S2 E7 Q + A #4 – Friends and family, Epstein-Barr virus, white rice, and additional sensitivities

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Welcome to The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast Season 2! We’ve created this podcast as a free resource to accompany our book, The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook: A DIY Guide to Living Well with Chronic Illness.

Season 2 Episode 7 is our final Q + A episode of the season! This week, Mickey and Angie are focusing on questions about food sensitivities beyond the AIP, and how to tweak the protocol to address unusual symptoms such as protein cravings. They also touch on how to handle discussions about AIP with coworkers, friends and family.

Plus, they start by chatting about how they’ve been managing stress recently, and their personal batch cooking neuroses. Scroll down for the full episode transcript!

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Full Transcript:

Mickey Trescott: Welcome to the Autoimmune Wellness podcast, a complimentary resource for those on the road to recovery. I’m Mickey Trescott, a nutritional therapy practitioner living well with autoimmune disease in Oregon. I’ve got both Hashimoto’s and Celiac disease.

Angie Alt: And I’m Angie Alt, a certified health coach and nutritional therapy consultant, also living well with autoimmune disease in Maryland. I have endometriosis, lichen sclerosis, and celiac disease. After recovering our health by combining the best of conventional medicine with effective and natural dietary and lifestyle interventions, Mickey and I started blogging at www.Autimmune-Paleo.com, where our collective mission is seeking wellness and building community.

Mickey Trescott: This podcast is sponsored by The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook; our co-authored guide to living well with chronic illness. We saw the need for a comprehensive resource that goes beyond nutrition to connect savvy patients, just like you, to the resources they need to achieve vibrant health. Through the use of self assessments, checklists, handy guides and templates, you get to experience the joy of discovery; finding out which areas to prioritize on your healing journey. Pick up a copy wherever books are sold.

Angie Alt: A quick disclaimer: The content in this podcast is intended as general information only, and is not to be substituted for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. On to the podcast!

1. Mickey and Angie: Question of the week [2:39]
2. Suggesting AIP to friends and family [5:31]
3. Comments about diet and illness from coworkers [10:07]
4. Intolerance to foods on AIP [16:32]
5. Additional food sensitivities on AIP [20:30]
6. White rice after reintroduction [24:44]
7. Epstein-Barr and Hashimoto’s [27:05]
8. Intense protein cravings [34:46]

Mickey Trescott: Hey everybody! Mickey here, and welcome back to the Autoimmune Wellness podcast season 2. Today is our last round of question and answer for this season. Dun, dun, dunnn! How are you doing this week, Angie?

Angie Alt: I’m doing good. It’s been a little crazy. We’ve both been busy with conferences and other work travel and stuff. But it’s good. What about you? How are you doing?

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. Just trying to get control over the schedule and the cooking and the sleeping and the stress managing, and the texting. {laughs}

Angie Alt: {laughs} Yeah. So appropriate.

Mickey Trescott: It’s a lot. It’s a lot.

Angie Alt: Yeah, it’s been a lot. Yesterday; excuse me. Two days ago I cooked all the things. I was like, “oh my god, I have to get on top of the cooking!” and I cooked so much food and now I have too much food. {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: Well that’s not a big problem. Because you can always freeze it!

Angie Alt: Yeah, that’s true.

Mickey Trescott: That’s what I do. But yeah, the first thing I do when things start to get a little crazy is I start batch cooking. It’s like obsessive.

Angie Alt: Mm-hmm. I hear you.

1. Mickey and Angie: Question of the week [2:39]

Mickey Trescott: So, before we get onto our regular scheduled listener questions, we’re going to ask each other a question like we’ve been doing this whole series. I know Angie is ready to be done with this format, because she doesn’t like the random questions.

Angie Alt: {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: But Angie, my question for you this week, is what aspect of personal healing are you working your hardest on right now?

Angie Alt: Oh boy. Mickey. You and the can of worms all the time. I would have to say honestly that I am probably in a period where I’m trying to be ok with things being the way they are. I’m trying to kind of let go of focusing a lot on healing, and just let things be kind of crazy, kind of hairy, kind of up and down. And just allow myself to kind of go with the flow. And sometimes the flow isn’t the direction you would hope for. But I’m just trying to be a little Zen about it at the moment. I think that’s where I’m really working, if I’m honest. What about you, Mick. What you do you have going on?

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. You know, the meditation thing. It’s a little in the same vein; just kind of trying to accept the situation that I’m in. The stressors and the physical stuff. I feel like there are a lot of things I don’t have control over right now, so meditation has been very helpful. And I made a goal to meditate every day, and I was on a 68-day streak using the Calm app. Which, you know, you shared that with me and I got super into it. Of course, I’m an Upholder.

Angie Alt: Calm is awesome. Calm is my spirit animal.

Mickey Trescott: It’s the best. And I got really hooked in because I like having a perfect record, and so when it reminded me every day, it’s time to meditate, I would do a little meditation every day. And this week, it just fell off the rails, and I forgot one day. And I kid you not, I woke up at 3 in the morning, and the first thing I thought was, “Oh my gosh, I forgot to meditate yesterday!” And I was so sad I almost cried.

Angie Alt: {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: I was like, “I was on a streak!” And you know what I wanted to do was to do it for a whole year. But I’ll get back on the wagon and keep going.

Angie Alt: Yeah, you’re doing great. You know what. You guys, this is a reason why you know Calm is really, really awesome. Mickey has the Upholder tendency. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, check out Gretchen Rubin and the Four Tendencies. So Mickey has the Upholder tendency, and she feels like she is going to do that internally and externally. She wants the reward of doing that. I am not the Upholder personality, but I still have had a similar experience where I woke up in the middle of the night and was like, “Oh no! I messed up my Calm streak!” That’s how great Calm is.

Mickey Trescott: It gets into your subconscious, and it’s just like, “Meditate. Meditate. Meditate.”

Angie Alt: It works for all tendencies.

2. Suggesting AIP to friends and family [5:31]

Mickey Trescott: It’s great. So that was fun. So let’s get onto tackling some of our specific questions. I did another call out on Instagram. We always get so many questions; way more than we could answer in a series, or in a podcast. But today we actually had some people asking some pretty similar questions, and actually upvoting other people’s questions. So we’ve got some topics that I think will apply to a lot of you guys today.

The first question, actually the first two questions are about friends, family, and the workplace. And HS; yeah I don’t know how to say that. Hutsau says, “How to approach friends and family who have autoimmune disorders, and think high power prescription drugs is the only reasonable treatment, or should you even go there?”

Angie Alt: Yeah. Wow. This is, I think probably for those of us who know that there are other approaches, or that combinations of approaches can really be the most effective and maintain the highest quality of life, it can be so disheartening and frustrating, and even maybe a little sad or scary to see friends and family choose this other route. And you feel like you have this information that could benefit them so much, and you’re so worried about the impact of the choice they’ve made. It can be hard to know what to do.

But, here’s the honest to goodness truth; you’re better off to not go there. You’re better off to just be a powerful example. People are changed not by your words, but by your actions. So just be a really strong example in your own life of healing, and how you’re able to either choose the completely natural route, which is awesome if you can do that. Or, combine, which a lot of us have to do. If you can just sort of give that example to your friends and family, that’s probably the best way to go. In time, when they are ready for that message, they’ll come to you.

I think in my life it started out like, “This is kind of crazy. Angie’s doing this fringe whatever thing.” And now, honestly, I almost have to beg my friends and family not to ask me questions about it, and ask for my help on it. Because they see, powerfully, that I followed through and I’m a lot healthier than I was before. So that would probably be my best advice. What would you say, Mickey?

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. I would just add that the biggest reason for that is because it’s almost, you can’t force them to change. What we’re asking people to do; changing their diet, and changing their lifestyle, and advocating for themselves is a lot of work. And it’s pretty intense. And if you’re doing this yourself, and then you tell someone else; “Oh, you need to do this too.” And maybe they don’t; I think there’s a lot of judgement that could come with that. People in your family could avoid you, or not want to talk to you about it. And that’s not what you want in that situation. You don’t want to see, “Ha. I know all of this and you don’t. And you don’t have the time to do it. And it’s too overwhelming.” You maybe leading by example sets you up as the person to comes to when they’re ready. And then it kind of takes out all of that judgement that people could perceive there. So I think that’s why it’s really important not to go there. And let people come to you when they’re ready.

Like you said Angie; I’ve had so many people in my life. Like, really surprising, surprising people that I never would have thought would be asking me for help, and reach out. And I think it’s because I haven’t been pushy about telling everyone what they should do. You know?

Angie Alt: Right. Right. Exactly. Considering the level of commitment that healing through diet and lifestyle takes, it’s best that each person arrives there themselves.

Mickey Trescott: Well, it’s almost, to an addiction analogy. I have a lot of addiction history in my family. And there have been times where it would have been really easy to just force someone to go to rehab, or force them to confront their problem. But those are never the times when that person is able to make a sustainable change that actually changes their life. It’s painful for the people that know better, around them, and that’s the only thing I can maybe liken it to. That feeling of being someone that could help, but not being able to because the person isn’t ready yet. And that’s not in your control.

3. Comments about diet and illness from coworkers [10:07]

Angie Alt: Yep. Exactly. Ok, let’s see. Moving on to another kind of friends, family, workplace question. Pick Perfect Love says, “How to deal with working when you have an autoimmune disease? I’m a teacher, and my peers and principal tends to make comments about my diet, which is AIP, and I’m ‘always’ sick or not feeling well. I have to give 110% as a teacher, but there are some days when I am just not feeling well.” Mickey, what would you say to her?

Mickey Trescott: You know, this is definitely a situation where I would say these people are definitely not being supportive of your journey. And I think you might need to have a conversation about how what you’re doing is something that’s really difficult. You’re doing it for yourself, and these comments will not be tolerated in a work situation.

I would say that this kind of discussion might come up in families, because families are so much more complicated, and you’re related by blood. But I really don’t think that your coworkers and your boss have any right to comment on the food that you’re eating, and if you’re always sick or not feeling well.

Now, as it relates to your work, they have some say there. And that’s where it becomes tricky. Being an autoimmune patient and having a full-time career is no easy task. And I was confronted with this when I got really sick and had to go back to work. I wasn’t able to do my previous career. I got fired because I kept going into work sick, and tired, and I wasn’t able to keep up. And that’s how I got fired. And you know, that’s a dramatic situation, and it was very unpleasant and unhappy in the situation. But it actually made me realize that I needed to seek out a situation that was compatible with my illness.

So, not saying that you can’t be a teacher. Obviously, it sounds like you love your job and you really want to make it work. And I think trying to bridge that gap between your coworkers and your boss’ perception about your illness without maybe oversharing and trying to make them feel bad for you. But also being very strong and saying, “This is what I’m doing for my body, and it’s working. I shouldn’t be getting any judgement from you.” Because that’s not really their place. Wouldn’t you say, Angie?

Angie Alt: Yeah. One thing that I might kind of bring into your own awareness that sometimes folks; especially folks that want to comment on your food or what they see you bringing in to work to eat each day. Sometimes they’re doing that out of a place of feeling maybe a little insecure about their own food choices. They might feel like maybe your plate is a little bit of a judgement on their plate. Which it’s obviously not. You know you’re doing it just because you want to heal, but sometimes, oddly enough, we in this situation have to do the job of reaffirming the other people who are making the comments. I know this sounds backwards, but it might help if you say, “Whatever you’re eating, cool. This is what I’m eating today because it makes me feel better. No big deal.” Sometimes saying that one little sentence changes the whole dynamic and people feel a little more calm and less worried.

Mickey Trescott: And Angie, you have a great thing that you say about this, “Don’t be weird.” And you know, if you’re kind of treating yourself as special, and you have this special food, and you make a big deal about it when people ask you about it. You’re like, “Oh my god, it’s really complicated, and it’s because I’m really sick.” You’re kind of weird about it, people are going to pick that up, and they’re going to be like, “Oh. That’s weird.” But if you’re just like; “Oh, this is what I eat because this is what makes me feel good,” and that’s all; no story to it. People might be like, “Oh, ok. She knows what she’s doing and I’ll move on to something else.” You know?

Angie Alt: Right. If you act with a lot of confidence; this is where my little phrase, “Don’t be weird” comes from. If you act out of a lot of confidence, and just like, “This is my day to day, no commentary necessary.” The people around you will come to respect it.

Mickey Trescott: Yep. Do you have any advice maybe, Angie, about how to work; I know a lot of people have had this question. How to find an autoimmune friendly career? Do you think it’s specifically a career; or do you think it’s the people you work with?

Angie Alt: Yeah. You know, it could probably be either or. I think there are careers out there that are probably more autoimmune friendly than others. And if you have an aptitude for those areas, then it might be a good idea to go for them if there’s a fit there to be had. For instance, you and I kind of forged these careers that allow us to take down time if we need to. That said, we’re always working like crazy people {laughing} because we’re too passionate for our own good, probably. But you know, we have the understanding of each other and there’s room there. If they can find similar arrangements; great.

On the other hand, I think having the right group of people around you can make all the difference. If you have supportive coworkers and a supportive boss, things like that, that can help, too. It might be the career; it might be the environment.

Mickey Trescott: And it also might be the information that you’ve given them. After I got fired from my coffee shop job that I was too tired to do, I applied to be a personal chef for a family. And the wife was a doctor. And I told her in my interview, I have celiac disease, I have Hashimoto’s disease. I’ve been through this health crisis. I am just on the up and up. I feel a little bit weird about putting it all out there, but I figured since you’re a doctor, maybe you can be gentle on me, kind of. Not that I wouldn’t be able to do the duties that she needed me to do, but at least she would understand from a physical perspective what was going on in my body. And that ended up being a really good working relationship. It wasn’t one that I could just take a day off when I wasn’t feeling well, but she saw me as someone who was trying very hard to meet my commitments; even on the days where she could tell I was tired, instead of saying, “This person is lazy and doesn’t work hard enough.” Because if your employer doesn’t know any better, they might jump to that conclusion. So sometimes a conversation can really help there.

4. Intolerance to foods on AIP [16:32]

Angie Alt: Right. Right. Ok, let’s see. Moving on. We have a bunch of questions about additional food sensitivities. This is something that comes up pretty often in our realm, right Mickey?

Mickey Trescott: Oh yeah.

Angie Alt: So let’s see. The first question comes from Lucy in the London Sky. She says, “I have been on the AIP diet for around 18 months and it has helped heal my gut, reduce inflammation, and balanced out my hormones. The problem is that I am intolerant to most AIP compliant foods due to histamine response or FODMAP irritation or other reactions. I have to avoid fish, ferments, all meat including organ meats except for chicken and turkey, leafy greens, coconuts, and most raw veg. My diet is limited to say the least, and I am concerned about getting enough nutrients. What would you suggest?”

Mickey Trescott: So for Lucy I would suggest two things. One is, if you have an additional sensitivity that is due to a pathogenic overgrowth in your gut, like SIBO, you need to treat that STAT. Especially, it sounds like Lucy, you’ve got some really extreme issues with histamine. This is a really clear indicator that either you have SIBO, which is a given since you’re on the low-FODMAP approach, which helps manage symptoms of SIBO. It won’t treat SIBO. But I would also look into methylation dysfunction.

I would do that first. I would not try to do AIP with all of these layers and really restrict until you’re eating 3 foods. I would actually, if I was working with you as a client, took a history and everything, I would actually probably suggest an expanded approach to include some foods that might be some reintroductions, like some white rice, maybe some nuts and seeds depending on how you tolerate them. Maybe even eggs, just to see if you can get enough protein. Since you’re not tolerating the meat, you need a protein source. And it’s not safe for you to go long-term on just a few vegetables that you’re eating.

So the biggest thing for you is just going to be treating that SIBO. And this is something we see over and over with people who do the autoimmune protocol, they notice they have a reaction to FODMAPs, and what do they do? They go on a low-FODMAP AIP diet, and then they start layering histamines. Because this actually makes them feel better. But they’re not going to a doctor, getting a breath test, getting tested, and getting treated. This is how you get rid of SIBO. We were actually just at a conference with Dr. Allison Siebecker, who is one of the best experts in the world on SIBO. And she said in her presentation that she has seen 10,000 cases in the last 7 years and never has she seen a client get better with diet alone.

Angie Alt: You guys, we can’t say it enough. I think we’ve probably already said it on every single one of these Q&A podcasts. You cannot treat SIBO with diet alone. It won’t happen. Allison’s case history definitely proves that.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. And so for Lucy, if you’re having SIBO that keeps recurring. Maybe she is getting it treated, and it’s coming back; she needs to be looking into some of those underlying causes. Dr. Siebecker has some great information about that. But she really needs to be working with someone to troubleshoot that.

And additionally, working with a nutritional therapy practitioner, health coach, or someone who is qualified to make some nutrition recommendations given your state, the autoimmune protocol is a very nutrient-dense diet and all the bases are covered. But when you start taking out a lot of proteins and a lot of these different foods that are the basis of the diet, I think there is a really high chance that you’re not getting some nutrients somewhere. So it would be important to get someone on your team as you navigate maybe a SIBO treatment and troubleshoot all of this stuff so that you can start to tolerate them. So once you go through SIBO treatment; or maybe you have methylation dysfunction. You could have both of them that are manifesting in this extreme histamine intolerance. Get that taken care of, then you can eat more foods and you can work on the bigger AIP autoimmune reducing the inflammation framework, if that makes sense.

Angie Alt: Yep. Yep. Totally agree. Hit that one out of the park.

5. Additional food sensitivities on AIP [20:30]

Mickey Trescott: So, Fallondenae says, “Any information on healing food sensitivities within AIP is appreciated. I’m eating about 8 foods, and I’m wondering if I should try a rotation diet instead. How do you heal the gut when you can’t do probiotics, bone broth, organ meats, fish, ferments, or leafy greens? Can you still eat food you’re sensitive to and heal?”

Angie Alt: Yeah, this kind of goes back to just the same exact answer we just gave Lucy in the London Sky. It sounds like there must be some underlying imbalance in the GI system somewhere, whether that’s SIBO or some other kind of dysbiosis; a parasite infection. Something is happening there that’s really decreasing your ability to eat foods, and causing all these additional sensitivities. So digging in and finding out what that underlying root cause is and treating it will help you expand your diet.

A lot of folks believe in the rotational diet and feel that that helps them in the food sensitivity situation. I’m not quite sure that I think that’s the best approach. I think the best approach is actually to heal what’s causing the problem rather than just rotate within a small amount of foods that are there.

Mickey Trescott: And I actually haven’t seen clients who are on pretty limited diets because of the above. Autoimmune protocol plus maybe some SIBO going on. They do get worried that they’re eating this diet for maybe one to two months while they’re treating, and I haven’t had a client come up sensitive to something they’re eating, like beef or chicken. It seems to be a rumor; maybe we can get Sarah Ballantyne or someone to give us some science why that is. But someone is starting a rumor, or has some information that says if you keep eating a food over and over and over, you’re going to develop an allergy or sensitivity to it. I just haven’t seen that practically.

Angie Alt: Yeah. Agree. I really haven’t seen that bore out with any of my clients, either. And I don’t really hear that being talked about by some of the really big named experts. So I would really be working on that underlying thing. You know, if you’re having some sensitivity to probiotics and bone broth.

Mickey Trescott: That sounds like histamine.

Angie Alt: Yeah. Yeah, that sounds like some histamine stuff going on there. And sometimes bone broth can be a problem if you have SIBO. There is FODMAPs in the knuckle bones, so sometimes broth made with those kinds of bones might be causing a problem. SIBO and histamine are related, too.

Mickey Trescott: Mm-hmm.

Angie Alt: So if you have one, it can lead into the other problem. So digging in with some practitioners on those underliers.

Mickey Trescott: Another thing I would say is that it is possible to have sensitivities to foods that are on the autoimmune protocol. It is not a mind-reading program where it just kind of, everyone does it and it works for them. I would say the biggest one is actually coconut. And the reason why a lot of people go through their life they don’t know they’re sensitive to coconut is they don’t eat a lot of it, and then they go on the autoimmune protocol and they start cooking with coconut oil, using coconut milk instead of dairy, and using coconut flakes to make dessert, or whatever. And they’re eating all this coconut and they’re having an allergic reaction, it comes up. Obviously, if you have an allergy like that, you shouldn’t be eating the coconut. That’s not what we’re saying. But I would say that’s probably the most common food that is included on the autoimmune protocol that can be problematic for people.

Another issue is food sensitivity testing. And we’ve talked about this on the podcast before. I’m not going to give you the whole spiel. But basically, when you have a leaky gut, things that are not actual allergies or sensitivities will come up because your gut is leaky. That’s the whole definition of a leaky gut; things are getting into your immune system, triggering it, that aren’t supposed to be there. So when you have a food sensitivity test come back, and it has beef, and chicken, and coconut, and pineapple, and all these things on it; it just means that your gut is not in a good condition. And that’s why we actually don’t like relying on those food sensitivity tests, and instead doing a gut-healing protocol for 30, 60, 90 days, see where we get, take all the major triggers out. Then we can kind of further trouble shoot. So that’s what I have to say about that.

6. White rice after reintroduction [24:44]

Angie Alt: Yep. Ok. Let’s see. We’re moving on here. White rice. We have some questions from AsaMarchelinas; am I saying that right? She says, “Is white rice ok if a reintro goes well? Or better to avoid things like white rice, seed spices, etc., just to be safe?” OK. Mickey, can I take this one?

Mickey Trescott: You got it.

Angie Alt: Definitely don’t avoid things if it has gone well for you. If you have tried to reintroduce these foods and it has gone really well for you, you’ve waited the 72 hours between reintroductions and no reactions have popped up, this is wonderful!

Mickey Trescott: Yay!

Angie Alt: You have had a successful reintroduction. You should start enjoying that food in your diet again. The point of the autoimmune protocol is not to stay in restriction forever “Just to be safe.” We’re not encouraging that. That wasn’t the point of the protocol. The point is to remove triggers, get your whole system to calm down, and then try to bring them back, eventually personalizing the diet. You know, whatever you have come up with with the white rice and the seed spices, it’s what works for your body and you should enjoy it.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. I don’t like the word, “safe.” I think it’s a word that doesn’t really; it’s hard to say that these foods are unsafe. Except for gluten, I would say. Safety is kind of one of those things, it conjures up a little bit too much for those foods we’re eliminating. And white rice, you know, isn’t even paleo. Or some people say it’s kind of paleo. But that’s kind of where we differ from the dogmatic paleo movement. It’s not about just not eating grains because we’re not eating grains. If white rice works for you; of course it is a starchy carb, and some people with blood sugar issues or nutrient deficiencies or whatever to do to eat something else. It would be better for them. But you don’t need to not eat it if it works for you out of “safety.” It’s not a generally; I would say, as long as it’s not replacing all of the other things you should be eating, like bone broth, and organ meats, and meat and vegetables, and everything. Yeah, it’s safe.

Angie Alt: Yeah. This is awesome. Congratulations.

7. Epstein-Barr and Hashimoto’s [27:05]

Mickey Trescott: So, It’s Me, Sue, says, “I am so thankful for all you do, Mickey and Angie. You’re both real gifts to this world.” Thank you, Sue.

Angie Alt: Aww. Thank you.

Mickey Trescott: “I’d love to hear about EBV,” And that stands for Epstein-Barr virus. “As a root cause/trigger for Hashimoto’s and possible treatment protocols for EBV. After struggling with the symptoms of Hashimoto’s since age 12, I’m now 34, and researching like a crazy person, I think I found my root cause.” Yay! “I’m so looking forward to going after the EBV, crazy elevated markers on blood work, for latent and active, so my thyroid antibodies will finally subside. I’m not sure where to start.” Alright. So I’m happy to take this one Angie. {laughs}

Angie Alt: {laughs} Go for it!

Mickey Trescott: So, there is a little bit of a misconception about EBV and Hashimoto’s. There are some loud voices in the community that are kind of trying to sell Epstein-Barr as this root cause of Hashimoto’s, and once you take care of it, everything magically goes better. I’m sorry to tell you Sue, that’s a little bit what it sounds like you think is going to happen here. If you take care of this EBV, your antibodies go down, your fatigue will be gone, and your Hashi’s will not bother you anymore. While that could certainly happen, in my experience, there isn’t really any one root cause that unlocks anyone’s illness. It’s usually a variety of things. And Epstein-Barr can be a part of the picture for you, obviously if you have elevated markers on your blood work, that’s something that you need to address. But I would also say that working on a proper dose of medication if that’s something you need, dialing in your diet, doing these lifestyle changes, cleaning up your gut if you have any gut infections.

What EBV really says to me, when I see a client that comes with these markers, is actually that they have some unresolved issues with stress that they’re not dealing with. So, Epstein-Barr is actually something that we all have. We’re all exposed to it. I think, maybe not all of us. I think the rate is like 95% or 98% by the time your 30. So it’s something that most of us have latent in our systems. If you were a teenager and you got mono, you know what the acute version of EBV feels like.

But what happens is once the body deals with it, it’s just kind of hanging out there. And if we go through a situation where maybe there’s a lot of stress, the immune system is under a lot of pressure. So think not only an autoimmune disease, hello Hashimoto’s, but also an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid, which affects energy and metabolism, which then affects the adrenal glands, which, surprise, affects your stress levels. So it’s all kind of this vicious cycle where it tanks your immune system, you’re stressed out internally. We’re not talking about your job or your spouse, or whatever. We’re talking about your body actually has a lot of stress because it’s dealing with an autoimmune disease and your immune system is not functioning properly. That is a perfect situation for a chronic virus that you got when you were a kid to kind of rear its ugly head.

So with Epstein-Barr, I don’t necessarily think, “What do I need to do to treat the Epstein-Barr?” I think, “Why did this client get Epstein-Barr? What kind of stressors are in their life, dietary lifestyle, whatever. And how can we help their thyroid to prop the whole system up and get them, from a holistic perspective, to feel better?” Angie, actually, has a little story about Epstein-Barr, right?

Angie Alt: Yeah. So, a couple of summers ago while Mickey and I were working on writing our book, and we were super busy with that, super busy with lots of other projects. And you know, I’m a mom too, and a wife, and I’ve got all those kind of commitments. And I have three autoimmune diseases. So I have that already kind of underlying white noise of stress going on, right? So all of that together, and boom. I came down with this fever that wouldn’t resolve. I started feeling super, super fatigued. I was like, “Mickey, I don’t know what’s going on, I need to go to the doctor. I’ve got this super crazy sore throat.” I went to the doctor, and guess what? I had mono. So I had the acute version of EBV. But my markers showed that that virus had been hanging around for a while. What happened is that my immune system took a little bit of a crash because the stress wasn’t very well managed.

Mickey Trescott: And you tried nightshades, too.

Angie Alt: Yeah. And I tried some nightshades; a nightshade reintroduction during that time. I tried some bell peppers. And they certainly sent the immune system into the ever quickening downward spiral. So combined, all those things, that kind of latent, hanging out EBV became a little more acute. And I had to deal with that for about a month. Once I took care of myself better, managed some stress better, got past a failed reintroduction attempt, everything evened right out again. And you know what, the EBV markers are still there. But I am not experiencing the acute issue anymore. And just like Mickey said; if you get a client coming to you with this, you’re wondering more like, “What can we do to support the immune system?”

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. I would think basically everything we say from the beginning of this podcast. Just dialing in the diet, make sure you’re not eating anything that’s irritating your digestion. Making sure you’re eating a lot of nutrients. The immune system is dependent on nutrients, so you need to have a good level of vitamin D. You need to have a good level of zinc, vitamin A, K2; all of these fat-soluble vitamins. Eating a great diet. Not having crazy blood sugar swings. Make sure you’re managing your stress. Sleeping. And a word of caution; there are some anti-viral supplements. They’re not the first thing I would go to because, like Angie resolved her EBV without really resorting to any supplementation. But monolaurin; there’s a supplement called lauricidin that can be really effective. You want to be careful of immune stimulating herbs. This is something that a lot of practitioners, if you go to a naturopath, they might put you on an anti-viral blend. Which a lot of them have ashwagandha, astragalus, Echinacea. Which you definitely want to avoid, because they’re either nightshades or they’re very stimulating to the immune system. Which can actually cause your autoimmune disease to flare. So, especially someone with Hashimoto’s, I’d be very careful of that department. But I would just really try to improve your nutrient status and manage that stress.

Angie Alt: Yeah, exactly. I knew about some of these supplements that I could take that are anti-viral, but in the end I didn’t even have to resort to them. I just dialed down the stress, got some more rest. I kind of went back to elimination phase for a little while to help my body recover from a failed reintroduction. And by the way; a side note right here for everybody who is listening. Don’t everybody now say, “Oh my god, we can’t reintroduce any of the nightshades, because Angie said she got mono from it!” That’s just what happened for me particularly in that situation, and there was a lot of other stuff going on to contribute to that. I don’t want people to be afraid of reintroductions. Like we just said on the white rice and seed spices question; try those reintros, that’s the point.

Mickey Trescott: Well, and you know, bell peppers are stage 4.

Angie Alt: Right.

Mickey Trescott: Which, you’ve been AIP for almost 5 years now, and you’re just starting to reintroduce those. So it’s all a part of the process.

Angie Alt: Right.

8. Intense protein cravings [34:46]

Mickey Trescott: So our next question is about protein cravings, from LescaProtoPets. “Is it normal to experience intense cravings for protein? Any meat or fish doesn’t seem to satisfy the craving, and I wonder if it’s a hormonal imbalance, or a side effect on the autoimmune protocol.”

Angie Alt: Hmm. I mean, when I think about this, hormonal imbalance isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to my mind. I wonder, Lesca, if you come from; maybe you came into the AIP from a vegan or vegetarian background? Or maybe a really low protein background? I think your body might be just telling you, “Hey we like protein! Thank you for giving it to us. How about some more.” {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, there’s definitely some wisdom to listening to your body in that. I mean, obviously if your body is telling you to eat cupcakes, we kind of know what’s going on there.

Angie Alt: {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: But a craving for protein is usually a nutrient deficiency.

Angie Alt: Right.

Mickey Trescott: When I was vegan, I actually craved nuts really, really bad. Because I think that’s how I was getting a lot of those minerals; the zinc and selenium and vitamin E and stuff that I wasn’t getting from eating meat. And then when I started eating meat, I lost my craving for nuts, and start craving meat even more intensely for about a year. And I ate a little bit more meat than I advise most people to eat on the autoimmune protocol for that first year, maybe year and a half. Just because I was craving it and it was obviously working for me. I think I had to kind of make up for lost time. So definitely, if she has that background, that could be something that’s going on there.

Angie Alt: Yeah. I mean, for a compare and contrast here, I didn’t come into an AIP from a vegan or vegetarian background like Mickey, and I loved my meals and I was happy eating AIP, but I did not experience that protein craving. Probably because I wasn’t quite as depleted in that area.

Some other thing to explore; maybe there’s some anemia going on here. A B12 deficiency. I would think about the kinds of nutrients that you can get from meat, and maybe dig a little deeper, with your doctor’s help, to see if there’s something there that needs to be looked into.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, I think that’s great. Alright, so our time is up for answering questions today. Thank you guys so much for submitting. We really hope that you guys learned a lot over the course of this episode. We hope you guys have a great day wherever in the world you’re at. And we will see you next week. We have our very last personal interview for season 2. That’s going to be with Angie, so this is my last episode with you guys for season 2. It’s been a pleasure to hang out with you guys. And we’ll talk soon.

Angie Alt: Bye!

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Check out the previous episode, S2 E6 Mickey interviews Jolaine Weins, who is recovering from ankylosing spondylitis. For the full podcast archive, click here.


About Mickey Trescott

Mickey Trescott is a co-founder here at Autoimmune Wellness and a co-teacher of AIP Certified Coach. After recovering from her own struggle with both Celiac and Hashimoto’s disease, adrenal fatigue, and multiple vitamin deficiencies, Mickey started to write about her experience to share with others and help them realize they are not alone in their struggles. She has a Master's degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Nutrition, and is the author of three best-selling books--The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook, and The Nutrient-Dense Kitchen. You can watch her AIP cooking demos by following her on Instagram.


  • Stephanie says

    This was an amazing podcast! Great topics and TOTALLY relevant for the real life perspective. This made me think of the strangest conversation I had with co-workers that stemmed from me slicing an avocado. The comments and follow up discussion really shocked me. Thank you for providing your tips and suggestions- I plan to try it. And I love the “don’t be weird” advice.

    Totally off topic- I really love and appreciate making your podcast accessible. Providing the outline (with times), full transcript (with speaker mentions), and sub-topic are so helpful in digesting comprehensive information. Other benefits: getting the spelling of complex words, searching for specific sections, and visually scanning the content. I know it’s a ton of work and I really appreciate your efforts. I refer your site all the time for personal reasons and might use it for professional referrals for podcast/audio examples. Thank you for being a leader in robust content and accessibility.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Stephanie – thank you for listening, and for the specific feedback about the transcripts! Be well!

  • Hayley says

    I donated my kidney 5 years ago and when I started an elimination diet it became very clear that eating meat was a huge problem. I had not been eating much red meat prior to trying the AIP diet but when I integrated more red meat all of my levels of my blood test spiked and stayed there. Within a couple of weeks of removing red meat all of my blood levels came back down to good levels. This means, I can’t eat much meat. I have been eating a lot of beans, some fish and chicken here and there, but how do I know if I am getting enough nutrients?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Hayley! Kidney issues are a complicating factor with the elimination diet, and I would suggest working with a practitioner who can help adjust a diet to your specific needs (that could very well be less protein!). For a lower protein or non-red meat approach, you can ask them about incorporating more organ meats (for the nutrient density) and fish for your protein requirements. There are others in our community who have done this successfully. I would stick with the most nutrient density with meat if you can only have small amounts, and avoid meat that isn’t nutrient dense (like chicken breast). You might also try plugging in your meals to cronometer.com to track your nutrients, after a few days you will see what I mean about the nutrient density of different meats. Hope it helps!

  • Michelle says

    You make some excellent points about food. For the person curious about craving meat and thinking it might be a hormone imbalance – I was just going through the same thing! Although I’ve been eating meat all along and fighting chronic anemia (which I’m now in the clear thanks to switching to cast iron) I noticed my monthly was extra painful, which is why I thought it was hormonal. After going to my doctor it turned out that despite getting more sunshine, having to be dairy-free and egg-yolk-free this last year I’ve got a deathly low amount of vitamin D levels. Sure I’m pale but I’ve always been vampy looking and this was never an issue until I had to cut dairy out when I found out I was allergic to it last year. It’s just something more to look into that you didn’t mention. Getting a full blood panel would be the best thing for her to learn exactly where to focus her nutrition on. <3

  • Diana A says

    Hi Mickey and Angie! This is the first podcast, I’ve listened too, and might I’d say was extremely informative. I am very interested in learning more of methylation dysfunction and SIBO treatment.
    I have Hashi’s and am a newly diagnosed scleroderma patient, (crest), with GI involvement.
    Also with mfthr gene defect. I would like to seek help in determining whether SIBO is an issue, as I have read literature that it may be of increased incidence in scleroderma patients. Can you point me in a specific direction, in seeking nutritional advice for multiple gut issues? I don’t know of any nutritional experts in my area, that can offer guiding force, and am at a bit of of a loss, as to what to prioritize first. I have purchased your “Autoimmune wellness” book, and have eliminated a variety of foods, which has allowed some healing, however, in listening to this podcast, I did take note of addressing methylation dysfuntion, before attempting an AIP approach. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you for all your work!!! I’m so glad I found your site. 👍

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Diana!
      Happy to hear you found us, and that you found the podcast helpful. For methylation I would look for a practitioner who has been trained by Dr Lynch at MTHFR.net (he has a practitioner directory). For SIBO, I would try and book a session with Dr. Siebecker at SIBOinfo.com or one of her associates. If you are in CA and can get an appointment, the doctors at the Kresser Institute are also well versed in both issues. Hope it helps!

      • Diana A says

        Thank you so much, Mickey!! I finally have some time off from work, and will be looking forward to formulating a working AIP plan–moving forward.
        Wishing continued success to you and Angie in getting the word out there!

  • Lisa B says

    Hi guys – What a great episode! I’ve been an avid listener for both seasons, and have found something valuable in every episode. But this one hit it out of the park. I’ve been on AIP for about a year, and have been struggling with reintroductions. I just met with my doctor this week to go over my latest panel and food sensitivity tests, and it looks like my leaky gut isn’t as under control as I thought. I’ve been wondering how to juggle it all within the AIP parameters, so your 4th and 5th segments in this episode were so helpful. I’ve also been struggling with coworkers and family issues you touched on. Thank you so much for these podcasts – its so good to know we’re not alone!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Thanks for your comment, we are so happy you have found them helpful!

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