Autoimmune conditions are becoming more and more common, especially among American women. Why is that? And is it possible to reverse these conditions to live a healthy, happy life? Our guest, Palmer Kippola, has successfully reversed her Multiple Sclerosis and now works with others to naturally reverse their autoimmune diseases.
Palmer was a healthy teenager, but one day when she was 19, she woke up with pins and needles in her feet. When they didn’t go away, and, in fact, got worse, she went to a doctor who told her that, at 19 years of age, she had Multiple Sclerosis and would soon be in a wheelchair.
Determined to discover the root cause of her MS, Palmer thought back on her life, and considered whether chronic stress could have been a factor. When she started managing her stress levels, changing her diet, and exercising regularly, Palmer noticed improvements to her autoimmune condition.
In this episode, we talk about what it was like getting diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at only 19 years old. Palmer shares how identifying her triggers was crucial to curing the disease and why we need to look at external environmental indicators. She also shares the acronym FIGHTS that she lives by every day and encourages others to, as well.
A common question Palmer is asked by others trying to reverse their conditions is “what should I eat?”, so she explains what type of diet works well to for autoimmune conditions and gut health… and what foods you need to avoid and cut out of your diet. We also look at clear infections and what these have to do with chronic disease.
Then, we look at both the internal and external factors that make up our health and what we can do at a personal level to reduce our exposure to them. And finally, we explore all the different medical tests you can take to truly get to the bottom of your gut health, food intolerances, and autoimmune diseases.
Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease? Do you eat a diet designed to give your gut the best food for it? How do you consider FIGHTS in your everyday life?
In This Episode:
“We are way more in control of our health outcomes than we ever imagined possible. And even though your doctor may be telling you, “there's nothing you can do, except take medication,” I really would encourage people to become the CEO of their own health and well-being, and to do the research, it's there.” (11:28)
“Food [is] the first place to start because it's the highest leverage of any of the categories that they've examined. And [medical practitioners] often told me that 60 to 80% of their clients or patients saw symptom improvement, or complete resolution, when they addressed their inflammatory foods, took them out of the diet, and added in the nourishing foods.” (13:08)
“Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, in fact, I've heard that it's found in all grains, different types of gluten, maybe 23,000 different proteins. And it's about as digestible as human hair, which sounds terrible, gross and awful. So it's very difficult for anybody to be able to digest. And more recent research has come out showing that it creates a leaky gut in anyone who eats it.” (20:35)
Dr. Anna Cabeca
Welcome to Couch Talk.
This is Dr. Anna Cabeca and I'm blessed to have you here today with me. Today we're going to hit on autoimmune disease and talk about a really fascinating story about a woman named Palmer Kippola, who reversed her autoimmune condition.
She was diagnosed at a young age, at only 19 years old, with Multiple Sclerosis and told she would be wheelchair bound. This really took her on a 26-year journey of discovery and recovery to overcome her battle with Multiple Sclerosis.
So, she has now written a book calledBeat Autoimmune: The Six Keys to Reverse Your Condition and Reclaim Your Health. I've read this book, I've spoken with Palmer. I've gotten to know her over this last year and she just has a heart for healing, and to get her information and her story and her procedures, her framework, to help people deal and overcome their autoimmune condition.
So, she is here today to share her journey. She'll tell a little bit about her story and how at a young age she was diagnosed. And as well, the strategies that each of us can do and implement very easily, right, because less is more, I want to make things as easy as possible for all of us. You know, what we can do on a daily basis to really improve our health overall.
So join me in this delicious conversation. And let me introduce Palmer.
Hello everyone, Dr. Anna Cabeca here today, and I am pleased to announce that my dear friend, Palmer Kippola, is here to join me today.
And we're going to talk about a really powerful issue that is affecting so many more people today than ever before. And as well, women outnumber men in this area. And this is not something that we're proud of, right?
We are struggling with autoimmune disease in this nation and it's taken down really good women. And at a young age.
So Palmer, when I met her, she told me her story of how she was stricken with Multiple Sclerosis, MS - we’ll call it MS for short, in her teens, and debilitated, and was told like, you know, she's going to be in a wheelchair.
And so really pleased to bring her to you today to talk about her story, her success, how she has really empowered her own health, her life, her journey. And now with her new book called Beat Autoimmune, she is bringing that message out to everyone. So Palmer, it's great to have you here today with me.
It is such a delight to be here. Dr. Anna, thank you so much for inviting me.
Dr. Anna Cabeca
My pleasure. My pleasure.
Well, let's dig into it. Your story is so impactful. And you know, number one, I hate that you've been through it. But I'm so glad that you're here to share it really as a victor. So let's talk about your journey, what you went through.
Sure. Well, as you rightly said, I was diagnosed with MS at 19.
I was home for the summer after my freshman year of college. And I was working a summer job. Happy, healthy, well adjusted teenager, and I woke up one morning and the soles of my feet were all tingling. And I shook my feet because I thought I just lay on a limb for too long and the blood was flowing back all tingly. But that wasn't the case.
The tingling just kept creeping up my legs. So I went off to work thinking that the tingling would stop but it didn't. So by the time that tingling had crept up to my knees, I called my parents and they called the family doctor who said, get her to the neurologist at UCLA today.
So that's what we did. And by that afternoon, the tingling was up to my chest right underneath my neck. And the neurologist had me do a few cursory exams... she had me walk across her office, heel, toe, heel toe, touch my finger to my nose with my eyes closed.
And after about five minutes, and a spectacular lack of sensitivity, pronounces, “I'm 99% certain you have Multiple Sclerosis, MS, and if I'm right, there's nothing you can do. Except take medication and prepare for your life in a wheelchair.”
So, my parents and I were just stunned. We had never heard of MS. There was no internet at the time.
And we left her office with very little information, very little hope, and by nightfall, by the time I was lying in bed with my mom, my body had gone completely numb from the neck down and I would stay numb for a full six weeks.
Dr. Anna Cabeca
At that point the doctor diagnosed you right, gave you a diagnosis. And since then, have you been able to decipher like the triggers or the potential, like the reason, why you, why MS?
Well, that became just the guiding light in my life was this gift that I didn't realize was a gift at the time. Those six weeks of being numb, I was basically relegated to a couch and a family friend came by and she asked me this question.
“Palmer, why do you think you got the MS?”
And I just was absolutely stunned. “What do you mean? Why do I think I got the MS. You think I caused this? Did I cause this?” And I'm like a dog with a bone, I just kept chewing on the question.
And it came to me in a flash of insight lying there. And for this, I have to take you a little bit farther back in time. Because I i've been adopted as a baby by very loving parents, but my dad had been a fighter pilot whose way was invariably the right way.
And he had very strong opinions about things. And he yelled a lot. And he didn't like the fact that my mom had gained a lot of weight.
So he would yell at her. And one of my very earliest memories, and that insight that came to me in this image is of me age three, four or five, with my little Dukes up, my dad's yelling at my mom who's locked herself in the bedroom, and she's crying, he's calling her names. And I'm standing up to my dad, you know, you call my mom names, and I'll sock your lights out.
So in that flash of insight, as I lay on the couch at 19, I'm thinking that chronic stress was my number one root cause and I believed that my immune system, which is there to defend and protect us, had become a proxy for my hyper vigilance. That in fact, if it didn't have a real battle, like a virus or a parasite to fight off, that it would attack myself.
And that is, actually, the autoimmune attack the friendly fire. So I believed that chronic stress was at the root of the MS, even though now I know there's more to the story. And in fact, I should mention quickly, that there's now a lot of science that validates that chronic stress, especially this insidious childhood trauma, these studies have come out called ACES, for Adverse Childhood Experiences.
And it proves that the things that we experience in childhood, whether it's overt verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, whatever it is, that fully 64% of us or more, have experienced at least one of those, and it correlates to autoimmune conditions, even decades later.
Dr. Anna Cabeca
And especially during, like, in this perimenopause of transition time period, 35 to 55. When we have this neurologic vulnerability, if we've had an adverse childhood experience, an ACE, or, you know, PTSD, or chronic every day stress, we're more vulnerable to a very difficult transition time.
So I'm wondering, we're going to jump ahead, but we'll come back to some of those triggers, the key factors that have led to it, and now most importantly, you know, the top three things everyone can do, whether you have autoimmune disease, or not, to really empower your immune system to be as healthy as possible, and vibrant as possible, as you are definitely walking the talk and living it.
Now the perimenopausal transition for yourself, did you have any flare-ups, anything that came up during that time?
I have not experienced another MS symptom, not even a tingling baby toe since 2010.
So I can say, with confidence, that since I examined my root causes head on, removed them and healed my gut, that I have not experienced any further symptoms of the MS. And I actually have the blood tests that show that I don't have any elevated antibodies to myelin basic protein or other neurological tissue.
And a recent MRI actually also shows not only no new lesions, but a fading or disappearance of old one.
So I definitely believe that by addressing our root causes head on and healing our gut, those are absolutely critical to reversing any kind of chronic disease.
Dr. Anna Cabeca
Well, that is fabulous to hear that because I often do see that flare-up in this perimenopause time period. So being prepared again, keeping your immune system healthy, is going to protect you from that as well.
So let's talk about that. Let's talk about how you identifying the root cause, right, that stress and the strategies you put in place to deal with that, but also the three key things that each and every one of us can do to empower our immune system?
Well, it's complicated, and there's a lot to it. And so the mission behind this book, I didn't actually set out to write a book. The whole idea was I wanted to understand how in the world it was possible that we can even reverse these seemingly incurable conditions.
So after I healed, I just dove into the literature, I dove into the research, PubMed, that endless database of biomedical studies to learn what, in fact, can we control about our own health outcomes.
We're always going to have the genes for something. But it turns out, Dr. Anna, and maybe you've seen this, too, that only about 10% of our health outcomes are due to genes. We used to think that our DNA was our destiny. But in fact, it's not.
It's now looking like only 10% of our health outcomes is genetic related. And even the CDC, I found a stat in the CDC, if you GoogleExposome CDC, you'll see that they say 10%, genes, 90% environment.
So then I wanted to understand what in the world is it about the environment that's triggering these conditions. So, I said about, once I found that exciting science of epigenetics, which literally means above the gene, that helps us to control our health outcomes, by realizing it's not our genes that just express themselves in a pre-programmed way, but rather than the environment that influences that genetic expression. So what we eat, drink, think and do, are hugely impactful in determining how our health outcomes are.
So the first thing that I'd want people to understand is that we are way more in control of our health outcomes than we ever imagined possible. And even though your doctor may be telling you, “there's nothing you can do, except take medication,” I really would encourage people to become the CEO of their own health and well-being, and to do the research, it's there. So to understand that it's possible.
And then to help further, I decided I really don't want people to be told there's nothing they can do, I don't do very well with bullies.
So I came up with a mnemonic called FIGHTS, which stands for Food, Infections, Gut health, Hormone balance, Toxins, and Stress. And those are the six big categories that we can control.
So while we can't control the 10% genetics, we can control the 90% of lifestyle and those are the big factors that I would encourage everybody to ask themselves: why did they get that particular condition and recognize that your symptoms, your diagnosis is simply the messenger that's encouraging you to dig deeper into the root causes of why you got sick in the first place.
Dr. Anna Cabeca
And then what to do about it. So let's talk about that.
So. I've done a lot of research, I went to a lot of conferences, I did a lot of interviews, I realized I didn't just want to share my story, I wanted to share the story of other people who would also reverse these seemingly incurable conditions.
And, to a person, and this is more than a couple dozen people that I spoke with, they said number one, start with food.
So we need to address our food as the first place to start because it's the highest leverage of any of the categories that they've examined. And they often told me that 60 to 80% of their clients or patients saw symptom improvement, or complete resolution, when they addressed their inflammatory foods, took them out of the diet, and added in the nourishing foods.
Dr. Anna Cabeca
And you have a guide for our listeners that are going to give them some optimal food choices, right? Like how to eat if you have autoimmune disease, but just some really good optimal food choices. So that's atpalmerkippola.com/gift So y'all write that down? We'll put that in the show notes too.
But to look at some of these key foods, well, let's go through a few of those, too. A few of the do's and a few of the don’ts.
Well, and this is the biggest question that I get from clients and people that I interact with in my private Facebook group, is “what the heck should I eat? I don't know what to do. I'm hearing that low fat vegetarian is the way to go for MS. I'm hearing that a ketogenic is the right way to go with MS or any autoimmune condition. So what should I do!?”
And I believe that everybody's in the best position to figure that out for themselves. But I do think there are some basic guidelines.
So from my perspective, in my experience, back when I was 19, there was no internet, there was no Terry Wahls and nobody talking about a ketogenic diet. And I read in books that the best way to go was low fat vegetarian.
So I'm going to start with a don't here, in my opinion. We were already a low fat household, margarine, non-fat milk, ice milk, ice cream, and it was hard to go even lower fat than that, right?
Our brains are 60% fat, they need nourishing fat. Every cell in our body is coated with this limpid, which is a fat layer that's made up of phosphatidyl, choline, and other fats. Our bodies crave this healthy fat so that everything functions properly.
So, I would say the best place that you can start is examining the best foods for you by removing some of those obviously toxic foods and adding in some nourishing ones and see how your body responds.
Dr. Anna Cabeca
What you mentioned is just high in sugar, right? That was a dietary plan high in sugar: low fat, high carbs. And that was how so many of us were told.
Well, combine that with chronic, elevated cortisol, pushing the pedal to the metal, soaring levels of glucose will result and then we create what we call leaky membranes, right?
We break down the membranes, not just in our gut, we always think leaky gut. And I spoke with Alessio Fasano and we had this lovely conversation. And just the bottom line is that cortisol is the key that unlocks the door to allow for that zonulin intrusion, or leaky gut, wherever it is in your body, leaky brain, leaky heart valve, leaky whatever.
So looking at that type of diet is pouring gasoline, essentially, on a fire.
So with that underlying physiology of chronic stress, creating that immune attack just from impaired cell membranes, right, impaired healthy, connected cell membranes, right, we create some gaps and breakdowns.
And we need fat for that healthy lipid layer, to have that healthy communication as well. Alright, so we're going to choose a healthy keto green diet, and you got yours and Terry Wahls, you mentioned Dr. Terry Wahls, who is certainly one of the pioneers in this area, God bless her, also had been in a wheelchair with MS and was able to reverse it through the dietary plan that she puts in through there.
Let's talk about infections, your I is for Infections. So, you know, how those and we're really looking at that more and more and more, and I'm telling you, this is an area that's so fascinating to me. But as a gynecologist and a sexual health expert, right, we think of infections, think about sexually transmitted disease, y'all, we get a lot more than gonorrhea, syphilis, or chlamydia from, you know, a partner, from other person's body fluids.
So we need to think about that too, because that's also another attack on our immune system. But going beyond that, right, we go beyond that to viruses from the environment, you know, parasites and bacteria and fungi and these types of other infections that we get from outside and within.
So that's a huge area that I think is just beginning to be understood since we recognize like you said, the DNA wasn't all there is right. The microbiome becomes really important as the first line of defense. So it's a fascinating area. Let's talk about that.
What's your I?
The I: Clear Infections, yes.
And this doesn't necessarily mean that we get great big guns out and start, you know, just shooting out the infections.
So there's this concept of creating a positive or harmonious terrain. So if we modify our terrain, and make ourselves as inhospitable to infections as possible, then those infections, those bugs, just simply aren't going to be having the environment, the sweet sugar shop of our gut, as they might be used to.
So, the concept of Infections is - it's real. Scientists believe it's one of the biggest triggers of autoimmune conditions. And it's not just a trigger. It turns out that when people develop autoimmune conditions, it's a state that makes us really hospitable to infections. It's a hypometabolic state, meaning our metabolism slows down.
As you know, this is a time during perimenopause and menopause, especially, that women are dealing with hormonal imbalance, their body temperature may be lower, they're tired all the time. And that is a perfect time for these infections to set up shop.
So it's both a chicken and an egg conundrum. It's a top trigger of autoimmune conditions, and it's a top resulting effect after our immune system is weakened from an autoimmune attack.
So there are two main strategies to address the infections problem.
One is we've got to unburden our immune system. And the second is we need to raise our metabolism.
So the first part of unburdening the immune system, it means we need to make ourselves inhospitable, we got to stop eating sugar. Basically, we're just eating the things that, really, the viruses and the bugs, and even the cancers thrive on. So if we can take out the sugar as much as possible, following this keto green path, it really sets us up in a good way.
And the other things that we're going to want to do or move our body and get better sleep, and all of these surrounding lifestyle factors go a long way to help clearing those infections out.
Dr. Anna Cabeca
And with that my approach is keto green. But your approach is similar in a ways but there's other certain no-no foods, right, that really can trigger the immune system. Do you want to
hit on those real quick?
So the top three baddies for autoimmune are gluten, dairy and sugar.
I'll start with gluten. Everybody knows about it, it's probably over discussed. But for good reason. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, in fact, I've heard that it's found in all grains, different types of gluten, maybe 23,000 different proteins.
And it's about as digestible as human hair, which sounds terrible, gross and awful. So it's very difficult for anybody to be able to digest. And more recent research has come out showing that it creates a leaky gut in anyone who eats it.
So I think it's important to pause on that one, gluten creates a leaky gut in anyone who eats it.
And you mentioned Dr. Fasano, he is the one who found the autoimmune equation that says you need three things in place for autoimmunity to develop. And that is the genes for an autoimmune condition. That is those environmental factors that we've been talking about. And then the third element in the equation is this intestinal hyperpermeability, so otherwise known as a leaky gut.
So those are the three things that are the setup for autoimmune conditions. And the really exciting news about that is if you flip the equation, you remove your inflammatory environmental factors, you heal your gut, you can stop, arrest of the autoimmune process.
So gluten happens to be the biggest baddie in that equation.
Cow dairy especially is associated with all kinds of autoimmune conditions and heart disease, Alzheimer's. It's something that you really want to consider removing, at least for 30 days, get it out of your diet and see if you can handle dairy.
And it turns out, it's not necessarily the lactose that's the biggest problem, it’s the casein, which is the protein found in dairy, which is especially inflammatory in cow dairy.
And the third is sugar. It turns out that sugar interferes with our immune system, and after eating it, it can stop your immune system for functioning for up to five hours after eating it.
So if you've got an immune system problem, like any of these autoimmune conditions we're talking about, and you're still eating sugar, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage, because your immune system simply can't function after you've eaten sugar.
Dr. Anna Cabeca
Very interesting. Yeah, no, that's good information. Can't help but hear that enough, because we always want to justify the reasons we can, right.
So give us the third. So we did Food, Infection.... give us the third strategy for us to adhere to you to bump up our unity.
One of the biggest baddies is minimizing toxins as much as we can.
Scientists now agree that environmental toxins may be the number one reason that autoimmune conditions have become epidemic. And we're not just talking about the toxins that are out there in the environment, but also the toxins that are inside us, because those critters, like our gut bugs, they create waste products, which is very harmful for our bodies.
So there's something called a toxicant, which is external, it's something like a standard American diet or sad food, could be medications, it might be heavy metals, it might be mold.
But the toxin is the internal factor. And that could be those Lipopolysaccharides, or LPS for short, which is the waste products of the bacteria that's created in our gut.
And once we have a leaky gut, from those sad foods, from all the medications, and even the chronic stress creates a leaky gut, those toxicants and toxins can flood into our bloodstream, where our immune system, that’s just doing its job, starts its attack.
And that's the autoimmune cascade.
So as much as we can do to prevent external toxicants from coming in, and internal toxins from developing and becoming worse, the better.
And just a note, and I know you and your listeners know this, but theEnvironmental Working Group is a great resource for people to discover which products they're using have what kind of effect in their body.
It seems that women are using more than 12 beauty products each morning, each with a combination of like 168 different chemicals. And men, while not using as many, are definitely affected by using like nine products with 85 different chemicals. And that's just before they've left the bathroom. We haven't even talked about having sugary snacks or breakfast or sugary cereals.
That's super important that we practice the precautionary principle: do what you can to keep those toxins from coming in. And then once you have them do what you can to help escort them out.
Dr. Anna Cabeca
Yeah, no, that makes sense.
And one of the tests that I love the most from Cyrex Labs Array 2 (Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Scan), is looking at those early signs of autoimmune attack, right, looking at the LPS.
So what other testing was helpful to you to have? Have you use the Array 2 by Cyrex Labs?
I have, I have. I think I keep Cyrex in business because I've done a lot of their labs. That is helpful.
I think that people can also be pretty confident that if they're having any symptoms anywhere in their body, whether it's joint pain, migraines, numbness and tingling, profound fatigue, chances are really good that there's a leaky gut going on, too.
So definitely Cyrex has that array number two that will help you understand just how leaky it is so that you can measure along the way those strategies that you're putting in place to help heal and seal your gut so that you can tell.
I think there are a couple other important ones I've had, you know.
Certainly a gluten sensitivity test with Cyrex is great, array number three.
If you're sensitive to gluten like I am, you might also have this cross reactivity with other foods like millet and dairy and other things that you're reacting to like whey, which is dairy, even instant coffee, for example, and milk chocolate because of the dairy. So that's array number four.
And almost always there are food sensitivities going on and people with autoimmune conditions. So it's super important, whether you do an elimination diet to get to the root of what foods are really blocking your immune system from functioning properly.
But also getting a sense of what are the gut bugs that are going on inside your gut?
We talked about those infections, you might have Candida happening, you might have H. pylori, or any number of different infections. That's a really good thing to get checked out as well.
Dr. Anna Cabeca
Yeah, absolutely. All right.
Palmer, thank you so much for sharing bit about your journey and your story and solutions with us. And I know there's so much more in your book,Beat Autoimmune, and it's getting such high accolades. I certainly love it. I'm 100%, behind you in it.
And everyone who's listening, this is a great book to have. It's a great book to have, and a great book to share.
So you surely know someone if you're not dealing with autoimmune issues yourself. I mean, there's just pearls in here that you can take to heart. And the reasons why we make the recommendations we do, that you've heard me make, that you're hearing Palmer make, and just adding to that knowledge base to really empower us to make those good decisions on a regular basis.
So I want to encourage you to get her book,Beat Autoimmune,it is everywhere books are sold.
And also, tell our audience about the download atpalmerkippola.com/gift.
That's it. That's forThe Optimal Food Guide.
I believe everybody's in the best position to understand which foods work for them. I would say a paleo template is a great place to start if you've been eating a grain heavy, sugar heavy diet, removing those grains, sugar and dairy is a fantastic place to start. And then you can fine tune it as you go.
Dr. Anna Cabeca
Excellent. Alright, one more thing before we close, I almost forgot to ask you!
Just give us the way you start out your day, your first few hours of your day. What is something that you've put into your morning ritual to kick you off to a good day?
Such a great question.
I learned from Wayne Dyer, our beloved late Wayne Dyer, that the fruit let your first words on waking be “Thank you”. So every morning I wake up and say thank you to the universe.
And I have meditation practice. I do five days a week, I give myself weekends off. But every morning during the week for 20 minutes. It's a combination of mantra based meditation, coupled with some gratitude and forgiveness.
I use the Ho’oponopono Hawaiian forgiveness practice where I say, “I'm so sorry, please forgive me. Thank you, I love you.” With my hand on my heart and my hand on my belly. For any unfinished business.
Unforgiveness is actually classified as a disease.
So to make sure I'm clean and clear, with everyone, even my ancestors and people that I don't know I've harmed or who have impacted me in some way. Those are foundational.
And then almost every morning I do my exercise. I'm usually hiking in the hills or doing some yoga or some high intensity resistance training. And eating a healthy, healthy breakfast on the lighter side I almost always do intermittent fasting usually a 16 and 8 kind of
Dr. Anna Cabeca
Excellent well thank you again Palmer.
Okay, my listeners,Beat Autoimmune, and thenpalmerkippola.com/gift.
I want to thank you all for being with us today and thank you for sharing your time and your space and your energy with us.
And please don't hesitate to let us know your questions.
You can always email me, my team,email@example.com and let me know what else you want to hear about. Let me know what you've loved and what you've learned as well.
And please rate us I am so blessed when I read these beautiful iTunes ratings and I just read one from Palmer today that just warms my heart, you guys, this makes me so happy.
Thank you for sharing your love and sharing this message with those you love as well.
So I'll talk with you more next week. Thank you all for listening.