Eating for Autoimmune Disorders, The Wahls Protocol

Last Updated: September 23, 2019 | 3 minute read


[Blog]-Terry-Wahls-Featured

Dr. Terry Wahls is a woman with a passion for knowledge. After discovering that she had an autoimmune issue which was continuing to cause a decline in her health she decided to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate her current wellness strategy. The care and feeding of her mitochondria became her main focus.

Dr. Terry Wahls

Dr. Terry Wahls is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa where she both teaches and conducts clinical trials. The focus of her clinical trials tests the effect of nutrition and lifestyle interventions to treat MS and other progressive health problems, resulting in over 60 peer reviewed scientific papers on her findings.

This is a personal project for Dr. Wahls as she has been diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Her initial approach was to take her doctor’s advice, consuming numerous medications and undergoing chemotherapy to slow the disease. After three short years she was confined to a tilt-recline wheelchair and her health progressively got worse. Determined to reduce her health’s rate of decline, Dr. Wahls drew on her medical training to take a deep dive into the research of her disease. She knew that research in animal models of disease is often 20 or 30 years ahead of clinical practice so began to implement some of the findings in her everyday life.

Dr. Wahls became focussed on nutrition and redesigned her diet eating solely for vitamin intake. Using medical literature, functional medicine, and her knowledge of the hunter-gatherer diet, Dr. Wahls created – The Wahls Protocol.

The Wahls Protocol

The Wahls Protocol focusses on feeding your mitochondria, the powerhouses of your cells. When your mitochondria aren’t functioning efficiently, your health can begin to deteriorate.

+ To learn more about your mitochondria, click here.

Dr. Wahls suggests skipping foods that can cause harm to cells such as sugar, processed foods, grains, soy, dairy, eggs, and legumes, while embracing veggies, grass-fed meat, fish, fruit, and plenty of healthy fats. It reads a lot like the Paleo diet (it is a variation of a Paleo diet) but there is a difference. The Wahls Protocol has a specific focus on veggies, six to nine cups of non-starchy vegetables a day, which Dr. Wahls says gives the mitochondria the power it needs to convert food to energy, healing the body in the process.

“We want to be able to play Scrabble and cards and chess with our kids and our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren, and we’d like to be able to play a little soccer, walk the dog, play in the backyard in our 70s, 80s, 90s, and 100-plus. To do that, it means you’re not eating sugar, you’re eating these radical things known as vegetables, that [you] have some sort of stress-reducing practice, that [you’re] still moving [your] body, and I think some very thoughtful, targeted supplements like MitoQ can be a very helpful part of your strategy for optimal aging, maturing, and looking steadily younger and feeling steadily healthier and more robust,” says Dr. Wahls.

Dr. Wahls is now the author of The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine, The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles, and the cookbook The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life: The Revolutionary Modern Paleo Plan to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions.

Dr. Wahls ditches the wheelchair

By combining this new diet with neuromuscular electrical stimulation, Dr. Wahls’ health began to improve. Within a year she was able to walk through the hospital without a cane and even complete an 18-mile bicycle tour. She no longer uses her wheelchair and rides her bike to work every day.

Wahls now teaches the public and medical community about the healing power of the Paleo diet and therapeutic lifestyle changes that restore health and vitality. She also has a very successful website where she shares her tips on how to implement The Wahls Protocol with ease and success, in addition to a hugely popular TED Talk on Youtube. On her recent episode, Dr. Wahls discussed adding MitoQ to your wellness strategy:

“We’re guilty of wanting the convenience of a magic pill that will let us continue our crappy diet and lifestyle, and MitoQ’s not that, but it can be an adjunct to help make your improved diet and lifestyle even more effective.”


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