Bonus Ep: Cooking For Life, Multiple Sclerosis, and a research update w/ Dr. Terry Wahls

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Welcome to The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast Season 2!

Bonus Ep: Cooking For Life, Multiple Sclerosis, and a research update w/ Dr. Terry Wahls is our second bonus episode, and an introduction to Season 2 of the podcast. In this episode, we interview our personal inspiration, Dr. Terry Wahls, the creator of The Wahls Protocol and the author of the new book, The Wahls Protocol Cooking For Life.

In addition to discussing Dr. Wahls’ new book, topics we cover include how to embrace a healing diet on a budget, approaching your doctor about utilizing nutrition for health, why we believe in templates over recipes, Dr. Wahls’ go-to meal, and much more. This is a juicy and informative episode with one of the most inspirational voices in the chronic illness community. It’s perfect for folks looking for some practical advice on how to sustain a healing lifestyle. Scroll down for the full episode transcript.

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Full Transcript:

Mickey Trescott: Welcome to the Autoimmune Wellness podcast, a complimentary resource for those on the road to recovery. I’m Mickey Trescott, a nutritional therapy practitioner living well with autoimmune disease in Oregon. I’ve got both Hashimoto’s and Celiac disease.

Angie Alt: And I’m Angie Alt, a certified health coach and nutritional therapy consultant, also living well with autoimmune disease in Maryland. I have endometriosis, lichen sclerosis, and Celiac disease. After recovering our health by combining the best of conventional medicine with effective and natural dietary and lifestyle interventions, Mickey and I started blogging at www.Autimmune-Paleo.com, where our collective mission is seeking wellness and building community.

Mickey Trescott: This podcast is sponsored by The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook; our co-authored guide to living well with chronic illness. We saw the need for a comprehensive resource that goes beyond nutrition to connect savvy patients, just like you, to the resources they need to achieve vibrant health. Through the use of self assessments, checklists, handy guides and templates, you get to experience the joy of discovery; finding out which areas to prioritize on your healing journey. Pick up a copy wherever books are sold.

Angie Alt: A quick disclaimer: The content in this podcast is intended as general information only, and is not to be substituted for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Onto the podcast!

Topics:
1. Introducing our guest, Dr. Terry Wahls [2:20]
2. Utilizing a healing diet on a budget [6:56]
3. The importance of diet shift in the medical community [11:01]
4. Approaching your doctor about utilizing nutrition for health [16:32]
5. Dr. Wahls’ newest book [19:55]
6. Templates, not recipes [23:26]
7. Dr. Wahls’ go-to meal [27:15]
8. Success stories from the Lifestyle Clinic [31:42]
9. Response to the naysayers [34:08]
10. What’s coming up for Dr. Wahls [38:12]

Angie Alt: Hi everyone! Welcome back to the Autoimmune Wellness podcast. Angie here; today we are bringing you the second of our pre-season bonus interview episodes, so you guys are super lucky, these are going to be great. Mickey, how are you doing today?

Mickey Trescott: Super awesome, especially because I am so excited about chatting our guest today. She’s one of our favorite people in the autoimmune world. And we got feedback from you guys last season that you really value these expert interviews, and we didn’t really have any in the can for you guys for season 2; but then we decided we had this incredible opportunity to interview a couple of really awesome people; one of them today. And we got her on the line for you. So, Angie, do you want to tell our listeners about who this super special, amazing person is, who happens to be a total rockstar in our world?

1. Introducing our guest, Dr. Terry Wahls [2:20]

Angie Alt: Yeah, sure I would love to. Our guest today is the amazing Dr. Terry Wahls, a fellow autoimmune warrior, who went from secondary progressive multiple sclerosis that had left her in a wheelchair in 2003, to the vibrant, dancing; more on that in a minute; and world-changing lady we are honored to speak with today. Terry is the author of several books, including The Wahls Protocol, and her latest, The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life. In addition to over 60 peer-reviewed abstracts, papers, and posters. She also runs a groundbreaking lifestyle clinic in Iowa, and conducts clinical research that is changing how we treat MS and other autoimmune diseases. Additionally, she is behind the Wahls Foundation, a nonprofit created in 2011 whose mission is to replace the epidemic of chronic disease with an epidemic of health; I love that. To say Terry is purpose driven is basically an understatement, you guys. Thanks so much for being on the show today, Terry!

Dr. Terry Wahls: Hey, thank you so much for having me.

Mickey Trescott: Awesome. So Terry, most of our readers are familiar with your story at this point, and your TED Talk. And if anyone listening goes; “Wait a minute; I haven’t heard about that.” You guys should definitely check it out. Just Google Terry Wahls TED Talk and start there; it’s awesome.

So we know; your healing has progressed considerably over time. When I actually met you at the Ancestral Health Symposium a few years ago, you showed the audience that you weren’t able to raise your arms over your head. And last month, Angie and I were hanging out with you at the NTA conference, and you were pulling some dance moves where your hands were definitely over your head.

Dr. Terry Wahls: {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: So, you know, your healing has increased a lot even since you’ve been on this journey. I am always shocked at how you look younger and more vibrant as time goes on. Can you give everyone a little bit of an update about those changes that you’ve noticed in your long-term healing; especially since you gave your TED Talk.

Dr. Terry Wahls: Sure. So, I’ll sort of give a quick high-level synopsis. I do this wonderful thing with biological age; and there are several online calculators that you can use, it’s pretty fun. I did mine based on what my answer would have been at 52, which was at my worst, and my biological age at that point was 69. Which is probably pretty accurate; I couldn’t sit up, I couldn’t do a pushup; I was struggling to walk 10 feet, I had all these markers. So, I have since calculated that biologic age using that marker, and I’m down to the age of 39.

Mickey Trescott: Wow!

Dr. Terry Wahls: And that’s pretty cool. When I was 39, I was developing my MS symptoms. I was still skiing, still jogging, still biking, but I certainly could not bike as far as I can now. So already I was beginning to have problems with the MS, that had not yet come to diagnosis. And if we line up photos of me, you see that rapid aging, that aggressive decline; and then you see what literally looks like this stunning recovery from 2007 to 2008; the wheelchair, looking pretty sickly, to being on my bike. But people noticed that if you line up photos from 2008, and keep going; I just keep looking younger and younger.

Now, my hair is still graying, so we have to take the hair out. But the quality of my skin looks younger and younger; I can walk further, I can get my arms up over my head. I’m doing pushups; and I’m up to 10, so that’s pretty exciting for me. And you know, I keep working closely with physical therapy, and they can keep advancing the exercises that I do.

I did get sidelined last year, because I ended up having surgery for some severe back pain. So since I was 60 when I had that, that has taken a little bit longer to recover from than I expected, but still, I’m out on the floor dancing; I’m walking, hiking, and biking once again.

Mickey Trescott: That’s so amazing. I better stay on my game, Terry; because your biological age is only a year older than me. You’re going to be younger than me soon! {laughs}

Dr. Terry Wahls: You know, my kids are laughing. They’re like, “Oh my god, mom. Are you like Merlin? You keep getting younger and younger.” So.

Mickey Trescott: Right.

Dr. Terry Wahls: We have a lot of laughter with that.

2. Utilizing a healing diet on a limited budget [6:56]

Angie Alt: So Terry; at the Nutritional Therapy Conference, one of the talks I attended was the panel discussion you were on about serving diverse and working class groups. That conversation is one that is just really extra close to my heart, because I don’t think healing has to be limited to certain groups, or those with upper class incomes. What are your kind of top 3 pointers on how to make a healing diet and lifestyle work, even on limited budgets, or in challenging settings; maybe geographic locations with limited access.

Dr. Terry Wahls: Oh sure. For years I worked at the VA, and in both my Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic and in my Therapeutic Lifestyle Clinic at the VA. Most of my patients did not have money; they were on fixed incomes. What they did have, was they had access to me, so they could come see me; Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic I would see them once every 6 months. The Lifestyle Clinic we could see them monthly for a year. And we could give cooking classes in my lifestyle clinic.

So in the cooking class, we taught people how to cook at home. I helped them understand that the food budget is everything you put in your mouth. It’s your alcohol, tobacco, fancy drinks, fancy coffees, lattes, fast food, restaurant meals; plus your grocery bill. And we total all of that up to get a food budget. Then I let people know what we have to do is begin cooking at home with vegetables and your source of meat. We had a different plan if you were a meat eater, or if you were vegetarian or vegan. We certainly still had people, even in the VA, who were vegetarian and vegan.

But really, the very most important thing is, most people had forgotten how to cook. Or their lives are too pressed for time, or for money. So they aren’t cooking. So we spent a lot of time teaching cooking skills, and we spent time teaching menu planning, prioritizing, and most importantly, how to eliminate food waste. Because most Americans are throwing away 40% of our food; whether we’re buying it in the grocery store, or at the restaurant. So learning how to better plan, so we actually consume all the food we buy, saves a considerable amount of money.

We were quite successful. We had many of our patients tell us; in the group classes the more senior folks would tell the newbies that you can do this and save money, but you’re going to have to plan. You’re going to have to pay attention in our cooking classes.

Angie Alt: Right. Those are such great tips, just kind of going back to; basically home economics 101 right there.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, I can definitely also resonate with taking all of the restaurant meals and all of the stuff that people think of as an additional budget expense and really looping that into the entire food budget; and a lot of people on low incomes think that the grocery budget and maybe that other budget is separate. But when you put that all together, and you prepare all your food at home, and you brown-bag it for lunch, and you don’t do those extras that are also not helping your situation when you have health problems, like cigarettes and alcohol and coffees, and that kind of stuff; people find that they have a little more wiggle room there to actually afford that real food.

Dr. Terry Wahls: It’s really important to have that conversation of, “What is your food budget?” Because if you don’t, people will see the grocery bill doubling, and feel very uncomfortable with that. So, we learned that it was very important to have that big conversation about what’s in your food budget first. And then, we talk about planning, menus, and how we’re going to make this change in an affordable way.

3. The importance of diet shift in the medical community [11:01]

Mickey Trescott: That’s great. So Terry; one of the things that really impresses me about you is your willingness to work within disastrously broken system with both creativity and perseverance. I don’t know anyone like you who is just like willing to dig in and get this work done. At the NTA conference, you told the story about how you figured out how to recommend dietary and lifestyle modifications while working with veterans; it was a little unconventional and kind of; it was hard to do within that system. And I think a lot of practitioners get discouraged or lose hope when they run up against the system.

So you recently received a $1 million grant from the National MS Society to further your research on dietary and lifestyle interventions with MS. That is so fantastic; we’re so excited for you. Can you tell us how you think things are shifting in the medical community to accommodate more of this research and recommendations for diet and lifestyle changes?

Dr. Terry Wahls: I think it’s very helpful to have the public awareness; of course, the medical community, the scientific community. I think it’s also incredibly helpful that our awareness of how the environment is speaking to our genes through epigenetics, and creating either an inflamed, sickly, disease prone-body, or a resilient disease resistant body. So the epigenetic insights are helpful. The microbiome insights are helpful, and understanding how food changes the microbiome; and you change the microbiome, of course changes the risk for autoimmune disease and the severity of the autoimmune disease, as well as many other complicated, chronic health problems.

So, as my scientific colleagues could now measure the mechanisms by which diet and lifestyle works, they began to realize that we are not so crazy in our approaches. The public pressure goes to their various non-profit organizations, insisting that you need to support these researchers.

And another thing I think is very telling; and I heard from people who are big donors with some of these nonprofits, that these major donors went to the organizations to say, “If you want to continue receiving our support, you’re going to have to fund diet and lifestyle research.”

So I became aware of that; I wrote my protocol when they put out their call for research in the dietary realm, and I was funded. And I should be, because I’m one of the few people who have actually studied it in the last few years. So it’s no surprise that our research lab is very competitive.

Mickey Trescott: That’s so great. Terry, what do you think is the key to having the public be so well-informed and push?

Dr. Terry Wahls: Well, I think the key is having people who develop untreatable, incurable, devastating diseases, get hopelessly disabled, recover, have the extraordinary good fortune to do a TED Talk that has 3 million views.

Mickey Trescott: {laughs}

Dr. Terry Wahls: That created; that experience, difficult as it was at the time, has been this incredible gift to me, and probably to humanity, because it put me in a position to learn all this stuff, experience all this stuff, recover, and because I happen to be well connected and I speak well. I told this story that’s deeply resonating; and then the public spread it in this pretty amazing way. I think this led then, I’m sure, to millions of conversations in doctors’ offices around the globe, saying, “What about diet?” And physician had to see that some of their patients would ignore the physician’s advice, do the diet that the 3 of us talk about, and see whatever their health problem was get under better control.

So physicians; I’ve been contacted by hundreds of physicians, maybe thousands now, who said, they thought it was pretty daft at first, but then they saw their patients were adopting these dietary recommendations, and their patients were improving, so the doctors; at least some of them, get on board and start handing the books out.

It’s really the beauty of the internet. It allows the spread of knowledge, of change, very, very rapidly. And without the internet, I could not have recovered. So that’s the good side; we could talk about the downside of the internet, which allows the spread of not helpful information, also. But the internet is what allows this amazing speed of change to occur.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, it is this incredible, incredible tool. {laughs} I mean, obviously Angie and I would also not; probably neither of us would have healed if we hadn’t seen your TED Talk, Terry. Honestly, for both of us, that was really instrumental in the beginning in inspiring us; so you’ve inspired another whole generation of people who are out there and writing and building this community, too.

4. Approaching your doctor about utilizing nutrition for health [16:32]

Mickey Trescott: I have one more follow-up question on that research piece, because I really do think this is where we take this from kind of a fringe, you know; anecdote kind of situation to actually being in doctor’s offices and being recommended. Do you have any advice for people that have diseases that are not multiple sclerosis, where maybe they can’t go to their doctor and say, “Hey look at this research,” how maybe they can be a part of this process to bringing the greater awareness?

Dr. Terry Wahls: I think you could still take the grant proposal linked to clinicaltrials.gov that describes my study, and the patients could still say, “Scientists are studying this diet. So we know it’s safe, and it has a reasonable possibility of helping people. I want to use this diet, here’s the book; do you have to do any special lab tests if I’m going to eat all these vegetables?” That’s the whole question you have to ask. “Do we need special lab tests? Do I have to be monitored?” Because there are some conditions where in fact they will need some additional lab monitoring on those extra vegetables. Or if you have kidney stones, you’d have to have a specific type of greens. And that’s really it.

I think the medical community would want to think we’re taking out grains, legumes, and dairy; we call that “fad diet”; it surely has to be nutritionally harmful. If we can go to our physician saying; “This diet is being studied; here’s the clinical trials. So we know it’s reasonably safe, and they have to think it has a good chance of helping people. And here’s a book about that diet; I want to follow it, is there any lab testing that needs to be done?” And of course the vast majority of the time, the answer would be no; we just watch you and adjust your medicines up or down as needed.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, really asking the patients to go for it and push it forward in their doctor’s offices. I love that empowerment piece. I think we autoimmune folks are often disempowered in our doctor’s offices, and then feeling like we should be put in the driver’s seat; I love that.

Dr. Terry Wahls: You know; the other thing I remind people is; the specialist was your dermatologist, your rheumatologist; your neurologist; isn’t going to feel comfortable knowing much about diet, and knowing much about vegetables. So that’s fine; just go to your primary care physician; nurse practitioner; physician’s assistant. Say, “I’m going to eat 9 cups of vegetables a day”; or try to; start off small, build up to all 9 cups. And if they aren’t excited about your eating more vegetables, fire them and get a new medical team.

Mickey Trescott: You heard it here, you guys!

Dr. Terry Wahls: Because universally, across many, many scientific studies; eating more vegetables lowers your risks of cancers, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, obesity, autoimmunity, mental health problems. And so if you have someone who is not behind you on that, they are, in my mind, not in your best interest and you should go find another provider.

5. Dr. Wahls’ newest book [19:55]

Angie Alt: Right. Exactly. I love it. Great advice, Terry. Ok, so kind of transitioning a little bit. We would love to talk to you about this new book. Your first book was kind of focused on the protocol itself, and this book is sort of all about actually preparing this amazing food that you can eat to heal. There are some super delicious recipes included in the book, and it got me thinking; what inspires you in the kitchen? Is it a certain ingredient? A cooking technique? A cooking occasion? What is it that got your juices flowing for this newest book?

Dr. Terry Wahls: I really enjoy cooking. I’m a farm kid, so we ate all the meals at home, and it was very important that I know how to cook and feel comfortable with that. So I’ve always enjoyed cooking; I was very glad as I healed that I could get back into cooking. But I wrote this book because of my experience in the lifestyle clinic. What my vets taught me is that for many, many people, the single most important health-giving act I could give them was teaching them how to cook again, and having them be comfortable that they could learn these skills and making that use; learn how to start with a recipe and then feel comfortable with improvising off a recipe with what’s available in season; what your preferences are; what you have on hand; and teaching people how to do this within their economic reality.

Now my vets taught me that that was a vitally important thing to do. And now I’m thinking; well the next thing, because I’d been talking with my co-writer and my publisher about what is the next book; and then it just became apparent that the next book was teaching people how to take the next step.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, people love action. They love to be able to do something; and the cooking is actually the first thing they can do, right?

Dr. Terry Wahls: Absolutely. The cooking is so powerful, and I am very mindful that people may be pressed for money, or they may be pressed for time, or they may be pressed for energy because they are fatigued. So I tried very much to write this book assuming that people would be having to struggle with one or all three of those areas.

Mickey Trescott: I think that is actually one of the most incredible gifts of this book, Terry; is actually that you have written it from the assumption that your readers, you know intimately what they’re experiencing, and that is a huge part of what we work on with people in our world, too. Just being sick and fatigued and having to spend a lot of money on health care that you don’t have. It’s just a lot to kind of fulfill all those goals, and it can be really overwhelming for a lot of people.

Dr. Terry Wahls: You know; you work with a chef that make these wonderful, wonderful meals that takes me 10 hours to prepare. It’s like; it’s just not, I don’t have 10 hours. I don’t have 3 hours. We need to have things that people can enjoy in half an hour.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah.

Dr. Terry Wahls: And an occasional special event that, yes, you can get some help and spend a couple more hours to make a very special event, but we need day in, day out simple easy food that people can enjoy.

6. Templates, not recipes [23:26]

Mickey Trescott: Totally agree. So Terry, one of my favorite aspects of your book is that you include templates instead of straight recipes throughout. I’ve taught a lot of people to cook over the years, and one of the biggest barriers that I see in people learning how to cook for themselves long-term is people who are only comfortable cooking from recipes that call for specific ingredients they have on hand. So I have this big long list of why this is a problem; it doesn’t’ account for flexibility, it contributes to food waste; it can be more costly for them. It really teaches people to rely on these instructions instead of using their brain, being creative, all of those things. So can you tell us a little bit about your reasons using templates, and kind of how that works in your own kitchen?

Dr. Terry Wahls: Because I want people to feel comfortable moving into a place where they don’t need a recipe to cook. And to do that, it’s always much easier if you can break it down into steps. So the first step was to create a template for each major food category, and I would do it according to my level 1 diet, level 2, level 3 diet. And then I gave examples of how I take the same recipe and I might transition between the 3 levels. If you want to be ketogenic, or you weren’t ketogenic.

So we’d have several examples of different meals you could make from that template, and then we’d move on to; “Ok, it’s time for you to adapt this to your personal taste.” So we give people very clear directions for simple, enjoyable recipes, that they can follow step by step. We tell them how many vegetables are going to be in that recipe, so they have a sense of where they’re at in their 9 cups; then we invite them to personalize this. The herbs, the meats, the vegetables, according to what’s in season and what is their culinary tradition.

Mickey Trescott: Awesome; I love that Terry. Are there any special kitchen tools that you recommend that make this a lot easier for people?

Dr. Terry Wahls: Sure. So this is going to depend on hand function. And certainly in the autoimmune world, gripping can become difficult. So we have some links to occupational resources for hand gadgets to make it easier to cut, to hold knives, forks, etc. So that was one set of tools.

I think a high-powered blender, like a Vitamix or a Blendmaster, Nutribullet, can be very helpful. A food processor to do your grating and shredding can be helpful. I didn’t want to spend all that money on a fancy Vitamix; I thought, you know, who’s going to spend $300 on a blender. So I waited until my original blender had died, then I got the Vitamix, and I so enjoyed it, and I thought, “Now why on earth did I wait a year and a half? This was just silly of me.” If you have the resources, go get a reconditioned one. I think you’ll be surprised at how much you enjoy it. They are really, really nice. I still have mine now; it’s on 6 years, doing great.

The other gadget I think would be very helpful is a food processor for grating, chopping. Its’ really nice for making pesto, the Wahls fudge, which is a treat every family that has grandchildren should have, because then you could give those kids something that they’ll really enjoy; and if you have some, as well, it’s going to be good for you as well.

7. Dr. Wahls’ go-to meal [27:15]

Angie Alt: I would agree with pretty much all of those kitchen gadgets there. Terry; do you have a favorite dish that you kind of repeatedly go back to? It’s healing, it’s comforting, it’s kind of the thing that’s at the top of your list?

Dr. Terry Wahls: It’s going to be sort of a long list here.

Angie Alt: {laughs}

Dr. Terry Wahls: I love to have bone broth; so during the winter we always have some bone broth going, and I’ll go between chicken broth and beef broth. So a beef hoof is ideal; chicken feet are ideal, you can get that from your butcher. So that’s just a lovely winter time food. Liver and onions is so healing. We really like to have liver and onions once a week, so I’ll rotate between bison, lamb, and chicken liver. Beef and pork are fine, too, but those are probably my 3 favorites. And day in and day out, we make skillet meals. So I’ll cook some meat; might be lamp chops, then I’ll add vegetables for 2 more minutes, and then I serve. So I can have that whole meal done, including chopping my vegetables, within 30 minutes. So, a skillet meal in my mind is a huge workhorse kind of meal that I have.

And when I’m having friends and family over, I like to make Wahls fudge, and then open up a can of coconut milk, whip that up in my Vitamix, put it in a wide-mouth jar in the refrigerator, get it cold; it’s like a lovely whipped cream. Put a dollop of that on the Wahls fudge; and people are like, “Oh my god this is… is this really legal for you?” {laughs}

Angie Alt: {laughs}

Dr. Terry Wahls: I’m like, oh yeah, it’s strictly legal, it’s really good for your, it’s really great for your brain. So I think it’s important to have some treats like that that can be very special food; can be great for your grandchildren and your kids; and it actually is healing.

Angie Alt: Right; I love that. I love when you can prepare something that’s kind of a delicious dessert; a special treat for a special occasion, but it still fits into that healing template. It doesn’t have to be all boring, or not exciting and fun to eat and share with family and friends.

Dr. Terry Wahls: Correct. Correct.

Angie Alt: Terry, I saw that recently you took a trip to Italy on Instagram.

Dr. Terry Wahls: Yes!

Angie Alt: That seems like a lot of fun, with your family. Did you learn anything about healing or food culture there that you could share?

Dr. Terry Wahls: Well, as a matter of fact I did. We went out to some olive ranches, or olive farms. So they were picking their olives, and the olives that are used for olive oil are a little different than olives that are going to be used for just munching on for pleasure. So that was a very interesting thing to observe. And many of these farms will have their olives pressed, will make their own small, high-end olive oil.

You know, there’s a lot of controversy about olive oil in the United States being diluted with less valuable oils that are not as healing as the high-end extra virgin olive oils. So it’s worth paying attention to the quality of your olive oil; and it is a fabulous, healing food. It tastes pretty good too.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah I love; I mean, you can really taste a really nice high quality olive oil; it just adds a lot of flavor. Especially made in dressings on salads and stuff; that’s my favorite way to get it.

Dr. Terry Wahls: It’s sort of like the Vitamix thing; I thought that high-end olive oil was sort of a waste of money, and then I had some. And we’ve never gone back to the other stuff since I tasted it.

Angie Alt: Right! {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: You know, and people can find some creatively sourced, better olive oil. So if you go to Whole Foods or something, they’re going to have some over-priced stuff; but I’ve actually found some great olive oils at Trader Joes and Thrive Market online. And there’s even some direct to consumer, mail order, that you can buy online options that are just way cheaper than if you were going to buy them in a specialty store.

Dr. Terry Wahls: Yeah, absolutely.

8. Success stories from the Lifestyle Clinic [31:42]

Mickey Trescott: So Terry; can you share with us some success stories from your Lifestyle Clinic?

Dr. Terry Wahls: Sure. So, there’s a person I’m thinking of who had rheumatoid arthritis, had severe pain, and was greatly, greatly struggling to walk in to the hospital from the car; was consulting getting a walker; a scooter. She got referred to our clinic. We put her on what really is the level 4 Wahls diet; so Wahls paleo, but we took out nightshades, as well. And her pain steadily went down, she lost 60 pounds. She too looked younger and younger, and was up walking around, looking really great. She went to see her daughter, who didn’t recognize her in the airport because mom had lost all this weight, and mom was looking well, and she was up walking around really very well.

Mickey Trescott: Wow.

Dr. Terry Wahls: We’ve had a number of folks with; I’d say the most common people reason came to us in the Lifestyle Clinic was uncontrolled pain. So success stories with many types of neuropathies; people had chronic pain because of shrapnel and war injuries; residuals from the amputations; these folks getting their lives back, getting off narcotics, doing well.

Diabetes, obesity, fatty liver; that was pretty easy. We’ve had several folks with end-stage heart failure, who were on the waiting list for heart transplants, who we turned around, and they are functioning much better again. Doing very, very well. Traumatic brain injury folks; and you can really tell in the traumatic brain injury; the folks who would embrace our program, they’re much more likely to be done with their headaches, be done with the light sensitivity; still employed, and still with their family. The folks who couldn’t make that change were far more likely to continue to spiral down in a very negative way.

9. Response to the naysayers [34:08]

Mickey Trescott: Terry, what do you say to doctors, or people in the medical community, who are like, “There is no way this can work for that many things.” People might be listening and they’re like, “Really? End stage heart failure and rheumatoid arthritis.”

Dr. Terry Wahls: And dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Wahls; this is crazy. That approach; when I would talk this way in the beginning in 2008, it drove my colleagues crazy. Because it just did not make sense to them. Now, in 2017, people are like; you are such a brilliant visionary. So I think the public has shifted many more of my scientific colleagues because of the advances of the microbiome, epigenetics, see the mechanisms by which this could work.

And I’m also careful to say, “Yep. All these things have reduced the symptom burden of these diseases. They have reduced the need for medications. As long as they follow these dietary changes, they do well. If they stop, they’re symptoms will of course, flare.” So I try to be very careful to not say, “I cure these diseases. I can say that “We’ll reduce the symptom burden by improving diet and lifestyle.” And people seem to be pretty comfortable with that.

But the acceptance in the medical community is markedly different. Now of course, that could be an impact being at the VA and being at the University, and them seeing our research program do well with successful grants. And you and I will see; many folks find the Wahls diet, and the consumption of greens is definitely increased; and the consumption of vegetables have increased.

It’s a hoot when I go to the grocery store, the produce managers come out and tell me; “Dr. Wahls, every year, year after year, the vegetable and the green consumption goes up in this town.” And it’s because; it is so cool.

Angie Alt: They have you to thank, Terry. {laughs}

Dr. Terry Wahls: And the internet, and all of that. It’s just such a wonderful thing. Which leaves me very optimistic about the health care crisis epidemic that we’re all having to deal with that more and more of the public is getting the message that food matters.

Mickey Trescott: I love that. And Terry, I’ve also noticed the same thing in my small town. I live in a little bit rural Oregon, and the local grocery store is like our local version of a Walmart, and they have the most incredible organic fruit and vegetable section, and they actually recently started having fresh raw whole turmeric, and I was saying to my husband, “Things are changing.” When you know that kind of, basically department store, has bulk turmeric in their organic fruits and vegetables section, people are demanding it, and they’re asking for it, and they’re eating real food. Which is awesome.

Dr. Terry Wahls: Exactly. It is a very exciting time, because of the internet, people are noticing everyone’s stories of healing. And we’re shifting public expectations around food. Now, of course, we all wish it would happen more quickly. But still, it is happening. And when I think of where we were at in 2008 and 2009 when I was being warned for talking about vegetables and B vitamins and fish oil; to being heralded now as this brilliant visionary at the university. Wonderful things are happening.

Angie Alt: Right, I’m actually really excited at the speed it’s going at. You know, I used to feel I think a little more downhearted about it, Terry, and then we talked to you a few years ago, and you were like, you know, being in that system and having a much more longer view than we had, you were saying, “No, it’s happening actually at breathtaking speed right now.” That really changed my outlook on it, and I’ve had a lot more hope since then. It’s awesome to watch it.

10. What’s coming up for Dr. Wahls [38:12]

Angie Alt: Maybe, Terry, you could tell us, what have you got up your sleeve after launching this book into the world. Do you have more plans still?

Dr. Terry Wahls: Yeah, wonderfully exciting things are happening. So I’m working on my book; I’m also working on opening up a very limited private practice. So I encourage your listeners to sign up to my newsletter so they can get the announcement about what we’re offering in the private practice world. We have the seminar; every year in August we have people coming from around the globe to hang out with us, where I teach people what I’ve learned in the last year, and how to implement the protocol. And we’re also trying to work on creating more online tools to support people as they try to implement these dietary measures. So more ways to get help from me and my team.

Angie Alt: Well, there she is, you guys; being purpose driven as always. We didn’t expect her to just be sitting around. {laughs} Terry, thank you so much for spending some time with us today. You are probably sick of us fawning over you every chance we get, but we really believe it is people like you who are going to help turn the tide of disease around the world.

You guys; please pick up a copy of Terry’s book. It’s out now; it’s titled The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life. Terry, can you let our listeners know where they can follow up with you?

Dr. Terry Wahls: You can go to www.TerryWahls.com. You can follow me on Facebook; Terry Wahls, MD. On Twitter @TerryWahls; or on Instagram @DrTerryWahls.

Angie Alt: Thanks so much, Terry.

Mickey Trescott: Thank you, Terry. Bye.

Dr. Terry Wahls: Thank you.

 

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About Angie Alt

Angie Alt is part of the blogging duo behind Autoimmune Wellness. She helps others take charge of their health the same way she took charge of her own after suffering with Celiac and other autoimmune diseases; one creative, nutritious meal at a time. Her special focus is on mixing “data with soul” by looking at the honest heart of the autoimmune journey (which sometimes includes curse words). She’s also a world traveler who has been medically evacuated from two foreign countries. Strategizing worst-case scenarios is now something of a hobby. She is a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and author of The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook: Eating for All Phases of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. You can also find her on Instagram.

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