Review: “The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine”

Avery sent me a free copy of Dr Terry Wahls new book, “The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine” to check it out.

The book starts with Dr Wahls health story, and how she got Multiple Sclerosis (MS). She was a vegetarian, and an athlete, and yet, she became very ill in early 2000s. She tried various solutions, including taking huge amounts of vitamins, adding and removing foods, when she finally managed to almost reverse her illness after following a wholesome Paleo-like diet.

I’ve been doing various forms of Paleo for 2.5 years now, and I’m glad to see Dr Wahls recognizing the different needs that different patients have. In the book, she suggests three different diets, one more restrictive than the other, depending on the severity of the symptoms. The first one simply removes gluten, dairy, eggs, and processed foods, the second one additionally removes most grains and legumes (Paleo-like), and the third one is a strict Paleo-ketogenic diet (minus eggs). She went through all three diets herself while trying out things, and she’s currently in the Paleo-ketogenic regiment.

Throughout the book there are testimonials of other people with MS, who have tried the Paleo/Wahls-diet and have semi-reversed their condition (aka made their lives livable). The book is very easily read, everything is laid out in plain English for everybody to understand.

My favorite parts of the book (that in my opinion needed more expansion) were the hints that Dr Wahls was giving about non-native EMF radiation, infections, mold, and other environmental problems that can have as much impact in our health than eating bad food has. I also loved her suggestions on eating sea vegetables, and offal.

The only part that I really disliked in the book was her insistence on removing eggs from the diet. She is deathly allergic to eggs, but she’s trying to impose this restriction to others too. In a response to me she claimed that “egg allergies are actually dramatically under-diagnosed”, but I have my reservations on this. I also hold reservations on her dairy suggestions. In my experience, I found that often, dairy is a secondary intolerance, created by gluten intolerance. When gluten is taken out of the picture, and the gut is healed, after a few months fermented goat/sheep dairy could often be eaten again without ill effects. But even if dairy must be taken out, given the severity of MS, I think her no-eggs suggestion is still overblown. Sure, some people will be intolerant to eggs, but I don’t expect the majority to be so.

Another addition that should be made in this book is information about FODMAPs. In my dealings with the Paleo community in the last few years, I have witnessed a 5%-10% of dieters who didn’t get better on plain Paleo, but had to go Paleo+Fodmaps to finally have their gut healed.

Other than that, I think that this is one of the most important new Paleo books out there, and people with major health problems (not just MS), should have a good read of this book and follow its instructions. It’s a book that explains in very simple terms the whys and the hows, and in my own experience with my own health problems, it has worked.


PC wrote on April 5th, 2014 at 2:16 PM PST:

I have naturally found myself gravitating towards this type of diet, and agree with what you’ve said. I found FODMAPS to be a big issue and after cutting them out I’ve been able to tolerate the occasional paleo brownie with nuts and eggs in (I used to have major issues with eggs before this).
I’m wondering if I have SIBO as problems with FODMAPS usually point towards this and a ketogenic diet is used therapeutically for SIBO.

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Eugenia wrote on April 5th, 2014 at 2:21 PM PST:

Ketogenic diets can fix some things, but can also screw over other things. For example, in my case, I went Paleo-ketogenic, only to have my Reverse T3 hormone go berserk. It also further stressed my adrenals, leading to full blown adrenal fatigue, which I haven’t recovered from yet. Consider that I do low-carb Paleo for 2.5 years, so this is not a case of “not being fat-adapted yet” (common explanation). Others have had similar experiences to mine with keto, particularly women (I heard such complains from very few men). Also, keto can kill many good bacteria than need carbs and resistant starches (a special kind of starches similar to PREbiotics), further making your SIBO worse. Speaking for me, my body needs low-ish carb to function properly (100-150 gr net carbs daily), but not ketogenic (and definitely not high carb either). There’s definitely a balance to be found.

This doesn’t mean that keto should not be used. For some types of severe illness, tumors and mental problems, keto is the answer. But for calmer illnesses, low-carb Paleo is good enough in my experience with over 10 autoimmune conditions. To fix SIBO simply add more fermented foods, prebiotic foods, and resistant starches to your Paleo diet. Only go autoimmune Paleo and/or Fodmaps if you truly need it (as in your case). But there’s no need to go keto for it.

PC wrote on April 5th, 2014 at 3:32 PM PST:

Thanks Eugenia. I keep hearing that kto can cause all these problems and I’ve definitely been more stressed since doing it, although that seems to be dissipating now after 3 months, and my sleep has improved since wearing blue-blocking glasses. I initially did keto to break my sugar addiction – I’m an “all or nothing” type of guy, I guess. I’m going to start adding in probiotics soon in the form of coconut milk kefir, sauerkraut and will try resistant potato starch too.
I’m trying to go with my intutition with this and I feel now is the time to start slowly adding back some probiotics and see ho I go with the carbs.

I’m also healing from damage cause by taking SSRI meds a few years ago, maybe this is why keto has helped me more than the averge person. After coming off the SSRI I was in a very bad state mentally.

PC wrote on April 10th, 2014 at 5:51 AM PST:

By the way, could you link to any sources about low carb diets killing good bacteria? I’ve heard this a lot and it makes logical sense however I’ve never found much good info on it. I’m still waiting to get a SIBO test so if that’s not a problem I will start adding carbs back soon.

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Eugenia wrote on April 10th, 2014 at 10:50 AM PST:

Low carb diets don’t kill good bacteria, only keto has that potential, and possibly mostly for women. The information is scattered around, but as with most of these things, it’s about personal experience. For me and others, keto was a disaster.

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