If you’re someone who struggles with an autoimmune disease or chronic illness, there’s a chance that you’ve heard of the Wahls Protocol. It’s a book written by Dr. Terry Wahls that been gaining popularity over the past few years as more and more people decide to take their health into their hands (and mouths!) and reversing their autoimmune disease using food as medicine. I first stumbled across it several months ago when I was reading about how another blogger used it to heal from chronic Lyme disease, and I knew it was something I needed to do.
Here is the gist of the Wahls Protocol: Dr. Terry Wahls wrote a book after beginning to heal her multiple sclerosis using the nutrients in food. She had progressive MS that medicines were not helping, and went from being an athletic parent to being dependent on a tilt/recline wheelchair. Through the healing power of using nutrient-dense food as medicine, she is now back to being athletic; swimming, cycling, hiking, and whatever else she wants to do. And she’s not the only “Wahls Warrior” to have a story like this. This diet gives your body the power to heal itself, and it’s incredible.
I can highlight the basics of the Wahls Protocol, but I highly recommend reading the entire book yourself before beginning this diet because it will be much more difficult to be successful if you haven’t learned WHY these foods will help and what your body requires to heal itself. The book does a great job at explaining all of this in detail, from an MD who was trained to practice traditional medicine, but when that failed her, she learned the functional route as well.
The Wahls Protocol: Reversing Autoimmune Disease?
The Wahls Protocol can be classified as a type of paleo, but heavier on vegetables and only high-quality meats. There are 3 different levels that you can choose from, depending on how strict you want to be and how quickly you want to heal.
You eat 6-12 ounces of organic, grass fed meat daily; 6-9 cups of rich, organic vegetables in the form of greens, colors and sulfurs; and lots of good coconut fat. The ratios depend on which level you are on. All three levels prohibit gluten, dairy, and most grains, and include fermented foods and seaweed.
If you’re coming from a Standard American Diet, it’ll be easiest to start on Level 1, because it is the most flexible. If you aren’t seeing enough healing with that one, then move to Level 2 and 3.
I follow level 3, which is Wahls Paleo Plus. It’s a ketogenic paleo diet, that focuses on the healthy vegetables, only the best quality meats, and lots of good fats to make up the bulk of the calories. It’s been shown in Dr. Wahls’ clinical trials to help people reverse disease, and I can tell you that I’ve been seeing great changes on it.
Healing your body from the inside out is not easy. You end up with detox symptoms including headaches, bowel problems, and sleeping issues as your body adjusts from eating junk to eating the good stuff. But it’s worth it to put your head down and keep going through that adjustment period. I’m finally feeling GOOD again! Last summer, I had a good day maybe once every 2-3 weeks. Now, my good periods last 3-4 weeks before I have a few not so great days. If I can do it, so can you. Our health is worth it.
The biggest thing to remember when starting any diet is this: you are what you eat. I know that’s thrown around so often that it’s become cliche, but it’s also very accurate. There’s dozens of diets out there, but the labels that they carry do not tell you how healthy the followers are.
You can follow a gluten free diet, and if all you eat is gluten free bread, then you won’t be healthy. You can be a vegan and eat nothing but noodles and soy, and you won’t be healthy. And you can follow a ketogenic diet, yet if all you eat is pork rinds and heavy cream from cows given hormones and fed GMO grain to fatten them up; you will not be healthy.
Even if these diets are helping you lose weight. You will not be healthy.
You can’t be building strong cells and feeding your mitochondrial powerhouses with inflammatory foods and omega-6 heavy fats. Your body is literally made up of the nutrients you’re feeding it; and if you’re feeding it junk then your cells only have junk to work with.
It’s like building a house. Imagine you’re a contractor, and you’ve got the plans needed to create this solid, quality home for someone. You’ve got your wood, nails, concrete, shingles, insulation, subflooring, carpet, etc. You can make a great home with those supplies, right?
Now imagine having to build the same home, with all of the same features, but the only supplies you have are play-doh, some dirt, a handful of jelly beans, some pipe cleaners, one lamp, a car engine, and a slice of cheese. You can’t possibly build the same solid, stable, quality home when you don’t have the right building blocks.
This is the struggle that our body faces when we feed it junk food. So regardless of whether or not you’re losing weight, you will still face the same health problems in the future if you are feeding your body food that’s void in nutrients.
So for the month of January, I will be posting Wahls Protocol-compliant soup recipes to make this diet easy to follow. They are healthy, delicious, and big batches which will be amazing for leftovers. It helps take the pressure off of having to cook something new multiple times per day, and soup is always the perfect meal when it’s cold out.
Have you had any success with the Wahls Protocol?