I can’t remember if I posted anything about the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) previously, but I figured I’d give everyone a run down. The AIP is a paleo diet designed to eliminate most common allergens/inflammatory foods and help your gut heal. Due to the gut being connected with everything, having an inflamed and leaky gut can cause your body to have an immune response as tiny food particles and other toxins/pathogens leave your intestine and enter your blood stream. The resulting inflammation can cause your immune system to get confused and start attacking the body.
Yeah, yeah, but how does that relate to me? Have you ever gone to the doctors and have them tell you ‘I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can give you or even tell you about your condition, you’re just going to have to live with it for the rest of your life’?
And I had it relatively easy.
My condition was Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Every morning, I would wake up feverish, incredibly nauseous, and would have painful and never ending (it seemed!) BMs (sorry if that was TMI). I went to my doctor and she ran some additional blood tests, a urine test, and a stool test – all negative. She didn’t know what to do. ‘Try increasing your fiber and take a probiotic,’ she said. ‘Sometimes that can help with IBS. Otherwise, I don’t have medication to give you, and this is something that has no cure.’
I think this visit with my doctor (who, I’d like to point out, is an amazing doctor and I have built a very trusting relationship with) is what started my journey into educating myself on health. This happened about 4 years ago. A friend of mine had a boyfriend who was gluten intolerant, and she was telling me about how gluten is in everything. I sympathized with her (like a good friend), and thanked God I wasn’t gluten intolerant.
I went on for three years eating gluten with a hidden gluten sensitivity (for an excellent resource into the difference between allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances, check out the Autoimmune Paleo site). I managed my symptoms by spending $130/month on Shakeology and drinking it religiously every day. I think there was something in Shakeology that reduced my inflammation just enough to hide my symptoms. I figured I was feeling sick because I was missing some critical Vitamin X and Shakeology was providing it for me.
Long story short (too late for that!), I eventually found the paleo diet and tried giving up gluten. I felt great! And a week ago I finally got around to testing if gluten was the problem by eating some gluten.
Yep. It was the problem. My IBS reared its ugly head for 4 days.
But was it THE problem?
The AIP is designed to eliminate foods that cause immune responses. Therefore, it is REALLY restrictive. For a full list of foods that are on/not on the list, check out The Paleo Mom. Dr. Sarah Ballantyne was one of the first people to give this diet a try (suffering from Autoimmune disease herself), and was basically the pioneer!
The more I look into this, the more I think I am destined to give the Autoimmune Protocol a try for one month. When I first heard about it, I had just started eating a low carb paleo diet at the request of my naturopath, and it seemed like too much to handle. To be honest, my autoimmune problems are relatively small compared to others. I have my IBS, some skin issues (I’m 25, and I still get acne and boils – which I found out can be related to autoimmunity), and hypothyroidism runs in my family and I’m starting to show signs. I don’t have it nearly as bad as some people with worse symptoms. That being said, it seems like more and more, I should give this a try for 30 days and see how I feel.
This means, no grains, no dairy, no nuts (sad), no seeds or seed based spices (wah!), no legumes, no eggs, no alcohol, no NSAIDs, and (worst of all) no nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, pepper based spices).
Though this diet can get even more restrictive (low carb, no fruit, etc.), this is as restrictive as I’m going to take it. I’m making a promise to myself. If I can religiously try the AIP for 30 days (NO CHEATING), and I don’t feel better, I am going to concede defeat. I can’t keep stressing about what is wrong with me – it’s making everything worse. If, however, I do feel significantly better at the end of the 30 days (which I am positive will be the case – I’ll be eating nothing but incredibly nourishing foods for 30 days), I will stick with it and slowly reintroduce various food types to see which ones are triggers and which ones aren’t.
It’s going to suck, but I think my healthy buddy, Sylvia, is willing to try it out with me! I’m also giving myself a month or two to prepare a lot of these foods ahead of time so that I’m not making ‘no-mato’ sauce from scratch while I’m also cooking all day err’day. I’ve also bought a cookbook and plan to start looking through it when I get some free time in the next couple of days.
I’m hoping for one of two outcomes: 1) The AIP works for me. I see significant reductions in my inflammation and I’m filled with energy. I’d like to sleep better, have clearer skin, lose a little body fat, and become more regular. 2) The AIP doesn’t work for me, but I find peace in this resolution. Maybe it partially works, and I sleep better and lose some body fat but I still have acne and a little brain fog. I want to find peace with that solution. I don’t want to always be scouring the internet for a magical cure for whatever symptom I’m experiencing.
Thanks for reading my story, and if you want to join me on my journey, let me know in the comments and we can keep tabs on one another! I’ll write a post when I actually start doing the AIP, and I’ll try to keep everyone updated on my progress through that month. In the meantime, stay healthy friends!