Mason Jar Salads (2 go!)

Mason jar salad 9Get ready for salads.

This salad only gets better as it marinates, so you can make it on a Sunday night and have salad to go (or ready & waiting for you at home) for the workweek ahead.

This is a bulk recipe. It makes 7 (seven!) big meal-sized salads. If your household isn’t likely to work it’s way though that much salad in 4 or 5 days, feel free to halve or quarter the recipe.

I’ve been adding dandelion greens. I pick a big handful of them in my yard & stuff them in the jar on top of the marinated vegetables before I go to work.

It feels subversive and wild to eat dandelion greens for lunch at work. Like I’m introducing a vital primordial antidote into an environment that is stressful and virtual.

Mason jar salad w dandelion greens


I suppose that is because I am.

According to Eileen at Phoenix Helix, dandelion greens have “twice the calcium, 3 times the vitamin A, 5 times the vitamins K and E, and 8 times more antioxidants” than spinach.

Plus, they’re fresh. And free.

Wahls Protocol

This salad covers all 3 vegetable categories for the Wahls Protocol:

  1. Sulfur-rich: broccoli, cauliflower, red onion, red cabbage and daikon radish;
  2. Coloured: celery & red cabbage;
  3. Greens: greens~!

Through my n=1 experimentation, I know that I’m optimized when I hit all three categories each day.

Each meal.

Workday Lunch

Mason jar salad 8

Mason Jar Salad, Victorious Offal Muffin & Avocado for lunch~

Mason Jar salads are my new scheme for work. With a Victorious Offal Muffin (which I make with pureed parsley instead of caramelized onion these days) & an avocado or a Hot Woman Shake, I’m one of the luckiest people on the planet at midday.

I alternate that lunch with Salmon Nori Wraps, and I feel like I’m hitting my bases.

To make this recipe you’ll need eight big mason jars. Seven of them should be the wide mouth variety.

If you don’t yet have your own Mason Jar collection, buy a case. They’re inexpensive and versatile.

They make great water bottles and have a small footprint, which is helpful if you are storing food, like maybe Emerald City Soup, in a crowded fridge.

I use a bunch of them every time I decant a batch of kombucha.

Mason Jar Salads (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 from petra8paleoMason jar salad 7

  • ½ purple Cabbage
  • 1 head Broccoli
  • 1 head Cauliflower
  • 2 cups diced Daikon Radish
  • 1 small red onion
  • 4-6 stalks celery
  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • Dandelion greens or pre-washed spinach
  • ½ batch of Mason Jar Salad Dressing

Make a jar of salad dressing and it set aside.

Dice the Cabbage, Broccoli (including the stem ~peel it if tough), Cauliflower, Daikon, Onion and Celery and place in a large bowl. Mix to combine.

Pour half (or a little more) of the jar of salad dressing over the diced vegetables and toss until thoroughly coated.

Divide the vegetable mixture evenly between seven wide mouthed mason jars.

If there is dressing left in the bottom of the bowl, pour it over the first two jars.

There should be a nice gap between the marinating vegetables and the top of each jar.

Next, use scissors to remove the tough kale stems and to cut the leaves into small pieces. Push these into the tops of 3-4 jars.

Refrigerate. Each day, reverse  the jars (heads, tails & back again) so that the marinade gets to bathe all the vegetables.

Eat the kale topped salads first.

For the jars without kale, press as many dandelion greens or spinach as you can into the top of the jar on your way out the door. Before serving, give the jar a shake to cover the greens with dressing before you pour your beautiful salad on a plate.

Infinitely Expandable Salad Variation

If you have a friend you want to feed, chop a head of lettuce into a salad bowl. Add your jar of marinated vegetables. Add more dressing from your mason jar, or squeeze a lemon or two over top. Toss & share.

Mason jar salad 2



Biohacking Tip 3: N=1

n=1An n=1 is an experiment with one participant.

In the Biohacking world, the reasoning behind n=1  is that universal solutions to complex health problems have limited effectiveness, as we each have unique histories, genetic profiles, environments, and patterns of responding.

Just One~

“Every discipline, profession, and field of endeavor has benefited from breakthrough insights generated by in-depth single cases.” ~Michael Quinn Patton,

For example, Dr Terry Wahls invented the Wahls Protocol and used it to reverse the disabling symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

After she got up out of her tilt-recline wheelchair, she started clinical trials to research the impacts of nutrition and lifestyle hacks on other people with MS.

But she started with an n=1.

An n=1 isn’t always focused on oneself. I help design & document the n=1 experiments of my husband Matthew as he works to manage and reverse his autoimmune conditions.

I also run my own n=1.

Healing OptimizationHe’s going for healing: I’m going for optimization.

They’re on the same continuum.

So, I’ve got two n=1 research studies on the go, and I document them both here~.

N=1 Research

The following are 2 (of many) approaches to conducting n=1 biohacking experiments.


Unlike experimental designs which have subject and control groups, and compare outcomes based on different treatments in each group, in an ABAB research design, an individual can compare self to self over time.

To do this effectively, an A-B-A-B time series is used:

  • A: Take a measurement before the intervention;
  • B: Measure again during (or after) the intervention;
  • A: Cease the intervention for an appropriate time period: measure again.
  • B: Yup: Measure again during (or after) the intervention is reinstated.

Repeat until you are as sure as you need to be.

ABABQuantitative researchers will tell you that to be effective, the data gathered through an ABAB research design needs to be quantifiable (taking the form of numbers). But all they really mean is that it needs to be quantifiable if you want to put it on a graph.

Graphs are fun. But they’re not necessary.

However they are useful if want to be able to quickly & easily track change over time. To get some ideas about using graphs (& what kind of quantitative data you might want to track) check out Chart Myself.

ABAB is a research design that works really well for n=1.

Autoethnography is a methodology that is inherently n=1. Here’s a super-brief introduction:


According to Michael Quinn Patton “autoethnographers struggle to find distinct voice by documenting their own experiences in an increasingly all- encompassing and commercialized global culture.”

In other words, we blog!

Blogs aren’t all autoethnographic, of course, but the blogging phenomenon is an example of the popularization of autoethnography.

Autoethnographic documents can take almost any written form. They are usually written in the 1st-person.

Carolyn Ellis describes her approach to autoethnographic research: “I pay attention to my physical feelings, thoughts and emotions. I use what I call systematic sociological introspection and emotional recall to try to understand an experience I’ve lived through.”

Here are some criteria for judging the quality of completed autoethnographic research (adapted from Laurel Richardson):

  1. Contribution: Does this research contribute to my understanding?;
  2. Aesthetics: Is the resulting text “artistically shaped, satisfyingly complex, and not boring?”
  3. Impact: Has this process generated new questions? Inspired new research? Resulted in action? Deepened self-knowledge?
  4. Expression of a reality: Does the text include self-awareness and self-exposure? Could an unfamiliar reader enter into this experience?

Autoethnography is controversial in research circles, of course.

Some condemn it for its ‘rampant subjectivism’. But ultimately, the criteria by which to evaluate any methodology is it’s usefulness, given the purposes of the research.

If you find an autoethographic approach useful, then it is.

An N=1 example

Barry Marshall was an internist with a theory: that stomach ulcers were caused by Helicobacter pylori and could be treated with anibiotics.

H. pylori colonizes in the viscous epithelial mucus layer of the human stomach

H. pylori colonizes in the viscous epithelial mucus layer of the human stomach

Marshall couldn’t prove his hypothesis with mice, because Helicobacter pylori is only active in primates. And he wasn’t allowed to experiment on human subjects.

So he decided to use an n=1 approach.

He took some of the bacteria from the gut of an infected person, put it in broth & drank it.

He then “developed gastritis, the precursor to an ulcer: He started vomiting, his breath began to stink, and he felt sick and exhausted. Back in the lab, he biopsied his own gut, culturing H. pylori and proving unequivocally that bacteria were the underlying cause of ulcers.

His finding was generalizable to the population at large.

Obviously, I’m not recommending that we all undertake risky and experimental n=1 experiments.

What I am suggesting, is that there is no reason why a n=1 should be dismissed as lacking validity (or generalizability).

Depending on your circumstances, there may be nothing more useful than a methodical inquiry into the way that you, a distinct organism with a unique history, genetic profile and environment, respond to a particular intervention.

Canada’s Food Guide~

According to Canada’s Food guide I can thrive on a diet composed of these foods:

My personalized Food Guide_3

As long as I:

  • Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day (edamame counts as a dark green vegetable & carrots are orange, so I’m good to go!);
  • Have little or no added fat or salt in any of my food;
  • Make at least half of my 6 servings of grains whole grains;
  • Have meat alternatives such as beans, lentils and tofu often;
  • Choose at least two servings of fish each week.

A Nutritional Foundation of Soy & Gluten-rich Grains

58.8% (10/17ths) of my food can consist of soy products in a given day, but if I try to by-pass grains while using the My Food Guide app, I can’t build a dietary plan for myself at all.

Despite the fact that I have been grain-free for almost 3 years.

Do you want to see my before & after pictures?

In fact, 58.8% of my food can be soy and 35.3% can be gluten-rich grains, for a total of 94.1% of my daily nutrients, and I can still be 100% compliant with Canada’s Food Guide (as long as the remaining 5.9% is an orange vegetable.)

PyramidHealth Canada’s logic is based on the food pyramid, which was adopted in the United States in 1992.

Turns out this pyramid was based on ‘soft science’, according to a recent CBC news article, which also suggests that the United States is reconsidering the evidence for the 8th edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which will be released this fall.

In the meantime, Canadians are still being advised to eat food that, according to mounting scientific and anecdotal evidence (from 37 Autoimmune Protocol bloggers, among many others), will pretty much guarantee systemic inflammation and lead to chronic health issues.

Though Health Canada still assures us that Canada’s Food Guide is based on “current nutritional science” & Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide states “this food intake pattern was developed in the Canadian context and promotes a pattern of eating that meets nutrient needs, promotes health and reduces the risk of nutrition-related chronic disease.”

Here’s a working version of an alternative food pyramid that (so far) seems to work for me. It works for Dr Terry Wahls, too.

It needs some refinement.

But not as much as Canada’s!

semi-ketogenic WP+ 1.1 food pyramid

The Autoimmune Protocol Bloggers

Tea barAutoimmune Protocol bloggers are an international community.

It’s hard for me to keep up with everything that goes on in the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) blogging world, even within a single day.

Because AIP bloggers are international, they kind of form a hive mind. One that never sleeps~. It’s a hive mind that’s tackling the radical challenge of reversing autoimmune through diet and lifestyle.

I’m a bit of an interloper, as I don’t have an autoimmune condition myself, but they’ve accepted me anyway. I learn more about the Autoimmune Protocol & living with autoimmune from AIP bloggers every day.

We’re a virtual community, so most of us have never met in person, but Mickey Trescott’s recent book tour has brought constellations of bloggers members together, including in Vancouver last Monday.

AIP bloggers 2I live in Victoria (a few hours & a ferry ride away) but my #2 kid recently moved to Vancouver, so I planned a trip for the AIP bloggers convergence & also got to buy my kid groceries & give him all the maternal lectures he’s been missing since he got his own apartment.

Here we are: Astrid of Heal Me in the Kitchen, Kate of Healing Family Eats, Mickey of Autoimmune Paleo, me, & Vanessa of True North AIP at 05 Rare Tea Bar (where they have kombucha on tap!~)

Autoimmune Protocol Bloggers

Currently, I’m friendly with 37 Autoimmune Protocol Bloggers from around the world.

Here are links to their blogs~.

These blogs are all created & maintained by people who are working to reverse their autoimmune symptoms with the Autoimmune Protocol.

They are an indication that this truly is a grassroots revolution, led by people who are working to restore their own health & who are sharing what they learn (with each other & the rest of us) as they go.

  • Autoimmune Paleo: With five autoimmune diseases between them, Angie and Mickey found their path to better health with the Autoimmune Protocol.
  • Provincial Paleo: As “a woman diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, I blog my experiences from my kitchen in the heart of Quebec City”.
  • Meatified: “Since discovering the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, I have continued to experiment with my health and figure out the foods that I can and cannot eat and my health is improving with every passing day.”
  • A Squirrel in the Kitchen “Along with a regular practice of relaxation techniques and exercise, the delicious and healthy recipes I developed for myself and my family allowed me to rebuild my health from the ground up.”
  • Grazed and Enthused: “This lifestyle has brought my autoimmune diseases & Leaky Gut into remission, and Grazed & Enthused is my way to give back to the community and help others.”
  • Phoenix Helix: “I started this website to share all I’ve learned (and continue to learn) about nutritional healing, and to join the online community of people empowered to regain their health through food and lifestyle choices.”
  • Healing Family Eats: “If you, too, are dealing with your own autoimmune issues and challenges, then you are not alone on this slow walk to better health. Know that here is another family treading the same path as yourself!”
  • Comfort Bites: “I have an autoimmune disease and, as long as I eat properly and look after myself, so far it’s being kicked back into remission”
  • Field Notes on Healing: “I am a young person with an autoimmune disease called rheumatoid arthritis. Though my diagnosis in 2012 did change my life, I am not defined only by my disease.”
  • The Primordial Table: At 24, I didn’t want to be bald… I was tired of having digestive issues, tired of feeling run down with no energy, tired of being overweight, tired of being depressed and moody and irritable, tired of feeling like I had no control over my own body. So I stopped avoiding the obvious.”
  • He Won’t Know It’s Paleo: ” I’m a wife, momma of three and a Christian. I found out in the spring of 2013 I also have Celiac’s disease and Hashimoto’s thyroid disease.”
  • The Paleo Partridge: “I came to Paleo late 2013, after struggling with Crohn’s Disease for many years… because my body is no longer struggling with extreme inflammation, I’ve experienced a significant reduction in nasty symptoms associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.”
  • Enjoying this Journey: “Along with striving to get back to the basics, my family also welcomes a real foods/biologically appropriate diet”
  • Fresh Tart: “Within weeks of following the AIP, my symptoms started to improve and after several months, I feel and look like my best self again.”
  • It’s me, Charlotte!: “In May of 2014 I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and am currently following the autoimmune protocol in order to heal my thyroid (and my entire body!) from this rude and unwelcome autoimmune disease. So far, so good!”
  • This Sydney Life: “My autoimmune affliction has affected me in many ways – physically, emotionally, and no doubt psychologically. But, in a weird way, I’m a little bit grateful to have it. Without it, I wouldn’t have overhauled my eating habits. I’m healthier now than I’ve been in years.”
  • A Clean Plate: “Within a month of adopting the protocol, my migraines were gone and I was headache-free for the first time in ten years. Now, my suicidal thoughts are a distant memory and although I still struggle with the odd flare-up, I feel healthier than I ever have in my life.”
  • Slightly Lost Girl: “I write about healing autoimmune disease with whole foods and lifestyle changes.”
  • Adventures in Partaking: “My goal is to chronicle my experiences on the AIP diet.”
  • The Bacon Mum: “In 2008 about six months after the birth of my daughter I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)… it wasn’t until I found The Autoimmune Protocol that I found the relief I deserved.”
  • Freethought Farm: “In 2010, I became completely disabled… my primary treatment approach has been the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol”
  • Gutsy By Nature: “My long and complicated medical history includes a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease in 1995, a total of seven surgeries resulting in borderline short bowel syndrome, severe iron-deficiency anemia.”
  • The Nutritionista: “Autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s Thyroidistis was the diagnosis, food and lifestyle changes have been my ‘cure’!”
  • Simple and Merry: “My energy improved, my skin cleared (it isn’t done, though!) my joints felt better, and I didn’t desperately want a nap every afternoon.”
  • Paleo Cajun Lady: “Going paleo to help heal my autoimmune disease, Lupus, vitiligo, and plaque psoriasis, has brought me closer to my Cajun roots.”
  • The Primitive Homemaker: “I have became a researcher, and a body-listener. My healing process has only just begun, but my body is telling me that I am on the right track.”
  • Backcountry Paleo: ” My healing path has brought me here to Backcountry Paleo, where I am excited to share my inspiration about getting back into the wild, high, and remote places.”
  • Reality Bites: “Finding out the source for my illness was like finding a map when you’re lost in the forest – you’re not sure where you are on the map… but you know where you want to go. Then, you start recognizing landmarks, and eventually you triangulate your location and start to find your way out.”
  • Sweet Potatoes and Social Change: “I have found great positive change in my life through changing the way I eat and view my food. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called ulcerative colitis in 2011, I have been on a journey to manage my disease through diet and lifestyle.”
  • The Paleo PI: “I started on the AIP seeking respite for a myriad of symptoms which had built up over many years, determined to improve my health through nutrition. Little did I realise that the AIP would unequivocally change my life for the better by providing a sense of self empowerment which I had never experienced before, expanding well beyond nutrition.”
  • True North AIP: An Autoimmune Disease and Lyme Disease warrior who is using whole food to find true health.
  • Heal me in the kitchen: Whole food advocate, recipe developer, ferment fanatic, mother, wife, artist and entrepreneur… [this blogger] finds joy in balancing a holistic lifestyle to support her continuing battle with Ulcerative Colitis.
  • Beyond The Bite: “a teen using science, food, and personal primal knowledge to excel beyond the limits of my health condition. Starting 5 years ago, and even further back into my childhood, I started feeling the effects of late stage Lyme.”
  • Kaiku Lifestyle: “We are on a road to healing from food allergies through real food that makes us feel good. Kaiku means echo in Finnish. I believe in listening to the echo of our lifestyle to our bodies and the environment.”
  • Empowered Sustenance: “Ever since my ulcerative colitis diagnosis six years ago, I constantly learn how diet, emotions, and lifestyle fit together as the key to healing chronic disease.”
  • Paleo Breakthrough: A licensed acupuncturist and herbalist dedicated to reversing autoimmune & chronic disease with diet and natural medicine.

Biohacking Update: 10 months of Ketosis

petra8paleo_2For 11 months I have been experimenting with ketogenic versions of the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).

11 months: 10 of them ketogenic.

Quick Summary

Last April I started the Wahls Paleo Plus. I tweaked it to be compliant with the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).

I loved being ketogenic~.

I did that for 3½ months & then experimented with a super low-carb ketogenic version of the AIP for 3½ months. I wanted to find out how low I could get my carbohydrate levels, and what that would do to me.

In between those two protocols, I did a regular AIP for a month, to remember what running on glucose feels like.

Both times it took me 40 days to get keto-adapted.

Since December, I’ve been experimenting with my third ketogenic protocol, the Bulletproof Diet. It’s naturally compliant with the AIP except in one respect: Bulletproof Coffee is a core part of the protocol, so I’m including low-toxin coffee & grass-fed butter in my diet, neither of which are AIP.

The Results

Wahls Paleo Plus

Dr Terry Walhs: Up from the Chair ~photo by KC McGinnis

Dr Terry Walhs: Up from the Chair ~photo by KC McGinnis

The WahlsPaleo+ was developed for nutrient density to promote cellular health, particularly brain health, as it was designed to reverse multiple sclerosis.

It includes coconut oil at every meal to maintain ketosis at higher carbohydrate levels, as it relies heavily on the nutrients available in vegetables. For more information I highly recommend The Wahls Protocol (2014).

I read this book when it came out last Spring & immediately decided to try the WahlsPaleo+. Not just for my own health, but also as a way to address my concerns about paleo economics & nutritional ethics.

I integrated fat as my primary food group & found ways to include liver and heart in my diet on a regular basis.

Dr Wahls is formulaic about carbohydrates: both quantities and types of vegetables. I tracked my food & found that I had better energy & clarity on the days I followed her vegetable recommendations strictly: if I included colourful, sulfur-rich and dark green leafy vegetables, not just every day but in each of my two meals.

By May, I started living in a state of ‘flow’ much of the time, & having regular peak experiences. By July, it became apparent that eating this way might have enormous potential for my career.

Through experimentation, I found my way to a semi-ketogenic version of the Wahlspaleo+ (which I was pleased to later find as a component of the Bulletproof Diet).

Super Low-Carb Ketogenic Experiment


Reading Keto Clarity

Going in, I knew that a super low-carb ketogenic diet was rumored to cause hormonal imbalances, disrupted sleep and weight gain.

Particularly in women.

And especially in women over 40.

But after reading Jimmy Moore’s Keto-Clarity, which advocates a super low-carb ketogenic diet, and even goes so far as to say that achieving ketosis through the use of MCT oil might be ‘cheating’, I decided to try it for myself.

I wanted to find out what happened to my performance and energy levels when I reduced carbohydrates substantially. I ate carbs in high fat foods like avocados, olives & coconut, as well as small servings of sauerkraut, cucumber, and greens. I kept the MCT oil in.

The results?

I can totally surviove on a super low carb diet, but I don’t thrive. As predicted, a super low-carb ketogenic diet seems to cause hormonal imbalances, disrupted sleep and weight gain~.

Other factors:

  • I pulled off the most auspicious & intense season of my career ever while on this variation, but without the superhuman benefits I experienced on the WahlsPaleo+;
  • I was also experimenting with reduced exercise; &
  • 66.6% of my children had fairly significant crises that added substantially to my stress.

I learned (again) that I’m optimized when I eat more carbohydrates.


Reading The Bulletproof Diet

Reading The Bulletproof Diet

The Bulletproof Diet book was released last December.

I switched before I’d even finished reading it.

It’s a semi-ketogenic protocol that, like the WahlsPaleo+, is aligned with the AIP. But with some important variations.

The following are the changes I’ve made in going bulletproof:

  • Getting strict about a 6-hour eating window, which means getting back in the habit of bringing food to work (which I loved being emancipated from). In the Fall I was eating 2 meals a day, with a long overnight fast but I wasn’t strict about the window, except on weekends. On weekdays I’d eat just before I left for work & as soon as I got home. When I could, I’d arrange to work from home in the morning or late afternoon to shorten the window, but that wasn’t always possible.
  • Increasing vegetables (I was eating minimal vegetables on my super low-carb diet).
  • Putting starches (root vegetables) back in. At present I’m eating starches thrice a week or so, but I’ll tinker with that until I find the perfect level.
  • I’m moving berry fudge from my midday to my evening meal. Likewise, keeping starches in my evening meal.
  • Removing mushrooms, which I am rather fond of.
  • Instituting Bulletproof Coffee daily. As mentioned, coffee is not part of the AIP: I was off coffee entirely when I went Bulletproof. Previously, I’d just fast between my 2 meals, but Bulletproof Coffee is a third (the first) meal on the bulletproof protocol.

Something I want to do regularly but haven’t been religious about yet (because I’ve felt that I’ve needed adrenal recovery time after my super low carb protocol):

I won’t consider my 3½ months on the Bulletproof Diet to have officially started until I start protein fasting on a regular basis.

What do I love about being in ketosis?

Here’s 10 things.



Rendering Lard~

Lard 3Matthew has a new hobby.

He renders lard.

He goes to butcher & gets an enormous bag of pig fat (this makes our butcher happy). Enough for a couple of slow cookers full. For about $12.

He chops up the fat & slow cooks it. Freezes the fat he doesn’t use in the first round. Then we use the lard for cooking & Matthew also uses it in his other new hobby: Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) baking.

For our first 12 months on the AIP we did no baking. But suddenly, on the advent of year 2, Matthew tried a couple of recipes & now makes AIP shortbread somewhat regularly (substituting his home-rendered lard for the palm-oil shortening).

Being ketogenic, I don’t eat his shortbread much, but he says it increases his quality of life and is helping him get through the winter.

Why lard? Lauren Geersten at Empowered Sustenance offers 10 reasons.



The 11th reason is that you get cracklings as a delicious by-product of the rendering process.

And making one’s butcher happy could easily be reason #12 (never underestimate the potential benefits of a happy butcher as an element of biohacking success~).


 from petra8paleoPig fat 4

  • 2-3 lbs of pork fat
  • ¼ cup water
  • Himalayan Salt (or similar) for cracklings
Cut pig fat into small cubes (some people have it ground at the butchers).
Place cubed fat in a slow cooker with the water. Turn to low.
Stir occasionally.
Strain liquid fat through cheesecloth after approximately 2 hours & every ½ hour thereafter. Continue rendering until the cracklings are golden brown.
Refrigerate rendered lard.
Salt cracklings & eat as-is, or as a fat-tastic addition to salad, or a garnish in soup.



This is a Scientific Revolution~

The world is flatThe earth is (or is not) flat.

Evolution is (or is not) due to natural selection.

Nutrition has nothing (or everything) to do with systemic inflammation in the body.

Mental health is (or is not) connected to gut health.

Each of these statements represents scientific paradigms.


Thomas Kuhn was a scientific historian who popularized the word ‘paradigm’, which we now use freely as a synonym for worldview.

According to Kuhn, a paradigm was more specifically the scientific beliefs that define a particular historical period.

It was Kuhn who noticed that throughout history, science has evolved, not gradually (as one might expect) with each generation of scientists standing on the shoulders of the giants that came before, but through sudden radical tipping points.

Shoulders of giantsHe first came to this realization when comparing Aristotelian to Newtonian physics. The two were so fundamentally different, he concluded that they weren’t part of an evolution in thought, but that at some point Aristotelian physics must have been simply tossed aside and replaced.

This would have constituted a revolution: a profound shift in the entire scientific paradigm through which ‘reality’ was defined and perceived.

According to Kuhn, such shifts have occurred repeatedly throughout the history of science, and it is evident (to me) that we are nearing one again.

Michael Crotty explains “the prevailing paradigm is quite simply taken for granted within the contemporary scientific ethos. Any challenges that are mounted tend, at the start at least, to be dismissed out of hand.”

So, we end up with a widespread grassroots movement in which chronically-ill people are successfully reversing their ‘incurable’ autoimmune conditions, while the mainstream medical community continues to insist that nutrition has little or nothing to do with systemic inflammation and autoimmune.

This kind of tenacious adherence to the current scientific/medical paradigm was evident in a mini-experiment Matthew and I ran last summer, in which we interviewed three medical professionals in one day about the role of nutrition in treating autoimmune. Find those results in Have you heard the one about the rheumatologist, the ear-nose & throat specialist & the functional medicine doctor?

The Breeding Habits of Paradigms

According to Michael Crotty, a given paradigm “establishes the parameters and sets the boundaries for scientific research and, in the ordinary course of events, scientific inquiry is carried out strictly in line with it”.

This is how a paradigm perpetuates itself.

If we view a paradigm as a living system, we might even say this is its method of reproduction.

Scientists (and everyone else) are acculturated into the paradigm, and then research reinforces this existing consensus about reality. As Kuhn explains, “normal research, even the best of it, is a highly convergent activity based firmly upon settled consensus acquired from scientific education”.

Until something destabilizing happens.

Or, more likely, a number of destabilizing things happen, such as:

  • Dr Terry Wahls develops the Wahls Protocol, gets up out of her wheelchair & starts clinical trials to research nutritional and lifestyle treatments for multiple sclerosis;
  • Sarah Ballantyne publishes The Paleo Approach documenting the science behind the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP);
  • An increasing number of people with diverse ‘incurable’ chronic autoimmune conditions find that they are reversing those conditions through adhering to strict dietary protocols, like the AIP, that have been specifically designed to reduce systemic inflammation and improve gut and cellular health;
  • Dr-Terry-Wahls

    Dr Terry Wahls

    Biohackers like Dave Asprey (and me) find that healthy people who follow these protocols experience previously unimagined levels of well-being and capacity.

In this way, a new paradigm emerges & gains momentum.

According to Kuhn, eventually there will be a tipping point and the new paradigm will ascend.

I don’t know how close we are to a paradigm-shift, but it is apparent that the old paradigm is lagging.

I don’t know what we’ll call our new paradigm. But until we decide, I’m calling it Biohacking~.