October 5, 2016
Wahls Warriors sing the praises of not only the Wahls Protocol, but Dr Terry Wahls who created the protocol in order to treat her multiple sclerosis.
In the interests of fairness, I intend to outline the major diets that claim to support those of us with multiple sclerosis. Some I have tried and moved on. The Wahls Protocol is one. But, I’ll try to be fair, not because it worked for me (it didn’t), but because I believe in people making an informed decision and there is proof that it does work for some people.
Wahls Protocol - developed by a doctor with multiple sclerosis
In 2000, Dr Wahls was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In 2003 she struggled to walk room to room for hospital rounds. By 2004 she was required a tilt/recline wheelchair moving from relapsing remitting to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. By 2007 and at age 52, her time was spent lying in a zero-gravity chair.
Even as early as 2002, Dr Wahls considered the potential of diet on treating MS and started analysing the research. Dr Wahls used herself as the research subject, testing theory that excessive carbohydrates and sugars lead to insulin and inflammation and moved from her vegetarian to a paleo diet. Still she progressed. Still she researched – not only multiple sclerosis but also Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease (also called ALS or motor neuron) and Huntington’s disease.
In developing the Wahls Protocol, she tested the hypothesis that the mitochondria stop working well and lead to early death of brain cells. Further research identified supplements that could protect the mitochondria. Further research included significance of leaky gut, food allergies, toxins and how to consume the level of nutrients she considered necessary to reverse her disease.
A clinical trial was established in 2010. If you are interested, you should view the TEDx talk given by Dr Wahls in 2011.
So what is it, how and why does it work.
The Wahls Protocol
According to The Wahls Protocol by Dr Terry Wahls with Eve Adamson, there are three levels: Wahls Diet, Wahls Paleo and Wahls Paleo Plus.
The Wahls Protocol suggests health fat intake to make the myelin insulation and recommends consumption of oily wild fish, coconut oil and avocado as well as lean meats. No gluten, no dairy, no eggs and few if any legumes are allowed.
Level 1: Wahls Diet
9 cups of fruit and vegetables every day:
- 3 cups tightly packed raw or cooked leafy greens (darker the better)
- 3 cups deeply coloured vegetables and fruits
- 3 cups sulfur-rich vegetables including broccoli cabbage, asparagus, brussels sprouts, turnips, radishes, onions, garlic. Gluten-free / Dairy-free Organic, grass-fed, wild-caught, high quality protein.
Level 2: Wahls Paleo
Everything from Level 1 Wahls Diet plus:
- Reduce all non-gluten grains, legumes, potatoes to 2 servings/week
- Add seaweed or algae and organ meats to your diet
- Add fermented foods, soaked seeds and nuts, and more raw foods
Level 3: Wahls Paleo Plus
This level is recommended for Dr Wahls patients who are not seeing enough progress at Level 2. In addition to Level 2:
- Eliminate all grains, legumes and potatoes
- Consume at least 6 cups of vegetables, divided evenly between greens, color and sulfur vegetables
- Reduce cooked starchy vegetables to 2 serves/week ad fruit to 1 serving/day preferably berries. Avoid white fleshed fruits such as apples, bananas, pears as well as grapes, peaches, pineapples and mangos.
- Add coconut oil and full-fat coconut milk
- Eat 2 times per day and fast 12 to 16 hours every night.
Above all, Dr Wahls recommends stress reduction in order that your body can heal.
How does it work?
I’m not going to pretend that I can either pronounce or understand the technical aspects of Dr Wahls book. The following is my layperson understanding and I recommend you read the book if you are interested in the finer points.
Mitochondria processes fat-soluble toxins and convert them into water-soluble form that can be eliminated from your body. They also produce a compound called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which helps create proteins and antibodies, providing energy. But to be effective, the mitochondria needs nutrients. That’s where diet comes into play.
My personal experience
I’m sharing this with you on the basis of my personal experience and without any medical or scientific qualifications. You need to consider diet as you would any treatment, in consultation with your own medical professionals and based on your own health.
Having been gluten free since 2005 and anaemic, I considered Wahls as the easiest diet adjustment to treat my disease. I felt that going dairy free would be difficult (milk in coffee) so felt that I should ease into it with the changes to vegetables and fruits.
The easiest way of incorporating the greens was having a daily smoothie. Half a bunch of kale, cucumber, turmeric, creamed coconut and berries. At first I felt fantastic. And my iron levels increased within 6 months. But then shortly after, my fatigue became overwhelming, as did my foggy brain and insomnia. Blood tests showed my thyroid autoimmune condition spiked. Google linked excessive consumption of dark greens with thyroid.
My condition worsened. GP suggested relapse. Neuro took MRI and said it was MS but not a relapse. It took another couple of months before I had to choose. And while I know that Wahls Protocol has and will work for some people, I acknowledged that it didn’t work out for me.
As D’Adamo said ‘One man’s food … is someone else’s poison’. I truly wish you good health in finding your food.
It is impossible to condense such a large amount of information. So, if your interest is piqued, I suggest you go straight to the source. www.thewahlsfoundation.org