Do you think that food is powerful enough to heal or cure disease? Dr Terry Wahls cured herself from secondary progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), where she had reached a point of degeneration to the point that she was only able to walk short distances with 2 canes and had to be in a reclined, zero gravity chair for the majority of the day. Watch her full video (it’s under 18 minutes) on Tedx now, she has a compelling story!
Dr. Terry Wahls was diagnosed with with MS, she started tackling the disease by going to the Cleveland Clinic and trying all of the cutting edge medicine. As a doctor who wanted to find a way to make her situation better, she started doing research on nutrients that may help her condition, and started supplementing with things like creatine and co-enzyme q. Unfortunately she found that these supplements were helping, but that she was only slowing down the progress of her decline, but she was still declining. She found through her avid research that your mitochondria are the key to many of the autoimmune diseases, and that you need to support your mitochondria with B vitamins, sulphur, and antioxidants. It then occurred to her that she should be getting her long list of nutrients and supplements that could help her condition from food. If she got her nutrients from food in addition to getting the nutrients that she needed to help combat her MS that she would also be able to get many more nutrients that science has yet to discover through eating real foods.
Terry decided to take control of her life and transformed her diet away from the easy, fast, and convenient foods of the typical American diet and created her own version of a Modern Hunter Gatherer diet, based on Paleo Principles, and tweaked for optimal nutrient consuption to help her body fight her disease – which she found was helping to support her mitochondria.
Dr. Wahls speaks to the sad state of what Americans are eating today. She includes that as people get more affluent their diet actually gets further away from real food and more heavily into processed foods. Unfortunately eating this way, basing your diet on quick and easy processed foods lead to a dramatic deficiency in nutrients for most Americans. Below is a chart from Loren Cordain that Dr. Wahls includes in her presentation, showing the percentages of Americans that are deficient in essential nutrients to their health. Particularly alarming is that 80% of Americans are deficient in Omega 3 fats and over 70% are deficient in Zinc and Iodine. Being nutrient deficient sets the stage for chronic disease, obesity, and learning & behavior problems.
Dr. Wahls has changed her diet to follow what we as humans have followed for over 2.5 million years, something she calls a “Modern Hunter Gather Diet” or the Paleo Diet is more nutritious than any of the recommended diets – nutritionally it is better than what is recommended by the American Medical Association, American Diabetic Association, and My Food Pyramid.
So what do you eat on Wahls’ version of the Modern Paleo diet that Dr. Wahl’s has crafted specifically to heal herself from her MS? She advises following the principles of a Paleo diet, eating organically, and mostly vegetables, leaves, roots, nuts, seeds, seafood, seaweed, and grass-fed meats. She took the principles of the modern paleo diet and then modified it to ensure she was getting all of the nutrients she needed to support her brain and mitochondria to help her fight her disease. She eats 9 cups of veggies a DAY, which she describes as approximately 3 heaping dinner plates full – can you say that you eat that many veggies, even if you’re on a Paleo diet I feel like I am not getting that much in my daily consumption, and especially not when traveling.
3 cups of “green leaves” – Rich in vitamins B, A, C, K and minerals. You want to eat these veggies with some fat as well since A and K are fat soluble vitamins, in order to fully absorb them you must include some fat with your green leaves. Supports your brain, mitochondria, blood vessels, bones, immune cells, minerals are co-factors for 100s of different enzymes in your body. Lowers risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. She recommends eating 3 cups of these each day:
- Swiss Chart
- Collard Greens
- Baby Greens
Kale was called out specifically by Terry as the vegetable that has the most nutrition per calorie, not a big Kale fan? Try kale chips which you can make in your oven or in a food dehydrator. Want more information on why to eat leafy greens, Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple did a great post, inspired by this presentation by Dr. Terry Wahls.
3 cups of sulfur rich vegetables - Your brain needs sulphur, your liver and kidney need sulphur to help remove toxins. You should eat these sulphur rich vegetables which include vegetables from: Cabbage Family – cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts,turnips, rutabagas, radishes, collards, and kale; Onion Family – onions, garlic, leeks, chives, shallots; Mushrooms & Asparagus
Want more information on why to eat sulfur rich veggies, as a follow up to Dr. Wahls’ talk Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple did another post on that topic as well!
3 cups of color – contains flavonoids and poly-phenols which are potent antioxidants that support your retinas, mitochondria, brain cells, and the removal of toxins. Preferably 3 different colors (other than green)
Fill your plate with brightly and naturally colored fruits and vegetables like
- Red, yellow, orange peppers
- Berries - blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries
- Brightly colored fruits – peaches and oranges
Plus wild fish, grass-fed meat, organ meats, and sea vegetables to balance out the rest of what you’re eating. Again these are things that are completely in line with the Paleo diet. She listed eating salmon and herring and having some grass-fed meat everyday. She talked about the importance of organ meats, which is something that traditional cultures still hold on to and reinforce as fertility foods, organ meats are concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals, and co-enzyme Q – which are all important to your mitochondria and therefore are key in Dr. Wahls’ diet too. Seaweed is also included, because it’s high in both iodine and selenium which are needed to remove toxins and lowers risks of breast and prostate cancer.
Terry comments that it will cost more for food that restores your health and vitality – by eating the 9 cups of fruits and vegetables a day that are organic and fresh you will be spending more than you would on processed convenience foods. But you will pay for it at some point, you pay for your food or you can pay for in docotor’s visits, prescriptions, surgeries, missed work, early retirement, and nursing homes.
She ends saying that we all have a choice, that we can choose what we eat and how we live. Her choice is to educate the population and to conduct clinical trials to show the impact that you can have on helping to cure disease. She challenges each and every person to become a modern day hunter gatherer – will you accept her challenge?
I do accept the challenge! This is something I am already living and will continue to live and hopefully help to share with others the benefits and vitality that can be gained from following a Paleo / Modern day hunter gatherer’s diet. Now I’m going to focus on adding some of the thing that Dr. Wahls recommends that I haven’t quite mastered….like organ meats!