“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, use the form on this page to contact me.
I seem to have spent much of my life sick with various illnesses – typical childhood illnesses which I got far more often and far more severely than other kids my age. Viruses, bacterial infections were the norm, hospitalization, frequent doses of antibiotics.
But it was endometriosis, diagnosed at the age of twenty-five, that, two decades, five surgeries and several rounds of in-vitro fertilization later, dominated my medical history.
Endometriosis is a condition where endometrial deposits attach to areas outside the uterus, causing pain, scar tissue, and infertility.
Not much more about the cause of endometriosis nor development of its treatment has materialized since I was diagnosed but there is a clear association between endometriosis and autoimmune disorders.
Autoimmune diseases appear in far higher order among women who are diagnosed with endometriosis than in the general population.
“Women with endometriosis also had higher than expected rates of autoimmune inflammatory diseases including systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren’s syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as multiple sclerosis.”
Another study concluded that “endometriosis shares many similarities with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and psoriasis. These similarities include elevated levels of cytokines, decreased cell apoptosis, and T- and B-cell abnormalities.”
And some contend that endometriosis is an autoimmune disease itself.
So after I discovered that, while improving things in terms of my pain and energy, following a basic paleo template did not eradicate it sufficiently, I decided to go to the next level and adopt the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP). It seemed the sensible thing to do.
I had noticed that eliminating wheat, sugar, and particularly dairy under the basic template had resulted in big improvements, but it was eliminating fruit that took them to the next level.
After a strict month of AIP, I re-introduced various fruits and noticed bloating, digestive issues, insomnia (then energy crashes) and a re-emergence of the pain I typically got mid-cycle.
I had been able to reduce the mid-cycle pain that had controlled my life for decades to almost nothing under the AIP so this was significant.
Further re-introduction testing followed and a sensitivity to nuts also presented itself (digestive problems). Nightshades, especially potatoes and tomatoes, would give me ulcers, and painful, sensitive areas of skin on my head, my face, underarms.
While I had been aware of these last two issues, until I eliminated and re-introduced the foods in question, I had not connected them to those foods, or indeed, any food at all, so that was enlightening.
I removed all these items from my diet on a long-term basis and have continued to see improvements that I attribute to healing over time. As long as I keep to this plan, I have no health issues at all.
At times over a two-year period, I have attempted to re-introduce certain food items and have met with varying degrees of success. I can tolerate a small amount of most of the problem foods on an occasional basis, but cannot yet introduce them into my daily diet.
I am particularly careful with fruit and dairy as they seem to give me the most problems, however, cutting down the amounts of these foods that I eat is a small price to pay for the huge increase in quality of life I’ve experienced.
Professionally, I have achieved far more since undertaking the AIP. I have less pain and more energy, I can respond to intense demands as needed, and I simply am able to enjoy my life more.
I’ve found following the autoimmune protocol to be enormously empowering in terms of identifying problem foods and seeking to manage a reduction in my symptoms. It has been far more effective than any conventional and invasive medical treatments offered in the past.
Without the AIP, I would have been counting the days to menopause, and even then, with just a slight hope of relief.
Sometimes there is grief about having to eliminate so many food items but after a while, and with practice, like all losses, I’ve found we make progress and come to resolution. And, if we are lucky, we can heal to the point of re-introduction of those foods without penalty.
AIP is pretty darn powerful.