[00:01:27] Podcast Sponsors
[00:05:02] Guest Introduction
[00:07:20] On Ancestral Dieting
[00:13:54] Why We Should Care About Autoimmune Disease
[00:17:52] Dr. Smith's Clinical Approach to Treating Autoimmune Disease
[00:23:11] What is autoimmunity?
[00:32:38] Podcast Sponsors
[00:35:29] The Standard Autoimmune Protocol
[00:42:34] The Four Pillars of Ancestral AIP
[00:46:26] First Pillar: Good Food and Nutrition
[00:47:46] Second Pillar: Metabolic Resilience and Physical Fitness
[00:49:31] Third Pillar: Mindfulness and Mindset
[00:50:39] Fourth Pillar: Support, Supplements, And Shamans
[00:54:16] The Four Protocols of Ancestral AIP: Number One: Rest and Reset
[01:02:02] Protocol Number Two: Rebuilding
[01:05:18] Third Protocol: Restore
[01:10:44] Fourth Protocol: Rebalance
[01:16:02] Closing the Podcast
[01:17:04] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Michael: Give yourself permission to accept that those parts of your life are going to be with you for your life. You don't get over addiction, you learn to live with it. You don't get over PTSD, you learn to live with it. High-fives all around. Why stop now? Because for the rest of your life, the rest of your life is determined by how close your health is to where your health was.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Yow, what's up? It's Ben Greenfield and I have Michael Smith on the show today. Fantastic physician. He's this blend of east meets west Chinese traditional medicine, modern medicine, ancestral wisdom. Really great guy. He's got some wisdom to share with us today on one of these special solosode two-parters where I fill you in on some cool ancestral dietary concepts, then he's going to jump in and blow your mind. Listen to this one at regular speed because he's a smart guy and gets into the weeds on stuff. So, this is not a four times speed podcast for sure.
Speaking of smart guys, another couple of folks I wanted to mention, just because I get asked all the time, “How do you find a good doctor? How do you find a good functional medicine practitioner?” I would like to recommend to you that you check out Wild Health MD. Wild Health MD is this big trusted network of functional medicine practitioners who use things like labs, genomics, and what's called precision medicine. These guys are super smart, Matt Dawson and Michael Mallin. If you have a podcast too, these would be great docs to get on your podcast. I've had them on mine a few times. You can check them out. Reach out to them, contact them, find a physician near you within their directory at wildhealthmd.com.
And another thing I wanted to mention to you is this idea of getting rid of all the wrinkles on your face. You can actually do this. I have this stuff. You put it on the wrinkle, watch the wrinkle for 30 days, put this stuff on every single morning or in the evening or both, and what it does is it fuels your face with antioxidants. It's like face food. It's organic aloe vera, jojoba oil, amla, triphala, lavender, oregano, turmeric, juniper berry, lemon, and patchouli, all organic. And this stuff absolutely works like gangbusters on any issue going on in your face. It's wonderful for the hair. I smear it in my hair, I put it on my face in a pinch. You can use it as a deodorant in your armpits. I've done that before. And I actually formulated this stuff. It's called Kion Serum. I designed it for Kion as a way for you to not just go there and get wonderful nutrition products, but also get skin so beautiful. It's called the Kion Anti-Aging Skin Serum. And you get 10% off of this serum. You just go to getkion.com and use code BGF10. So, you want to look for the serum at getkion.com and use code BGF10.
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So, my guest on today's show is one of those guys who's kind of a diamond in the rough. A lot of people don't know about him, but I am incredibly impressed with this cat's body of knowledge. He's been on the show before. His name is Dr. Michael Smith, and he first appeared on my show in an episode called, brace yourself, “Cupping, Urine Drinking, Dream Interpretation, Open Heart Surgery Using Acupuncture as Anesthesia & Much More.” So, who is this guy? He hails from the First Nations in Canada where he grew up on the diet of his indigenous ancestors eating wild organ meats from the animals he hunted and feasting from the wild salmon that he caught there.
He learned a ton of medicine traditions and the medicine wheel of the First Nations people. He studied martial arts. He taught Canadian military self-defense techniques, and along the way, his martial arts teacher taught him what's called classic oriental science or traditional Chinese medicine. So, as you can imagine, he's kind of this mashup of Chinese traditional medicine and ancestral badassery. His practice is actually up in Nelson BC, and I'm going to link to his website, his practice if you want to go there and see him, all of his books, et cetera, if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/michaelsmith. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/michaelsmith.
So, at his practice now, he combines functional medicine and evolutionary nutrition with this ancient wisdom and vast experience of traditional Chinese medicine. What he specializes in and what he's going to teach us about today is managing chronic autoimmune conditions. And he himself has Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis that he manages using what he's going to teach you today, but chronic autoimmune conditions using his different pillars and protocols and his very unique approach to healing autoimmune disease. So, I really hope you enjoy this solosode from Michael.
Now, before we jump in with Michael, I would like to address the topic of ancestral dieting. This is something that in my brand-new book, which you can get at boundlessbook.com, as in boundless, boundlessbook.com, I talk a lot about ancestral eating and ancestral dieting. And I want to give you a little snippet from that book before we jump in with Michael. So, ancestral dieting, of course, seems to have become quite sexy of late. And as we learn more about genetics and how diet is controlled by and impacts genetic expression, it seems to make sense that you should more precisely eat while your ancestors ate. After all, you inherited a set of genes that developed and adapted to specific environments and diets. And so to me, it seems pretty well-worth maximizing that genetic potential.
And in my book, I get into how–I have a predominantly Northern European ancestry. So, that means I would benefit from eating plenty of fermented foods, meats, fish, eggs, berries, and raw dairy, and not necessarily a large intake of citrus fruits or other foods my ancestors might not have encountered in their local habitat. If you're of Scandinavian origins, your ancestors had good access to fish rich in omega-3s and vitamin D, so you might likely need a diet higher in fish and vitamin D. And certain genes can also influence these decisions. So, you're probably familiar with these MTHFR mutations, poor ability to methylate. And those mutations tend to cluster in regions and populations where your ancestor's traditional diet was rich in folate.
So, in one study that looked at humans from 16 different regions around the world, Mexicans, Hispanics, Italians, and Chinese were more likely than any others to carry these MTHFR mutations that increased their need for dietary folate. So, if you come from Chinese heritage or your grandparents migrated from Italy, or your dad or your mom was Hispanic, you should probably eat more folate-rich foods, like leafy greens, and organ meats, and pastured egg yolks. And you could just test at 23andme.com or the ancestry website for DNA testing and find this stuff out.
You could also look at something like the AMY1 gene. That codes for salivary amylase production and salivary amylase digests starch and carbohydrates. So, the more AMY1 copies you have, the more salivary amylase you produce when you eat carbs. And the more copy numbers you have, the more likely it is your ancestors ate higher amounts of starch, and the more likely it is that you can handle a slightly higher carbohydrate intake because you digest those carbohydrates more completely in your mouth. And populations that are traditionally more agricultural, like Japanese and continental Europeans or populations that are high starch foragers like the Hadza tribe in Tanzania, they've all been shown to possess these higher AMY1 numbers compared to lower starch consuming populations.
So, if your ancestors came from a region that ate more carbs, you can likely thrive on good starches, like sweet potatoes or yams, plantain, other roots and tubers, and some amounts of fruit and rice. And I'll give you one other example, the lactase persistence gene. So, lactase is the enzyme that enables you to be able to digest lactose without getting gut distress, or diarrhea, or all the other mayhem that could happen in a state of lactose intolerance. So, as you can imagine, cultures that have not traditionally raised dairy livestock, so countries like Asia or Africa, or really, most of India, they rarely carry the lactase persistence gene. But if you're of European descent, you're probably lactose tolerant.
And there's some really good books that would help you dive into this. So, one book is written by the guest you're going to hear on today's show, Dr. Michael Smith. His is called “Your Ancestor's Diet.” Another one is called “The Jungle Effect” by Dr. Daphne Miller. And The Jungle Effect is really cool too because Dr. Miller traveled to all these different locations around the world and found in these locations where people were eating their ancestral diets low incidents of diseases like diabetes or heart disease, and depression, and different forms of cancer. For example, on the island of Crete, they carry genes that would predispose them to heart disease, but their Mediterranean staples like olive oil, and legumes, and red wine, and leafy green vegetables protect them from that cardiovascular disease manifesting.
Another example would be Copper Canyon Mexico, where they have genes that would predispose them to diabetes, but they're eating like beans, and squash, and cactus, and cilantro, and tomato, and jicama, and nuts, and avocado, and all these kind of lower glycemic index foods that ensure that that doesn't manifest. In Iceland, they should have high rates of depression and seasonal affective disorder, but they don't because of the high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in a traditional Icelandic diet. In Cameroon, West Africa, they should be getting based on their genes high amounts of colon cancer, and indeed, they do when they're uprooted and, say, living in Southeastern United States. But in West Africa, the diet of collard greens, and mustard greens, and spinach, and okra, and fermented vegetables, and other fiber-rich foods protect them from that colon cancer manifesting.
And one final example would be Okinawa, where they should have higher than normal rates of breast and prostate cancer, but due to the fermented soy sources like tempeh and miso, the high amounts of fish, the purple potatoes, et cetera, they're protected from those diseases manifesting. So, if this stuff fascinates you, now I want you to read my book, the new book Boundless at boundlessbook.com. But also check out Dr. Michael Smith's book, “Your Ancestor's Diet.” Check out the book “The Jungle Effect” by Dr. Daphne Miller. And also check out another really good book that flies under the radar, it's called “100 Million Years of Food” by Stephen Le. That's L-E, “100 Million Years of Food.” And I will link to all of those books in the shownotes for today's show at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/michaelsmith.
So, that all being said, I'm going to turn things over to Michael. And again, everything he talks about will be in the shownotes as well, and he's going to walk you through his fascinating approach to managing autoimmune conditions.
Michael: Hello. This is Dr. Michael Smith and welcome to my blogcast called “The Ancestral Autoimmune Protocol.” I am recording this for my colleague and friend Ben Greenfield, and you're probably finding this on BenGreenfieldFitness.com. I'll be mentioning a couple of links and resources throughout the podcast. So, you'll find them at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/michaelsmith.
In this blogcast, I'm going to be talking about the ancestral autoimmune protocol, which is a diet and lifestyle protocol focused on the treatment of autoimmune disease, and it's sometimes also used for people with complex trauma and people with addiction, and I'll get into why in a bit. For context, it's worth mentioning that at present, one in five people in the developed world is living with an autoimmune disease. And it's also worth mentioning that when you look at the underlying physiology of a lot of other complex illnesses that are not considered autoimmune deep on the inside of those processes, sometimes you do find an autoimmune component. And what's likely to happen in the next few years is that most things like cancer, and cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer's, and a few others will be put under the umbrella of autoimmune disease. If that happens, then essentially one in two people in the developed world will be walking around with an autoimmune condition. Yeah, that's actually numbers.
So, for some more numbers, I've been in clinical practice for 25 years and focusing on autoimmunity the way that I do. About 80% of my patients get significant improvement, if not, reasonable amounts of relief following these kind of protocols, and that's 80% at the baseline. When people focus on deeper personal healing, really engaging in resolving childhood trauma and deeper aspects of their life and lifestyle besides their diagnosis, it gets up to 85% to 90% of people who get better. And that's not me trying to sell you some snake oil, that's just the averages across the developed world for people who are following these protocols and for clinicians who are advocating them and supporting their patients through the process. So, as far as I'm concerned, that's almost a miracle that we're getting that much success against this complex, chronic, modern industrial illness, if you will.
So, for the next 30 minutes or so, I'm going to be covering about four things. One is my approach in clinical practice so that you know where I'm coming from and how I see things from the inside out so that the information you're going to learn during this podcasts really makes sense to you. I want to give you about a four-minute, five-minute metaphoric cartoon around how autoimmunity actually happens inside your body and what's going on 24/7 once you have that process activated in your life. Then I want to review what is called the standard AIP or autoimmune protocol. Many, many people are accessing this information online and doing really well with it, so I want to start there.
I actually start most of my patients off in this way, primarily because there's so much information already out there and available for people that it gives them more confidence when they go online to look something up, and there's hundreds of people doing the same thing. So, I want to make sure that we cover that and that you're also aware of the basic chemistry of why these diets are advocated in the way that they are. And then finally, I'll spend as much time as I can on the actual ancestral autoimmune protocol, and that's made up of what I call the four pillars and the four protocols. So, we'll get into that in a few minutes.
So, to start off, I just want to tell you a little bit about my approach to medicine. Again, I'm a frontline clinician. I've been doing this about 25 years, and most of my patients have autoimmune disease and/or PTSD and/or addiction. And I say the and/or because the crossover of those three populations of people is incredibly important I think. When I meet autoimmune patients, it's about an 80%, 85% chance they had childhood trauma. When I meet people suffering from addiction, it's about a 99% chance they had childhood trauma. When I meet people suffering from trauma, yeah, you guessed it, they probably had a lot of childhood trauma, as well as whatever other kind of trauma may have had impact on their lives like car accidents and things like that.
Obviously, you can have trauma because of something immediate and short-term, but it's also quite common that people who experienced something immediate like a car accident or go to war for a year or two, the way that they actually experienced the trauma that happens in something that intense is still informed a lot by the fact that if they were traumatized as a child, they are going to fit that experience into that world. Again, you don't have to have PTSD as a kid, to have PTSD as an adult, but they combine into what we call complex PTSD where you're not just dealing with a person who's had a very shocking experience or an accident or a bad childhood, you're dealing with a really complex mix of all of them.
So, when I'm focusing on the treatment of my patients with autoimmunity or trauma or addiction, I'm always focusing on all three with everybody in any way that it seems tangibly important. And when you get into the biochemistry, and we'll do a little bit of a key code on that later, you're going to see that the biochemistry, the lab tests, and a lot of other tests that come back from patients are almost the same if they have an inflammatory autoimmune disease, or if they have PTSD, or if they're presently engaged in addiction. So, I just want that to be clear in your mind that you don't have to have a diagnosis to have the body chemistry of these conditions. If you want to go deeper into the autoimmunity trauma and addiction complex, I have a podcast on that, and I'll ask Ben to put a link to that in the shownotes for this show because again, it's for me pretty fascinating. And it's actually helping a lot of people a lot more because you're treating the whole person, not just their diagnosis.
So, when I meet with patients and their primary concern is autoimmunity, my focus as a clinician is going to start with functional medicine, ancestral nutrition, and the vast wisdom and experience of traditional Chinese medicine because the more I focus on finding systems-based understandings, root causes, and to focus on daily things like diet and lifestyle, autoimmune patients get better within weeks to months. Sometimes if there's a lot of pain and trouble sleeping, we'll do a bit of breathwork as well. But for the most part, if I meet an autoimmune patient, it's clinical medicine, functional medicine, ancestral nutrition, maybe acupuncture and some Chinese herbs.
When I'm working with people whose primary concern is trauma and/or addiction, then I work more in a model of somatic mindfulness, which is a trauma-based approach to counseling, breathwork, bodywork, acupuncture, or anything else that you can fit in into a way of resolving and reorienting your somatic self, your embodied memories through daily practice. It's nice to hope that someone else can come along and make our body memories change, but it's been my experience as a patient and as a doctor that a daily practice focusing in on the way you're holding into or holding onto a kind of trauma has a profound and almost immediate benefit for people.
When I'm working with trauma and addiction, I also bring in things like qigong meditation, mindfulness, and the kind of transformational breathwork that people do that tends to really break state and break certain subjective patterns of self-belief and belief about the world, and that's kind of like taking little mini ayahuasca trips in a way. So, that's my focus as a clinician. I'm also a patient. I have Crohn's disease, colitis, nonspecific connective tissue disorder, I do have complex PTSD, and I have experienced addiction in the past. So, I'm a good case study for my particular theory about health.
And more importantly than that, I have over two and a half decades of experience of trying to figure these things out through all of the practices that I now use in my clinical practice. So, I'm my own guinea pig and I would actually trust mine, like if I work with doctors for my health, I would prefer to work with someone who's working out their own stuff with their own protocols they're recommending to me than someone who just got out of med school and has only read textbooks. That's just my opinion. I'm not suggesting that's what anyone should do, but I really don't recommend going to myopic people with complicated issues.
So, describing autoimmunity as a process is a little bit challenging because there's a lot going on. If you're new to the concept of autoimmunity, what basically is meant by that is that your immune system in the sense of the inner army and police force has decided that some of your tissues, some of your cells, perhaps even some receptor sites on some of your cells are actually an invader. They're not you and someone should go in there and destroy them and/or at least cause inflammation and barriers around them. So, a lot of people describe autoimmunity as a self-allergy, and that's somewhat approximate, but it also makes people feel naturally a little bit weird about themselves when for some reason, they're allergic to their own body. So, I don't really frame it that way, and honestly, that's not really accurate.
So, for the next four or five minutes, I'm going to walk you through a cartoon. There's a version of this that's about an hour-long, there's a version of this that's about a half-hour long, and then there's the version I'm going to try today. It's hopefully about five minutes long. And I'm just going to ask you to focus on your imagination and the silly pictures that I'm going to use because it's been my experience that complicated ideas make more sense when they're in a context you're familiar with, and that there's a story and an emotional response. So, I'll bring up a few of the medical bits, but this is going to be mostly a metaphor and a cartoon.
So, imagine, if you will, that you live in a house and your house is not in the best neighborhood, and it's often that things don't go very well, say, on the weekend. And one day, a car explodes across the street and there's a big fire and all the sirens show up, and when you look out the window, you see the fire truck, the ambulance, the police, and the people from the new station taking a video of what's going on for the news. And a little bit of a knock-knock joke, but someone knocks on the door and it's the police, and they want to make sure that you live in the neighborhood, whether or not you saw anything, and whether or not you may or may not be the bad guy.
And if I was to turn the metaphor towards medicine, the police would be your T cells and they're the ones who actually look for, identify, and attack things. The newscaster, a video camera person, they're basically your B cells, and your B cell's job on a certain level is to identify and create markers or little tiny wanted posters for the things in your body that aren't you or that might be bad for you. Your ambulance is what we call phagocytes, and their job is to basically chomp up debris and dead bodies and clean up the mess in your neighborhood, depending on what went down. And then we have the fireman, and there's two sides to that. One we call your innate immune system, which think of as fire hydrants. It's always there dealing with inflammation if it has to. And then the present firemen. They're running around trying to figure out who caused the fire while they're putting the fire out. And that again has to do with what we call your adaptive immunity. Keep in mind there's always going to be those four different people, your T cells, B cells, phagocytes or macrophages, and an inflammatory response.
So, let's say that they put the fire out and everyone goes away and a week goes by. And then there's still cars blowing up and there's still fires in the neighborhood, and it's been a week of pretty much Armageddon in your neighborhood. And then knock-knock, someone comes to your door. And when you open the door in the sense of a cell interacting with what's outside of the cell and interacting with your immune system, since there's been a week of problems in your neighborhood, when you open the door, now you see a much more heavily armed group of police. You see people with police dogs. You could say the fireman is actually going to come into your house, move things around and put a new fire alarm in there so it's more rapidly connected to the rest of the inflammatory part of your immune system, or to the fire station I guess.
And again, the ambulances are running around and cleaning up the mess from the last week of Armageddon in your neighborhood. So, again, T cells and B cells, and phagocytes and macrophages, and a lot of inflammatory cascades because now, it's been a week of whatever is going on in your body. We're actually talking about a person who's scratched their elbow in a jiu-jitsu class, and I got a bunch of somebody's sweat in there or something, and now it's been inflamed for a week. So, let's say now it's a year later and there's still a pretty bad scene in your neighborhood or your elbow for a very long time. And now, when someone knocks on the door, when your cell interacts with the immune system, when you open the door to see what's going on out there, now you're going to see the SWAT team, and there's going to be a sniper across the street, something we call a natural killer cell.
And even in the modern movie sense, see little red laser beams on your chest, because everyone's pointing something at you that's dangerous, just on the off-chance, you're not supposed to be there. And again, the police are there to check your ID. They're there to make sure you are supposed to be in this crazy neighborhood that's got all of these problems, and they're going to have a harder and harder time doing that, the longer this goes on. And this is actually due to change in the cell surface or the surface structure of different parts of your cellular physiology. And I'm trying to keep this–but no, sensible enough.
So, what actually happens is a structure on the outside of your cell called MCH1 or the major histocompatibility complex one, which regulates a specific protein pathway in your cells that help maintain the production of antigens, that help your immune system recognize your cells as you or the people in the proverbial house as belonging in the neighborhood. Once your body can no longer produce these MCH1 protein markers, your cops and your newscaster and everybody else trying to find out who the bad guy is has no evidence that you're still you, that you're supposed to be in the neighborhood, or from the clinical side of things, whether or not yourself. Because one way we describe autoimmunity is a loss of self-tolerance, and you recognize self-tolerance through a few different attributes, but the last one that we usually lose is the MCH1 pathway.
So, you could say at this point, the cops are coming into your house, they're going to frisk you. So, now, the T cells are really, really making sure whether or not you have your MCH1 pathway still available or not. Your B cells are now running around looking at pictures of you, pictures of your family. They're showing you pictures of anyone that looks anything like you because the B cell's job is to identify and create an autoantibody or a regular antibody into the bad guy. So, there's all this self-identification stuff going on, and it gets much more complex with respect to your immune system and your thymus and bigger processes.
But what's important to be aware of is that any system or tissue in your body that's being overburdened or inflamed or infected will eventually lose self-tolerance capacity and your immune system will now more or less attack it. And once your T cells and B cells can no longer be certain that you're you and you have lost self-tolerance, then it's the snipers and what I call bounty hunter cells or memory B cells who are now swimming around your body looking for anything that looks like the bad guy. If it's a certain kind of cartilage and you have ankylosing spondylitis and it's really getting busy in your spine but it goes after your knees, it might start going after any other cartilage in your body. There's lots of ways you can go.
It's just really important in a sense of metaphor to have in your mind that this is very much like the way our society responds to an accident on the street. It's just that at a point of illness, your immune system just goes after and attacks things. And unfortunately, some of those things could be your neurons, your colon, your eyeball or anything else. So, that's the quickest I think I've ever tried to make that come together in that way. There is a longer version of this. I think it will actually be up in a couple of weeks, so I'm not sure when this is going to be launched from Ben Greenfield's website. But if you do track down my website, which is integrativehealthdetective.com, you will be able to find a podcast on there. Probably, it's going to be called zombie movies and autoimmunity where I take this whole metaphor for about 45 minutes and get into a lot more detail. So, if you like metaphors, check into that. If I was to say one last quick thing about that, martial law is not a healthy status for any community, and martial law is probably the best metaphor for autoimmunity in the sense of a simple big picture.
Ben: Hey, I'm going to quickly interrupt today's show because I often on Instagram, at least every week, I post this video of me with this stuff all over my face. It's basically clay. It's clay mixed with colostrum, little ginseng, little vitamin C, and a bunch of other natural ingredients that just cleans out my face. You heard me talking about the serum earlier. This stuff pairs very well with that serum I was talking about. It is drawing out impurities from the face, but when people come up to me and tell me I look younger now than I did like two or three years ago, I attribute a ton of that to just this weekly practice of putting this clay mask on my face.
The folks who make it are now giving all my listeners a 20% discount on this mask. It's called the Alitura Clay Mask. Alitura is where I get my fragrance, it's where I get my night cream, it's where I get my clay mask. All their stuff is really good. I've even interviewed their founder, Andy Hnilo, on my podcast in the past. And all you need to do is go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/alitura. That's A-L-I-T-U-R-A, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/alitura, and use code GREENFIELD. That gives you 20% off of anything from their website. And I highly recommend use the clay mask. I mix it with either red wine or apple cider vinegar, put it on my face, leave it there for 20 minutes, go shower. It's amazing. And if you want to upgrade that even more, you use a little derma roller. You can get a derma roller from the website. Oh, my gosh, it's the best one-two combo ever. So, check them out, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/alitura, A-L-I-T-U-R-A, Aliruta, and use code GREENFIELD for 20% off.
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Michael: So, the standard autoimmune protocol or the AIP has been developing since the '90s. It started as a specific carbohydrate diet, then it turned into a paleo diet, and then turned more towards an AIP protocol, and it's continued to evolve and become more specific since then. As I mentioned over the last 20 or so years in my practice, the effectiveness just keeps getting better, the more we can tailor two different individuals. The AIP is kind of–it usually begins with basically a list of noes, and I'll just do that list now. No grains, no beans, no nuts, no seeds, no eggs, no dairy, and no nightshades.
And almost every time I've said that group of words in that sequence, the person sitting across from me says, “What am I supposed to eat?” And yeah, that's a big removal from the pantry of your typical western kitchen. But again, when you're looking at this from an ancestral or paleo perspective, we're talking about applying diets that people have had for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, not for about a hundred years. So, although it's a big hit to what most people are used to, it's a really good idea to get the interference of the last hundred years out of the way just to make sure that your immune system is dealing with something that for thousands of years, it was pretty okay with.
And there's a seasonal component to this. When you look at ancestral eating, it was very seasonal. And even when you look at a few hundred years ago, eating was still very seasonal. It's only been in the last, even probably 75, 85 years that mono diets throughout the year have become popular. And that's where things become more dangerous because if you're eating something that's a little bad for you a couple of months a year, it may or may not set off an illness process. But if you're eating something that's bad for everybody every day all year, you're going to end up essentially making yourself sick, if that's a likely outcome of that trigger.
So, if you want to get into the real detailed science of why that list of noes exist, go back to my website again, integrativehealthdetective.com. And if you go through the typical email to get the newsletter thing, the first thing you get is a 65-page mini introduction to my book, The Ancestral Autoimmune Protocol, which is coming out next year. And it'll walk you through the chemistry, and the triggers, and the antigens, and all of that in a lot more detail. But I'm going to do a real quick, I guess drive by with that.
So, when I look at grains and beans and nuts and seeds, the similarity is that they're all plant embryos. They all are basically the babies of plants that if they find themselves in some soil, eventually, they're going to grow and reproduce the entire plant. Now, that's an obvious thing to say, but it's an important context because Mother Nature is really smart, and she's made it very difficult for mammals like humans and bears and other things that walk on the ground to actually digest their babies because one aboriginal elder I know says that, and this isn't meant to be literal, that plants created animals to help get their babies around. So, we eat them, we chew up some, we don't chew up some, we poop out the ones that we don't chew up, and they get a free ride to some compost and they can start a new family or what have you.
And the imagery of that is important because you have to ask yourself, why is it that I can eat most of my food and it turns into what looks like feces, but when I eat things like the plant embryo, seeds, nuts, grains, and beans, some of them end up looking exactly the same in my poop? I mean, corn is the most famous one for that because it's technically undigestible. But it's just important to have that picture in your mind because the chemicals that those plant embryos have are meant to defeat your digestive enzymes, to irritate your mucous membrane, to bind up your microvilli, to limit your absorptive capacity so that the plant embryo and its family members can get a few more inches down the tube of your gut. And at a certain point, they just end up leaving your body and growing up in the compost.
And inside of the structure of those plant embryos, you see things like enzyme blockers, lectins, phytic acid, exomorphins, prolamins, all kinds of other things that have secondary, inflammatory, or immune damaging effects in the body. So, again, if you want to get into more detail, actually, you can find that all online pretty easily, or you can find that through my website. Eggs and dairy, they both have different, unique other enzymes and/or proteins that can irritate your mucous membrane making your gut more leaky or having more intestinal permeability, creating the conditions for you to end up with more inflammation, more immune triggers. And if you're carrying the genes for autoimmunity, more autoimmunity.
And then there's nightshades, and it's a very small percentage of people who actually need to get rid of nightshades. So, what I usually ask my patients to do is to stop eating them. And nightshades are things like potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, and a few spices and other things. But there's a caveat to that that I think is really important because it's so easy on any therapeutic diet to just lock in, put on the blinders, try and keep it together and just cut through it. But when you end up removing a lot of very familiar foods and a lot of very familiar spices that make your life and your food seem like your life and your food, I try and find a little bit of wiggle room. So, usually, what I do with my patients is zero nightshades for about a month, and then have them every day for four or five days in a row. And if you do a nightshade challenge and you get a big flare up and there's more inflammation and pain, you're one of the people who has a trigger to that.
If you have nightshades every day for a few days in a row and you don't have a trigger, then you could probably have them two or three times a week after that and still maintain an effective progress with your autoimmune protocol. So, I hope that doesn't poke a stick in the eye of people who just are absolutely convinced that all nightshades are bad. That's up to you. I'm just saying after 25 years of doing this myself as a patient and trying to help other people, it's nice to have some wiggle room, and it's nice to be aware of the difference between a general reaction and a specific reaction.
Okay. So, let's move on to the ancestral AIP, which is the approach that I've developed over the last couple of decades. So, in the ancestral AIP, I have what are called four pillars; one is nutrition, one is metabolic fitness, then there's mindset, and then there's support. And I'll get more into each of those pillars in a bit. We also have four protocols, and each of the protocols goes through those pillars. So, the first protocol is called rest, second one is called rebuild, and then restore, and then rebalance. So, if I have a patient who's just starting to have allergic issues and maybe some mild chronic problems but they don't really have like real for sure autoimmune at this point, most of them can get away with, well contextually, just focusing on that rebalance protocol, and maybe a certain amount, but not a severe amount of exclusions with their diet. And they may just get better because their immune system isn't completely freaking out.
However, when I meet patients that are years into autoimmunity and they're having a big flare-up, it's two or three weeks of the rest protocol, which is an anti-inflammatory kind of monastic hibernating period of time where you just want your body to really repair the signaling and the inflammation. And then if I have that patient who's had a rough time, they're after a couple of weeks of doing profoundly anti-inflammatory process and protocols and diets, then it's going to be about a month of what is called a nutrient-dense modified keto diet or my rebuild diet. And we'll get into that in more detail in a couple of minutes.
And then usually after a couple of months of being on that modified ketogenic diet, I get people to focus on a more nutrient-dense diet that includes a bit of nuts and seeds and a little bit of pseudograins because one, now we're on month number three or four and people like to again have that wiggle room. But it's also a good idea at that point to test their immune sensitivity and reactivity. Sometimes we make people wait longer. Sometimes they decide not to wait as long as we want them to, and that's just the dance of being in practice, but it's usually about another three months. So, at least two weeks of an anti-inflammatory protocol, a month or two on a modified ketogenic protocol, and then about three months on a nutrient-dense diet that includes a couple of nuts and seeds and a couple of pseudograins.
And then after that four or five-six months, depending on how they're doing, then we move on to what I would call the balanced protocol or rebalanced protocol, which is basically eating like a homesteader like, I don't know, 500 years ago. So, I'm going to go through these protocols step by step, and I'm going to focus on the nutritional part because that's usually where people are going to get the most traction right away. I'm more or less, I'm not saying giving away, but bringing you into my practice with me as if you're a student following me because you're going to learn more or less how I've practiced integrative medicine on the frontlines. So, I really hope this helps you if you're a patient because it'll get you a kick-start working with anybody with respect to integrative and functional and Chinese medicine. And if you're a clinician, I'm really hopeful that this helps you feel like you've got more confidence and more clarity on what these protocols can be and why they're set up the way that they are. And if you have a lot of questions or comments or think that I'm really wrong about something, I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to get ahold of me through my website.
And so, I'm just going to go into those four pillars with a bit more detail. So, the first pillar is about nutrition, but it's really about good food and nutrition. I really like the idea of good food because it reminds us that we want to have a positive relationship with what we're doing. For any good food means that I can't wait to get home and eat it, or make it, or shop for it so that I can get home and make it and eat it, because I want to have that anticipation that I'm actually solving a problem in the sense of my health, but more importantly, I get to go and eat some really good food. I'm lucky I live in a small town with a lot of healthy restaurants, so it's not that hard to find good food in restaurants, but depending on where you live, it might take you a few each to really find good food on the streets.
And sometimes you have to get really picky with the cooks and the waitstaff about what's in the salad dressing and what oils they use and all of that. So, that good food and nutrition is that first pillar. Nutrition is like math and we can all feel like victim to the math. Good food is a relationship and it's like dating. It really depends on what you bring to the date. If you're full of passion and curiosity and playfulness, it's going to be a good date. If you're there with a bunch of math, you have to like deal with, that's going to be the date. So, it's about good food, not just good math.
So, the second pillar is all about metabolic resilience and physical fitness. Sometimes I just call it metabolic fitness, but most people in the western world have some cortisol, and insulin, and glucose issues. A lot of people have basic neurotransmitter issues in the sense of metabolic resilience. So, the first thing I really want people to do is reset their metabolism to something that's more resilient, which is why fasting and ketogenic diets and things like that can be so helpful. And as much as people with chronic illness really don't want to risk damaging themselves or they're often very tired and sore, as soon as it is medically sensible and safe, the most important thing any of us can do is get fit, get your mitochondria moving, get your myofascial sheath membranes stretched out, get your nerves pumping the way that they're supposed to work on the level of innervation because if you're not a fit, mildly athletic, mobile, primate animal or however you want to think of yourself.
Your metabolism and your capacity to do anything in your body well is restricted by your lack of fitness. And I'm saying that not only as a doctor, but as a person who's been training as an athlete for 30 odd years and been training athletes for almost as long. So, fitness, in whatever way you model that in your health, is going to be crucial. It's one of your pillars to get your metabolism resilient and your muscles stronger. Not saying that we all have to look like Ben or how he's getting kind of monster big, but we do need to have really fit, good mitochondrial function in your muscle cells, or else from a Chinese medicine point of view, you have sluggish G.
The third pillar I would call mindfulness and mindset. I love talking to life coaches who are all about mindset, but they don't really spend much time talking about mindfulness because in my experience–well, I have PTSD so I'm coming from a slightly different corner of the room maybe. But the idea of having a good mindset without having the mindfulness to be capable of dealing with my default mindset is not very easy, and that's true for a lot of people. And I'm not picking on life coaches here. I'm just suggesting that if you're as a person, as a coach, as a clinician or whatever, mindfulness is how a mindset works. So, when you're going on a long-term clinical journey with someone like me for months and months and months to change physiological patterns, potentially early childhood trauma and other forms of trauma, and maybe even dealing with addiction, mindfulness and mindset are the number one most important attributes to rely on and to develop. And that's why they're a part of clinical protocols with a lot of people.
So, the fourth pillar I usually describe as support supplements and shamans. If you've ever looked into the Blue Zones over the years, recently, the best explanation that they have for why people living in Blue Zones live so long is because of connection and support and not being able to hold onto grudges for very long. Although they eat really well and they're fit and they spend a lot of time outside and all of that, the number one thing that they all do in all of the Blue Zones that is similar and consistent is they have good connection and support. And there's the–call it the mechanical version of that where you have a doctor, and maybe a coach, and maybe a couple of good books and some friends that you talk to.
And then there's going into support, being vulnerable, asking for other people to care for you as you maybe unravel a little bit to be met in the places where you're physiologically, mentally, emotionally, or perhaps energetically really having the hardest time in your life. And I just want to bring this up because I don't think I said it before. A lot of times, you get people with complex autoimmune disease presenting as if they have complex PTSD and they actually are experiencing that way, and the PTSD is actually set off because of the biochemistry of chronic inflammation messing up your body's ability to go into deep relaxation, proper sleep, and the fact that inflammation messes up all your neurotransmitters in very complicated ways, depending on where the inflammation is.
And then there's what's going on in your gut and everything else. So, it's a really good idea I think, especially for clinicians, to recognize that a lot of the inner world experience of people with complex inflammatory disorders is subjectively similar to the experience of someone going through actual PTSD just because of the inflammation. So, obviously, if a person has addiction, they need support in a really personal way. If a person has PTSD, lots of support in a personal way. If you have a really severe autoimmune disease, you might want to consider getting support in a really personal way. So, when it comes to supplements, it really depends on what you're focusing on at the beginning. And I'll walk through this as we go through the protocol step by step. But mostly, you're just dealing with organizing the body's response and supporting the damage.
The reason I bring up shamans is because now in the 21st century, 2019, going to an Ayahuasca circle, going to Huachuma or Yopo ceremony, going to an Ibogaine ceremony, microdosing with psilocybin or LSD, in the sense of entheogenic practice is now actually kind of a normal thing to do. And again, if you're dealing with addiction and/or trauma, and especially autoimmune disease, those are really good ideas for you. Then there's aspects of shamanism that I would want to get into maybe in another podcast, but they have to do with instinctual distress and disorientation, kind of more visceral, intuitive, social disorientation, and then a more existential disorientation. So, when you're dealing with medicine people or shamans in that way, they want to unravel your suffering and your conditioning and your conditioned experience in that order so that you can safely unravel yourself as you get to know who you really are and what the world really is in the shamanic sense of what the world really is.
Okay. So, now we're going to go through those four protocols, and I'll focus mostly on the food, but I will give a quick little howdy to a few of the other opportunities. So, protocol number one is called the rest and reset protocol, and it's meant to go for one to two weeks. Sometimes it can go longer, sometimes shorter. About one to two weeks is a pretty good bookend for most people. In the sense of good food and nutrition, the focus is on an anti-inflammatory diet. And from an ancestral perspective, I usually refer that as an Ice Age diet, or to mimic the diet humans would have had when we were going from apes to humans at the beach during ice ages. And I also call it an Ice Age diet because I like to make fun of silly names like paleo diets because we're all taking this stuff kind of seriously in a way that's, in my opinion, a bit silly.
So, if you were to wrap your mind around what do people eat at the equator at a beach during an Ice Age, well, it's a lot of sashimi or raw fish, or in the modern sense, more ceviche if you don't want to eat fish that you're worried about around any kind of parasites. Healthy salads, unless you're pooping your salads out, then you don't want to be eating raw vegetables. And in a Chinese medicine point of view, that's probably one of the most common sense things that most scientists can agree on. If you're eating too much raw vegetables, too much fiber, there is the potential for them to be irritating to your immune system. So, check your poop, my friends, and eat as much raw food as you can until it's coming out of your butt and then back it off.
During that first two weeks, a lot of fish, raw fish, a lot of salads, a lot of berries, a lot of stews, a lot of broths, and you could all bone broth and things like that, and also a lot of sea vegetables. You want to have a lot of trace minerals in your system. You want to be safe about how you get iodine into your body. And you also want to have that usual antigenic, kelp structure to draw out any mercury out of your gut, so it doesn't get bound to you. A little bit of a fun fact, most healthy anti-inflammatory fish, say salmon, is high enough in selenium that the selenium can protect the receptors that would usually absorb the mercury. So, in a way, a lot of these cold-water fishes are protecting you from absorbing the mercury any faster through the selenium pathway.
So, I just want to mitigate any fears around that. You want to drink lots of water, especially in the morning. And when we get to this rest and reset protocol, this is a really good time to focus on the opposite of nutrition, which is fasting. And that brings us into this idea of metabolic resilience. If you're up to it–and I really want anyone to ask themselves that because we're talking about the most in need critical care patients. If you're up to doing a two or three-day fast, that would be a really good idea in the sense of just shutting off the frontline freak show, zombie movie of an autoimmune flare-up. If you can't, then just focus on a broth fast. And if you can't, then focus on some stew or something simple like a mono food fast and focus on intermittent fasting or keeping your meals to one or two a day close together, because we're trying to get your whole metabolism sorted out. And I'm sure if you're a fan of Ben's show and you've listened to most of the people on there, you know as much as I do about how ketosis works and why fasting is a good idea.
A big part of the rest and reset protocol is about inflammation, but it's also about hibernation. And the best way to make sure you're getting a hibernation experience is to get a lot of sleep. The only thing I recommend with respect to fitness was the rest protocol would be just some gentle swimming, stretching, and things like that. This is not a good time to be doing anything really intense. For some people that are a bit more fit but are having a lot of trouble on a neurological level, then I recommend what's called primal swimming, and that has to do with something called an epigenetic reset I'll get to in a moment.
Primal swimming is when you go to the deep end of the pool, you drop something heavy, you tread water, then you feel it. When you feel ready, you swim to the bottom of the pool, grab the weight, push off the bottom, get to the top, hold on the weight for 10, 20 seconds, and then drop it, tread water, and then repeat. And that's a really potent way of doing a powerful breathwork, gas exchange practice, and in a few minutes, in a pool. But it can really up what is called BDNF or brain-derived neurotropic factor, which for a lot of people with neurological issues is kind of like a nice warm bath and a hug from your mom because it gives your neurophysiology a chance to begin a more confident and consistent repair protocol.
One of the best things you could do for a mindset at the beginning of several months long protocol to solve a really complex problem would be to get into some stillness. That could be meditation, qigong, yoga, [00:59:16] ______ you lie in the ground and do the corpse thing. Or if you really want to be the proverbial badass, then you want to go into a sensory deprivation tank because that's where some really profound magic can happen. I think I actually have a podcast on how the benefit of SD tanks work. So, I'll make sure I'll get a link to that for Ben in the shownotes as well, because it's really interesting to go into how those tanks rewire your nervous system kind of as a sequence.
A big fan of breathwork. So, usually when I'm working with patients in this first step of the process, if they're open to meditation, qigong and some breathwork, we focus on what I call sensual or self-regulation breathwork where you're just focusing on the feeling and the consistency and the union, kind of perfect exchange between inhales and exhales. So, it's not organized or focused or difficult to do. It's about regulation awareness and accepting and feeling into your present state.
In the first protocol with respect to supplements, biggest focus is just immune adaptogens and immune regulation and anti-inflammatory, a support which there's thousands of things out there that are good for that. And I honestly am reticent to start throwing out names of products or specific kinds of products because I don't know what you're going through, and I don't want you to get the idea that I believe that I do. So, I'm not going to get into the specifics of supplements, but anything that's got to do with immune adaptogen, modulation and/or anti-inflammatory support goods first step for that first couple of weeks because we're just trying to reset your metabolism and your immune system from freaking out doing the [01:01:01] _____.
In the sense of support, you're going through a two-week protocol to rearrange your entire physiology, so your support should probably be mostly medical and people who can just bring you both soup and rub your feet, stuff like that. The shamanism part, this is where I want to bring up what I call epigenetic resets, and there are little magic ways to do things that people were doing thousands of years ago to reactivate some epigenetic expression of activity and to downregulate a lot of epigenetic dysfunction. And there's actually a podcast on that too on epigenetic resets. And again, that we linked in the shownotes if you want to get into that in more detail. So, I'm not going to keep going to that depth of detail on this. I'm just going to focus on nutrition for the rest of the podcast and the rest of these protocols. But if you are interested in digging into deeper with all of that stuff, just get ahold of me and I'll make sure you get precise useful information as quick as you can.
So, with protocol number two, the focus is on rebuilding your body, your metabolism, your membranes, your muscles, and your mitochondria. We've probably all heard of a leaky gut and the best way to fix your leaky gut is to fix your mucous membrane. So, our focus in the diet wants to be on everything that we can eat over a one to two months' period that's going to continue to downregulate inflammation, repair a leaky gut, and really help your body's connective tissue and mitochondria, do what they do. So, the focus for this part of the protocol in my practice is to be on a nose-to-tail connective tissue, intermittent fasting protocol. It's more or less going to put you into ketosis. Some people, we do that in the measurable sense of actual nutritional ketosis for a specific period of time. Other people, we just lean them in the direction of a ketogenic diet, but we actually call this the scavenger diet in the sense of ancestral behavior because as people left the beach after an Ice Age, we could go and find animal kills as very early pre-humans and be bashing the bones apart from [01:03:13] ______, not on the gristle and stuff.
So, it's to really focus on the nutrient density, but that nose-to-tail livers, and kidneys, and hearts, and tongues, and especially the connective tissue like ox tails, and short ribs, and turkey necks, where you're going to get as much deeper connective tissue in the broth as you can. Another thing that I often do with that diet is to make sure a person is starting to get some resistant starch. If you haven't heard about resistant starch, you might want to look into that. It's a really good way to gradually rebuild your microbiome without using a lot of probiotics and things. And at this beginning stage of the protocol, the last thing we want to do is give you anything that's going to behave in any way like an antibiotic.
So, again with each protocol, we're going to do some things about metabolism, fitness, mindfulness, and support and shamans and stuff like that. But I want to keep that to a minimum because otherwise, it's going to be more than an hour long. I was going to be about 40 minutes but here we are. The one thing I would say about the fitness part of the second protocol or the rebuild protocol is to focus on circuit training because you want to rebuild your mitochondrial capacity in every muscle cell across your whole body. Instead of trying to work on gaining strength size, weight, or anything like that, you just want your body's metabolism to run like a very, very efficient system, and your mitochondria are kind of the end stage of that. So, if you do feel up to it and you are trying to recover from something complicated, focus on circuit training.
And I think if I were to say anything about the shaman part at this point, it would be to focus on the relationship of your healing journey or your few months of eating and living this way as an actual rite of passage for you to become the next version of you because you're going to have to really dig deep to be able to do this. It's months of being very, very committed. And the why is for you to become a healthier you in every possible way. So, anyway, it is a rite of passage, so why not think of it that way.
In the restore protocol, after you've gotten rid of as much inflammation as possible and kept it that way for a couple of months as you've rebuilt membranes and muscles in mitochondria, now you want to widen things out a little bit, and you also want to test your immune system a little bit but you don't want to piss it off. So, the food side of the restore protocol is to start adding in nuts and seeds and then see how that goes, and then maybe a couple of pseudograins and then see how that goes, and then a couple of legumes and then see how that goes. And if you're okay, then try and just have them once or twice a week. You don't have you having these things all the time because they still are plant embryos and they still can irritate your gut in your immune system in a small way. But as long as you're not having them too many times a week, then you're going to be okay.
Another aspect of this in the longer term, especially for people who have really chronic complex conditions, this restore protocol diet is kind of like a looser version of a paleo diet, and you might be on it for years. So, my recommendation as soon as you can frame it in any way is to make your diet seasonal, and that has to do with where you live, but it also has to do with some common sense. The one thing that I tend to focus on in the restore protocol has to do with hormonal reserve and neurotransmitter reserve.
So, you still want to maintain that nutrient-dense higher fat, slightly higher protein, and connective tissue diet. But this is when I would usually get into testing besides the obvious testing to see like how bad things are at the beginning. This is around week, or pardon me, month three or four when I'm like, “Okay. We've been doing this long enough, let's check your hormones, let's check your neurotransmitter balance, let's check out some other stuff and see if you've gotten back to optimal health.” Because we're doing all of this work around say autoimmune disease, we might as well make sure that everything that actually runs the show is running the show in the best possible way.
One thing that does help people a lot with the metabolic side of this part of the protocols is to start getting into cold shower. Some people do that sooner, but I really, really try and push people towards that at this point. And when it comes to the fitness, this is when you want to get into like HIIT training and more intensity stuff to really force the rebuilding of the neurological part of fitness as much as just the muscle fiber and strength. And a general theme I think for mindfulness is just about neuroplasticity, your vagus nerve, the polyvagal system around stress and trauma. And since you're doing this again for months, why not focus on shifting some other deeper classic imbalances in modern people. And neuroplasticity and getting your vagus nerve working properly is a huge step, and a lot of that actually happens through proper breathwork if you really do it well.
I try not to make this as a commercial, but I do actually have a breathwork, qigong, somatic mindfulness course coming up. And depending again when this is published, it may or may not matter, but I'll put that in the shownotes because you could still look at the recordings of that if you're really interested in breathwork and qigong and how trauma relief works. So, when I get into the rebalance protocol with people, the nutritional part of it is what I call a homesteader diet, or more precisely, the healthy homesteader diet. And I really like that name because I really want people to think of themselves at a big table that looks something like a Thanksgiving dinner in the sense of what you might imagine a big feast at a homesteader's table would be.
And you want to allow yourself to include more fermented foods and a little bit of things like maybe some goat yogurt or organic grass-fed cow cheese, but especially the aged harder cheeses and things like that, and maybe a little bit of white rice or a little bit of oats. And it'll take too long to get into the reasons why white rice is not that bad from a chemical point of view for most people with autoimmune disease at this point in the game when you've had a few months to really let things settle down. But that homesteader diet is basically everything that you want in moderation that isn't obviously bad for you, and also to keep it seasonal.
I grew up in a place where we had no electricity most of the time and we use a root cellar in the fall and winter as a way to survive the winter. So, I guess I have a more familiar and an emotional attachment to the whole homesteader experience, but that's how humans got here up until a few hundred years ago. So, if you've gotten through the hard part of the autoimmune process and you're feeling relatively healthy and relatively symptom-free, then yeah, dive into a homesteader diet and have rice once a week and maybe oats once a week during, say, fall or winter and have a lot more fermented foods to deal with the bacteria you're going to feed by eating that much more starch. And if you're going to have things like dairy, make sure mostly often it's fermented into yogurt or kefir or things like that, or you're eating the least harmful things around cheese like the aged hard cheeses. So, I think that covers the homesteader diet in the sense of you can have almost anything you want if it's not completely crazy.
For the rebalance stage of the protocol, when it comes to fitness, get into the best shape of your life. I mean, you just got over four or five months of going through a huge process to resolve a complicated immune system problem and/or trauma and/or addiction. High-fives all around, why stop now? Because for the rest of your life, the rest of your life is determined by how close your health is to where your health was. So, when you get into the best shape of your life, your health is as far away from chronic illnesses you can get it. And that's my opinion for pretty much anyone in whatever way you envision the best health of your life.
When it comes to the mindfulness and mindset part, I'll just leave you with maybe a little teaser to something. In the more shamanic approach to health and healing, the belief is that all conscious beings have four fundamental needs as beings, not as bodies or animals or the survival stuff, but four fundamental needs to feel fulfilled as a being, and they are coherence, adaptability, autonomy, and belonging. And those are all states. They're not opinions, they're not philosophies, they're states of experience. So, having gone through months of a rite of passage to take care of yourself and to heal your body and maybe your mind and your past, you now have a chance to do it in the context of allowing yourself to really feel your coherence self, your autonomous self. You just did months of not screwing around. That takes some autonomy and coherence.
Obviously, your adaptability is going to be a lot better because you just used it to get through all of this stuff, but now you're that adaptable as a person. So, what are you going to do with your adaptability now? And belonging is a really tricky thing nowadays because most of us believe that fitting in is what we're supposed to do. And fitting in is like drinking alcohol. It's a survival strategy to get through an uncomfortable experience. Belonging is an instinct. Fitting in is a survival strategy, and honestly from a psychiatric point of view, it's kind of, well, a little bit of a neurotic illness. So, it's better to fit in than to be alone, but it's better to belong than anything.
So, I would just encourage anyone to sit and meditate on those four needs and feel them as states in your body, in your life right now. And if you can't touch in with them, well, go and find some support and work with people to make sure that those needs are being met because most people who are living from a place of autonomy and coherence, as well as adaptability and belonging, are doing things like Ben Greenfield is doing, which is out there kicking ass, changing the world by helping people, because what else would you do with all of that mojo? And I guess I'm kind of not so much challenging, but definitely encouraging you to be one of those people who gets all your needs met, gets your health back, and gets out there to do everything you can for the whole family of humans that are having fun down here.
So, I'll just finish this off with a bit of a conversation about looking at this in the long-term because again, I've been doing this as a patient for well over 25 years. And I'm only going to speak from my experience. Although that's going to be colored somewhat by my clinical experience, it's going to be meant to be coming from more of my personal experience as a patient who also has to live this way or else. If you have a complex autoimmune condition or PTSD or you really have locked horns with addiction, and I'm not saying that to be flippant or in any way judgmental, I mean we're in the same boat, give yourself permission to accept that those parts of your life are going to be with you for your life. You don't get over addiction, you learn to live with it. You don't get over PTSD, you learn to live with it. And in almost all cases of actual chronic autoimmune disease, you don't just make it go away, you learn to live with it, but in the way that makes you the most healthy and predictably able to balance your health or to bounce back if you have a flare-up.
So, these four protocols and four pillars, those are the ways that in my life as a patient I resource into any time I have a flare-up, and I've had four or five in the last 25 years. And in four of those flare-ups, I actually took pharmaceuticals. So, if you're in that much trouble, get that much help. But as soon as you can get off those higher risk kinds of help, go through those four stages, get the rest you need, rebuild your muscles, membranes, and metabolism. Get into restoring the deeper reserves in your body and give yourself the most nutrient-dense and the most options you can while being safe. And then when you feel really a lot better, move in that homesteader kind of rebalanced direction and just focus on being more true to yourself and getting those fundamental, more instinctual needs met so that the stress of life is something you're facing as a whole person instead of facing as someone who's worried about what you're going to do if you get sick again.
I hope that information helps you make the decisions you need to make with respect to your health and your situation right now. If you're a clinician, I hope that information gives you a bit of insight on how to approach autoimmune disease. I just want to thank Ben Greenfield for inviting me to make this little kind of blogcast lecture thing for people on the ancestral approach to autoimmune disease. And I wish you well and I hope that you do find whatever strategies you actually need to find in your life to have the best life, the best health, and the most fun. So, thank you for listening. My name is Dr. Michael Smith. You can track me down on my website, which is integrativehealthdetective.com. Or if you're more interested in working with me or learning about what I do around trauma and addiction, that website is called somaticmindfulness.org. So, I hope all the resources are in the shownotes, and again thanks for listening and have a great day.
Ben: Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
Today's podcast is a two-part special on ancestral eating and healing autoimmune disease using an ancestral approach.
In the first part of the show, I teach you how to determine how you should be eating based on how your ancestors ate.
Next, I turn it over to my guest Dr. Michael Smith for a special lecture from him on his specific protocol for healing autoimmune conditions using an ancestral eating approach.
Dr. Smith, who first appeared on my show in the episode “Cupping, Urine Drinking, Dream Interpretation, Open Heart Surgery Using Acupuncture As Anesthesia & Much More.” hails from the First Nations in Canada. He grew up on the diet of his indigenous ancestors and ate things like wild salmon that he caught himself as well as wild organ meats from animals he hunted. He learned many of the medicinal traditions and the “Medicine Wheel” of the First Nations people. He studied martial arts and taught Canadian Military self-defense techniques.
Along the way, his martial arts teacher took him aside to tell him that he was “more of a healer than a fighter.” His teacher then began to teach him the oral tradition of Classical Oriental Science, or better known as traditional Chinese Medicine. Michael is now a huge pillar in the healing community of Nelson, BC. He's helped with bringing medical cannabis dispensaries to the city and produces supplements paired with medical cannabis sold there. You often see him ushering in folks at open public sweat lodge ceremonies with burning of sage.
Michael is an author, speaker, professional martial artist, teacher and clinician, and a respected integrative medicine pioneer with over 20 years of experience. In his Nelson, British Columbia practice he combines functional medicine and evolutionary nutrition with the ancient wisdom and vast experience of traditional Chinese medicine. His primary focus in medicine is complex chronic auto-immune diseases. (As a patient, Michael had lived with both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis for well over 20 years.)
He is a co-founder of the prestigious Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences, the first five-year full-time doctorate level training program in TCM in Canada. He is also the primary developer of Neuro-Somatic Therapy, a hands-on approach to reducing the way people embody distress, illness, and trauma.
As a Martial Artist, Michael has been training for almost 40 years. He has had the good fortune to train with some of the highest level teachers in the Western world, including a teacher of the late Bruce Lee. After training prison guards, police officers and members of both military and paramilitary organizations, Michael decided to leave traditional martial arts and develop his own approach to resolving physical violence. He has taught this approach, called Applied Combatives, for over 20 years.
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-Ben's thoughts on ancestral dieting [7:25]
- MTHFR mutations cluster in regions and populations where ancestor's diet was rich in folate
- AMY1 gene (salivary amylase) digests starch and carbs
- Lactase persistence gene helps determine lactose tolerance
- Your Ancestor's Diet by Dr. Michael Smith
- The Jungle Effect by Dr. Daphne Miller
- 100 Million Years of Food by Stephen Le
“The Ancestral Autoimmune Protocol” w/ Dr. Michael Smith
-Why we should care about autoimmune disease [14:00]
- 1 in 5 people throughout the developed world are living with an autoimmune disease
- Autoimmune issues can be underlying causes of other diseases
- 80% of Dr. Smith's patients get relief or healing engaging in this protocol
-Dr. Smith's clinical approach to treating autoimmune disease [17:55]
- 25 years treating patients with Autoimmune disease, and/or PTSD, and/or addiction; crossover of these is significant
- Focused on all 3 of those elements
- Treating the whole person, not just the diagnosis
- Clinical, functional medicine; sometimes breathwork
- Somatic mindfulness: acupuncture, breathwork, etc.
- Qi Gong, ayahuasca trips
- Smith has Crohn's disease, complex PTSD, and previous addiction – perfect case study for his own work
-What is autoimmunity? [23:15]
- Immune system (police force) views your tissues, cells, etc. are invaders and need to be destroyed (or cause inflammation)
- Described as a “self-allergy”
- The “house” illustration to describe autoimmunity
- The police investigate an incident near your home (they're the T cells)
- Newscaster (V cells) identify markers for your body
- Ambulance (phagocytes) clean up dead cells, debris, etc.
- Fire hydrants (anandamide system) and firemen (adaptive immunity)
- Snipers (killer cells)
- MCH1 regulates specific protein pathways in the cells
- Martial law is the best metaphor to describe autoimmunity
-The Standard Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) [35:30]
- List of “No's”: Grains, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants)
- Focus on ancestral eating (thousands of years) rather than just the last 100 years
- Seasonal component of the diet
- Mono diets throughout the year are a relatively new idea
- Grains, beans, nuts, seeds are all plant embryos; eventually reproduce an entire plant
- More difficult for humans to digest “baby” plants than the mature plants
- The chemicals inside them are created to defeat the digestive enzymes
- Eggs and dairy contain enzymes that compromise intestinal permeability
-The four pillars of ancestral AIP [42:35]
- It's more about good food (solving a problem)
- Like dating; it's all about what you bring to the table
- Metabolic resilienceand physical fitness
- Fasting and keto diets are helpful
- Get mitochondria moving, nerves functioning properly
- Mindsetand mindfulness
- Mindset sans mindfulness is a misnomer
- Mindfulness is what sets up the mindset
- Support(supplements and shamans)
- People in “blue zones” have good social connection and support
- Shamans, ayahuasca circles, microdosing w/ LSD, etc. is more and more popular
-The four protocols of ancestral AIP [54:20]
- Restand reset
- 1-2 weeks is ideal
- Anti-inflammatory diet (ice age diet)
- Raw fish, ceviche, raw veggies (in moderation), stews and broths, sea vegetables
- Lots of water
- Hibernation (lots of sleep)
- Low-level intensity exercise
- Meditation, qi gong, sensory deprivation tanks, breath work
- Epigenetic resets
- Rebuildingbody, brain, mitochondria
- 1-2 months
- Nutrient-dense keto diet
- Nose to tail, connective tissue, intermittent fasting
- Resistance starch
- Circuit training to rebuild mitochondria and metabolism
- Begin adding nuts, seeds, pseudo-grains, legumes, see how things go
- Hormonal and neurotransmitter reserve
- Cold showers
- HIIT training
- Homesteader diet
- Get in the best shape of your life
- Four fundamental needs as beings:
-And much more…
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