Real People, Real Paleo – Angela Alt’s Success with the Autoimmune Protocol

October 18, 2012 in Categories: by

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“Real People, Real Paleo” is a series of posts written by real people who were inspired to share their paleo story with you.  There is such diversity in the challenges that bring us to a paleo diet and lifestyle and in what we hope to achieve by adopting them.  These stories are intended to be a place of inspiration, written by real people, showing the diversity of our needs and our approaches to this way of eating and living, and explaining how each individual’s implementation of paleo meets their needs.  By sharing these people’s stories with you on my blog, I hope to redefine what paleo success is.  I do not believe that eating paleo is purely about losing weight, gaining muscle, and having 6-pack abs.  I believe that paleo is about being healthy enough to thoroughly enjoy life, whatever that means for you, and about sustainability for our entire lives.  If you are interested in writing up your story, please contact me using the form on this page.

Back in July, The Paleo Mom shared a guest post she asked me to write about business travel while following AIP.  At the time that I wrote the post I was a very new AIPer.  I’d adopted the diet, because I am a Celiac who also has two other autoimmune disorders.  I had been through a very extreme few years of illness, 3 medical evacuations & at least 4 trips to the E.R.  I had decided that I needed to take healing into my own hands.

 I knew within days that AIP was going to be the way to go.  I stopped having panic attacks.  Recently I got the numbers to prove it & I jumped at the opportunity to share the success here.

 To make a long story short (you can read the long story on my blog Alt-Ternative Universe), I got progressively & more severely ill over the last 12 years.  My autoimmunity trigger seems to have been pregnancy.  The first, early symptoms popped up shortly after my daughter was born in 2000.  As the years went on, I slowly started to get diagnosis for some of my health issues, but my doctors never offered any good, long-term options for treating them.

 In 2009 my symptoms started to progress rapidly & go in an increasingly scary direction.  Finally, in February 2012 I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease (which I believe is the root of all my autoimmunity).  Diagnosis for Celiac Disease can be a somewhat complicated process.  It was a GI specialist, who eventually ordered my first blood tests looking for signs of Celiac.

 One of the most useful blood tests for Celiac is the IgA Anti tTG.  The Paleo Mom has very useful information here about the specifics of the different kinds of antibodies our systems create, so I won’t get too detailed.  Basically, a positive IgA Anti tTG blood test indicates the body is creating antibodies to its own tissues, often as a reaction to gluten.  After a positive result, a biopsy to look at the intestinal villi is ordered to confirm the blood test.  If confirmed, IgA Anti tTG tests can be repeated to indicate whether or not antibody levels are falling in response to a gluten-free diet.

 In February my IgA Anti tTG level was 79, with 0-3 being normal (the “normal” range can vary depending on the test, lab, etc.).  Upon confirmation of Celiac via biopsy, I adopted a strict gluten-free diet.  I didn’t get better though, in fact, I got much, much sicker.  I even began to have anaphylactic style allergic reactions to the foods I was still consuming.  By April my IgA Anti tTG levels had actually climbed to 161.  Naturally, my doctor at the time assumed I did not strictly adhere to a gluten-free diet.

 I began researching in earnest & found a clinic where I learned about cross-reactivity.  I had Cyrex testing done & discovered that I was cross-reactive to milk, chocolate, teff, & corn.  Through an elimination diet, I also realized I was sensitive to soy & egg.  Additionally, I completely stopped using NSAIDS & birth control*, which I was taking continuously as a treatment for Endometriosis (one of my autoimmunes).

 I soon came across The Paleo Mom & along with other guiding information, started eating Autoimmune Protocol.  In May, my IgA Anti tTG had dropped to 109.  Encouraged by these results I stuck to AIP fiercely.  By mid-June my level was 89 & I was no longer regularly visiting the E.R.  I continued, occasionally attempting some very limited reintroductions.  I did not successfully reintroduce any of the “out” foods on AIP, but I persevered.  I am happy to say that all the discipline was worth it.  My latest blood test showed an antibody level of 4!!

 I have a very long way to go, but now that I am barely outside normal range I am confident that real healing can begin.  I have some stubborn symptoms that are still there, but nearly all of the most difficult issues are gone.  I have much more energy, my emotional health is much more stable, numbness in my face, hands, & leg is gone, my GI pain is completely resolved, & an intense pain I had in my chest & rib cage has disappeared.  I can think clearly without any brain fog.  I could go on & on.

 I plan to continue eating AIP to aid my body in the repair process.  I feel fantastic knowing that the power to heal is in my own hands now & I am not just at the mercy of the medical system & (non) food industry.  This has been an amazing journey & I have learned so much about nutrition & my health.  If you are considering AIP to help you treat an autoimmune disorder . . . do it!  You have nothing to lose & your good health to gain.

*(Stopping BC took a lot of careful consideration & I feel it was the right decision for me.  However, I think each woman needs to evaluate carefully her unique set of pros & cons.)

You can read more by Angela Alt at her blog and connect with her on Facebook.

Comments

That is a very very inspirational story! Especially the fact that the blood tests showed such an improvement.. Thank you for sharing :)

Thanks for the super informative post, Ms. Alt! I happen to know you quite well, and this post has me understanding even more about the battle (let’s call it all-out war) for your health back. I remember the day that you found out you had Celiac, it was the most relieved I’d ever seen you, and I’m happy to know that you’re finally doing better after all your struggles this year!

Thanks for reading Mary Rose!! You’ve been one of the biggest supporters & have seen me go from healthy to sick & back again. I’m glad a post like this helps you get more info . . . pass it on!

Wow, amazing story. I see so many similarities to my own here, it’s unreal.

Do you mind sharing what you’re doing to manage your endo symptoms? I’m also doing continuous BCPs as it’s the only thing that has worked for me in the past… is the AIP helping with that?

Maranda, so far my endo symptoms seem to have improved too, but I feel it might be a little early to say for certain that it is well-controlled w/ AIP. I do have a functional medicine M.D. & when I told her that I felt that eating AIP to repair my health from Celiac damage would also help control the endo (due to a calmer immune system & far less inflammation), she agreed w/ me. The only time I have any pain w/ it is during the first few days of my cycle & in my most recent one I had almost no pain. I plan to carefully & regularly monitor & adjust my approach if the endo flares. As you probably know, the thing I most want to avoid is another surgery for it.

Are you taking a real vitamin A supplement at all? People have a mistaken notion that they can get enough vitamin A from beta carotene, but studies in the U.S. and the UK have shown that possibly up to half the population are not good converters. I don’t know whether they pre-screened for things like hypothyroid disease and type 2 diabetes, which also make you a poor converter; if they didn’t, then the number’s higher than almost half the population.

I have reason to believe that someone with metabolic syndrome would run into the same beta-carotene conversion issues as would a type 2 diabetic, though perhaps to a less severe degree.

I had problems with excessively heavy periods when my cycle returned after my daughter was born. This went on for three years because I was uninsured and scared to go to Planned Parenthood (stupid, I know). I read something in passing about endometriosis and vitamin A, and something else on another site about reproductive health and vitamin A, and decided to start taking a natural version from fish liver oil.

Voilà.

I haven’t had cramps in ages and flow’s a lot more reasonable. I can tell when I’ve been forgetting to take it because the heaviness comes back.

Can’t promise you a total cure but you could try it. If you’re itchy about the store supplements, you can find a seller of fermented cod liver oil online, Green Pastures. That’ll have the bonus of vitamin D in the formulation (if you can call it that, they pretty much did nothing but ferment and stabilize it) as well. I don’t vouch that it will taste good, though. When I tried it, I got the capsules.

There’s also eating liver if you like that. Even with grass-fed it’ll be cheaper than the muscle meats.

oy.

“I don’t know if they prescreened… if they didn’t, then the number’s higher than half the population.”

I should have said if they DID prescreen for hypothyroid and diabetes. So then they would have had, presumably, an entirely healthy group of study respondents, and when you add those to the people with conditions it winds up being more than half the population.

The sample size was small but I’m kind of amazed they haven’t expanded the research. I think it would explain a lot of the infertility we’re seeing out there now, not to mention some of the birth defects that happen, if it turns out beta carotene has been way oversold to the public.

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