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Thread: Incorporating Dr. Wahls Diet page

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    CoS's Avatar
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    Incorporating Dr. Wahls Diet

    Primal Fuel
    Hey all. I posted this on my blog, but I figured I'd share it with you all here. Its pretty lengthy, and the hyperlinks might die when I paste. You can head over to my blog for the full experience. I'd love to hear your thoughts:

    On New Year's Eve, I watched the following video. Dr. Terry Wahls has a miraculous story to tell; one in which she overcame multiple sclerosis by targeting your brain and mitochondrial health with nutrition, after years of failed medication. In the video, she discusses her personal story and lays out her current diet, very similar to the hunter-gatherer/paleo/primal diet that I already follow. As her MS progressed, Dr. Wahls began reading up on a variety of nutrition studies in order to find some nutritional way to combat the degeneration of her myelin and to heal her body. Her story has inspired me to adopt the "food as medicine" mantra.

    One of her key "discoveries" was that ancient and indigenous people consume diets that, although varied in their macronutrient ratios, and with differing availability of fresh vegetables, fruits, and meats, consistently exceed the recommended daily allowance of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals.) With this in mind, Dr. Wahls began developing a dietary regimen. She suggests the following (9:00 in the video):

    "3 cups of green leaves, 3 cups of sulphur-rich vegetables, 3 cups of bright color, grassfed meat, organ meat, and seaweed." Each day.

    I'll let you watch the video for the full explanation of each category (or better yet, buy her book), but the gist of it is that green leaves (kale, collards, spinach, parsley, lettuce, etc) are full of vitamins, minerals,and antioxidants that support every cell in your body. Sulphur-rich veggies (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, onions, garlic, mushrooms, asparagus) empower your liver and kidneys to detoxify your blood, as well as support the brain. The colors in veggies represent different vitamins and antioxidants (flavonoids, polyphenols), so a diverse sampling of the rainbow will cover most of your bases.

    High quality protein not only feeds your muscles, but the omega 3s found in grassfed meat and fatty fish are well-known for supporting the brain. Organ meats (you all know I'm a big fan already) have nutrients that aren't typically found in traditional cuts. And the seaweed is suggested in order to provide adequate iodine and selenium.

    Now, the obvious problem that most people may have with this diet is the sheer volume of food. How the hell am I supposed to eat 9 cups of vegetables a day plus the healthy meats and fats? The answer is simple if you're already eating paleo, but if you're not, here it is: cutting out grain, starch, and dairy will clear plenty of room on your plate. I won't get into why these things should be avoided, but the first and third have been linked to a number of allergies and health complications (Celiac and lactose intolerance, for example).

    And even if you don't have these ailments, replacing these food groups with fresh, organic produce will significantly slice down you're empty-caloric-intake while boosting your nutrient-intake. You would be surprised how few calories are in vegetables. Eating ALL of this stuff will leave plenty of room for a few servings of meat and fat at each meal, and it will leave you feeling more satiated than the processed fat, sugar, and salt typical of the Standard American Diet (SAD). (For a more articulate explanation of why you should give up grains and dairy, check out Mark's Daily Apple or virtually any paleo/primal site. This is just an overview of MY dietary plan.)

    Now, eating this way helped Dr. Wahls overcome her MS. I haven't read her book yet (on my to-order list), so I don't know all the details. She is currently working with her Foundation and the University of Iowa Foundation to conduct clinical studies on this diet, and I fully support that. (Go here to find out how to help.) While I do not have MS, I believe that the Wahls Diet can help me address some of my own health concerns.

    Warning: Sad, personal health stuff that I've never admitted publicly ahead: Ever since I can remember, I've suffered from at least a moderate level of depression. No matter what was going on in my life, I have always felt down. I'm an excellent student, otherwise totally healthy, I have a loving and supportive family, I'm financially secure, live a low stress lifestyle, and have no real reason to feel this way. About half way into my 100 lbs weight loss (from June 2010 to June 2011), I began noticing a huge change in mood and energy. For almost a year now, I have experienced periods of crushing depression, unexplained sadness, irritability, mood swings, lack of focus, and mental fog. This past summer, I began experiencing low energy, malaise, and lost the focus and motivation to exercise. My body hair stopped growing, my muscles started wasting, my voice cracked, and my sex drive was non-existent. I quit sweating, I had "cold attacks" in which my fingers and toes got cold for no reason, and I was constantly sore. Despite exercise and a sensible diet, I stopped losing weight around 200-210 lbs; I can't lose fat around my waist (indicative of high cortisol levels.) My metabolism is essentially dead.

    All of this was completely unexplained. Going paleo, shifting macronutrient ratios, avoiding stimulants, nothing fixed it. In September, I began hormone treatment for hypothyroidism and low testosterone. This didn't help, and in fact, the drugs signaled to my body that is should stop making its own hormones (that is very bad haha). A month ago, I saw an endocrinologist, quit my medication, and I am currently awaiting blood work. The hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal axis controls the thyroid and gonadal system, and I'm convinced something in this delicate system (in the brain) is not functioning properly.

    Uncertain of what the problem is, I don't know what the solution may be. But I do know that refining my diet can help. I have been eating grain-free, minimal-dairy, and 95% whole food since June. And I feel fantastic in every other aspect of health. I don't get sick. When I have the energy, I can perform at a level of fitness on par with my in-shape peers. My back pain (from kyphosis, a pre-existing condition) has been drastically reduced. My heart burn, IBS, excessive acne, and sinus problems are completely gone. If I have seen these benefits just from adopting a paleo/primal diet with an admittedly "moderate" input of veggies and fruits, what can I accomplish with a diet HIGH in nutrient-rich plants to compliment the moderate helpings of protein and offal, and fearless consumption of saturated (steak), mono-unsaturated (avocado), and omega 3 fatty acids? My macronutrients will stay roughly the same: moderate protein, moderate-to-high fat, and low carb, but the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that I'll be taking in will far exceed Uncle Sam's expectations.

    Will all of this miraculously heal me? No. If my pituitary gland was damaged (because I didn't wear a helmet when I was riding an ATV in 2005) or I have an adenoma (non-cancerous tumor), then I'll need medication and surgery. But this diet can do something very important for me and my doctor: it can provide a clean slate. I can get the rest of my body in tip-top shape, lower inflammation and stress, prep my cells and other areas of my brain, so that my treatment can be as effective as possible. The healthier I am, the faster I can heal, and sooner I'll be back out there lifting weights, chasin' girls, and makin' paper.

    Cameron

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    Re: organ meat and seaweed is 1x per week, not daily.

    I prefer Wahls veg heavy (primarily leafy veg) plan myself, though I'm not going to swear I'll always get the full 9 cups a day in as my own medical issues cause lack of appetite and nausea.

    +1 to providing nutrients from natural sources and lowering inflammation so that the body can heal itself!

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    Very interesting, Cameron. I'm sorry to hear about your problems with depression and your frustrations with weight loss. While I do not suffer from depression, I do seem to have a deranged metabolism that paleo/primal may not be sufficient to mend. I too am beginning to suspect pituitary issues. I would love to see your test results and recommendations from the endocrinologist when you get them. Good luck!

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    I was low T3 (normal TSH/T4), with under-range testosterone back in August. Not much has changed, but I should know my results in about 2 weeks. I'll be sure to share. I guess the silver lining was that after 3 months of primal, I had HDL around 90, very small LDL and triglycerides, perfect blood pressure and heart rate, and a gorgeous C-Reactive Protein!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cori93437 View Post
    Re: organ meat and seaweed is 1x per week, not daily.

    I prefer Wahls veg heavy (primarily leafy veg) plan myself, though I'm not going to swear I'll always get the full 9 cups a day in as my own medical issues cause lack of appetite and nausea.

    +1 to providing nutrients from natural sources and lowering inflammation so that the body can heal itself!
    Well, I'm making exceptions/crafting the guidelines to my needs and budget. On her facebook, Dr. Wahls recommended getting just 4-6 oz of meat per day. That isn't anywhere near where I need to be. I don't know why someone would necessarily need to limit offal, but I suppose excessive seaweed might be iodine overload. I justify eating more offal like this: its a lot cheaper, more interesting, and tastes difference. Plus, I've been eating regular meat my whole life...what have I been missing by not eating offal? Can I play "catch up" by eating a little more now?

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    If you join her Facebook page, she talks more about it. She says she is aware that some people can not eat/ digest that many veggies everyday, so you can juice them and drink them or if you still can't do that due to illness, you can take them in supplement form, she suggests which supplements to get to.

    Yeah this diet is for everyone, not just the sick. It is a diet to prevent disease as well, including diseases such as dementia.

    I love her work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CoS View Post
    Well, I'm making exceptions/crafting the guidelines to my needs and budget. On her facebook, Dr. Wahls recommended getting just 4-6 oz of meat per day. That isn't anywhere near where I need to be. I don't know why someone would necessarily need to limit offal, but I suppose excessive seaweed might be iodine overload. I justify eating more offal like this: its a lot cheaper, more interesting, and tastes difference. Plus, I've been eating regular meat my whole life...what have I been missing by not eating offal? Can I play "catch up" by eating a little more now?
    I see, was thinking closer to her guidelines... + 1 then!
    I agree that more offal and seaweed will not hurt... up to a serving per day on the seaweed with absolutely no worries!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raine View Post
    If you join her Facebook page, she talks more about it. She says she is aware that some people can not eat/ digest that many veggies everyday, so you can juice them and drink them or if you still can't do that due to illness, you can take them in supplement form, she suggests which supplements to get to.

    Yeah this diet is for everyone, not just the sick. It is a diet to prevent disease as well, including diseases such as dementia.

    I love her work.
    Absolutely. The way I see it, no one's every gotten fat from eating too many veggies, so there is no health-related downside to this diet.

    One thing I forgot to mention, but that Dr. Wahls has brought up a few times: its important to rotate veggie selection. Leafy greens, for example, should be rotated to avoid the development of kidney stones due to oxalate. I live by the phrase "eat the rainbow", because that gives me a broader exposure to different vitamins and nutrients.

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    I'm aspiring to eat way more vegetables now, too! Dr. Wahls is so inspiring. Be aware- she didn't heal her MS through diet alone, but also developed a method of neuromuscular electrical stimulation. I'm sure for those of us who are fortunate enough NOT to have MS, we can benefit immensely from her dietary suggestions.

    I went out and bought seaweed today, and have been cooking tons more vegetables since watching her video.
    28, female, 5'2"
    Went primal 7/28/10: 154 lbs.
    1/12/12: 135 lbs.
    Goal: 120 lbs.

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    "Leafy greens, for example, should be rotated to avoid the development of kidney stones due to oxalate. "

    This is exactly what I'm worried about for me. Can anyone recommend HOW to do this? I've followed some links on oxalates from the forums here, but it was overwhelming... I have had kidney stones once, but also have other issues. And no nightshades, which makes eating the rainbow a lot harder!

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