An AIP reset

resetA few weeks ago we had an Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) reset at our house.

Matthew contracted a horrendous stomach flu. Nothing he ate would stay eaten.

In the SAD old days he ate toast in that kind of circumstance.

After a certain amount time, when things continued to devolve and he still couldn’t eat anything, I went & bought some gluten-free bread. At his request.

Gluten-free is harm reduction, right?

I really couldn’t say no after listening to him dry-heave in the bathroom all day, and in any case, it’s not my place to monitor what he eats.

The toast helped.

He felt better. He had toast for a few days and then went back to a low-FODMAP AIP.

Did I take the opportunity to indulge?

Yes yes. But not with toast.

Back in my Paleo days I used to occasionally deviate into some corn chips, but the last time I did that (a long time ago now) I got hives in my throat as soon as ate them. That was it for grains for me.

Nuts are my weakness.

Pre-AIP I was all about the cashews. So, since Matthew was temporarily diverging, I thought I would too.

I also wanted exercise harm reduction, so I went with macadamias. I’d never actually had macadamias before, but they’re the only nut Mark Sisson includes in his Primal what-to-eat infographic as food. He lists them as a healthy fat, like avocados, whereas all other nuts show up in the ‘moderation’ part of his food pyramid.

I’d like to tell you they were unexceptional, but I’d be lying.

We marked the end our reset with dinner at a French restaurant, the first food we’ve eaten that wasn’t been prepared by one or both of us since December 22nd. We endeavored to stay true to the AIP but we didn’t quiz the kitchen too intently about every little ingredient, like seed spices. I had salad with scallops and a gorgeous bouillabaisse in lobster broth. Matthew had onion soup and duck breast with raspberry sauce & vegetables.

Then we got back on track.

Right about that time I was looking on the Paleo Mom’s site about reactions to reintroducing food on the AIP. I e-mailed the link to Matthew, even though he was sitting just across the room from me. Ten minutes later I heard him say “I have all of those!”

I was glad he could see it.

Because sometimes when people are irritable they assume their spouse is just being irritating!

From where I sit, I’d say Matthew is still recovering the ground he gained before the reset. His pain and nausea have increased after those days-of-toast. And I should probably mention that he associated with some macadamias during that time, too.

Treating the AIP as an experiment

I love research & evaluation, so I’ve been treating the AIP as an experiment.

I tend to treat my whole life as an experiment, actually.

One thing we always need to be alert to in experiments is Plausible Rival Hypotheses.

Before the toast, Matthew was markedly better. He was even having some pharmaceutical-free days. But we could only assume that this was related to the dietary changes on the AIP. A plausible rival hypothesis would be that his condition was improving anyway, and the AIP just so happened to coincide with remission of his symptoms.

In evaluation-speak a counterfactual is what would have happened without an intervention. Counterfactuals are difficult to determine in real life because we make choices & just have to live with the consequences. Imagining what would have happened if we had made different choices involves conjecture and can drive us crazy.

Randomized Control Trials address the counterfactual issue with control groups. One group gets the intervention and the other doesn’t. Then the two groups are compared over time. There have been no randomized control trials for the AIP, but there are clinical trials underway for the Wahl’s Protocol, and there are other ways to address the counterfactual question. I won’t digress into those on the off-chance you aren’t a total evaluation-nerd like me.

In sum, the ‘toast divergence’ at our household provided a bit of counterfactual information for our experiment. If Matthew regains pre-toast levels of healing, we’ll have an even stronger case for linking the AIP to his improvements.

Who would have thought toast could be scientifically useful?

As for my own counterfactual analysis, I seem to have suffered no ill-effects from the macadamia indulgence, except an insatiable urge to swim in the Hawaiian ocean.

The bone broth connection

One other factor is bone broth. I’ve read on a number of sites that people who consume bone broth regularly are able to avoid sickness generally and the stomach flu specifically. Interestingly, we had a bone broth lull at our house in the weeks before Matthew started barfing. Regular bone broth intake might help prevent the need for a future reset. This Sidney Life has a great bone broth recipe.

So we’re 3 ½ months in, but since we decided to reset our AIP clock, we’re only on day 14.

C’est la vie.