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The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body 1st Edition
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About the Author
Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D., earned her doctorate degree in medical biophysics at the age of 26. She spent the next four years doing research on innate immunity and inflammation before becoming a stay-at-home mom. After her second daughter was born, she began to experiment with the Paleo lifestyle. It had an amazing effect on her health. Over time, she healed herself of a long laundry list of physical complaints including irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, and the autoimmune disorder, Lichen Planus, an inflammatory skin condition. Inspired by her success, Dr. Ballantyne created the popular health blog www.ThePaleoMom.com and became co-host of a top-rated podcast, The Paleo View. Her passion for providing straightforward explanations of the science behind her diet and lifestyle recommendations for managing autoimmune disease, plus her love of food and cooking, form the foundations of The Paleo Approach.
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Top Customer Reviews
Problem was, after following the AIP for nearly 3 months I wasn't seeing healing. Some of the super negative symptoms were alleviated, like adrenal fatigue, clumps of hair falling out and terrible acne, but when I reintroduced foods I would get flares again. I distinctly remember it being SO. HARD. Like, temper tantrums in the car hard because everything, EVERYTHING I was used to eating had eggs or nightshades and I was overwhelmed at the idea of living the rest of my life that way. All of which contributed to my ongoing struggles with depression - the obsession with food was beginning to overwhelm me, it was starting to cause disordered eating again, as I looked for ways to "get around" the AIP.
I was so frustrated, I began talking with Sarah about what her thoughts and recommendations were. It was at this time that Sarah was hundreds of thousands of words deep into writing The Paleo Approach (no, seriously, it's a tome). There were a few things she shared with me about what she found in the scientific literature about recommendations she was going to make, versus things I'd read in Practical Paleo and other resources.
And so it began, in 2013 I started following The Paleo Approach. Mostly this meant that I focused more on what to add to my diet instead of what to remove from it. Sarah and I talked every week on The Paleo View and nearly each episode each one of us would get more and more geeked out on nutrient-density, our new favorite word. We began exploring healing foods; Matt and I became so inspired that we wrote the nose-to-tail cookbook, Beyond Bacon - almost every recipe of which includes bone stock and/or lard (high in Vitamin D and easy for me to digest).
I'd been following a low-fat, low-carb version of paleo for years. Turns out, it made me sick. It affected my adrenals, thyroid function, and ability for my body to heal itself. I was nutrient-poor, despite eating what I thought was the best diet possible. Perhaps for some people eating that way is healthy for them, but for me as a busy woman with no gallbladder and previous metabolic syndrome, it ended up as a disaster long-term. Turns out, a high protein diet (especially when the protein is mostly poultry) wasn't doing what I thought it was for my health. I got over my fear of fat and incorporated more nutrient-dense healing fats, specifically lard, coconut oil and ghee/butter (I was shocked how well I tolerated ghee and butter after a lifetime of being dairy intolerant). I switched my proteins to a majority of grass-fed red meat and pastured pork, added seafood and incorporated the true superfoods: organ meat and bone broth.
One of the things I learned from Sarah is the importance of vegetables. I've popularized #morevegetablesthanavegetarian in social media - but it was Sarah's focus on the importance of vegetables - specifically a variety of colorful ones - that really made me focus on them. For a while, I'd actually reduced the types of vegetables I was eating because I wanted to stay away from foods high in insoluble fiber - which I personally let affect the quantity of veggies I was eating. When Sarah told me she had research that greens rich in insoluble fiber, even cruciferous ones, showed to be positive healing foods from her research it was a big change in how I approached nourishing myself. As I started adding in much more vegetables, especially leafy greens, it was amazing how much it affected my digestion and how I felt.
From the prior AIP protocol I was already consuming fermented foods rich in probiotics, which is another big important factor in helping to heal the gut through food. So then I turned to lifestyle factors.
I learned to love myself and let things go. I know... it's hokey. And intangible. And something I can't possibly define for you to replicate... although I've tried to articulate it a zillion times on The Paleo View. Stress Management was defined and something I began when I first started Practical Paleo`s AIP. But it's not something one can fix overnight. Over time, and through Sarah's repeated reminders of the scientific backing behind stress being a leading causes of health deterioration, I learned how to slay the stress monster.
First, I gave myself permission to do something(s) for me. Without guilt or remorse. It was really hard in the beginning to know I was missing out on time I could (or as I thought, should) be doing: helping with dinner, spending time with the kids, staying later at the office, etc. But then I realized I deserve to take care of the only body I'll have to carry me through this life. My children deserve a role model to show them that sometimes it's OK to stop and put the gas mask on yourself before helping others - I learned to take care of myself first before putting others ahead of me. This, was huge.
I learned to breathe. There was a point at which my stress levels had caused an eye twitch I couldn't get rid of for months. And I had begun grinding my teeth and experiencing frequent headaches from it. I even had about a 6 week period of time where I was experiencing frequent anxiety attacks in crossfit, unable to breathe when something ended up being harder than I anticipated. It made me want to quit, and I've never been a quitter. It was at this time Sarah talked to me about relaxation techniques she highly encouraged. It was so bizarre for this scientist to be telling me to do some hokey-pokey-crunchy-granola-meditation... but she was right. My body was overwhelmed and needed a break. So several times a day I intentionally stood up and walked around the office, finding someone to smile with and change my environment while activating happy hormones. During crossfit I learned to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth with deep, intentional breaths. Soon, the twitching and anxiety attacks just went away!
I learned to let things go. This was the hardest for me and is something I'm still actively working on. I talk out loud about what I can or cannot do. It's about acknowledgement, doing what you're able the best you can, and then forgiveness. What a concept... all backed by science to help you be healthier!
Be positive! No, really. Of course not everything's great. But almost everything has something positive about it. So I learned to frame things to myself positively and it helped me have an overall positive outlook and attitude.
Sarah goes over LOTS more stuff in The Paleo Approach but these are the things that I personally applied to my own life.
I've resolved ALL of the autoimmune related health issues I experienced in 2011 and 2012.
Let me restate that, because I want to make sure it's heard. I no longer have symptoms of autoimmune disease, adrenal fatigue, micro-nutrient deficiencies, skin breakouts or depression (at all). My body has not only recovered fully from the autoimmune flare, but I've actually been able to heal my body even further - now able to consume foods like high quality heavy cream and cheeses without distress! And when accidentally exposed to gluten or intentionally eat things I know my body has a difficult time with (like nightshades or grains) I find each and every time my body responds better than the time before. I have successfully reintroduced nuts, seeds, chocolate, egg yolks and seed spices (all in moderation) but have found that egg whites and nightshade vegetables (except peeled white potatoes) are something I can not (yet) tolerate.
I plan to continue my healing journey and hope to be a role model for those out there with autoimmune conditions. Keeping in mind that 2 years ago I was depressed with barely enough energy to slog through the day (thyroid and adrenal issues), I now am a fully charged woman who manages this blog, a podcast, writing books, a full-time job, raising 3 boys AND am training for a StrongMan competition in just a few months. I'm happy to report that The Paleo Approach quite literally gave me my life back.
She then gives information on how to start the program, which foods to avoid and which are ok. Then how to re-introduce foods that you have eliminated from your diet. Also good. (Kindle/tablet readers see my warning below)
Then information on lifestyle change, also good.
I think there was too much scientific information...at least half the book as it related to paleo and auto-immune disease. Then more when discussing lifestyle change in the second half.
I would have preferred less science and more details on how to actually use the diet. I would have liked examples of several meal plans, I would have liked more specific information on how much to eat of each food group. I use My Fitness Pal to keep track of my daily intake of all foods and their nutritional vakues. I still am sometimes eating more carbs than fat or protein, sometimes the protein is more than fat. Because I am guessing as to quantity/ serving size. My understanding is fat should be the highest percentage of calories, then protein and then carbs, but I am not sure how to get there. I need that type of detail.
There are NO recipes in the book.
WARNING. I purchased the Kindle edition. The lists of foods are basically unreadable. Parts of words are scattered all over the page. This is true of 90 % of all the lists in the book. I had to go online to get food lists from other sources. So that part of the book was worthless to me. But did not base my review on that, but certainly left a bad experience. That should be one of the most important details, but could not be read.
I feel like I did not get my money's worth with the Kindle edition.
While I am not thrilled with the Kindle edition of this book, I am very pleased with the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol diet. I have been following it religiously for just over 4 months now and can attest to its effectiveness. I have Myasthenia Gravis, a rare autoimmune disease that causes muscle weakness.
Prior to starting this diet, I was so weak that some days I could barely walk, had problems swallowing, breathing and severe double vision. On good days, I could go to one store with my husband and help with laundry and at times some light chores. Now 4 months later, I play golf twice a week, can drive myself to stores and actually shop. I am back to doing all the cooking, laundry and many other household chores. I also walk 1 to 1.5 miles a day. I do have to rest often and I need a handicap flag when playing golf. I still require routine medication for this disease. But instead of getting weaker each month, I am now getting stronger.
My husband says this diet is a miracle and I agree.
It is not a 'fun' diet to be on. It is very restrictive and I miss a lot of my favorite foods, plus it can be a little more expensive. But in my opinion all that is worth being able to participate in life again and feel better while doing it. All my physicians have reviewed the diet and all have 100% approved and encouraged me to stick with it. For some reason I found that surprising. I assumed at least one would have some doubts or concerns. But it was just the opposite.
Just thought I would share my experience.
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