Dietitian Rehab with Doug Cook RDN

Dietitian Rehab. Episode 005 with Dr Terry Wahls

Terry Wahls 300x300 - Dietitian Rehab. Episode 005 with Dr Terry Wahls

 

 

Detoxing from dogmatic dietitian education and attitudes for a mind wide open

But first, “you must unlearn what you have learned” YODA

 

There are at least 15 known autoimmune diseases and another 80 suspected ones. One of them, Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, has no known treatment other than supporting the progressive deterioration of the person. One medical doctor took matters into her own hands and through much research, trial and error devised a nutrient-dense diet that targets neuro-inflammation and ‘feeds’ the mitochondria. This, of course, is none other than the Wahls Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls who shares her story in this episode.

 

More about Dr. Terry Wahls

Connect with Dr. Wahls

Terry Wahls

Terry Wahls Research Papers

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Grab a copy of her books

Thanks for listening!

Subscribe & review on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play

If you’re not yet subscribed to the Dietitian Rehab podcast, I highly recommend doing so today! Click here to subscribe on iTunes. That way, you’ll be able to easily find all the new episodes, right when they come out. You can also follow on SpotifyStitcher, and Google Play if you prefer to listen there!

 

If you like what you hear, it would be amazing if you could leave a review on iTunes, too. Reviews help others find my podcast, which I think helps us all!

 

Simply open the podcast on iTunes, then go to “Ratings and Reviews”, and click “Write a Review”. This is your chance to let other people know why they should check out the episodes or share stories of how it’s helped you!

Read the transcript

Doug Cook:

Welcome to the Dietitian Rehab podcast where we not only challenge and inspire dietitians to think outside the traditional dogmatic education, training, and attitudes for a mind wide open but also to challenge anyone to think differently about your own health. We’ll talk all things food, health, and nutrition-related as we explore points of view, evidence, and strategies for better health that will allow you a fuller understanding of the hot topics that everybody’s talking and asking about.

 

Hey, everyone. Welcome to the show. I’m your host, Doug Cook and today we have none other than Terry Wahls who many of you probably have heard of. Dr. Terry Wahls is an Institute for Functional Medicine certified practitioner and a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa where she conducts clinical trials. In 2018, she was awarded the Institute for Functional Medicine’s Linus Pauling Award for her contributions in research, clinical care, and patient advocacy. She is also a patient with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis which confined her to a tilt recline wheelchair for four years.

 

Dr. Wahls restored her health using a diet and lifestyle program she designed specifically for her brain and now pedals her bike to work every day, also known as the Wahls Protocol. She is, therefore, the author of The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles. So, let’s get to the show. Welcome to the show, Dr. Wahls.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Thank you for having me.

 

Doug Cook:

I’m really excited because I’m sure a lot of listeners know who you are and all the great, amazing work you’ve done not just with your own personal health journey but autoimmunity and other things that we’ll be talking about. So, just to help orient the audience to you and who you are and your work, I’m just going to let everyone know that you are a medical doctor, a clinical professor, and author of over 60 peer-reviewed publications which is impressive, a patient with a chronic progressive disease which we’ll talk about relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. And of course, you’re the creator of the well-known Wahls Protocol which we’ll talk about a little bit in a few minutes. But before we do that, I’m wondering if you could just talk a little about yourself. I guess I’m thinking your background, your personal health journey, your experience with traditional approaches to disease and how you got to the place where you are now using treatments that wouldn’t be considered part of traditional, conventional medicine which I’m excited to talk about being a clinical dietitian working in a hospital.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Yes, yes, yes. So, I’m an internal medicine doc at the University of Iowa and a very traditional doc, believing the latest science and the best drugs. But God has a mysterious way about teaching us. In 2000, I developed weakness in my left leg, was ultimately diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and I decided I wanted to treat my disease very aggressively. So, I did some research, found the best people in the center in the country, went to that center, took the newest drugs and went steadily downhill. Two years into this, my physicians told me about the work of Loren Cordain. I read his books, his papers and after 20 years of being a low-fat vegetarian, I decided to go back to eating meat. I gave all grain, all legumes, all dairy but I continued to decline.

 

The next year I needed a tilt recline wheelchair. I took even more aggressive drugs and then I went back to reading the basic science and I developed this theory that mitochondria were what drives disability in MS and would ultimately devise a supplement protocol to support my mitochondria. And that was helpful in that it slowed the decline and it was slightly helpful for the fatigue. In the summer of ’07, I discovered the Institute for Functional Medicine. I took their course on neuroprotection and I had a longer list of supplements.

 

Then I had a really big ah-ha moment like what if redesign my Paleo diet in a very specific way to stress the things I was taking in supplement form. So, again, that was several more months of research and I start this new way of eating in December 26th, 2007. And at that point, I’m beginning to have brain fog. I’ve had 27 years of worsening electrical face pain due to trigeminal neuralgia and I’m so weak I cannot sit in a regular chair. That’s where I’m starting from.

 

Three months into this way of eating, my pain is gone, my brain fog is gone, my fatigue is markedly reduced. And my physical therapist says Terry, you’re getting stronger. He advances my exercises. And that’s really a huge, huge deal. And I’m beginning to walk. Six months into this, I get on my bike for the first time in six years and I bike around the block. My wife’s crying, my kids are crying, I’m crying. And then at 12 months, my wife finds an 18.5 mile bike ride and we sign up as a family and to my amazement, I’m able to do the whole 18.5 mile bike ride. So, this really changes how I think about disease and health, it changes the way I practice medicine and it will ultimately change the type of research that I do.

 

Doug Cook:

This is amazing and I think people who don’t know you or your work or maybe just learning for the first time are just going to be mind blown about this and I think everyone would be regardless. So, I’m just wondering if you could kind of just review very briefly, just kind of describe what’s happening with relapsing-remitting MS.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Sure. So, the immune cells attack the brain, appear to the damage the myelin causing an acute inflammation in the brain. You see on the MRI. And it causes the signals between the brain and the body to not get transmitted very well and so you have acute weakness or discoordination or acute pain problems or acute vision problems that typically over a period of couple of months gradually improve. So, you have these episodes of worsening—that’s called a relapse—episodes of improvement—that’s called a remission—but over time, over 10 years, there are fewer relapses but there’s a slow deterioration of function. And within 10 years of diagnosis, half of everyone diagnosed with MS is unable to work due to severe fatigue, a third can’t walk and need a walker or a wheelchair, cognitive decline. Early dementia is very, very common.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. It’s a hugely complex manifestation or presentation for sure. So, when I’ve taught kind of introductory brain health nutrition, I’ve used the analogy—and I don’t know if this makes sense, you can let me know—that for people to understand the neuron or the brain cell and the myelin, I likened it to an extension cord. So, you’ve got the wire in the middle running down the cord with this plastic coating around it which is kind of like to me the myelin and the nerve that’s inside. Does that makes sense?

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Oh, it’s a very good analogy.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. And so, the plastic coating is breaking down, the immune cells are attacking it and we all need that for proper nerve impulse control. And so, yeah, as you’re saying on MRI, this is something that’s measurable, it’s verifiable, you can see this happening, this breakdown. So, just to go back quickly for people who don’t know, Loren Cordain is kind of the father I guess of the Paleo diet if you will which is really getting rid of those things that are kind of in our recent diet. And I know there’s a lot of controversy around it with legumes and dairy and grains, the idea of eliminating those is tantamount to like malnutrition and that kind of thing which of course is silly because as I always say, there’s no such thing as an essential food but there are essential nutrients. So, I’m just wondering what do you think might have been the connection with the low-fat vegetarian diet and its role in this?

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

So, for me, we now know that I have a severe gluten sensitivity. If I have any gluten, in 6 to 24 hours, my sensation on my face was abnormal and the electrical face pains begin. And if I have dairy or eggs, the same will happen. I have the genes that put me at risk for developing a severe reaction to gluten so I have DQ2 and DQ8. And so, I probably had gotten sensitized, had to have gluten sensitivity and hadn’t realized that and I’d been eating bread and pasta and loved making homemade cheese. And it turns out that those foods are particularly inflammatory for me. And I also was relatively low in B12. I also have done some other genetic investigations and see that I have a number of variations of how my body handles B12. So, I have a much, much higher biologic need for B12 than the average person.

 

Doug Cook:

That’s a piece that we didn’t have probably as recently as 10 years ago. So, we have this idea that nutrient requirements are kind of the same across the board but we for sure know that that’s not the case now and that there are these genetic differences, these so-called snips and if you’re doing low-fat, you’ve got to get your calories. So, most commonly people are going to be eating a lot of wheat-based foods on a lower fat vegetarian diet. So, that’s very, very interesting. So, for me, obviously good nutrition is crucial for health and it’s pretty much understood by most. But in my experience working in mental health and addictions where I currently still work in a hospital here in Toronto is that people don’t really think about the brain as organ. They know that jogging’s good for your heart or vitamin D or calcium is good for your bones but they don’t really think about the brain as being an organ or the nervous system and that nutrition has a big impact on that. Would that be your experience as well?

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Yeah. We are so naïve. Physicians historically have not thought that nutrition was that important. They don’t take care of themselves nutritionally and they’re actively not taking care of their patients nutritionally either.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. And the interesting thing to me is that we are biological beings in this body that we have and it’s made from the elements that we get from food. So, I think there’s been historically if you look at the role of nutrition in preventing deficiencies, we kind of think that if someone’s not walking around with scurvy or pellagra, a B3 deficiency that nutrition’s done its job I guess and really they can’t do much more than that.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

What I teach my patients at the VA, there are a lot of farmers and they understand that if they wanted to raise a champion animal, they would pay tremendous attention to the rations fed to that animal. And so, when I explain that metaphor, like okay, if you want champion health, we have to pay immense attention to your nutrition as well. And that’s when the big lightbulb goes off like oh, yeah, of course.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. I guess I just would hope that people kind of grasped it more. So, I’m curious what your peers, your medical, your doctor peers, what they thought of all this and what can they say in light of you getting out of a wheelchair 12 months later and then onto doing a bike ride.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Well, back in 2008 when I get transformed and now I’m talking to my patients about their diet and less and less about drugs, my partners were very uneasy. They complained, I had to go meet with the chief of staff and explain what I was doing. Now fortunately, I’d brought with me my scientific papers and the high level talked about nutrition. He became hugely supportive although people were very upset because they kept telling me I was using the same diet for every condition and you just can’t do that. And I’d respond like well, we all have mitochondria, we all have myelin, we all have brain cells. I’m just having people eat for the mitochondria and their brain cells and monitoring their blood pressure and blood sugar so they don’t become overmedicated. Now 12 years later, I’ve published many more research studies, I’ve been lecturing all over the university, all over the country and the world and now my clinical colleagues here at the University of Iowa are saying we get it, Terry. You’re so right. It is all about nutrition and a nutrient-dense diet will fix a lot of things.

 

Doug Cook:

And so, as they say, the proof’s in the pudding. And are people picking up kind of the evidence and running with it or are you kind of a lone wolf if you will?

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Well, we’ve made lots more progress. So, I am having more partners, basic science partners who are helping to analyze the frozen biospecimens. Next week, I’ll be meeting with clinicians from another department that want to do a dietary intervention to assess the chronic pain issue in their specialty. So, it’s happening. Here at the university both in the clinical area and in the research area, people are reaching out to me and wanting me to collaborate on their research teams. So, that’s happening here. And then at the national and international level, the MS Society began in response to my book coming out in 2014, they made diet and lifestyle a research priority and they’ve been putting money into some early pilot studies. They funded us with a million dollar grant. And so, really nice things are happening there. The National Institutes for Health was not funding any dietary food-based intervention studies back in 2010 but now they are in fact funding diet and lifestyle and health coaching, health behavior studies. So, yeah, really very exciting things in fact are happening.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. And it’s important for people to realize that there are going to be different response rates for different people based on the unique makeup and other things that are going on. So, no one’s making any claims that it’s going to be a panacea or a cure-all but you can’t have the best biological or physiological response to any kind of treatment whether it’s some kind of medical intervention or a drug without kind of fortifying the underlying biology. I guess that’s how I kind of think of it.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Yeah.

 

Doug Cook:

So, it’s go hand in hand. So, if it’s okay, I’d like to kind of just step back a tiny bit. So, when you started talking about the steps you took were to nourish your myelin and to basically nourish and take care of your mitochondria. So, you have a great TED Talk called Minding Your Mitochondria and for people who—because there’s a mix of people that follow me, there’s dietitians, other health professionals and the public—so, for those who don’t remember their high school biology, the mitochondria I guess, the way I think of it is if you had an electric car, the mitochondria’s like the battery. So, it’s the powerhouse. It’s responsible for taking the energy that we get from digesting and breaking down food to create ATP which is like this master energy molecule, etc. And I guess I’m wondering if you drew parallels or if there are parallels between a known genetic disease, mitochondrial dysfunction or mitochondrial disease and what you did in terms of fortifying or nourishing your mitochondria. Because I think you focus on like some very well-known nutrients that the mitochondria needs to be its best.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

You know what is interesting, I’ve had some pediatric physicians who are experts at treating mitochondrial functions. When they’ve come to the University of Iowa to give their grand rounds and lectures have asked to meet with me because in their patient population, they have people coming in with my [inaudible 00:17:29] book, Minding My Mitochondria or The Wahls Protocol and these families are reporting that their children do much better implementing my protocol than they did with the mitochondrial physician’s expert’s plans. And that’s because I was designing my whole program around improving the efficiency of the mitochondria. And of course, I’m having to look up these genetic pediatric disorders for mitochondrial dysfunction and I just find that very, very interesting.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. And so, I remember I used to work in a dialysis unit and I know mitochondrial dysfunction disease can be a contributing factor to kidney disease and at the time, like I remember looking into it, there were potential supplements like coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, carnitine and creatine which can help support mitochondrial function. I know a lot of them are notoriously poorly absorbed and I know there are now formulas out there like liposomal products that are encapsulated in these little fats that should make it easier to go through the cell membrane. So, it sounded like some of them did help you in the beginning.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Right. I used all of those and what I discovered was my fatigue was less when I used those but I was still declining. And as much as I love the Paleo diet, I still declined on the Paleo diet. And as much as I love functional medicine, I was sort of flat on the functional medicine. But when I redesigned my food based on what I’ve learned from functional medicine and the basic science of the mitochondrial support, that’s when the magic happened in surprising speed. I think the magic is in the food. Food is much more complicated than supplements, than individual nutrients in that when we eat the food, we probably get these nutrients in the biologic ratios that our biology would expect and we get thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of other related compounds that are part of that food complex.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. So, you definitely noticed there was more bang for your buck and you got way more better.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

It was dramatic. In three months, I went from being unable to sit up to being pain free and being able to walk with my walking sticks. That is just like phenomenal.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. It’s unheard of. So, when we talk about food because it’s part of your protocol and I would encourage people to download the cheat sheet from your website, you have I guess there are two, four, six, at least like eight categories of foods that you recommend that anybody can pick while they’re waiting for your book to be delivered because it would be strongly recommended for that. Can you just kind of go through those foods and why they’re recommended?

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Yeah. So, I want people to have lots of basically non-starchy vegetables. The greens for the carotenoids, the vitamin K2. Actually, it’ll be vitamin K1 but your bacteria will metabolize it to vitamin K2. You’ll have sulfur-rich vegetables in the cabbage, onion, mushroom family. Those things really boost your intracellular glutathione, an antioxidant. It’s a compound that really protects the cells and brain cells very effectively. And then, we’re looking for things are deeply pigmented like beets, carrots, berries. We have hundreds of studies that show us the more color that you eat particularly blue, purple, black, the lower the rates of cognitive decline, of dementia, of mental health problems, of cancers, diabetes, obesity. So, for all those reasons, I’m wanting more color. And then protein and my preference is meat but I do have a guide for people who are vegetarian or vegan for their spiritual beliefs. And I want them to have organ meat once a week so liver once a week. I also encourage oysters, clams, mussels. In fact, we’re having a bunch of clams tonight. Seaweed because of the trace minerals. We talk about fermented vegetables, things like sauerkraut, kimchi for the helpful lactobacillus species that are so helpful to our gut. And then my brain is 60% to 70% fat. My myelin is fat which depends on omega-3 fats, omega-6 fats and cholesterol. So, in fact, it’s really important to have plenty of omega-3 and omega-6 fat and at least some cholesterol in your diet so you can make the myelin.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. I guess it’s mostly fat as you say and it’s both saturated fats that the body can make and then cholesterol for sure. Anything else in the leafy greens that you can speculate? I’m just wondering about lutein because what I found interesting about lutein—

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Well—

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah, go ahead.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Lutein, zeaxanthin are very important and probably all these carotenoids. We should remember that what, we share 98% of the same DNA that our primates, the chimpanzees. And our ancestral heritage for millions of years, we are very closely aligned with primates and our diet was primarily green leafy plants. Our microbiome over those millions of generations help metabolize those green leafy plants to run the chemistry of life. We began eating meat and we grew larger brains. So, I think meat is a very important part of our diet but I think greens are a hugely important part of our diet. We know if our diet is insufficient in greens, we’re much more likely have early macular degeneration, severe retinal problems and severe visual problems. And the eyes are closely, closely related to brains. Now I think greens are a vital brain nutrient.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. And the reason I bring up lutein, what I’ve read is it doesn’t represent a lot of the total carotenes or carotenoids in the diet. It’s like 16%. Yet they make up if it’s in the diet up to 77% of the carotenoids in the brain. Like the brain loves to concentrate lutein and zeaxanthin in its tissues and that from an eye health point of view, of course, there’s the vision aspect but they really are like extensions. Like you think the optical nerve is an extension of the brain so the pigment density, the amount of lutein in the back of your eye correlates as a validated biomarker with the amount of lutein your brain. So, if you go to the optometrist and you’ve got a good macular pigment density, your brain is good to go in that regard. So, I just wondered if that just I’m sure at some level is helping it out.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Well, this will be an interesting observation. When I began to recover, I had this tremendous craving for greens. I was eating huge amounts of kale, raw and cooked greens and I’ve become well enough that I can travel, go to lectures, present papers around the country. And what I discover is when I’m on the road, I can’t eat the volume of greens I’m used to eating and 36 hours into that, my mental clarity and energy sharply decline.

 

Doug Cook:

Wow.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

And so, it takes me about four years before I am not as sensitive to drops in my greens. Up until then, I was probably having six cups of greens pretty consistently every day.

 

Doug Cook:

That’s a lot.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

It’s a lot of greens.

 

Doug Cook:

It’s a lot of greens but I’m with you. I love the greens for sure. And another thing that I don’t know if you came across this is there was a study of maybe a year and a half ago where leafy greens, uniquely leafy greens have a type of carbohydrate in them called sulfoquinovose and it uniquely feeds a healthy type of E.coli in our gut. So, people afraid of E.coli may get scared because of food poisoning like with beef and hamburgers but there’s many different strains. And so, I’m sure you’ve looked into this but the average person doesn’t really think about this gut-brain connection, the gut-brain access. So, the gut and the brain and the nervous system are uniquely connected both from neural tissue point of view but the bacteria in our gut secrete these metabolites and that communicates with the brain as well. so, I’m just wondering if these leafy greens through the unique E.coli strain has a role. So, so much to think about.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Absolutely, absolutely. I mean that’s part of why I think historically our ancestral lineage, we were consuming huge amounts of green leafy material for millions of generations and yes, six million years ago we separated from the primates and began steadily eating more meats in our diet. But I think our health declines sharply when we don’t have that volume of greens.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. So, I mean I hate to use the word moderation because word’s been used so much by my profession but yeah, it’s not about excluding one to the other. So, it’s good to get a variety of these foods. There’s room for leafy greens, there’s room for meat if people aren’t opposed to meat and you’re not saying that at all but yeah. And so, this is pretty fascinating when you think about all this stuff and then you mentioned the seaweeds. So, that would be a good source of iodine I guess?

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Yeah, good source of iodine, trace minerals. Many of us know that vitamins are important cofactors for many of our enzymes to facilitate the biochemical reactions of life. What many people may not realize is in addition to the vitamin, you need the mineral to also facilitate that biochemical step. And unfortunately for foods grown in North America and in Europe and much of the world, the quality of the soil and available minerals in the soil is diminishing. So, the mineral content of our meats and our vegetables is diminishing which means that we’re more at risk for iodine insufficiency and frankly all of our minerals being insufficient.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. I’ve done many, many food trackers with myself and it’s amazing how it’s difficult to and I mean I eat pretty well. Like I’m probably—well, not probably–I know I’m above average for sure. But even then I struggle. So, minerals are I think really, really underappreciated except for calcium because that’s gotten so much PR and all that type of thing. But there are a lot more trace minerals that we’re missing out on for sure.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Correct.

 

Doug Cook:

So, is there any role for supplements? Not that I’m pushing supplements but I’m just wondering.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

I sort of want people to know their vitamin D level and to have their vitamin D level optimized either through getting ultraviolet light on their skin and getting a tan or taking supplement use. I also want them to know their homocysteine level so they know if they would benefit from taking additional B vitamins to get the homocysteine in a target range. Beyond that, there may be depending on the person’s history, I may want to investigate their B vitamin levels, vitamin C or vitamin A level and give some supplements to address any deficiencies I see based on the history or the exam or testing.

 

Doug Cook:

So, yeah, that makes sense. And speaking of supplements, when you talk about the—I don’t know if you want to talk about it or if we’re giving anything away—but I’m curious to know how this would work with like a vegan or other extreme diet. Like what are two or three kind of differences?

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Yeah. If a person is going to be a vegan, now I’m really concerned about their B vitamin levels and their homocysteine. They’re going to be certainly at much higher risk for being low in B12. They’ll be at higher risk for being low in iodine and trace minerals. They will be at higher risk for being low in protein and they will be at higher risk for being low in omega-3 fatty acids. So, I would be thinking about all those things and probably having targeted supplements based on my exam. You can get a lot of hints from this, from doing a nutritional physical exam and potentially some targeted lab testing.

 

Doug Cook:

Okay. And I’m just thinking about choline because I know choline would be hugely important for myelin health and the best sources are for sure things like eggs and liver.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Yeah.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. But there’s I guess lecithin as a supplement.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Well, and you could use phosphatidylcholine. There’s a product that we use with the phosphatidylcholine which I actually am very fond of.

 

Doug Cook:

I derive from soy I guess or sunflower.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Yes.

 

Doug Cook:

Okay. So, that would fit with them. And I just wanted to kind of backtrack very briefly. So, this protocol like you were saying, everyone is using it for a lot of different reasons and finding benefit because you’re just nourishing fundamental aspects of your biology, the myelin, the neurons, the mitochondria. I mean to you it applied specifically to a form of MS. Would you say that it would have benefit with other autoimmune disease?

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Yeah. So, in the VA, the Veteran Affairs Hospital that I worked at, we ran a clinic, the therapeutic lifestyle clinic where I used these principles and we had people being referred to us with rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, fibromyalgia, severe allergy, asthma, neuropathic pain. And consistently, we found it to be very, very helpful for reducing pain, improving blood pressure, improving blood sugar and reducing disease activity. We’re often able to reduce medication after medication and sometimes we’re able to eliminate medications entirely.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. And that’s to me, the proof is in the pudding as they say and I know a lot of maybe not naysayers but people will say oh, you’re just displacing maybe poor quality food and just bringing in healthy eating principles. But I think it’s much more nuanced than that. I just wondered if you had when you think about the low-fat vegetarian diet and some of the foods you cut out like dairy, grains and legumes even though people think it’s controversial, there’s evidence that these things are really hard on the gut. Nobody likes the word leaky gut. They lose their mind when you say that but if you put in gut barrier dysfunction into PubMed or something, you’ll get like 11,000 returns. So, was I kind of reading into things or do you think there’s a role for gut inflammation and maybe some gut barrier dysfunction in all of this?

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Yes. There’s lots of research now and you put in intestinal permeability or leaky gut and your disease of interest and you’d probably find that there’s evidence. So, in my case in MS, plenty of papers now showing increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut with multiple sclerosis patients and that’s probably true for most autoimmune dysfunction. So, it definitely is an issue although again I want to point out to the listeners as much as I love the Paleo diet, going grain-free, legume-free, dairy-free was not enough to stop my decline and part of that may have been that I was already so very ill that I needed a much more aggressive approach.

 

Doug Cook:

That’s interesting because yeah, I’m just wondering why, yeah, the aggressive approach meaning more getting rid of more of those probably known allergens and irritants. Like egg is one of the top allergens for sure.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

So, I took out the eggs. That was probably very important. I ramped up the greens. I added liver once a week. And when I structured my Paleo diet in a much more specific way with a little less meat, more vegetables, in that very specific pattern I discussed, it was shocking how rapidly my health status changed.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. And so, would there be a variability for different people? Is that part of the protocol?

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Yes. So, in the protocol, I provide guidance as to where people could start at level one and who would be likely to want to advance to level two, who would benefit from the more restrictive diet, the Wahls elimination diet, why you might think about the benefits of ketosis and the benefits of doing ketosis for some people or intermittent ketosis to improve metabolic switching, why that’s helpful for many of us particularly if you want to youth it, look and feel about 10 to 15 years younger.

 

Doug Cook:

And nutritional ketosis.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Well, nutritional ketosis and that’s on a low level ketosis that most of us will begin to be in after 12 hours of not eating. Occasionally, it takes as long as 16. Or you can get into ketosis from two hours of intense physical activities such as running 10 miles or jogging 10 miles. That would get you in ketosis and again, our ancestral mothers and fathers 20,000 years ago were in ketosis often by virtue of physical activity and then often by virtue of there being a lull in available food or having a winter come by.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. And so, I think people forget that and I think it’s one of the drawbacks of kind of modern society. We’re constantly eating and we’re always in this—it’s considered a fed state when you’re in that post-eating or post-prandial phase, where you’re not tapping into those fat stores but just a lot of different beneficial things happen which is beyond the scope of this. But cell repair happens and you clear out debris, the cells take out the garbage if you will, there’s a lot of amazing things that happen and there’s a lot of amazing research looking into cognition, Alzheimer’s where ketones are beneficial in terms being a fuel source, etc. So, lots coming down the pipe I guess.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Yes.

 

Doug Cook:

So, I think you have a revision coming out. Is that right?

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

I have a revision coming out, the revised and expanded, The Wahls Protocol. That will be out March 17th.

 

Doug Cook:

Okay. And not to put you on the spot, is there a teaser or two that you can get people to—?

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Yeah. So, I provide a lot more information on metabolic switching. I still think being in ketosis does great things for the brain. It’s a super fuel but rather than being continuous ketosis, we do much better when we go switch between ketosis in either somewhat a higher protein diet or the Wahls level one or level two. I have a longer conversation about ketosis metabolic switching and the many ways that we could experience that. And we have a longer conversation about the science of behavior change, how to help people set up themselves so they can be far more successful with making changes to their health behaviors.

 

Doug Cook:

Which is huge because as a dietitian, I mean people always think it’s just the list or the meal plan but it really is boiling down to behavior. And so, that component sounds like it’s indispensable.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Absolutely because it’s so hard for all of us biologically to give up today’s pleasures for tomorrow’s benefits.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. We’re not good at that.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

No. Biologically, we’re not good at it.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah. No, we had to eat to survive and now it’s like to tell people not to eat all the stuff that’s around us is really going against our hardwiring. It’s in a sense abnormal to not eat when there’s a restaurant at every corner.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

And there’s delicious food everywhere. It’s like telling you to not have sex again ever. That’s not very popular advice either.

 

Doug Cook:

Yeah, for sure.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

So, we need to help people understand why behavior change is so difficult and how to set themselves up for much greater success. So, I have a much discussion for that.

 

Doug Cook:

So, that’s great. So, you said that comes out on March 17th?

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Yes.

 

Doug Cook:

The book. So, that’s great. So, I think that was a really good overview of your work, your journey and how people could benefit from these principles regardless of what a person’s health struggle is because you’re starting with the foundational aspects like improving cellular energy. So, I want to thank you for your time and I just also want to point the listeners in the right direction. So, where can we find you and your amazing work?

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

So, find me at TerryWahls.com and pick up our research papers at TerryWahls.com/researchpapers. You also get to see a video of the amazing gate changes that people can achieve and you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @TerryWahls and on Instagram at DrTerryWahls.

 

Doug Cook:

Fantastic. So, again, thank you for taking time out of your busy day. I really enjoyed it and I know everyone else will as well.

 

Dr. Terry Wahls

Thank you so much.

 

Doug Cook RDN is a Toronto based integrative and functional nutritionist and dietitian with a focus on digestive, gut, mental health.  Follow me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Write a comment