Depending on who you ask, the “paleo diet” – eating in such a way that attempts to mimic the dietary habits of our prehistoric ancestors – is either the secret to improved health and well-being, or a complete crock. Some claim that such a diet is the way humans were “meant” to eat. Others (primarily scientists and other informed persons) note that not only are humans not really “meant” to eat or not eat anything in particular, no one’s able to come to a consensus as to what exactly our ancestors were eating. In general, most experts agree that taking dietary cues from a time when the concept of language was in its infancy should be approached with a modicum of caution.
Dr. Terry Wahls, author of The Wahls Protocol, is not most experts. According to her website, she spent four years confined to a wheelchair due to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. By using what she calls “Functional Medicine” and “paleo principles” to create the Wahls Protocol, Dr. Wahls claims to have transformed her health and body, now walking easily without a cane and commuting by bicycle.
In a blog post, Wahls suggests adopting the “Wahls Diet” in a phased approach. The diet itself combines three of today’s most popular food fads: Gluten free, paleo and food allergies. The four phases of the diet implementation are as follows:
Phase 1 = Eating 9 cups of non-starchy vegetables and berries each day (greens, sulfur, color).
Phase 2 = Going gluten free, dairy free and soy free to reduce the risk of food allergies.
Phase 3 = Going Paleo by reducing/eliminating grains, legumes and potatoes.
Phase 4 = Getting evaluated for potential food allergies, toxic load issues and more personalized nutritional needs by a practitioner of functional medicine. The Institute for Functional Medicine can help you find a provider in your area.
Evidence is anecdotal as to the effectiveness of the Wahls Diet. This is common among eating plans that claim to assist with diseases/afflictions, as controlled nutritional studies are notoriously difficult to design and execute. For her part, Dr. Wahls only claims that the protocol worked “for her”, and credits the electrical stimulation she received as a major contributor to her being able to get out of her wheelchair.
Metric tons more research is needed before the Wahls Diet (and similar diets) can actually lay claim to fighting/reversing MS.