On December 23, Matthew & I embarked on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).
Matthew is the man I love and he has multiple autoimmune conditions including Psoriasis, Psoriatic Arthritis and an undiagnosed severe dizziness and nausea that developed last fall and doctors think may be Ménière's disease.
His body has been in autoimmune response since infancy so it’s a tenacious situation.
Matthew’s been on disability leave from work since January 1st, which is (in case you’re wondering) really stressful, as our life, which includes three teenaged children, really requires two incomes.
Though I don’t have any health issues that I know of, nutritional biohacking has become my hobby since I went Paleo a little over two years ago, and I’m all in for these experiments.
5 months of AIP variations
We’ve experimented with additional restrictions on the AIP over the past 5 months.
Soon after that, I started the Wahls Paleo Plus. Matthew recently joined me in a nightshade/seed/nut-free variation of the WahlsPaleo+ for a couple of weeks, but found that the coconut oil was exacerbating his nausea and he couldn’t continue.
Now he’s just back on a regular AIP, but still sticking with the WahlsPaleo+ format: two meals a day with fasting in between.
After 6 weeks in ketosis on the WahlsPaleo+ I’m hacking a semi-ketogenic variation which is giving me better energy for life & the stamina I need for exercise.
I think I may have found my sweet spot…
Health outcomes at the 5-month mark
“It’s still unpredictable. It’s not predictable at all. That’s the only thing I can say with any certainty.”
Before the AIP reset in March (it involved gluten free toast & macadamia nuts), which occurred after 2½ months on the AIP, Matthew was starting to have some pharmaceutical-free days.
He’d also stopped snoring (weird) and started lucid dreaming, provoking a blog post exploring the possible connection between gut health and psyche health.
After the reset, both Matthew and I got pure again, but his symptoms reverted. Increased pain, increased nausea and resumption of snoring (weird).
It’s taken until now (another 2½ months) for him to begin to regain the progress he had made before the reset.
He has had one pharmaceutical free day (last week) and just recently stopped snoring again.
One improvement that has been steady is his psychological well-being.
Mental health is difficult to measure, but as someone who is always affected by his mood, I’d say that his emotional resilience is markedly improved, and therefore he is better able to manage the pain, uncertainty and stress of chronic illness.
Of course, he’s also been off work for almost 5 months, and it’s entirely possible that the reduction in work stress is partially or wholly responsible for this improvement.
We knew that this would be a long-term (perhaps eternal) intervention, but it’s still discouraging sometimes to see such slow progress.
But it’s actually not slower than expected.
It’s completely in line with what other AIPers have experienced. This 6-month update from the Field Notes on Healing blog is one example.
I recently posted a biohacking update, 40 days on the WahlsPaleo+, but I have a couple of quick things to add.
My decision to adapt the WahlsPaleo+ to include higher carb vegetables after intensive exercise came from a desire for greater physical stamina. Recently I started planning my higher intensity exercise for before one of my two daily meals & including 1 cup of higher carb vegetables (such as turnip or yam) in that meal.
Instantly my energy picked up and I’m back to my previous levels of vigour.
On days when my exercise is mild or moderate (walking or a short happy run-walk) I stick with the Wahlspaleo+ protocol & I go back into ketosis.
Even if a couple of days elapse between higher intensity exercise, my stamina is (so far) easily sustained & my energy is awesome.
The other thing I attribute this improvement to is Upgraded MCT oil, which I’m now taking daily, but it alone on a very low-carb ketogenic diet was not enough for me.
So now I’m in & out of ketosis. I’m still sticking with the 2 meals a day and all other parameters of the Wahlspaleo+. I’m not experiencing any hunger, even when I’m out of ketosis.
Aside from decreased energy & stamina, I also experienced menstrual irregularity as another outcome I am cautiously contributing to the WahlsPaleo+.
Cautiously because I’m a total research nerd and I’m wary of making any assumptions about attribution, but here’s my justification for the suspected relationship:
- The WahlsPaleo+ diet preceded the irregularity;
- The irregularity abated after I increased carbohydrates & kicked myself out of ketosis now & again;
- Intermittent fasting has been linked to disrupted fertility & menstrual irregularities.
On the other hand, I am 43, and it is entirely possible that I’m simply peri-menopausal. Which would be great! All of my offspring are now over 6 feet tall, and I’m really amply sufficient with the assortment of children I have, so menstruation seems like a redundancy. But that’s an aside.
More to the point, my wish is that 5 months from now I’ll be able to write an update to share the news that Matthew’s health is substantially improved.
For reference, here's an update after 2 months on the AIP.
SAD to AIP in SIX
Nutrient-dense food and lifestyle practices that enable the body to heal.
SAD to AIP in SIX is a an online program, facilitated by trained, certified coaches, that supports the process of transitioning to the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) over 6 weeks. All the diet and lifestyle changes required for the AIP are covered in this step-by-step program.
Enrollment for SAD to AIP in SIX is open 5 times a year.