This is my first book review and it’s long overdue.
Earlier this year, I was given the opportunity to read The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine by Dr. Terry Wahls and share my thoughts through my blog. I was not compensated for this post, though I did receive a free copy of the book.
I first learned about Dr. Wahls at the Iowa Food & Lifestyle bloggers gathering last fall at the New Pioneer Food Co-op in Iowa City, where she occasionally teaches classes. Dr. Wahls is a physician, professor at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, and 2011 TEDx presenter who was diagnosed with progressive MS. The reason I participated in this opportunity was because I wanted to learn more about her story.
Paleo diet principles and functional medicine helped Wahls transition from needing a tilt recline wheelchair to biking 18 miles in one day. It’s important to note, though, that Wahls does not spurn conventional medicine or advocate that people with chronic autoimmune conditions stop taking their medications.
These are some of the topics Wahls discusses in her book:
- Her Story: Wahls shares her personal journey.
- Context: I like how Wahls explains autoimmune diseases, MS, and cellular nutrition in language that is easy to understand for those of us that aren’t well-versed in biology.
- Diet: Wahls explains three, increasingly restrictive variations of a diet based on paleo principles. The specifics are too detailed to explain in this post, but emphasize seeking locally grown food and consuming signficant amount of vegetables, healthy fats like coconut oil, certain meat products and bone broth, fermented foods and sea vegetables.
- Toxin-reduction: In addition to reducing one’s exposure to toxins through food, Wahls offers other suggestions like using natural cleaners, switching from plastic to glass food storage containers, and placing green houseplants inside one’s house to help detox the air.
- Exercise: Exercise and stretching is encouraged.
- Other alternative therapies: Wahls discusses the therapies she recommends and advises against according to her experience.
- Recipes: This section includes recipes for Wahl’s bone broth, smoothies, kombucha and meat & greens skillet.
This book offers so much information, it’s hard to summarize in a blog post. I do not suffer from a chronic autoimmune condition, but still feel that I found value from reading this book. Many of Wahl’s viewpoints harken back to what I learned from natural health practitioners in the Twin Cities and remind me of what I read in Anticancer: A New Way of Life.
I am not interested in committing to a paleo diet of any kind, but feel motivated to try including some of the Wahls Protocol dietary principles into our meals. Jake and I can always increase our vegetable intake and be more deliberate about incorporating fermented foods, seaweed and coconut oil into our meals.
I also liked some of her suggestions for reducing exposure to toxins. I think it’s important not to go to the extreme of obsessing over avoiding toxins, but I’m not opposed to making simple changes like cleaning with vinegar or looking into purchasing a water filter.
Finally, I agree that movement and stress reduction is essential to our overall health. I’m totally on board for viewing health as a holistic body, mind and soul issue instead of isolating these parts of ourselves. There’s a lot about the Wahls Protocol that I can’t personally speak for since I haven’t tried the protocol, do not have a chronic autoimmune condition, and am not a medical professional, but it’s my personal opinion that good things can happen when we seek a well-rounded approach to health. It’s wonderful that Wahls has found healing and is sharing what brought her recovery in the hopes that it can help others.
You can learn more about Dr. Terry Wahls at www.terrywahls.com