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AIP in 2023

2022 was certainly a shake up of a year for me regarding my health. I had always, (perhaps bit smugly), considered myself to be a healthy person. After all, I was trained as a naturopathic doctor and I knew the ins and outs of optimizing wellness. I had a good diet and I exercised. I didn’t use excesses of anything harmful to the body. Sure, I had lots of symptoms like fatigue and dry eyes and dry mouth and joint pain, but wasn’t that part of getting older? Oh, and I had trouble sleeping, and I was anxious, and my brain didn’t seem to work right anymore, but it could all be explained away… post menopause, everyday stress, caregiving, etc. except when it all came to a head in November of 2021 when I couldn’t stand it any longer. I think the expression is that I was a “hot mess”.

I felt like I was falling apart. I sat in my optometrists office and poured it all out, the dry eyes, the dry mouth, the profound fatigue. She wrote a referral to my medical doctor and that got the ball rolling for me. A few referrals and consults later, I had a CPAP machine to treat my diagnosed sleep apnea, and after that I had a confirmed diagnosis of Sjogren’s Syndrome. I found trying to integrate all the new self care around these two conditions, as well as continue my main job as an essential caregiver for my parents, and work on my coaching business, to be quite a challenge.

The rheumatologist mentioned medication as an option, but also that it could mean major side effects but I had a plan I wanted to put in place first. I am not opposed to medication, should the time come when I need more help controlling my symptoms. There are some autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and Hashimoto’s where medication is critical. I felt my healing journey, at this point, could be self-hacked. My professional experience with autoimmune conditions had taught me the importance of figuring any co-existing health conditions. Autoimmune can’t be cured, but other health issues causing stress to the body can be helped, which maximizes healing. Dietary irritants can be removed. Infections can be healed. Nutrition can be optimized.

In mid-April I started on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). This is a brilliant healing protocol first popularized by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD. In her book, “The Paleo Approach”, she provides an evidence based method for removing foods that are potential roadblocks to healing, and at the same time integrates foods with the most healing potential. That is half of the protocol. The other half is about optimizing lifestyle. I also started seeing a naturopathic doctor, and asked her to optimize my gut microbiome. We found a bacterial infection and started treating it with herbs and supplements.

I began with the elimination phase of the AIP diet. I was already gluten free and 95% dairy free. There were a lot of foods to remove, but also new foods to explore, some of which have become my favourites. After a time, I followed the reintroduction protocol and was able to add a number of foods back into my diet without aggravating my symptoms. I will say that this was a darn hard diet to implement. I have a lot of past experience with different diets, including elimination diets, and I still found it really hard. Healthy foods like eggs and nuts and tomatoes were no longer on the plan, and I had to get very creative in the kitchen to prevent boredom. I lost weight because the inflammation in my body was improving.

So what happened? First I noticed the joint pain getting better. Much better. I no longer lay awake with an aching back or hips at night. I found my knees rarely bothered me climbing stairs. Next, the dryness in my mouth improved. I had saliva and my enlarged tongue shrank. Finally, the dry eyes had some tears again and were less gritty at night. Energy was the last thing to improve and took a number of months, but finally I started feeling better than I had in two or three years. I could read and retain what I read. I could write. My mind also became sharper and my memory improved. Some of my blood work markers have also improved, which is an exciting “objective” finding.

This was exciting! This was working! I had to be able to share this with my coaching clients! Now that I could think and function better, I enrolled in the certified AIP coach training and became a certified coach. I am set up to offer one and one AIP coaching to a few clients at present. It is a tool that people can use at the beginning of their autoimmune journey, or along the way. It works while you are waiting to confirm a diagnosis, and it works along with medications and treatments recommended by your health care team. I have so many resources to share with you to make the AIP journey easier, and I can’t wait for the day when you tell me, “Hey Wendy, I am feeling better!”. Is 2023 the year you start the AIP and start healing your autoimmune disease? If you are interested, I would love to chat with you about whether this could work. Can I give you a quick free call? Here’s a link to book the call, and I hope to meet you soon,

As a child, I grew up blissfully ignorant of the microscopic world within my body. Bacteria were “bad germs” that caused disease and should be removed from hands, toys and surfaces as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Like many kids I regularly got what my mom termed “ear, nose and throat infections”. Naturally the prescribed remedy was always an antibiotic. It was the 1960’s and 70’s and antibiotics were in their heyday. They were the life saving, ultimate germ killing medicine. As long as you didn’t have an allergy to penicillin , antibiotics were passed out freely and not thought to have any side effects.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s we started hearing about the rise in peanut and other food allergies. Asthma was on the increase as well as autism. The incidence of obesity, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes in children as well as adults rose. Every year since then, these chronic disease rates and others have continued to skyrocket.

In the medical community, we started asking questions, trying to find out why these conditions were suddenly reaching epidemic levels. There were many possible theories. Too much fast food? Maybe. Not enough exercise? Maybe. No pets owned as a child? Maybe. A disturbance of the intestinal bacteria? But wait… aren’t all bacteria bad for you? Shouldn’t they all be wiped out with antibiotics? Or do our billions of bowel bacteria have critical roles to play in the maintenance of our good health?

In this book, Martin J. Blaser, MD, does a terrific job of telling the story of the rise and fall of antibiotics and how they have affected the critical world of bacteria within us. Before reading this book, I had always assumed antibiotics were given to animals raised for food to treat or prevent infection. Not always so! Instead they are mostly used to fatten up the animals for market. We then eat the animals and introduce the antibiotic residues into our bodies which go on to cause antibiotic resistance in our own bacteria.

Compared to Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”, for the it’s prophetic warnings of what unbridled use of antibiotics has done for us in terms of both healing infections and causing many of our chronic illnesses, this book is well-researched and eminently readable for the layperson. Dr. Blasser often draws on research that he has done in his own lab, and writes with a passion that draws the reader into the world of microbiology. Perhaps most useful to our health is the “solutions” chapter that Dr. Blasser provides with suggestions on how to reduce our dependence on antibiotics and possible ways to mitigate the damage that has already occurred. This book is especially important for anyone with children or intending on having children for his advice on preserving and maintaining their micro biome.

This book is available through my affiliate link here:

<a href="http://Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues“>missing microbes

The Top 6 Reasons Why You Have Not Seen a Naturopath Yet

1. I’m not sick. You don’t have to have a disease to visit a naturopathic doctor. We are great with preventative medicine and lowering your risk for chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. In fact, many patients I see have been told, “Your blood work is all normal, you are healthy”, and yet they feel tired, or have aches and pains, or stomach problems. THE ABSENCE OF DISEASE IS NOT HEALTH! Health is feeling and functioning at our mental and physical best.

2. I am sick and my medical doctor is taking good care of me. There are some great medical doctors out there. Doctors who spend more than five minutes in the office with you, who try to find solutions to what is really causing your illness and not just hand you another prescription. If you are happy with your medical doctor, great. If not…consider a second opinion. Naturopathic doctors won’t do anything that works against what your medical doctor is doing with you. We won’t take you off your pills, but rather work with you in establishing good nutrition and supplement what may be lacking. It is often possible that you are able to get well enough that you can go to your medical doctor and ask to reduce or discontinue your medication.

3. I don’t know if my work covers naturopathic doctors or not. Contact your insurance company, talk to your HR person, or read your policy manual. Most workplaces do provide coverage in the range of $300.00 to $500.00 a year. It’s a great benefit, you are paying for it, why not use it?

4. I have never been to a naturopath, I don’t know what they will do to me, or tell me to do. A first visit to a naturopathic doctor is very similar to a first appointment with a medical doctor. When I see a new patient, I take a detailed health history of their present concerns, past health issues and family health history. If they have brought blood work or other tests with them, I review that too. Then I do portions of a physical exam. Some exam components are standard such as blood pressure, pulse, listening to heart and lungs, and some may be a little different such as examining the tongue and fingernails. None of it hurts, and none of it is embarrassing. Finally I sit down with the patient and decide what our initial approach will be. I get your input too. If you are afraid of needles, I won’t suggest acupuncture. If you are on a strict budget, I will find inexpensive ways for you to get the nutrition you need.

5. I can just go to the health food store and they will tell me what to take. Naturopathic doctors have a minimum of 7 to 9 years post secondary training. We spend 4 years learning specifically about the human body, disease and natural treatments. We are licensed and regulated in many provinces and states, including Saskatchwan. A person working in a health food store is simply not qualified to advise you about what natural supplements you need. They know nothing about your health condition or what medications you are currently on. There focus is on selling products, not getting you better. Naturopathic doctors look for the reasons behind your health problems and find solutions for them.

6. I don’t have any work coverage, it’s just too expensive to go, my medical doctor is free. It’s interesting. I hear this from people who will spend hundreds of dollars a month at the health food store on supplements that aren’t working for them. Or close to a thousand dollars a year on a gym that is not helping them lose weight because they never go. Or thousands of dollars per year on cigarettes or alcohol, or drive through coffees and lunches out. It comes down to where your priorities are. A fist visit with a naturopathic doctor, depending on where you live, will usually cost between $150.00 and $250.00 for a 75 to a 90 minute visit. You will get so much useful information during this time about your health and a start on improving it, that that visit fee will pay for itself many times over in time you are not off sick from work, time you do not have to say “no” to playing with your children because you are too tired, and possibly even a few extra years to your life!

After Going Raw – a week later

Well, I have been back on my regular diet for a little over a week now, and I wanted to report how it is going. The first day back was a little rough, I was careful not to overdo but after a month of vegan eating my body took some time to adjust to my regular diet. I will be honest and say that my energy is not as high as it was at times during the first two weeks. I also don’t have diarrhea four times a day! I would like to find a way to have that high energy and a normal functioning system, though. Part of it is that this intestinal bacterial imbalance has not yet been treated. I had hoped that just the detox diet would be enough to take care of it, but it was not. I start natural medication for that early next week. I suspect that once it is cleared up, I will have less food intolerances and more energy. When patients see me and say that they are reacting to more and more foods, there is almost always an immune situation going on with the gut. When the gut is healed, the food sensitivities improve immensely and sometimes just disappear.

I am happy to report no fierce cravings for sugar or salt have happened yet. It is still quite easy for me to resist unhealthy foods. I am still enjoying several of the foods from the vegan diet such as the chia porridge and kale chips as well as the coconut amino seeds, just because I plain like them.

Today was fun. I drove down in the pouring rain and met my contest winner at Dad’s Organic Grocery and we spent a delightful hour chatting about healthy food.

Going Raw – The Greens

Going Raw - the greens 001I begin my raw diet tomorrow. Today I bought greens enough to last us until Monday, I hope. These are all organic, bought them at Dad’s Organic Grocery. One black kale, one green kale, one collard green, two leaf lettuces, one romaine lettuce and one cilantro. I’ll be adding in lots of other vegetables as well, like sprouts, carrots, avocados, onion, peppers and zucchini, but the leafy greens form the core of the raw food diet. These greens are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, anti-cancer phytochemicals and even, if you eat enough of them, protein. Rotating greens is very important, since they all offer different nutritional benefits, and some of them have a slight action against the thyroid or interfere with calcium absorption. In fact, it is my plan to have lots of variety in all the foods I eat. God made them all unique and with specific nutritional values.