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Nutrisclerosis Blog

What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

Aug 5

Written by:
8/5/2011 1:06 PM  RssIcon

     A popular saying in the paleo world is: my paleo is your paleo is my paleo is your paleo. It means that everyone has a different take on what is paleo and what isn't. And if that's not confusing enough, there is also the autoimmune protocol. So let's first identify what paleo is and then explore the more restrictive AIP (autoimmune protocol).

     I like Kurt Harris's Paleo 2.0 manifesto Here the best. I like Loren Cordain's book The Paleo Diet and Robb Wolf's book The Paleo Solution the best. They explain everything with science, bio chemistry and anthropological speculation. But here is a simple summary. Eating paleo means eating only meat, vegetables, tubers, roots, nuts, seeds and fruit. In that order. All the food on that list should be from credible sources, the meat should be wild or from grass fed or pastured animals who have not received any hormones or antibiotics. Or any chemicals.

     Do you think that the paleo diet sounds restrictive? Wait til you hear the additional foods that have to be cut out within that list for the AIP! Not everyone will have to eliminate these additional foods forever. Different people are sensitive to different things within these restrictions. The best way to assess what you are sensitive to is to completely eliminate the following foods for 3 months or so and then reintroduce them (slowly) and see how you react to them. The list of foods within the paleo diet that should be avoided: nightshades, eggs, dairy, yeast, fruit, nuts and seeds. Along with food restrictions there are other nuances like peeling the skin off of everything, no birth control pills, no NSAIDS, no alcohol (not paleo anyway).

     I am happy to say that after 18 months of elimination and reintroduction, I can handle a couple of eggs a week, grassfed butter, my Aunt's red sauce, and hard cheese. I also eat white rice on heavy lifting or high activity days. These are things I can eat occasionally. I still approach them with caution. And I only eat the best quality food that I source myself. I recently ate a commercial egg and had a bad reaction. My eggs come from a sweet lady who keeps chickens who eat mostly lizards, snakes, bugs, seeds and some corn.

     The way I approached this diet was to go paleo first. I cut out all non paleo foods from my diet, but I continued to shop at the grocery store and Costco for all my meat and veg. Then I cut out the AIP foods starting with nightshades, I would cut out a food group every week or 2. It was really hard for me to let go of eggs and nuts because I used them so much for cooking. But I did it! Then, I had what I called my '30 day MS push.' I made a list of all the things I needed to do to get rid of my MS once and for all. The list included finding acceptable meat sources, getting my supplements in order, quitting drinking, adding more wild fish to my diet and stop buying commercial produce. And that took a full 30 days to nail down.

     The prospect of only buying pastured or grass fed meat is daunting. I got my beef and pork supplier from a Crossfit Wilmington post. I am forever grateful to Matt,  one of the CFW instructors, who posted about Hilltop Angus Grassfed see the farm here until he was sure they had enough business to make a Wilmington delivery worth while. At first they only carried beef and I didn't know where I was going to find pork, but then Hilltop started selling pork, much to my relief. I had the names of a couple of pig suppliers, but let's face it, I already have a full time job and a family, I simply was running out of the motivation to call around, ask all my questions and set up a pick up. I wish this diet was mainstream and there was competition among these kinds of farms with advertising. It may be that way in other parts of the country, but here you have to go looking and put some time in to find these places. Eating this way is labor intensive and requires research. It's also a bit more expensive to buy better quality meat, but I found the money I saved by not buying processed food, cereal, boxed items, etc left me spending the same amount on food that I had been in the past. And with the price of processed food rising, the ratio is tipping more in my favor. 

     Switching to locally grown vegetables was a lot easier than finding grass fed and pastured meat. There is a food co-op in town and a few farmer's markets that feature local farmers. You can read my post 'Farmers Market Buzzkill' about how there are nothing but nightshades during the summer around here. That part did suck, but in that case I just went back to Costco and bought a huge bag of broccoli. I am not living in a region with ideal soil for variety, unfortunately. But it's no Afghanistan! I have a friend who managed to stay paleo at Baghram AFB in Afghanistan. If he can do it, we can do it.

     So to review, paleo means besides meat and vegetables, you can have nuts, seeds, eggs, raw dairy, nightshades and fruit. The autoimmune protocol of paleo means eliminating those foods. And remember, the diet is only part of your recovery. You also have to get good sleep, manage your stress and ENJOY YOUR LIFE! Attitude plays a huge part. Have you imagined your neurologist telling you you have no disease activity on your MRI? Have you visualized yourself feeling awesome? If you're in a wheelchair, have you told yourself that you will be walking again? Visualized yourself running? You'll find that it is easy to have a good attitude when you eliminate grains and sugar. A gray cloud is lifted from your brain in a matter of days.

Categories: Personal Blog

17 comment(s) so far...


Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

Thank you for linking up in the Living Well blog hop, and for sharing you story about going paleo. I've been cutting back on my carbs, and feel better and have lost weight.

We hope to see you again this week.


By Laurie on   8/24/2011 9:01 PM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

I would love to do it again, thank you so much for inviting me!

By Whitney Ross on   8/31/2011 11:22 AM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

I'm enjoying your blog! I heard about it on FB. I went paleo three months before my first MS symptom started and was eating paleo for a little over a year when I finally got diagnosed so I figure I'm one step ahead of the game-a very big step! Keep up the hard work, you are an inspiration!

By AJ on   11/17/2011 8:40 PM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

@AJ, sorry I never answered this! I am not a website maven at all. How are you doing now? Will you tell me more about your story? Have you switched to the autoimmune protocol? No nuts, no seeds, no nightshades, no eggs, no dairy, etc. How are you doing? progressing? Regressing? I would love to know more.

ian, writing from Bagram, thank you so much for your kind words, even though my blog is full of lies! I keep promising a guest post from my friend who spends time throughout the year at Bagram. He told me there are always cookies everywhere, all the time. That they are hard to resist but he stays mostly paleo. But I haven't posted anything like that yet. I WILL!! Thanks again for being so positive. I really appreciate it.

By Whitney Ross on   12/4/2011 9:16 PM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

Hi Debbie! I love it that you said professional opinion! But I have to tell you that I am not a professional of any kind. Just a working mom who has seen amazing recovery from paleo. If I were you, I would do the AIP for 30 days and then reintroduce nightshades (except potatoes) 1 at a time and farm fresh eggs and see how you feel. Or get an MRT test (google MRT food test or go to jrod trained in Wilmington NC web site and get it through them) and find out for sure which foods are causing your immune system to react. I hope you find relief and please keep us posted! I have a facebook page that I respond to quicker if you have any other questions. Also, Robb Wolf has a great quickstart/ 30 day challenge available on his web site that you could check out if you are having any trouble getting started.

By Whitney Ross on   12/6/2011 3:39 PM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

I have been a low-carber for 15 years, so I have already kicked grains and other starches and eat a core diet of veggies and meats. On that, the fatigue is minimal. It'll be a challenge to kick the dairy, eggs, nuts and nightshades, but I am bound and determined to beat MS.

What about fats? I understand coconut oil s encouraged. What about animal fats (lard, tallow, ghee) or vegetable fats (EVOO, avocado oil)?

What's your take on flax seeds, herbal teas, and stevia?

By Rani Merens on   12/14/2011 10:22 PM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

That is awesome that you are already low carb. For some that is the hardest part of changing the diet, because there is a carb addiction going on. All the fats you mentioned are awesome. I use minimal olive oil and mostly coconut oil and lard. I would use ghee more if I could find a grass free unpasteurized source. I have been trying to incorporate avocado oil more. Have you investigated Dr. Terry Wahls? She has a new book called 'Minding your Mitochondria' and a lot of free videos on her Wahls Foundation web site. She reversed her secondary progressive MS and got out of her wheelchair. Her diet is a tweaked paleo with a ton of vegetables. I am suggesting all MS'ers read her book and watch her videos. She is very inspirational. Best of luck to you an please post here any time with questions. I also have a facebook and twitter page called nutrisclerosis if you ever want to post on there.

By Whitney Ross on   12/19/2011 11:13 AM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

Oh! I like herbal tea, I drink it iced when I simply can't stand another water or club soda. I do not use Stevia or any sweetener. I do not eat even the taste of sweet. That has to do with my all out sugar addiction though, not anything to do with MS. I can't control sugar (I try not to use negative statements, but that's just a fact).

By Whitney Ross on   12/19/2011 11:15 AM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

Hi! I just discovered your site yesterday which is great btw!! I have had RRMS for 8 years now and am very adamant on not using drugs to calm my flare ups. I am sad to see that I will have to give up nightshades as I just LOVE peppers but I love my health more so I am willing to try this out for a month to see if it would make any difference. Are potatoes always forbidden? The MS Recovery Diet suggests eating sweet potatoes and I have a few in my pantry that I would hate to see go to waste. Are they an exception to the nightshades rule?


By Ashley on   2/4/2012 5:20 PM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

Sweet potatoes are not a nightshade, you can eat them! Yay! I love peppers too, hot sauce, the whole thing. I do miss them so much. If you get a chance, please let us know if you have any improvement cutting out nightshades.

By Whitney Ross on   2/6/2012 10:19 AM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

Are coconuts technically "nuts" in that they need to be eliminated, too? I see you mentioned using coconut oil still but didn't say if you use coconut in any other forms now. I've been Paleo for a few months now to deal with the inflammation of Chronic Lyme Disease, but my switch was after 25 years of being a vegetarian. Because eating a lot of meat was pretty difficult for me, I started eating a lot of eggs (we are even putting the finishing touches on our new chicken coop this week, an effort to have a lot of fresh eggs for me!) and nuts for some extra protein. Thinking of giving up tomatoes has been tough, since they are my favorite plant to grow and eat fresh from the garden in the summer.

Anyway, I've made a lot of improvements just by changing to a Paleo diet, but know that to really see benefits, I need to get on board the auto-immune protocol. It will be painful to get the chili-based spices out of my cooking, so with all of those favorite, dependable foods and flavors being gone, I'm really hoping I get to keep using my coconut flakes, cream and flour.

By Debi on   3/13/2012 9:11 PM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

Coconuts are Ok to eat. More than Ok, they are great. I don't use a lot of coconut only because it's hard to find without added sugar (around here). Everything you say in your post rings so true with me. I hated giving up peppers, hot sauce and pepper based spices.AND my husband works on a commercial tomato farm and we get all the delicious tomatoes we could ever want in the world, and neither of us eats them. But, I didn't miss it after a week or so. And after a while you can try to reintroduce it and see how it makes you feel. Regarding your eggs, are you going to feed your chickens a grain and corn free diet? Have you read Loren Cordain's paper on egg whites and autoimmunity? It is for sale on his web site or I would link it here.

By Whitney Ross on   3/15/2012 7:26 PM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

I am slowly proceeding towards the autoimmuneprotocol as I suffer from CFS/ME. Are yellow and orange peppers aslo nightshades??????? Is honey legal in Paleo? Sorry I can find it out on the net however I am way to exhausted today so maybe someone can help me. I have been on partly on the SCD diet and a little Paleo as well.
Thanks and keep up the good work on your website.

By Maritta on   3/20/2012 9:50 AM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

Hi Maritta, yes, yellow and orange peppers are nightshades. You should avoid them for at least 30 days and then see how you feel when you eat them. Honey is a no for the 30 day elimination period as well. Have you watched any Terry Wahls videos? She has a more aggressive approach which is paleo but with 9 cups of vegetablesd a day. 3 Cups green (including seaweed), 3 Cups sulfur (onion, cabbage, brussels, ets) and 3 Cups colorful (squash, beets, carrots). She makes a coconut milk smoothie in the morning with a majority of the vegetables and berries. You can find her videos on you tube just type in Dr. Terry Wahls. Thank you so much for your kind words and stick to this, you will find improvement! If you feel like it's coming too slow Dr. Wahls suggests a naturopath familiar with paleo.

By Whitney Ross on   3/20/2012 12:34 PM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

Hey, we have set up a similar site, focusing on Paleo & the Autoimmune Protocol but for people in the UK. Would you be up for me supplying a guest post? Maybe a recipe or our experiences?

Take a look at our blog:

Hope to hear from you soon!

By Marcus on   7/27/2012 5:11 AM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

Hi Marcus, I would love to do something like that. I will check out your site right now.

By Whitney Ross on   7/30/2012 1:32 PM

Re: What is the autoimmune protocol of paleo?

Hi Whitney,

It was great meeting you the other night at the GRUB Autoimmune discussion. I am trying modify my diet but I'm having a hard time giving up nuts and seeds. I have a question about green beans. Are they considered okay on the AIP diet? I know they are technically a legume. Also, I know you said no fruit because of the fructose but avocado is a fruit and pumpkin is also...but those are okay? I'm guessing it has something to do with the sugar content of the fruit? Thank you so much for your help. I love what you are doing here.

By Kate on   10/9/2012 9:46 AM

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