Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dr Wahls Healing Nutrition

For those of you who have not watched Dr. Terry Wahls testimony on how she was cured of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) by nutrition, please take 18 minutes of your busy day and watch this life-changing video. I know you might be tempted to watch only the first 5 minutes, but I urge you, please just hang on till the end. I could tell you all day long what she said, but I think hearing it from "the horse's mouth" gives the testimony the credibility it needs; you might not believe me otherwise. I want you to watch this in particular because, of the other two sources that I've referred to in the past (Tom Naughton and Gary Taubes), neither has been a medical professional, and I know that for most people, a story carries more weight when the source is considered credible, in other words, the source is an expert in the particular line of work of the topic at hand. Not to say that Tom and Gary are not credible, just that Dr. Terry Wahls' profession as a medical doctor gives us her expertise, and her perspective from the medical side. She actually confirms what Tom and Gary have also discovered on their own.

Now, whether you watched it or not, I'd like to give a textual summary of her video in this post, as I think it is very useful to see "on paper" what she says. I do warn you, however, that I will go into more detail than she did, but it's for your benefit. So, don't get too caught up in the technical, scientific terminology; just understand the concepts of what's happening in the body. Visualize the various activities your body performs and the reactions your body produces when it has the right nutrients. It will help you understand why the body cannot do its job when it doesn't have the nutrients it needs. In fact, Dr. Wahls points out that if the reactions your body requires don't happen properly, you set the stage for chronic disease.

So, let's get started...

Testimony Spelled Out

Dr. Terry Wahls battled MS (Multiple Sclerosis) for about 7 years before she realized that her fellow doctors and their latest chemotherapies and drugs were doing nothing for her. That's when she took things into her own hands. She realized her brain was deteriorating, and she needed to do something if she was ever going to help herself get better. She was the guinea pig, but she had no choice, and she had nothing to lose if her hypotheses and experiments failed. This disease was considered incurable to modern medicine anyway. If there was any way that she could improve her quality of life, that would be an accomplishment for her.

So after researching the crucial elements, vitamins, and minerals her body required, she began to take vitamins and supplements in pill form, but she quickly realized that nutrition was the better way to take in the vitamins and minerals her body was lacking. As she began to change her diet, she found that her body began to heal itself. From a tilt-reclined, zero-gravity wheelchair in 2007 and with a frail body barely able to walk (with two canes), she went down to one cane after 3 months of her new lifestyle. At month 4 she no longer needed a cane. At month 5, she took her bike for a spin around the block after not riding in 10 years. At 9 months, she took an 18-mile bike ride. One year after her lifestyle change, she did a trail ride in the Canadian Rockies. In November of 2011, when she gave the talk at TEDx, you could see that her health was restored. Today, she seeks to help others who are battling such diseases, and she seeks to raise awareness for prevention of such diseases. She teaches the public about the healing power of food and she conducts clinical trials using the nutrition guidelines that saved her life.

How did she do this? Before going into detail about the nutrition, I will cover her explanation about how our bodies work, as I think it's vital for you to understand. As I've said before, knowing is half the battle. Not only that, knowledge is power, and being aware of how your body works will help you realize why the foods she recommends are essential to your well being.

Our Brain and our Body's Cells


Let's start with the brain, one of the main components of the central nervous system. Did you know that our brains contain 1 billion cells and 10 trillion connections? This network of connections consists of special cells called neurons that transmit the signals between different parts of the body via their axons, or the connective wiring. These signals take place just fine when the connective wiring is surrounded by a fatty substance called myelin, but when this wiring (the axon) is not insulated by myelin, these signals cannot take place. In other words, myelin is absolutely essential for the central nervous system to work properly. So if our bodies need it, how do we obtain it? It's actually simple. Our bodies can make myelin! However, our body requires the following elements before it can produce healthy, robust myelin.

A neuron with its axon insulated by myelin
  • Vitamin B1 (Thyamin)
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate)
  • Vitaimin B12 (Cobalamin)
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Iodine


Next, we'll look at neurotransmitters. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that transmits signals from the neuron to the receptors of a target cell. The synapse is the space where this signal transmission takes place. As we saw above, these signals are vital to the functioning of our bodies, and the signal is not valid if the neurotransmitters are not there to take the message across. Thus, we require these neurotransmitters, so they can relay messages throughout our bodies. Just as our bodies can make myelin, they can also make neurotransmitters provided we have the following things in our nutrition:

  • Sulfur
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

A neuron transmitting signals via electrical impulses to a target cell. In the synapse, the
neurotransmitters send messages via the receptors of the target cell.

Cells and Mitochondria

A typical animal cell. (9) shows the mitochondria
As you may already know, our bodies are made of countless cells. What you may not know are the subcellular components of a cell (right). These tiny structures are to the cell what organs are to the body, and so they're called "organelles" (tiny organs). For the moment, ignore all the numbers except for (9) which shows the mitochondria.

Mitochondria are critically important to our health. They are often called "cellular power plants" because they generate most of the cell's supply of chemical energy, but that's not all they do. They are also responsible for processes such as cell communication, differentiation of cells, cell death, and controlling cell cycle and growth. It is no wonder that when mitochondria cannot perform their jobs properly, neurological diseases occur (like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's) and also diseases like cancer, where programmed cell death never occurs and cell-division continues.

A mitochondrion (singular for mitochondria)
So, what nutrients should we consume for the countless reactions of the mitochondria to happen properly?
  • B Vitamins
  • Sulfur
  • Antioxidants


Dr. Wahls noted that as societies become more affluent, they tend to eat more processed foods, which in turn, causes a decline in their health. As they eat more foods rich in starch and simple carbs (sugars), their children are born with smaller brains and smaller jaws (leading to crooked teeth), their blood vessels stiffen earlier in life, they and/or their children potentially become obese and/or develop diabetes, their children are diagnosed with learning disorders and severe behavioral problems, and a myriad of other negative effects that emerge over time.

The solution she proposed was to go back to the lifestyle of our Paleo ancestors, who for nearly 2.5 million years foraged (hunted and gathered) for their food. Dr. Wahls points out they knew more about eating for optimal health than modern physicians and scientists. From her experiments on her own body, she developed a method for eating for the benefit of the brain and the mitochondria (the power generators of your body).

Dr. Wahls' nutrition guidelines stem from the healing effects they generated in her own body. She believes wholeheartedly in the Paleo method of nutrition, which I described in my last post. Now keep in mind that eating a Paleo diet is viewed by followers of this lifestlye in a few different ways. For example some people include fats like nuts or even dairy in moderation in the Paleo lifestyle, but the main point to understand is the return to eating food in its most natural state, so there is definitely a complete emphasis on eliminating processed foods as much as possible. Dr. Wahls points out that this lifestyle is more nutritious than the diets of the AHA (American Heart Association), ADA (American Diabetes Association), and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), as it has the following effects:

  • Dramatically increases vitamin and mineral content of your diet
  • Dramatically lowers risk of food allergies and sensitivities (more common than we realize and difficult to diagnose)
    • Gluten Sensitivity (the protein in wheat, rye, and barley)
    • Dairy Sensitivity (the casein protein)
    • Both of the above are associated with a wide variety of health problems including:
      • Eczema, Asthma, Allergies, Infertility, Irritable bowel, Fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, Arthritis, Chronic headache, Neurological problems, Behavior problems

What to Eat

So now that we know what our bodies require to function properly, what are the foods that contain these elements? Dr. Wahls' proposed the following guidelines in order to receive the nutrients the body needs for all the functionality mentioned above. On a daily basis, one should eat the following:

  • 3 Cups of Green Leaves
    • Dramatically lowers risks of cataracts and macular degeneration (leading cause of blindness in the US)
    • Rich in:
      • Vitamins A & C - support immune cells
      • Vitamin B - protects brain cells and mitochondria
      • Vitamin K - keeps blood vessels and bones healthy
      • Minerals - cofactors (essential to the function of an enzyme) for hundreds of different enzymes in the body
    • Kale has the most nutrition per calorie of any plant
    • Parsley also has countless benefits

  • 3 Cups of Sulfur-Rich Vegetables
    • Sulfur supports:
      • Brain
      • Mitochondria
      • Liver & Kidneys (for toxin removal from bloodstream)
    • Cabbage family (including but not limited to)
      • Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Turnips, Rutabaga, Radishes, Collards, Kale
    • Onion family (including but not limited to)
      • Garlic, Leeks, Chives, Shallots
    • Mushrooms
    • Asparagus

  • 3 Cups of Bright Color
    • Colors contain flavonoids and polyphenols (potent antioxidants) that support:
      • Retinas
      • Mitochondria
      • Brain cells
      • Toxin removal
    • Vegetables (including but not limited to)
      • Beets, Carrots, Peppers, Red Cabbage
    • Fruits (brightly colored) and Berries (including but not limited to)
      • Peaches, Oranges, Blackberries, Blueberries,
        Raspberries, Strawberries

  • High Quality Protein Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
    • To produce myelin
    • Critical to jaw development
      • For straight teeth
      • Larger brain
    • Wild Fish (including but not limited to)
      • Salmon, Herring
    • Grass-Fed Meat (including but not limited to)
      • Lamb, Beef

Also, once a week, one should eat:

  • Organ meat
    • Concentrated sources of:
      • Vitamins
      • Minerals
      • Coenzyme Q
    • Particularly potent for supporting mitochondria
    • Examples:
      • Liver, Heart, Tongue, Gizzards, and other Sweetbreads - culinary name for animal glands

  • Seaweed
    • Rich source of selenium
    • Rich source of iodine
      • Brain needs it to make myelin
      • Body needs it to remove toxins
        • Mercury
        • Lead
        • Heavy Metals
      • Adequate iodine lowers risk of breast and prostate cancer
      • 80% of Americans have low iodine

That about sums up what her testimony was about. I want to point out once more that Dr. Wahls brought her body back to a healthy state in less than a year after being sick for 7 years. So keep in mind that the body is resilient. You might feel like healing is impossible, but getting back to a healthy state is possible. You can bounce back.

If you're still discouraged, try to keep in mind what she said about paying now or later. Yes, eating this way may prove to be more expensive than eating all the processed, quick and easy-to-obtain foods you are accustomed to consuming, but you will either pay now, or you will pay later with medical bills, doctor visits, prescriptions, surgeries, missing work, forced early retirement, and nursing-home care. As healthcare costs continue to rise exponentially, it seems imperative to be healthy now, if only to avoid all the extra costs that come with being unhealthy.

One more thing before I close this post. This may be a drastic change for many of you and it is definitely overwhelming, but again, don't let it stress you out. Do the best you can, and take things a step at a time. It's what I do, and it's all we can be expected to do. You have to cut yourself some slack here and there, but as long as you achieve the healthy state you want for yourself, that is what is important.

Good luck! I look forward to posting more...


  1. Thanks for summarizing this. At first, it was obvious that I needed to take notes during the video, especially for the diet section, but it helps that you did it and all I need is to print it and put it in the fridge :-) Thanks again!

  2. You're welcome Miguel :) I'm glad it was helpful!

  3. Fantastic post! Thank you for the breakdown on her talk. Yes, it was well worth watching the video all the way through.