Healing Autoimmune Disease Through Nutrition and Lifestyle with Terry Wahls, M.D.

Content By: Ari Whitten & Terry Wahls, M.D.

In this episode, I am speaking with Dr. Terry Wahls – who is an Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner and a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Iowa. She is also a patient with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, which confined her to a tilt recline wheelchair for four years.

She restored her health using a diet and lifestyle program, something we will discuss more in detail in this podcast. She is also the author of the Wahls Protocol a Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles, and the cookbook, The Wahls Protocol Cooking For Life. We will discuss how to prevent and treat autoimmune disease through nutrition and lifestyle.

Table of Contents

In this podcast, Dr. Wahls and I discuss:

  • What doctors are taught at med school (and how it has changed over the years)
  • One of the biggest issues doctors have when treating patients
  • The most known causes of MS (and the latest research on the topic)
  • The link between MS and mitochondria
  • The Wahls diet protocol to improve health
  • Dr. Wahls’ biggest key to success in lifestyle changes

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Ari: Hey everyone, welcome back to The Energy Blueprint podcast. With me now is my guest, Dr. Terry Wahls, who is an Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner and a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Iowa where she conducts clinical trials. In 2018, she was awarded the Institute for Functional Medicine’s Linus Pauling Award for her contributions in research, clinical care, and patient advocacy.

She is also a patient with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, which confined her to a tilt recline wheelchair for four years. She restored her health using a diet and lifestyle program that she designed specifically for her brain, and now pedals her bike to work each day. She’s the author of the Wahls Protocol, a radical new way to treat all chronic autoimmune conditions using paleo principles, and the cookbook, The Wahls Protocol Cooking For Life.

You can learn more about her multiple sclerosis clinical trials at wahls.lab.ui or I should say, uiowa.edu and there is also a one-page handout for the Wahls Diet that you can get at terrywahls.com/diet. Welcome, Dr. Wahls. It’s a pleasure to finally connect with you. I’ve been meaning to do this with you for a very long time, so it’s a pleasure.

Dr. Wahls: Great, thank you.

Ari: First, can you just briefly tell your personal story, obviously that it was alluding to, about being confined to a wheelchair for a few years? What was the nature of how things, how MS came on for you, and how did it affect your life?

Dr. Wahls: The symptoms began during medical school, little jolts, buttock pain, cross my [unintelligible 00:01:52]. Usually, on the right side occasionally on the left. They become more frequent, more severe. 20 years ago, out walking with my wife, Jackie, I developed weakest [inaudible 00:02:03] saw the neurologist. He said, “This could be bad, or really, really bad.” Three weeks later, I hear multiple sclerosis.

I treat my disease very aggressively seeing the best people I could find in the country. In three years later, I hear tilt recline wheelchair. I take Novantrone infusions then Tysabri infusions, nothing helps. I am too weak to sit up at my desk. My face pains are relentlessly worse. Now, fortunately, I’m a physician, so I’m reading the basic science, I’m experimenting. I have this theory that mitochondria are the big driver, so I start using supplements to support my mitochondria.

I’ve been following the paleo diet, basically, the Autoimmune Intervention Protocol, the AIP diet for five years, and I’m still getting steadily worse. By 2007, I’m so weak I cannot sit up. My face pains are certainly more severe, more difficult to turn off. I began to have brain fog. My Chief of Staff assigns me to the traumatic brain injury clinic that I’ll have to start in about six months, so I realized that I’m going to have to take medical retirement because that’s a job I really can’t do.

Fortunately, for me that summer, I discovered the Institute for Functional Medicine. I take their course under their protection. I discovered [unintelligible] stimulation of muscles, I get my physical therapist to add, that then I have a really big aha moment. Now, is what if I redesigned my paleo diet based on all the science that I’ve been reading in functional medicine.

I have this new way of the highly structured paleo diet starting in December. I add back meditation, I’ve been doing the [unintelligible] exercise. Things happened very quickly. My pain is gone, my fatigue is gone. My physical therapist says, “Terry, you’re getting stronger and answers my exercises.” Six months into this, I’m walking without a cane. Nine months into this, I biked around the block for the first time in six years.

My kids are crying, my wife’s crying, I’m crying, and, of course, that really changes how I think about disease and health. My Chief of Medicine calls me in and asked me to get a case report written and they asked me to redirect my research program into investigating this protocol that I’ve created, and that’s changed everything.

Conventional medicine’s approach to MS and autoimmune disease

Ari: I’m so happy for you, that you found an answer. As an MD yourself, as a professor of medicine, I’m very curious to hear your perception of what conventional medicines attitude is now or was at the time you were going through that about the MS and [crosstalk] and a cure for it.

Dr. Wahls: That’s a pretty funny story. At the time I was diagnosed, no one knew what the cause of MS was and we just talked about drugs. No one talked about diet or lifestyle or anything that was under your control. When I recovered, 2008, people here at the University were just thrilled with my recovery.

I was actually on the research committee that oversees research called the IRB, they’re thrilled. They actually start giving talks at the law organic workshop about my experience, and the MS Society wants me to come to speak to them. I say, “Sure.” I get interviewed by the Clinical Advisory Committee, who decides to ban me as a speaker because they’re afraid patients will stop their drugs, refused drugs on the basis of my story.

Ari: They banned you as a speaker?

Dr. Wahls: Yes, they banned me as a speaker, and mind you, the University– and I should also tell you, I got called into the Chief of Staff and called into the Neurology Office– pardon me, the Chief of Medicine Office at the University because my colleagues, my physician colleagues were complaining that I wasn’t following the standard of care, and both the Chair of Medicine and the Chief of Staff at the VA Hospital, I heard that I was a banned speaker.

Now, I had brought with me an armful of scientific papers explaining my rationale for the various supplements that I use, and why I was so focused on diet and lifestyle. Fortunately, I won over my Chief of Staff and my Chair of Medicine, but they said, “Terry, you got to learn how to talk about this in a way that’s not getting your practitioners, your fellow physicians, upset”.

I get sent to a complementary alternative medicine clinic, I met with their Chief, the Director, and I learned some very important lessons, which I think were valid, that I was careful to document in my medical record, that I’m teaching people how to improve diet and self-care routine, that I’m not treating their chronic disease, that this is an alternative to FDA-approved treatments, and that we would continue their approved treatments.

I would implement this additional adjunct therapy, and then I would monitor and adjust medications as needed. I put it in big disclaimers on all of my talks that, “Keep working with your personal physician. This is not FDA approved to treat, prevent, cure any disease, that I’m focused on improving how your cells function, and that you need to work with your personal physician, because if your cells do improve, the doses of medications that you may need if you’re on a prescription meds, may change”.

Once I learned how to talk about it in a way that was more comfortable for my colleagues, and I made clear that I’m not going to adjust their drugs. It’s up to them to adjust their drugs. I’m here to talk to people about improving their diet and self-care routine. My Chief of Staff and the Chief of Medicine said, “Wahls is just saying stuff that we should all be saying, and if ever patients get into trouble, we’ll put it through peer review just like we would anyone else”.

Of course, none of my patients to get into trouble for eating more vegetables. Over time, because we started doing research, and consistently the message in my research is, people could make these big changes in their diet and self-care routine, and that their fatigue would go down, their energy would improve, their quality of life would improve, and clinical measures of walking and motor function would improve.

We’ve done four clinical trials, consistent results every time, and we’ve got two more trials that we’re getting ready to launch. We keep writing grants, so we’ll have more and more studies.

Ari: That’s cool. I would love to talk to you about the details of those studies, but before we get there, I want to just comment on what you just described of your own personal story of navigating, getting this information out but people getting mad at you and trying to censor you and prevent you from speaking. Do you have any words or thoughts on the broader cultural context of that?

Meaning, why do you think that was happening in sense of does it have anything to do with financial motives and you getting in the way of financial agendas? Does it have anything to do with the fact that most MDs don’t really receive any education or almost no education in nutrition and lifestyle? What do you think are the biggest factors that played into that reaction they had towards you?

Dr. Wahls: For the longest time, for hundreds of years, physicians were taught a diet– that was all that we had. During this century, we also had homeopathy and some osteopathy but that got drummed out in medical school with the Flexner Report. At that time, Carnegie was developing the first line of pharmaceuticals that was very interested in more of a scientific method and having providers that could use these pharmaceuticals. Over time, as the medical curriculum continues to grow and expand, nutrition got squeezed, squeezed, squeezed and it’s very hard to find any hours for nutrition.

When I got my MD, I don’t recall any nutrition hours, although it’s possible that there were some. The vast majority of medical schools have very limited hours of nutrition. We may have entire courses related to pharmaceuticals, we’ll have a course related to physiology, pathophysiology, et cetera but the osteopathic schools have more nutrition education than the MD schools. That’s a big problem.

Physicians, we have less and less time with our patients, so it becomes easier to quickly diagnose, quickly write a prescription, and send people on their way. Even if they knew something about nutrition, it is hard to get behavior change to happen. That’s a complex process. When I was staffing residency in primary care, I’m talking to the residents about biochemistry and I think I’m talking about the latest newest drug, and I’m talking about turmeric or broccoli.

It was a bit of a whiplash, but I was pretty much into talking biochemistry in lieu to the food and to our exercise and stress-reducing practices. Then I would go in and have a few minutes with the vets, and my residents were amazed at how quickly I could vets fired up about eating vegetables in just two or three minutes, five minutes at most. They would, over time, get me very excited like, “I can’t wait to see how you’re going to convince this [unintelligible 00:13:00] farmer to start eating vegetables.” It ended up being lots of fun.

Now, the other faculty that was staffing the resident clinic with me was a very traditional pharmacy-first kind of person, and so there were two very different styles of practicing medicine that were going on there.

Ari: Very interesting. For me, it feels hard to overstate the insanity of a situation where we’re educating doctors with almost no education in nutrition or lifestyle, and yet we know over 80% of the disease burden in this country is from nutrition and lifestyle.

Dr. Wahls: When I went to medical school, we were so excited about the genetics that we’re going to learn, the Human Genome Project. We had this mistaken belief that once we sequence the genome, we’d understand chronic disease and we’d be able to treat, cure, and prevent chronic disease.

As we’ve gotten better at understanding big data, we are getting better at understanding the mechanisms by which diet matters, the microbiome matters, sleep matters, and exercise matters. We’re beginning to get more of the basic science behind why diet, lifestyle, and self-care is so important. Unfortunately, until we understand the basic science behind it, people have not been very enthusiastic about it.

The environmental and lifestyle factors that increase the risk of autoimmune disease

Ari: Talk to me about some of the mechanisms of what is known about what actually causes MS specifically, or you could talk about autoimmunity more broadly, however you want to break that down. What are some of those environmental and lifestyle factors that are known contributors to the development of MS?

Dr. Wahls: I’m going to give you a little historical context. I’m diagnosed in 2000 and I do what many physicians do when you get diagnosed with a bad disease, you go to PubMed and you start reading all that you can. At that time, we know that there’s a genetic predisposition, there’s probably an infection that occurs before the age of 15, and then these unknown environmental factors that lead some people to get MS and others not.

That was all that was really known. No one really identified the environmental factors. They’ll say, “The environmental factors, and so take these drugs which could decrease the risk of relapse by about a third”, and so I started on those drugs. My family convinced me to stop reading because all I was doing was getting really upset like, “Oh my god, this looks so incredibly grim.” I didn’t read for three years until I got into the wheelchair and I’m like, “Okay, I know how bad it is. I want to go back to reading”.

At that time, there still wasn’t a good explanation for what were the causes for MS and new information. As I looked at my disease, it looks much more degenerative because there were no relapse. I started reading about Parkinson’s, ALS, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s, and in all of those diseases, toxins were a big factor and mitochondria were a big factor, so I’m working on, “Okay, what can I do for my mitochondria?” Looking for drugs, nothing there. I started looking for supplements and I added supplements to support the mitochondria.

Now, in the background that I’m not aware of is this emerging interest in the leaky gut and Alessio Fasano who writes his landmark paper said, “The leaky gut is the first step in autoimmunity”, because when you have a leaky gut, these large incompletely digested food proteins get into the bloodstream and develop immune responses. You also get lipopolysaccharides or bacterial fragments into your bloodstream which amplify the immune response. He called that as step number one. For many people, gluten sensitivity can be a factor leading to neurologic, psychiatric symptoms and enhancing lesions in your brain and spinal cord.

Now, we also now know that having certain bacterial or viral infections will increase the risk of autoimmunity later in life. I believe there are about 16 different infecting organisms. By the way, the coronavirus is one of them. Not everyone who gets those infections will develop autoimmunity but some will. We’ve got toxins. Lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium also appear to increase the risk. Smoking increases the risk. Air pollution will increase the risk. You think about the global problem with wildfires and how that leads to poor air quality. Adverse childhood experiences increase the vulnerability. Severe, prolonged stress as adult increases the vulnerability.

The researchers accumulated the background, all of the stuff, clinicians are still not talking about any of these multidisciplinary factors. More recently, I’ve been attending the MS research meetings and I see the MS basic scientist talking about the microbiome, about those co-infections, molecular mimicry. They’re talking about leaky gut, they’re talking about environmental factors, vitamin D, smoking, air pollution.

They’re talking about this long [unintelligible 00:19:06] of other symptoms that occur five to 10 years ahead of time, that look like pelvic pain, endometriosis, severe heavy periods, migraines, infertility. Again, these may occur five to 10 years before the onset of autoantibodies and before the onset of inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or other systemic autoimmune diseases.

Most neurologists aren’t aware of all of that. They may be aware part of that but they may not be aware about the whole– As a practicing physician, you’re working really hard, you’re tired, you get home, you want to see your kids, baseball games, or swim mates and so it’s hard to keep up with the latest findings in your specialty once you finished training.

Ari: As a result of that, they just gravitate towards whatever the accepted standard of care is without doing [crosstalk].

Dr. Wahls: Correct. The latest disease-modifying drug treatments will be exposed to, so they’ll stay current on that, but it’s harder to stay current on what are the environmental factors. Even if there are willing to say, “Do you know what? Diet matters, you got to do better on your diet.” They will get about that much attention in the office. Even if they would do that, that would be a marvelous first step to tell the patients, “Take the DMTs but you really ought to cut out the sugar-sweetened beverages and eat more vegetables.” My God, that would be a welcome first step.

The role of mitochondrial health in autoimmune disease

Ari: Right. Talk to me a bit about the role of mitochondria in this, because mitochondria, first of all, it’s something that I talk a lot about and given this is the energy blueprint, mitochondria certainly play a big role. Previously, I think when you and I were in high school and college biology classes, it was sort of thought mitochondria are just these mindless energy generators. They take in carbs and fats and pump out ATP. They don’t really have much of a role beyond that and now we know that they have profound roles in regulating the metabolism and regulating [unintelligible] cells and the immune system respond to things. Can you talk about what your conception is of mitochondria and their role is in autoimmunity in MS.

Dr. Wahls: We’ll talk first about MS. In MS there’s two elements, the inflammation and the degeneration, or the shrinking of the brain and spinal cord. The inflammation represents the acute symptoms, the relapse, which gradually resolve that’s called the remission. The drugs do a great job of sapping those relapses. The drugs appear to do nothing for the neurodegeneration side. We have more evidence that the new degeneration side is a mitochondrial problem, that there’s not enough energy in the brain to maintain a healthy myelin and to maintain those healthy axons.

Those parts of the brain diseases that have shrinking brains, cognitive decline, Parkinson’s, ALS and MS, that has been linked more closely to mitochondria or the mitochondria generating enough energy or not. There’s two things that I think about when I talk to my patient about the mitochondria. One is you got to stop poisoning them and you have to feed them more effectively. Stop poisoning them, so we can think about antibiotics because our mitochondria are really ancient bacteria. Those antibiotics that kill off the bacteria are often stressful for the mitochondria.

Many of the pesticides, herbicides that we use to make the food supply are cheap or toxic to our mitochondria. Many of the industrial solvents are also poisonous to the mitochondria. Many of the heavy metals, lead, mercury, arsenic are hurting your mitochondria. Gadolinium, the contrast agent that is important for brain imaging is stressful for the mitochondria as well. We have to address those things that are poisoning the mitochondria, and then the nutrients for the mitochondria. For most of Americans, we’re getting 60 to 70, sometimes 80% of our calories from added sugars and processed foods.

Well, if you have all of that junk in your diet, that doesn’t leave enough calories for you to get the vitamins minerals, antioxidants, essential fats, proteins that you’re going to need to run the chemistry of lif,e to build the proteins that we need for the structures in life, the enzymes that we need, and they have the substrates that are mitochondrial linked. I talk with my patients about, “You got to stop the poisoning, you have to feed them real food.” I have strategies for the meat-eaters, for the omnivores, for the plant-based vegan vegetarians, for the [unintelligible 00:25:05] eaters, because we have to be thoughtful to be sure that we have everything that our cells need. If you get too much into, “I’m going to eat this way for spiritual beliefs.” I’m not asking people to abandon their spiritual beliefs, but I still want you to know how to feed yourself for optimal health.

How lifestyle influence autoimmune disease

Ari: Yes, absolutely. Let’s talk about some of your research. You’ve done actual formal studies looking at some of your dietary protocols, lifestyle protocols in the context of patients with MS. Tell us about some of that research and what results have you found.

Dr. Wahls: The way research happens, you do sequences, you do a case report, a case series, then a single-arm study, then small pilot controlled studies, then larger studies, and then larger longer studies. The first case report, then we had a small case series. Then we had a single-arm study where we replicated my interventions, the diet, supplements, meditation, exercise, [inaudible 00:26:19]. Very complicated, we’re asking people to do a lot. They actually did a lot that, we radically changed their diet. We had a dramatic reduction in fatigue. A dramatic improvement in quality of life. And half of our folks with progressive MS had improvements in their walking ability. That is stunning success.

The next thing that we did was a couple of small randomized controlled trials. Now we studied just the diet, so it was a simplified study. We again ensured that people could implement the diet and that compared to the control intervention group had less fatigue, higher quality of life, and better walking function. Then more recently we did a larger study funded by the MS Society, where we had consented 85 folks. 77 made it through the intervention, 72 made it through six months.

We had an observation period where people came in, they had their assessments. We asked them to keep eating their usual diet. They came back in 12 weeks. We repeated all their assessments. We randomized them and trained them on either a low-fat Swank diet or the modified paleo diet. They came back in 12 weeks, repeated all the assessments, came back, and then we didn’t provide as much support for the next 12 weeks. And we let them reintroduce the nitrates in the Wahls group. Then we brought them back at 24 weeks.

The first thing to say is in the observation period, fatigue was stable. Quality of life was stable. Walking endurance was stable. In our main hypothesis was the Wahls group would have a greater reduction in fatigue severity as measured by fatigue severity scale score than the Swank group. We also looked at the modified fatigue impact scale, quality of life scales, and a six-minute walk test.

To our surprise, both Swank and Wahls improved, and there were not statistically different between Wahls and Swank at 12 weeks or at 24 weeks where the fatigue severity scale score. However, in the other measures, in the quality of life measure, the mental health quality of life, physical health quality of life, the Wahls group was significantly better than the Swank group at both 12 weeks and 24 weeks. The Wahls group had a greater fatigue reduction than the Swank group at 24 weeks with a modified fatigue impact scale.

We’d ask people to not change their exercise program during this time period, because this is a diet study. We also put on an actigraph to measure basically how active they were. What we saw was that at 12 weeks no one had really changed. However, at 24 weeks, the Wahls group had clinically more frequent activity than at baseline, although statistically, the difference between Wahls and Swank was 0.08, so not quite clinically significant. I think the bottom line is, if we improve your diet, either with a Swank or the Wahls, we’re going to have some improvements with fatigue reduction. The Wahls is better than Swank for some measures, it’ll be more telling if we can do a two-year study to answer what is the long-term efficacy.

Ari: Now, the other diet you mentioned, the Swank diet, I believe is an extremely low-fat diet.

Dr. Wahls: Yes, they lowered it to 15 grams of saturated fat, and that’s basically chicken breast, duck breast, no skin, white fish, no eggs, non-fat dairy only. We improve their diet by asking them to have four servings of whole grains in four servings of vegetables a day. On our diet, it’s 6 to 12 ounces of meat. We wanted six ounces of liver once a week, we wanted six to nine cups of vegetables a day. If you’re a man, it’s nine cups or a tall lady, I’m six foot tall. If you’re a petite person, you’re 4’10, 4’11, then maybe that’s only six servings of vegetables a day.

Ari: Got it. Given that that diet is quite different from the Wahls Protocol, especially you’re advocating more of a higher fat diet and something approximating keto, maybe you’re not hard on strict keto, but it’s in that direction. Please correct me if I’m misrepresenting in any way.

Dr. Wahls: No, it was interesting, in terms of the saturated fat, the intake for the Swank group was 115. The Wahls group was at 16 grams of saturated fat. We’re a low saturated fat diet. It was higher in fat overall, because it was higher in more omega-3, omega-6 fats as well. At baseline, people have like one-half servings of vegetables. They have the standard American diet very high in processed foods, added sugars, sugar-sweetened beverages, so replacing that with whole grains or vegetables is definitely a step in the right direction.

Now, I think it would have been very interesting instead of following people for six months to follow them for two years to see does the difference between Wahls and Swank continue to grow over time. I do want to tell your audience that when I’m working with patients, if they want to follow a low-fat diet, then what I stress is we still have to have the essential fats, omega-3s omega-6s fats and that we play with vegetables. We’re going to watch your lipids overall because I want your cholesterol to continue to be at least preferably 170 or 200 so that you have enough cholesterol for your brain and to make myelin.

If people are changing their diets, do it as a family so that the whole family’s onboard of where it is that we’ve agreed that we’re going to reduce or eliminate from the diet. What is it that we’ve agreed that we’re going to increase, encourage in the diet so that we can make those changes as a family will greatly improve our success.

Ari: Got you. As far as explanatory factors to account for both of the diets providing some benefits, although the Wahls Protocol being superior, would you say that the two biggest factors are probably, number one, the removal of most processed foods and refined sugars and processed fats? Then number two, being more vegetable consumption?

Dr. Wahls: I think those are really, really important factors, but also it list out everything that I think is key. Taking out the inflammatory foods, we don’t know who has unrecognized food sensitivities, some of those folks will have. We don’t know what number that would be, but certainly, someone have that and for them, that would be really important. Getting rid of the sugar and the processed foods also is really important. Getting more resistance storage fiber vegetables in polyphenols to feed your microbiome, also really important. Get enough protein in, really important.

I hate to be a reductionist, I much prefer to think it’s the whole package. I remind your viewers that I had done the AIP diet meticulously, carefully, for five years and it wasn’t enough. That was when I was focused on what to remove and I didn’t have grain, legumes, dairy, but it wasn’t focused on what to eat. I think it’s the whole picture that made the big difference.

Ari: Got it. Have you had a different reaction now, now that we’re many, many years later and you’ve gotten the word out, you’ve done actual formal research validating that your methods have benefits? How do you feel if at all the reaction within the conventional medical community has changed towards you and your methods?

Dr. Wahls: Over time, here at the University, I went from eccentric oddity to brilliant visionary, and I’ve given grand rounds to a number of departments. We presented our research every year at the research update for the college, for the department of medicine, that’s been fun. Then, in the MS world, I’ve joined the National MS Society’s nutrition subcommittee on wellness. That’s been fun to be part of that committee. This is where other MS researchers that are conducting the dietary research, we meet once a month and talk about all of that.

It’s refreshing to see that the neurologists are talking about diet matters, the microbiome matters. There is a leaky gut. Yes, many neurologists are saying there is more research behind the Mediterranean diet, now recommend that to their patients and that’s fine. At least they are talking about a diet. I’m hearing from more of our followers and my patients were saying, “My neurologist gave me a copy of your book when I was diagnosed.” We’re making progress and I find that exciting. For all of the really challenging things that is happening in the internet space, with YouTube, and our social media platforms with this information, it was those platforms that allowed my message to emerge back in 2011. There’s information and disinformation, and people right now have to struggle between sorting out which is which.

Ari: My last question to you, and probably the one that is going to be where most of the gold from this podcast lies, which is people who either have autoimmune disease or who are looking to prevent autoimmune disease, what would you say are the top three or top five practical recommendations that they can do to achieve that?

Dr. Wahls: Of course, buy my book, that’ll be really helpful. Look carefully at your diet and self-care routine. What can you improve as a family? Ideally, you’re going to take out the most inflammatory foods which are sugar, gluten, and dairy. I’d go after those three and replace them with non-starchy vegetables, and berries, that would be a great start. Another thing that you could do that would be very helpful is to begin a meditative or a mindful practice. Or you could do Epsom salts soaks once a day. Then the third thing I’d encourage you to do is to know your vitamin D level, and either go outside, get a tan, because your skin will make the vitamin D if you tan, or take supplements to get your vitamin D level on the top half of the reference range.

Ari: Beautiful, very interesting. Dr. Wahls, thank you so much for your time. This was brilliant stuff. Thank you for the work that you’ve done and the research that you put out into the world. Do you have any final thoughts that you want to let people know?

Dr. Wahls: Yes. I invite you to go to my website, terrywahls.com/diet to get a one two-page handout of the diet that we use in our clinical trials. It’d be a really great resource for you and your family.

Ari: Wonderful. Thank you. On a personal note, I want to mention, you probably don’t remember this, but a couple of years ago at the Mindshare gathering, our peers and colleagues, you and I were both one of the five nominees. I think this is maybe 2019. The five nominees for Top Health Influencer You won and you beat me, but the good news is the next year I won. Fun fact is you and I both are one of the handful, maybe dozen or so people who have won that award. Thank you for beating me [chuckles]. Thank you again for this wonderful interview and thank you for the work that you’re doing. I really appreciate it. It was a pleasure to finally connect.

Dr. Wahls: Well, thank you so much.

Ari: Yes.

Show Notes

Conventional medicine’s approach to MS and autoimmune disease (04:48)
The environmental and lifestyle factors that increase the risk of autoimmune disease (14:40)
The role of mitochondrial health in autoimmune disease (20:56)
How lifestyle influence autoimmune disease (25:26)


Get Dr. Wahls’ diet plan here

Get the book Wahls Protocol a radical new way to treat all chronic autoimmune conditions using paleo principles here

Get The Wahls Protocol Cooking For Life here

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