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The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles Paperback – December 30, 2014
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"In The Wahls Protocol, Dr. Wahls provides elegant first hand validation that diet truly represents the most powerful medicine. This book is totally supported by the most leading edge research and provides a beacon of hope when compared to the ever changing landscape of pharmaceutical recommendations for multiple sclerosis."
—David Perlmutter, MD, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grain Brain
"Groundbreaking! Once you understand why you need to eat for health, Dr. Wahls delivers a detailed road map, guiding you step by step. This will be life changing for many."
—Robb Wolf, New York Times bestselling author of The Paleo Solution
"Using clear language, Dr. Wahls teaches how our food and lifestyle choices create health or disease depending on our choices. For anyone suffering from autoimmune or other chronic health problems, this book will be life changing."
—Mark Hyman, M.D. #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Blood Sugar Solution.
"Whether or not you struggle with autoimmune diseases, I can't recommend The Wahls Protcol highly enough. Dr. Wahls provides a clear, in-depth, copiously researched dietary and lifestyle protocol to help you take charge of your health and your life. An absolute must-read book."
—JJ Virgin, New York Times bestselling author of The Virgin Diet
"Terry Wahls is a hero to many for her discovery that a nourishing ancestral diet can heal multiple sclerosis. In The Wahls Protocol, Terry sets forth a straightforward plan for achieving good health through good food. Not just for MS patients, The Wahls Protocol is a fascinating tale that proves the wisdom of Hippocrates: ‘Let food be thy medicine.’ Try it, it works!"
—Paul Jaminet, Ph.D., author of Perfect Health Diet and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Evolution and Health
"Dr. Wahls teaches you how to eat and live so that you can upgrade dramatically your brain and body."
—Sara Gottfried M.D., New York Times bestselling author of The Hormone Cure
"Terry Wahls' new book is one of the most important books on health ever written. That's not a hyperbolic statement, just plain fact. If doctors would take this incredible information to heart (and into their practices), the health crisis in this world would be over--the cancer industry crushed and the rise in autoimmune conditions would fall. True health reform is contained within these pages. I cannot recommend a book any more highly. Bravo Dr. Wahls!"
—Leanne Ely, C.N.C., New York Times bestsellling author of Saving Dinner
"I've long recommended that anyone diagnosed with MS who is also interested in health and healing research the work of Dr. Wahls online, but the game has now changed. The Wahls Protocol will be the go-to resource for anyone suffering from MS or another autoimmune condition who is ready to fight back. Dr. Wahls outlines a clear-cut, stepped approach to dietary and lifestyle changes--supported by her extensive research and testing of the plans--that will put anyone on a path to better health. Whether you have MS or not, The Wahls Protocol is a goldmine of easy-to-follow, real-food nutritional guidelines that will leave you feeling so amazing it'll make you wonder how you ever ate any other way."
—Diane Sanfilippo, BS, NC, New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo
"The Wahls Protocol is one 'ah-ha' after another of how Terry Wahls’ realizations may help you in your health journey. Not only will you be captivated by what you read, you'll also learn how to be healthier. Highly recommended."
—Dr. Tom O'Bryan, creator of “A Grain of Truth: The Gluten e-Summit”
"Terry Wahls does an amazing job at highlighting the importance of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and essential fats) as an integral part in preventing and reversing disease. Her story is incredible and brings hope to millions needlessly suffering. The Wahls Protocol is a must read for anyone looking to reverse autoimmune conditions naturally."
—Mira Calton, CN and Jayson Calton, Ph.D., authors of Rich Food, Poor Food
"The best treatment for multiple sclerosis, autoimmunity, and chronic disease is teaching people how and why to eat and live for optimal health. By combining the latest science with the all-important factors of nutrition, exercise, and healthy lifestyle, The Wahls Protocol goes beyond conventional treatments and empowers you with real solutions."
—Ann Boroch, C.N.C., author of Healing Multiple Sclerosis: Diet, Detox & Nutritional Makeover for Total Recovery
"Dr. Wahls engages us with her personal story of triumph over multiple sclerosis while educating us on the importance of a nutrient-dense diet for our cellular health. You will find yourself drawn in and inspired to take control of your own health as Dr. Wahls shares her experiences, knowledge, and compassion. The three levels of The Wahls Protocol provide a concrete plan—including both feasible diet and lifestyle changes—to help you on your road to recovery."
—Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D., author of The Paleo Approach
"The Wahls Protocol is essential reading for anyone suffering from a chronic disease and wanting to regain their health. All the therapies which restored Dr Wahls to well-being are described in detail and are succinctly summarized in the appendices. The huge amount of scientific information, clear explanations, and practical advice makes this book an invaluable resource and indispensable reference."
—Ashton Embry, Ph.D., president of Direct-MS
"Only Terry Wahls, M.D. could have written a book as important as The Wahls Protocol. Her discovery of a path to recovery from disabling multiple sclerosis after failing to respond to the traditional medical approach is not only a story of great personal triumph, but a manifesto of hope for many others with various chronic illnesses for which drug therapy has not worked. This is a book that provides a program that can be applied by anyone who is searching for solutions to health challenges."
—Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., president of the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute
About the Author
Terry L. Wahls, M.D., is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City and the director of the Therapeutic Lifestyle Clinic at the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System, where she treats veterans with autoimmune, neurological, and medical problems using diet and lifestyle interventions. In addition, she is a clinical researcher, studying the use of diet and lifestyle interventions in autoimmune and other chronic disease states; her current clinical trial featuring the Wahls Paleo Diet received the support of the National Mutliple Sclerosis Society. Diagnosed in 2000 with multiple sclerosis, Dr. Wahls became a proponent of integrative and functional medicine, which helped her create an intensive nutrition, lifestyle, and neuromuscular electrical stimulation protocol that would treat the severe disability caused by her MS. She has made it her mission to spread the word about The Wahls Protocoland her own inspirational story of recovery through her TEDx talk, which has received more than 2.4 million hits; her website, www.terrywahls.com; the Wahls Foundation; and Wahls Protocol Seminars. Dr. Wahls lives in Iowa City, Iowa, with her wife. Her son, Zach Wahls, is the author of the bestselling book My Two Moms, published by Avery.
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I started following an early, basic version of the Wahls Protocol the day after watching Dr. Wahls' TEDx Talk last October. I explored her website, read and listened to countless interviews, and read her first book Minding my Mitochondria- and in November 2013 I started a more strict approach to diet and lifestyle based on her recommendations. It was hard for my wife to live with these changes and have to put up with my new dietary limitations, but I did it anyway. I have to admit I did NOT really feel anything different at this point.
In March 2014 everything changed. The Wahls Protocol was finally released (I had pre-ordered since November). I gave the book a first read in less than 24 hrs and immediately had ten times more information. In this book, Dr Wahls goes into detail about every aspect of the dietary and lifestyle changes she recommends, which includes supplements, exercise, electrical stimulation, meditation, etc., and she details three different versions of the Wahls diet so anyone can find a level they can learn to live with.
This is where it gets interesting. I actually convinced my wife and my mother to read the book and follow different levels of the protocol with me for one month. Just to give it a test drive. It has been three weeks today, and the results have been noticeable:
- I have RRMS, and am still in early stages of the disease so when I'm in remission, which is 90% of the time, I have no symptoms. Or so I thought! It turns out, I actually DID have fatigue issues and brain fog! These things have probably been developing slowly inside me for years so I didn't even notice them until I they were gone! In ONLY three weeks I have felt a real change and am honestly amazed of how different I feel. I know it sounds hard to believe, but you have to try before you judge. I have been on the Wahls Paleo (i.e. intermediate level of the diet).
- My wife is a perfectly healthy 27-year-old woman. She is slim, she goes to the gym, and she does yoga on a regular basis. She never gets sick and seems as healthy as one can be except for the occasional headache. She also started on a strict version of the Wahls Paleo. She uses a Polar Loop Activity Tracker all the time, and this has showed results already. My wife went from an average sleep efficiency of 78% to 96% during the first two weeks, and stayed there ever since. She feels a lot more rested and the Polar Loop is actually measuring and showing these results as concrete data. Additionally, she used to get headaches at work about once a week, and hasn't had a single one since following the Wahls Paleo. And she also claims to feel more energetic, which is probably due to the more balanced diet and deeper sleep.
- My mother is 54 years old. She has been on the Wahls Diet (i.e. Level 1 version) for three weeks. She is also slim and works out some. She has felt differences in the quality of her sleep (non-measurable though because she has no tracking device), BUT, she has always had sinus problems and has sinusitis on a very regular basis, and always gets headaches (I'm talking two or three times a week), and these have been gone. Not reduced; gone. For the past week and a half she hasn't had one headache or one sinus problem. This is the first time she has gone ten days straight with no headaches in decades. It sounds ridiculous to say this happened because of modifying her diet for three weeks, but I swear it's the truth!
Again these are preliminary results as we have only been on the diet for three weeks. And only I have been doing the electrical stimulation, meditating, exercises, etc. But I am convinced this book can change anyone's life if you're willing to give it a try. What have you got to lose? Just give it a one-month trial to see if you feel different. I guarantee you won't regret it.
I will update this review as time passes to comment on any other progress that may occur...
----- Update March 20, 2015 -----
So after roughly a year of following the ideas in this book, I have learned a lot and really perfected my diet and lifestyle. I have now read many other books by Sarah Ballantyne, Dr. Perlmutter, Amy Myers, Jimmy Moore, etc., I have found countless Blogs and Cookbooks, and I even have iOS Apps that make my life way easier (MyPaleoPal is excellent for tracking and ideas, for example).
I started following Dr. Wahls' ideas and recommendations a year ago, and have strictly been on her Wahls Paleo Plus for a while now. I supplement with many products, and have now totally gotten used to eating only twice a day, as well as eliminated my sweet tooth! (I admit doing the 21-day Sugar Detox last year probably helped this last part). I now enjoy eating and even cooking more than I ever had before, and my entire family is still reaping the benefits from all this knowledge.
Just to detail a bit more: I follow the Wahls Paleo Plus diet, mixed together with the AIP just to make it a little more challenging. This means no nuts, seeds, nightshades, or coffee, on top of Dr Wahls' strictest protocol. I also swim every other day, meditate and work my core muscles daily, and sleep 7.5-8.5 hours every night.
Is it worth it? You be the judge: my last relapse was over a year ago, I can now bike for 45minutes and totally withstand heat sensitivity, I can swim for as long as I want to, I walked over 120,000 steps in a week last december during Christmas break (used a pedometer to keep track), I'm sleeping like a baby, and, MOST IMPORTANT: I stopped my MS medication two weeks ago (under my neurologist's supervision of course, and having sworn to go back on it if my status changes negatively). Today I feel better than ever, and that injection I used to hate and use every week hasn't been missed for one second.
Dr Wahls, through this book, gave me my life back. I don't care what other people say or think about this book, I am living proof that these ideas can work. Like I said a year ago: try it, what have you got to lose? And you can gain SO MUCH, you have no idea.
Overall, I found that a slow and careful read of this book is worthwhile. The text has a substantial amount of information to glean, and I took many notes. I not only learned the perspective of this author through the book, but I became aware of many keywords that have given me inroads into other research and reading -- things like "leaky gut" and "mitochondria" and "ketogenic." This book is very comprehensive and thorough; it's the work of a very committed, generous medical doctor who desperately wants to help others. In a word, she's a crusader for a whole new approach to treating MS.
With that said, I found that reading this book involved a good deal of sifting. By this I mean that I found I had to really sift through this passionate book in order to find what might work for me. This is true with most of the other books I've recently read about treating MS with diet/exercise/lifestyle changes, so it's not really a comment that is unique to this book, but my main point here is that Terry Wahls has a very firm position that she's extremely zealous about. I don't blame her: according to her story, she really turned her physiology and psychology around. She's not reserved about the claims in this book in any way. She isn't reserved about her position. She's a downlight proselytizer for her diet and approach to living. I really appreciate that energy and passion, but at the same time, I think that, as a reader, you have to take some of what she says with a grain of salt and approach her proselytizing with a tad of skepticism. For me, this is because I'm not Terry Wahls and I think my road through MS will have to be my own.
In this set of descriptions and reactions, I'm going to address various points and themes in the book, then wrap-up with some of my overall reactions.
' Key Ideas in the Book: Eat nutrient-rich foods, eat your nutrients (instead of getting them via supplements), don't even think about being a vegetarian, and question everything traditional medicine has told you about MS and your body.
' AUDIENCE, or "Who is this book written for?": While Wahls says that the book is intended for a very broad audience, including those with most forms of auto-immune diseases and even just those looking to lose weight and "get healthy," it's clear throughout the book that the intended audience for the book is people with Multiple Sclerosis who are quite sick. To be even more specific, the presumed audience is people with MS who are quite sick, probably on some form of medication(s), and don't have a great diet and/or exercise regime. In a nutshell, this is who Terry Wahls was herself, before her miraculous recovery. Before she started to research diet options for her own self experiments and self treatment, she was a mess. This book is about cleaning up that mess and breaking out of the doldrums many suffer in.
As someone with MS who is actually doing quite well (few permanent disabilities so far ... knock on wood!), has always eaten well, and follows an active and steady exercise routine, I found the book wasn't really written with me in mind. That is 100% okay and I'm glad that Wahls has addressed the book to those with MS who are really in need of a serious intervention. However, my point about audience is that while this book can function as a useful resource for many folks with all kinds of auto-immune disorders and all levels of health and wellness, you'll have to sort through the book a bit if you're not in the "target audience" group. Wahls pretty much assumes that her reader eats refined sugars, a lot of carbs, and is on the meds. If you're not, and if you don't have MS but some other disease, you'll still find a lot of value here -- you'll just have to do some sifting.
' So, What's Her Diet/Protocol?: You really have to read the book to get a full sense of the diets she is advocating for here. She offers three diets, really, though says many times that the third and most extreme one is the best for fighting disease. In a nutshell, the diets are all about eating large quantities of nutrient-rich veggies, fruit, meats, and other foods (coconut milk, seeds, nuts, etc.). At the third/highest level of her diet plan, you're eating two meals a day and maintaining a low level of measured and tracked ketosis. Wahls is very particular about her diets, suggesting very specific volumes of foods. She treats food as medicine, so her specificity is not surprising. My own personal belief is that these diets can be tweaked and adapted by individuals (like me!), but I'm not sure she would be so elastic and flexible. She's really a strong believer in the science behind these three very particular diets.
' Her Research Plan: As I noted above, her plan as of 2014, is to conduct more research to see if her diet (the third stage of her paleo regime, to be precise) can have a clinical impact in an actual research population. Those findings are still not published, so this book is based mainly on her own experience or "researching on herself," as she calls it. Note that she does have a bit more than that to go on, in that she works with patients and often sees great improvements.
' Cult of Personality: Throughout the book, short vignettes from "Wahls Warriors" appear. These are positive accounts by folks who have followed versions of the Wahl's Protocol and seen various forms of improvement. These are inspirational tales and, for me, one of the most compelling parts of the book. However, there is something just a tad odd that Wahls works to develop such a cult of personality around herself and her name throughout this book. These adherents to her plan are "Wahls Warriors" in a way that seems to me to deprive them of some of their agency. With the Wahls plan, as I see it, you're either on the bus or off the bus -- and while it's a compelling lifestyle plan, I'm not sure I want to be deemed one of her adherents simply if I follow all or some of her suggestions.
' Exercise?: A section of the book is devoted to stretches and physical exercise. This is a comprehensive book to be sure. Those with limited mobility will gain a lot from the suggestions for active movement in this book. If you work out regularly at a fairly high level, this exercise section will not be that helpful. It's a set of rather rudimentary suggestions.
' Electronic Stimulation: Wahl benefited a great deal from Electronic Stimulation, and devotes a section of the book to that treatment approach. For those with serious muscle decline, this will be a useful section.
' Meds: Wahls gives some mixed messages on the topic of meds. Her own story is that she stopped taking the meds when the diet really started to work for her. Part of her heroic and amazing tale is about getting away from the meds, and she's eager to point out that MS medications can quite a bit of harm to your overall system and wellbeing. However, she also goes to great lengths to suggest that readers continue to follow the advice of their doctors. This makes sense, as she'd be crazy to give overt medical advice in a book like this -- "Quit your Copaxone today!" -- but the mixed messages are somewhat odd. In my own experience, my MS doc thinks the Wahl's Protocol is "unproven" and dangerous to rely on exclusively. So I think it might be challenging to do both: the meds + the Wahls Protocol. In reality, I think you might have to drop the meds to see if the diet is really working for you.
' Is it Paleo?: Yes, it most certainly is, and Wahls is an advocate for the typical rationales behind the paleo diets that are faddish now. However, her diet is paleo with a twist, in that it's all about maximizing nutrition. Where as most paleo diets are about losing weight and getting jacked with muscle, this one is about eating nutrient dense food. That is a key difference.
' Functional Medicine: As Wahls makes clear, she became an adherent of Functional Medicine en route to developing this radical new dietary treatment regime for MS. Note that some of the key principles of Functional Medicine are very much alive in Wahls's book and ideas. The first is the idea that most if not all people should avoid gluten. The second is that many people suffer from "leaky gut." Wahls is a big proponent of Functional Medicine, so those interested in this book will likely be interested in other books in that area of knowledge.
' Vegetarianism?: Wahls describes how she used to be a vegetarian and in part blames that diet on her contracting MS. She also blames her stressful time in med school and as a resident (little sleep, long hours), just to be clear. Her problem with vegetarianism is simply that she doesn't see how you can get enough protein and nutrients when suffering from MS and eating a vegetarian diet. Note that she has an egg allergy so does not include eggs in her diet plans, so vegetarians may find a way to include eggs in their own versions of her diets. She's also wary of beans, non-organic tofu, and seitan -- some of the protein-rich staples of healthy vegetarian eating.
' Toxins and Organics: Wahls is keen to point out how toxin avoidance is key, as is detoxing, if you want to get healthy. She has entire chapters on these topics.
' Stress Management: Wahls is also detailed in her efforts to help her readers de-stress. She has many useful ideas on this topic, including everything from meditation to bathing in epsom salts.
' Recipes: Note that the bulk of this book is about food, so it makes sense that she would conclude the book with many recipes. The ideas are great and fully coincide with what she's advocating for in the rest of the book. Note that Wahls is a proponent of the Vtamx blended smoothy, so many of those recipes are included.
' Final Thoughts: As I said in the beginning, I learned an amazing amount from this book. Simply put, it's changed my life. And as someone with MS, I even hope that it's saved my life (in terms of quality). However, I worry a bit that it's too one-size-fits all and too inflexible. There are many people out there doing well with MS, and they seem to be doing slightly different things. So I think taking the wisdom in this book with some grains of organic sea salt would be a good idea.
This product was not given to me as part of any promotion. I bought it after doing some comparison shopping and this is entirely the result of my own opinions and use of the product.