Hey! Let’s level up to an Extreme Autoimmune Protocol (X-AIP)

We’re on day 6 of our Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) & unexpectedly we’re about to level up to an X-AIP (I just made that up) on January 1st.

But first some AIP observations:

Petra: On day 4 of our AIP I experienced a dramatic, disconcerting (almost obscene, in fact) increase in my energy. In my normal life I’m pretty paleo pure, so it’s intriguing that removing nuts, seeds & eggs (I usually avoid nightshades) & increasing bone broth makes such a noticeable difference to a person without an Autoimmune Condition.

I have this zingy vitality that I didn’t achieve on my first AIP until near the end of the 30 days, and gradually lost through the fall after reverting to regular paleo. I had no adverse reactions to reintroducing eggs, nuts & seeds, just a very slow return to my normal paleo tiggerishness. And my normal paleo tiggerishness is so much finer than my pre-paleo state that I didn’t mourn the loss of AIP-vigour.

But now that I have this vivacity coursing through my system again I’m wondering how I can ever go back. It actually feels like my electrical circuits have almost too much energy running through them, certainly more than they are accustomed to handling.

Matthew: Matthew is the one with the autoimmune condition. By the end of day 5 of our AIP (last night) Matthew experienced a sudden shift, too. He describes it as an ‘easing of the fracturing of consciousness’ that happens when he continually lives with pain and nausea. This fracturing is usually accompanied by a withdrawal from the world; I think it’s the same instinct that causes an animal to retreat into a cave, waiting to heal or die.

I have watched Matthew withdraw, and struggle against withdrawing, for years as he has tried to manage severe chronic pain & the side effects from medications. An alleviation of this fracturing of consciousness, even for a day, is interesting.

He has not experienced a reduction in pain or nausea, but an increase in his ability to manage both.

Based on the research I have done, we weren’t expect any noticeable progress for Matthew for months, especially as he noticed no improvement at all during our 30 day AIP last July. But, notably, since our 30-day AIP last summer his psoriasis has been markedly improved.

Levelling up to Extreme-AIP

In my ongoing quest for more information I’ve learned a lot about AIP variations, including that we’ve been tinkering with this AIP thing since our ineffectual 4-month stint on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet in 2009.

The Paleo Mom has a blog post specifically addressing psoriasis. Matthew’s most challenging autoimmune condition is psoriatic arthritis, a form of arthritis that develops in 10-15% of people with psoriasis. The Paleo Mom asserts that regular paleo is likely to make psoriasis worse (something Matthew experienced). She explains that “psoriasis is also an indicator of a severely leaky gut (that’s how we develop the autoimmunity in the first place), with a very high likelihood of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.”

After learning that just this week, Matthew decided to go Extreme-AIP. He concluded that there is no point in continuing to feed a Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth that may be at the root of his psoriasis & arthritis with the sugars & carbohydrates found in fruit, berries, plantains, squash & root vegetables that are still legal on the AIP. So he’s attempt to get a clean slate by starving out the bacterial beasties, before returning to the comparatively easygoing AIP.

Here’s a food pyramid (version 1.0) I built for our X-AIP. It’s a 1.0 version because I’m still just figuring this out (& this is an area of inquiry that is innovating rapidly) so I expect there may be mistakes & omissions.

X-AIP food pyramid

The Origin of Autoimmune?

Matthew’s psoriasis developed when he was about 8, after his dad left the family. He has always assumed that the onset of his psoriasis was stress related, but since doing this research I have a new hypothesis.

When Matthew’s dad moved out, his stay-at-home mum was left a single parent of 4 kids, and had to go back to shift-work as a nurse. Having been a cash-strapped single mum myself, I’m imagining there was interval (perhaps even an era) when money was scarce, and lots of cheap starches and less protein would have been the norm for Matthew’s family.

That sounds like a perfect recipe for leaky gut & an autoimmune response in a kid who had that genetic predisposition.