Dr. Tommy Wood and Chris Kelly: How to Use the Autoimmune Paleo Diet and Other ‘Elimination’ Strategies for Gut Healing, Performance Benefits, and More

August 16, 2016


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Dr. Tommy Wood and Chris Kelly of Nourish Balance Thrive join to discuss how athletes can go the next step in healing and bulletproofing their guts and bodies.

On this show we cover:

Exploring the Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP) and cutting-edge concepts to gut healing

  • What is AIP?
  • Foods removed are those with anti-nutrients, protease inhibitors, phytic acid, saponins, and with other known gut-irritant properties.
  • The phases of AIP: elimination (all), reintroduction, rebuilding…etc
    • This process allows you to discover your own food sensitivities which a test may not accurately find nor show
  • Why the AIP diet may be good for an endurance athletes and why one would undergo an AIP protocol?
  • Athletes put their bodies through long periods of “stress” during exercise, and this can hurt our gut health, causing or worsening leaky gut/gut permeability
  • While no research and just anecdotal evidence, the AIP may help an athlete suffering from gut issues in training/racing/in general (or other health issues) by eliminating “known irritants” to allow for faster healing?
  • Chris shares his experience of the “old him” who was plagued with bloating, high inflammation (hsCRP) and even blood in the stool back when he was high carb. Since clearing much of his dysbiosis, he now uses AIP strategically before racing to ensure a strong gut.
  • However, AIP is not meant to be a forever diet! Can be too restrictive if kept over time; missing out on variety and nutrients
  • Is there any research on AIP protocols yet or just anecdotal? Any other research pointing to how an elimination diet can help heal gut/issues?
  • There are many studies with lines that indirectly support the concepts of AIP but nothing specifically on AIP; i.e. studies show the benefits of removing foods with anti-nutrients and strategies to heal gut lining
  • Tommy shares insight on the interpratation of reserach and using caution (example: a study that used raw kidney beans leading people to say “avoid beans!” but there are flaws in this logic)
  • Sarah Ballantyne’s website for a mountain of info on AIP
  • What you CAN have on the AIP diet, and the foods to avoid
  • Can AIP be too restrictive and depriving? Can it lead to cravings?
  • Other possible AIP complications, like more food prep, shopping and cooking.
  • What to avoid until symptoms dissipate: dairy, grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, coffee/caffeine, nightshades, pepper-based spices.
  • Adjustment phase: breaking old habits, learning new habits.
  • It’s a mindset: embrace AIP as an opportunity! Not a diet of restrictions.
  • Do you have to have an autoimmune condition to benefit from AIP?
  • Can AIP become too high-carb and/or work against fat-adaptation?
  • Tangent: CARBS AREN’T BAD!
  • Tommy and Chris share different view points on carbs in the diet
  • More on fructose, fiber, lectins, phytates
    • Tommy promotes a “mixed diet;” Chirs personally enjoys keto and will even make a LCHF version of AIP
  • You don’t have to have an autoimmune (AI) condition to benefit from AIP, but autoimmunity is on the rise in today’s population and those with an AI issue will benefit with an AIP protocol
    • Taking a closer look at your symptoms, could it be signs of AI? Skin issues, gut issues, infections, etc.
    • If you have AI, you need carbs
  • On feeling better with carbs
  • Tommy: “Even if trying to be a fat-adapted athlete you need carbs to prime the system”
  • Insulin: not all evil and when it is a good thing!
  • Are high-fructose foods a problem and to be avoided?
    • If there’s a malabsorption issue or bacterial dysbiosis in the gut
    • Athletes have “high turnover” so fructose may not be all bad
    • But, still, not always a ton of nutritional value in fructose foods so choose wisely
    • And more on FODMAPs
  • Seeking solutions and avoiding symptom management

Other potential helpful and healing diets

  • Nutritional ketosis, veganism, the specific carb diet (SCD), low fiber diets, etc.
    • Your choice depends on your symptoms and needs
  • How Not To Die” by Michael Gregor
  • What are Lipopolysaccharides (LPS), and why are they bad?
    • Inflammatory, fat is transporting bad bacteria making it systemic
    • Relationship with gut dysbiosis
  • On getting more and monitoring your micronutrients
  • Pros and cons to saturated fats
  • On low-fiber diets
    • IBS, constipation issues, and when we see improvements with this approach
  • Not just diet that will cure: an “elimination season”
    • If symptoms or health issues are that bad, consider taking some time off from sport and competition to heal the body fully first

Comments (3)

  • Christian D says:

    Tawnee – You mentioned at the start of this episode something about IF and training/performance (was in the car so I didn't catch it all), but would you care to talk a bit more about this. I do most of my workouts (very low mileage…20 a week maybe, but am looking to increase over time) in a fasted state and am curious as to what you were talking about (also do IF on off days).


  • CoolinOlympia says:

    Tawnee, please get Rich Roll or another vegan athlete on your podcast to discuss these issues! I recently turned Vegan and I would like to hear a discussion on plant based diet nutrition and athletics from knowledgeable sources. How about Dr. Neil Barnard?

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