When I first made the change from a SAD diet to paleo and then the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), I grieved–extravagantly & extensively–for my favorite bakery pizza.
I wasn’t sure life would be worth living if I could never (never!) have it again.
That intense attachment to SAD foods & SAD patterns seems misty & far away now, but it was excruciatingly real then.
Today, I’m looking forward to a breakfast of bone broth & kale with guacamole with cucumber and a Victorious Offal Muffin. I’ll probably have a London Fog Latte, too, but today I think I’ll make it with green tea and add grass-fed collagen & vanilla powder.
I already know everything will be delicious & that I will feel completely satiated (& fantastic) afterwards.
The amazing Angie Alt is once again offering her program SAD to AIP in SIX starting on July 6th.
Angie is an AIP pioneer who is reversing multiple autoimmune conditions with the Autoimmune Protocol. She is a health coach with Paleo Mom Consulting and a warm and generous mentor to AIPers everywhere.
I have the opportunity to see Angie in action on a regular basis in the virtual living rooms of the AIP blogging community. She is big-hearted, funny and thoroughly devoted to supporting the healing of people who are living with autoimmune.
That is why I can unreservedly endorse her SAD to AIP in SIX program.
This program is designed to get you onto (or back onto) the AIP in 6 transformative weeks. Each week walks you through a gradual process of eliminating inflammatory factors and introducing nutrient-dense and healing foods. So you can heal. And thrive. And change.
As a person without an autoimmune condition who has been on the AIP for 18 months, I can recommend this healing protocol to everyone, whether you have a diagnosis or are experiencing a slow deterioration of your physical and mental well-being.
Not only to do you get Angie, but 3 other certified health coaches with 1st-hand experience in reversing their own autoimmune conditions, including the wonderful Jo Frankham from Australia, ensuring 24/7 support during this 6-week program.
Nausea: As I mentioned in my post Dietary Treatment for SIBO, after 9 days on this new Protocol, Matthew’s unexplained and debilitating nausea went from a 7-10 on a scale of 0-10 to a 4-6. And stayed there. Two months later, his nausea is still in the 4-6 range. This reduction has enabled him to participate in life, including cooking for himself (and me), engaging in moderate exercise, and doing things around the house. But the nausea has plateaued at the 4-6 level and that is barely tolerable much of the time.
Brain Fog: Over the past 2 months his brain fog lifted further. He’s winning at scrabble again. For the first time in years.
A New Hypothesis
Our Functional Medicine Doctor, Dr Cline, was as perplexed as everyone else about Matthew but (unlike everyone else) he didn’t give up.
Dr Kline talked to several colleagues and has a new hypothesis: yeast colonies protected by biofilms in the gut.
Biofilms are communities of microscopic organisms, such as bacteria and yeast, that produce their own protective matrix.
Organisms inside a biofilm are highly resistant to eradication attempts and, it seems, are also capable of complex, coordinated behaviour like quorum sensing.
The hypothesis that Matthew is colonized by biofilm-protected yeast colonies in his gut comes from a re-analysis of the results of a comprehensive stool analysis that Dr Kline ordered last year.
As Matthew had been on a low-FODMAP AIP for quite some time when that test was conducted, his results were better than any Dr Kline had ever seen.
Apparently, he should have been feeling great!
But he wasn’t.
The trace amounts of yeast in each of the three tests didn’t seem consequential at the time. But the specialist Dr Kline consulted with, Dr Tom O’Bryan, thought they were. Quite.
Vratislav Šťovíček, Libuše Váchová and Zdena Palková explain: “Pathogenic yeasts can colonise various surfaces within the human body, including host tissues… and form biofilms that resist otherwise effective drug therapy. Biofilms are thus very difficult to eliminate and serve as a source of serious systemic infections.”
Apparently yeast can grow roots, called hypha, which can puncture the intestinal wall and thereby create intestinal permeability (leaky gut). So even though Matthew has been on increasingly restrictive gut healing protocol for a year & a half, if the yeast is armored inside biofilms and putting down roots, his gut is still leaky.
It makes sense~.
A New Protocol
Dr O’Bryan has recommended a 3-month protocol designed to attack the biofilms and eradicate yeast colonization, with supplemental colostrum for gut-healing.
He has also recommended an ‘Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen’ from Cyrex Laboratories to measure Matthew’s gut permeability before and after the protocol. That will enable us to get a baseline and then measure any improvement.
A Wellness Wheel contains six or more domains that, when combined, comprise the elements of well-being.
There are core domains of wellness that we all share, but using these common elements you can create your own wheel.
But first, a quick overview of Wellness:
Beyond Sickness: Wellness~
Traditional cultures have always been concerned with wellness.
Preventative, holistic health systems are the foundation of our Ancient Wisdom teachings, from Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Yoga to Indigenous shamanic practices.
But ‘Wellness’ is a relatively new concept in the West.
The World Health Organization, without actually using the word ‘wellness’, first defined it as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”, back in 1948.
The first mention of ‘wellness’ in research literature was in 1959, in a visionary paper by Halbert Dunn, who wrote, “the state of being well is not a relatively flat, uninteresting area of ‘unsickness’ but is rather a fascinating and ever-changing panorama of life itself, inviting exploration of its every dimension.”
Halbert proposed a wellness grid which considered health and environment, creating four quadrants:
The health axis included “an area of good health at present largely uncharted and undifferentiated, toward a goal as yet but dimly perceived which is indicated as peak wellness.”
Excitingly, 55 years after Halbert published this paper, we still don’t know what the outer limits of ‘peak wellness’ are.
And exploring this uncharted territory of peak wellness is the purpose of biohacking~.
The Wellness Wheel
Acceptance of wellness spread, and in 1976 the prototype of the Wellness Wheel (called the Six Dimensions of Wellness), was developed by Bill Hettler. You can find his definitions for these six domains here.
As people have customized the model to include cultural, creative, financial, sexual and environmental domains, variations on the wheel have proliferated.
I’ve made my own.
It’s a bit extreme. But it works for me…
What does yours look like?
Google ‘wellness wheel’ to check out the images online. Maybe your perfect wheel is waiting for you~.
This salad returns us to our roots by encouraging scavenging (also called wildcrafting) as a way to reintroduce wild superfoods into the living process.
Though a farmer’s market is an excellent place to source freshly picked vegetables, those garden-variety plants hardly resemble their wild forbears.
Neither do we~.
And that’s kind of the point.
During the 10 millennia that we’ve been agricultural, we’ve intentionally created food plants that are sweeter, larger and easier to grow. In the process, these plants have become mostly food.
They used to be powerful medicine.
The somewhat bitter, acrid or astringent flavour of many wild foods indicates a high level of phytonutrients. Alberto Villoldo, medical anthropologist, refers to these version 1.0 plants as information-dense foods.
He writes that food plants, especially plants in their wild state, are “master regulators of gene expression in humans”, and explains that microRNAs, strands of their genetic material, travel through the body, switching on the genes that create health and turning off the genes that create disease.
Like friendly genetic custodians, moving through the corridors of our bloodstream, ensuring everything is orderly and wholesome.
The Superfood Scavenger Salad~
This salad offers 3 of the most nutrient-dense foods from our agricultural tradition: spinach, broccoli and avocado, and allies these with whatever might be growing wild near you.
The scavenged element of your superfood salad will vary depending on the season and your region. You might find superfood plants in your yard. If you live in a highly urban environment, you might have to go afield to gather these elements.
But getting out of the city and as close to the wilds as you can is a healing practice unto itself. And learning about the edible plants that grow in your territory is an important survival skill.
In the Pacific Northwest, in the verdant month of June, it’s not hard to locate information-dense food plants. For my Superfood Scavenger Salad I gathered dandelion greens, rose petals and salmon berries near my house.
The rose petals are domestic, but I could have ranged a bit farther to gather dog rose petals, which are wholly wild.
When investigating edible plants it is important to distinguish between those that are truly nourishing, and those that may have been used historically for survival purposes in times of famine. The latter might be quite useful in keeping people alive, but may not confer the benefits that superfood plants do, and might have undesirable side-effects.
Superfood plants can include indigenous species (like the salmon berries I picked), as well as ‘invasive exotics’ (like dandelions), or garden plants (like the rose that lives next to my house).
Possibilities near you might include edible berries, flowers, ferns, seeds, roots, seaweed or mushrooms, as well as wild greens like sorrel, nettle tops (steam them before eating~!) and chickweed.
Obviously, don’t poison yourself.
Refer to a reliable guidebook or website. In an emergency, ask the plants themselves.
I mean, is it fun for other people to think about the theoretical lineage of biohacking?
I have no idea~.
But it’s kind of thing I’ll try to talk to you about if we ever find ourselves at a party together.
Right before the awkward silence. That would indicate that we should probably have been talking about boats. Or cats.
And that maybe I should just go home and write a really nerdy blog post.
Like this one:
‘Theoretical lineage’ is just a fancy way of saying ‘history of thought’.
It’s the kind of thing that gets me really excited.
Here, let me show you:
Still with me?
Great! Let’s start at the bottom. With the worldviews.
Way back in Ancient Greece there was a revolution in thought.
People like Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle got enamored with mathematics and logic.
They created rationalism, which was radically different from the ancient wisdom traditions that had come before.
Rationalism really caught on.
It thrived in Europe, and sparked what is known as the Age of Enlightenment and the birth of science as we know it.
Rationalism is the foundation of the Eurowestern worldview.
Worldviews are good. Necessary. But one thing that happens is that we start to confuse them with reality.
That’s what happened to the Europeans. We started to see the universe as inherently rational. We began to perceive a clockwork universe, one that could be taken apart and put back together in a logical manner.
In fact, a tenant of the Eurowestern tradition has been to interpret the rationalist worldview as truth. I addressed this in an earlier post about paradigms.
Rationalism led to mathematics and science, which evolved. And as they evolved, over millennia, funny things happened.
During the 20th century, they began to swing over.
From mathematics came chaos theory (which brought us fractals) and then complexity theory. From biology came ecology and then systems theory.
Systems theory and complexity theory are so similar that people sometimes lump them together, but I think it is worth knowing that they have different theoretical lineages.
However, I often combine them by referring to a complex systems worldview.
And applying a complex systems worldview to large-scale social problems has been the primary focus of my career. It’s kind of my deal.
But let’s leave that for now and jump back down to the worldview section of my super-fun diagram.
Here’s a simple version of that diagram, so you don’t have to scroll up:
Epistemology is just a fancy word for ‘theory of knowledge’ and I think it’s silly to have such an inscrutable word for that, especially as there are really only 2 epistemologies, and they aren’t as complicated as they seem.
And those are just fancy words that say that we either believe there is an objective truth or that there isn’t. And if there isn’t, then reality (such as it is) is constructed. By us.
In other words, positivists believe can we uncover truth through logic. Whereas constructivists believe or is there no such thing as ‘truth’, instead, we co-create meaning as we engage with the world.
So: Rationalism is positivist.
And: A complex systems worldview is constructivist.
I’ve depicted the positivist/constructivist divide as another ‘radical break’ in my diagram, similar to the rupture that occurred when rationalism superseded ancient wisdom traditions in Eurowestern thought. The difference is, the epistemological rift happened recently, in the 20th century, at the same time that mathematics and science were giving birth to a complex systems worldview.
So, in effect, we come to complex systems both by rejecting rationalism and by following it to it’s logical conclusion.
Talk about triangulation~!
Complex Systems Worldview
The complex systems worldview has enabled us to perceive the universe and our role in it differently.
And as a result we have come up with (and are continuing to come up with) new approaches to creating change.
And interestingly, a complex systems worldview has also, in some ways, brought us back to some of the teachings from our Ancient Wisdom Traditions. Because our ancestors have a lot to teach us about healing and human peak experience~.
Through seeing the world in terms of complex systems, we come to recognize that applying principles (rather than rules) to complex problems allows us to generate unique and adaptive solutions.
Biohacking Principles & Practices
A complex systems worldview sees every system as unique and adaptive, while sharing characteristics with other complex adaptive systems. So our practice involves developing approaches that leverage desired change while working co-creatively with systems as they evolve.
In keeping with this thinking, one principle of biohacking (and functional medicine) is acknowledging our bio-individuality & developing techniques that will enable us to to leverage it to hack our health and find well-being.
So, in embracing complex systems, do we toss positivist science and technology?
The thrilling thing about biohacking is it’s potential to incorporate the best from all traditions, as well as making use of quantum technology as it becomes available.
Biohackers can use:
Classic positivist science and mathematics, as in the quantified self movement;
Complex systems approaches borrowed from allied disciplines like permaculture, or hybridized to create new methods like ‘developmental biohacking‘ to address particularly challenging health issues;
Teachings from the Ancient Wisdom Traditions (yoga, meditation or an ancestral diet anyone?); and
With the advent of quantum computers, new biohacking tools, like biochemical quantum detectors. Physicist Neil Turok predicts that quantum technology will not only be able to monitor, but fix or possibly regenerate our bodies.
So there it is.
The conversation we didn’t have at a party together. Of course it would have been more interesting if we had both participated.
If you open a container of Honeybush tea & breathe deep… you’ll get it~.
It smells like the most delicious summertime Iced Tea you can imagine.
Lemon~Honeybush Iced Tea
This isn’t so much a recipe as a summertime lifestyle:
Boil water & pour it over loose Honeybush each night.
In the morning, strain & refrigerate.
Introduce this pattern & you’ll always have portable iced tea at the ready: for anyone who drops by; or to take with you to any social occasion where AIP-friendly party drinks might be difficult to find.
And of course, it is also excellent when enjoyed luxuriantly on a long summer evening, all by yourself.