work around my own limitations and then ensure I’m not over doing it.
I’ve learned that the simpler my life gets, the better I feel. I reduce chemicals, I decrease stress and energy and joy become elevated. Seriously, listen to this part. I believe it’s a huge factor we can all control – affordably, albeit not at all easily. I took stress management extremely seriously and it has been a huge contributor to my improved health.
Should You Do It Too?
If you’re just starting your paleo journey, the idea of giving up sweet bell peppers, eggs, nuts and paprika could make you want to abandon paleo completely. I remember reading “eggplant isn’t paleo” on a forum when I had just started and got SO confused and frustrated by what I was supposed to be doing and what it all meant.
Please don’t think this is required for paleo! This protocol isn’t for everyone, and in my (non-professional) opinion, I strongly believe it should only be implemented after standard paleo has been going full-swing for 3-6 months.
Paleo from SAD or even basic gluten-free diet is going to be a huge improvement and relief for your digestion and immune system. With paleo, inflammation will go down, gut will begin to heal and (my guess is) you will feel much better – even if you have an autoimmune disease.
Just know, if you have an autoimmune condition – or anything that’s still weird and lingering after going paleo for quite some time – that doing the AI protocol for 30 days could help you!