Are you or a loved one looking for a way to reverse MS or autoimmune symptoms? If you haven’t heard of Dr. Terry Wahls, this incredible M.D. and researcher was able to turn back the clock on her own progressive multiple sclerosis with lifestyle changes and a specifically tailored Paleo-type diet.
(If you prefer to hear Dr. Wahls explain her story and her methods rather than read about it, you’re in luck! I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Wahls in this Wellness Mama podcast where she explains how she designed her multi-faceted protocol to support and nourish the cell mitochondria with the power of real food.)
Her journey started as it does for many of us … searching for answers to the puzzling health problems that affect us personally.
Dr. Terry Wahls and How She Found a Way to Reverse MS
Dr. Wahls started to experience the symptoms of MS while she was attending medical school. Her first official diagnosis of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis came in 2000.
In 2003, this former national tae-kwon-do competitor needed a tilt recline wheelchair. She now had secondary progressive MS, and the drugs weren’t working. Even with her own medical knowledge and the help of some of the best doctors in the world, she wasn’t getting any better. So, armed with piles of studies, she dug into the research herself to find answers.
It soon became obvious to Dr. Wahls that it couldn’t hurt to try known brain-boosting nutritional supplements for help. This led her to consider … how could she get the same brain-nourishing benefits from real food? Her research led her to learn how a hunter-gatherer (Paleo) diet could help nourish her body and possibly heal her from her disease.
Amazingly, by changing her lifestyle and diet, Dr. Wahls was able to start riding her bicycle to work … after four long years in a wheelchair.
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
What is this dreaded disease that strikes seemingly out of nowhere?
There’s still a long way to go in understanding MS, but in a nutshell, the immune system has an abnormal response and attacks the body’s central nervous system.
The attack targets the fatty shield around nerve fibers, gradually impeding the body’s signals to the brain and vice versa. This results in all kinds of undesirable and increasingly debilitating symptoms.
It is interesting to note that although the cause of MS is still unknown, unlike a true autoimmune disease, researchers suspect an outside environmental trigger (combined with a person’s genetic susceptibility to such a trigger). Dr. Wahls’ prescription for supporting the body’s natural detoxification abilities makes sense in this scenario.
The Wahls Protocol: Hope for MS Sufferers
Dr. Wahls now continues her work on a wider level. She conducts clinical trials to expand research on the role of diet in diseases like MS and developed her plan to reverse MS into a book, The Wahls Protocol. Since it’s been revised to address other autoimmune disorders and she’s also written a cookbook with recipes tailored to reverse MS. In addition, there is now a full seminar with workshops and certification in the Wahls Protocol methods.
I met Dr. Wahls when I happened to sit next to her during a session at a health event we both attended. At that time she had literally just received a preview copy of her book. I was so glad I had learned to speed read … I spent the whole session finishing her book! We got to meet after, and I found her so energetic and inspirational.
The Wahls Protocol is full of solid, practical advice and tips (and easy to follow at the same time). Much of the advice is appropriate for anyone struggling with an autoimmune condition of any kind. I love that Dr. Wahls focuses not so much on removing foods but on consuming nutrient-dense foods that support mitochondria function, which is so important for MS and autoimmune sufferers.
So what’s in her plan to reverse MS? These are the highlights:
Dr. Wahls’ Dietary Protocol to Reverse MS
Mitochondria are the body’s power producers, so it makes sense that Dr. Wahls pinpoints their role in optimizing brain and immune system health. Here’s the broad strokes of the dietary advice the Wahls Protocol suggests for MS and autoimmune-specific conditions:
- Remove the 3 most common foods that trigger abnormal immune system response: gluten, casein, and albumin (the protein in egg whites).
- Take in 9 cups of vegetables and fruits daily (fresh, juiced, blended, or lightly steamed), specifically:
- 3 cups leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, lettuce, etc.)
- 3 cups brightly colored fruits or vegetables (Ideally these would be 3 different colors, and colored all the way through … so no bananas, for example … I always knew bananas were no good!)
- 3 cups sulfur-rich vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, etc.)
- Consume bone broth and fermented foods daily.
- Have high quality wild-caught or grass-fed protein for dinner.
(Sounds really familiar, right?)
Basically, this protocol can not only help reverse MS but can help anyone suffering from leaky gut, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, lupus, arthritis, psoriasis, chronic pain, diabetes, traumatic brain injury, depression, PTSD … and the list goes on.
Be sure to check out the Wahls Protocol book for all the details on the diet plus how to craft a nutritional supplement regimen to help reverse MS. (Dr. Wahls recommends doing this along with the help and oversight of a functional medicine doctor).
Research, Help, and Hope on the Horizon
The exciting part is Dr. Wahls’ research is receiving attention from even the mainstream medical world. In 2016 the National MS Society granted her a $1 million grant to conduct further research … a very exciting development for MS sufferers, and the real food movement in general!
And if you haven’t already, take a few minutes to watch Dr. Terry’s viral TED talk from 2011. It’s so worth the watch.
What do you think of Dr. Wahls’ protocol? Do you struggle with an autoimmune condition or even MS, and have dietary changes helped you?
- “Definition of MS,” National Multiple Sclerosis Society, accessed April 15, 2017.
- “Wahls Veggie Protocol: Q & A,” Phoenix Helix, accessed April 15, 2017.