Friday, October 18, 2013

Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) Diet - Personal

It's been a while since I did anything crazy with my personal nutrition but... I'm about to. You'll probably love it more than I will.. 

Back in February, during a routine blood test, I found that my platelet count is abnormally low. Further testing showed that, for god-knows-what reason, my body is making antibodies against its own platelets. My immune systems eats my platelets.  Nice. Good one, macrophages.

The symptoms aren't really bad, just annoying. Slow wound healing, and my arms and legs always have bruises that I can't contribute to anything. I'm lucky. It could be much worse.

After the test that confirmed antiplatelet antibodies, I did a bit of research and concluded that this probably is a side effect of my 2009 glandular fever episode because the glycoprotein coating ('sheath') on the virus is quite similar to the sheath on platelets. Specifically it contains similar carbohydrates. So the antibody for the Epstein Barr virus can mistakenly identify platelets as a target. The other possibility is that the virus damaged my gut (leaky gut), allowing proteins into my bloodstrem that shouldn't be there. How that works is, these proteins tend to attach themselves to internal structures, making those parts of 'self' look 'foreign' in the eyes of the immune system - the immune system is entirely xenophobic; if it's not self, it must die. I put together a few ideas around those theories and made a half-arsed attempt at an autoimmune protocol. Mostly this involved giving up alcohol, cutting back on dietary lectins, reducing coffee, taking glyconutrients and making some lifestyle changes to de-stress.  I wasn't very dedicated.

After a few months, my platelets went up by 7,000. That's not much but it lulled me into complacency and I got lazy.  Alcohol consumption resumed, I got slap-happy with grains, nuts and seeds and the daily espresso became .. "more". *looks sideways*  

And, now my platelets are only 75,000 (noooooo), which is the level where I could be referred to a haematologist.  But, you know, I'm all about self-healing, and tend to argue with doctors, so let's give self-platelet raising a decent bash.  I'm going to do 30 days on an auto-immune paleo diet (AIP), plus add a few supplements that I'll detail later as I haven't quite nailed that yet.

If you are unfamiliar with what a paleolithic diet involves, it really is a case of being complicated because it is so simple.  Based around what humans ate in the pre-agricultural era, 'paleo' is shorthand for avoidance of:
  • Processed Food
  • Grains, beans, pulses
  • Dairy (although some people do eat it, usually in fermented form: yogurt, kefir)
  • Sugar
  • Industrial Oils (e.g. all oils except olive oil, coconut oil, natural animal fat and grass-fed butter)
and inclusion of:

  • Grass-Fed Meats
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Veges, lots of veges, especially non-starchy ones.
**And Also**
  • Fruit (1-2 pieces a day)
  • Healthy Fats
  • Nuts and Seeds (preferably sprouted)
It is a lower, but not low carbohydrate diet, depending of course, on individual food choice.

You can get quite tricky with it, for example, some people do eat grains if they are soaked, sprouted and fermented (I do this sometimes). There are personal variations: some people drink coffee and alcohol, some don't. Some use sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, dried fruit, xylitol, stevia and erythritol.

Don't even get me started on 'paleo' people that seem to live on nut, dried fruit and coconut-based treat foods, pancakes and muffins.  These things are ok sometimes, but meat, fish, eggs, veges, fruit, nuts and healthy fats in recognisable form should be the focus.

The Autoimmune protocol takes the regular paleo diet one step further, eliminating all nuts and seeds (including seed-derived spices like cumin and mustard),  nightshades (which I almost never eat anyway), eggs, as well as coffee and alcohol.  The idea is to eliminate anything that might stimulate an inflammatory response or irritate the gut. The Whole9 has a good shopping list for the AIP here. It's very short.

I have had to give up coffee (*insert apocalyptic music here*). I'm not going to lie: the thought depressed me to near-death. I'm 3 days coffee-free now and it's dire, but not quite deathly. I'm still drinking green tea, so that's evening out the caffeine detox symptoms. Sacrifices aside, I've read enough positive anecdotes of autoimmune success on this protocol that I think it's really worth a try. I don't know anyone that's improved their platelet count on such a regime, but someone has to be the first, right? I'd never heard of anyone curing their osteoarthritis either, but that worked.

And if it's a big, fat fail, well .. hello espresso. ;)  

What this means for the blog is that once I get through my backlog of recipes and ramblings to post (and there are many), you'll be getting a few weird AIP recipes. I've already recruited Pinterest as my new best friend in this mission (the link is to my Autoimmune Paleo Diet board), begged a kombucha scoby from a friend, and got my coconut yogurt yogging.

I'm ready. Let's go!

PS. Pls send vibes for platelets.  I'm not adverse to a little supernatural intervention here. ;) Vibes gratefully accepted.


Sarah Ballantyne PhD (The Paleo Mom) - Cliff Notes for her upcoming book - which I will be buying, Ms Ballantyne knows her stuff. The entire protocol is outlined on that link, it's very useful.

20 Page Preview of Mickey Trescott's Autoimmune Paleo Book.   I've already bought this for inspiration and will review it once I've worked my way through. 


  1. My sincere condolences on your break-up with coffee. :(

    Stupid, STUPID human bodies! Why do they have to do these crazy things? I'll be watching your culinary adventures with interest... I'm with you in spirit, even if I'm not actually doing it with you. I mean, I love you and all, but I cannot do Paleo - there are just way too many fruits & veg I can't eat, so if I remove grains, potatoes, dairy and so on, I really struggle to get enough carbohydrate.

    Boo! for perfectly good food turning on us...

    1. I don't even know if it's going to work! I'm also going to make an effort not to lose more weight this month. I'm pretty sure it would be better to be anabolic (gaining) but that's not gonna happen. I just peeled off the holiday kg's and will try to keep it good there. It is so very interesting the individual variation in response to food.

      Good luck with your continuing FODMAPS journey, I hope you are really feeling fab now. X

    2. Good plan. Aiming for weight loss + immune boosting would be a recipe for a massive meltdown.

      I'm pretty good....or would be if only I hadn't had that ice cream the other night. Apparently two lactase tablets doesn't quite do the trick. Oh well, it was worth it. ;)

      Imagine the two of us trying to order a restaurant meal together now - all the questions about what's in the dishes... the waiter would want to kill us. We should make a point of doing that one day, just for laughs.

  2. Honora10:26 pm

    Best of luck Sara. I should be doing it too for my auto-immune thyroiditis (baby steps, I've given up spuds pretty much). Thanks for the info on the Ayam coconut milk/cream too.


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