According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society there is no cure for MS, a debilitating disease of the central nervous system. Yet yesterday we watched a jawdropping TEDTalk from TEDxIowaCity that contradicted that longstanding belief. Dr. Terry Wahls, a Professor at the University of Iowa College, suffers from MS. In 2007 she was contrained to a chair and could barely walk twenty feet even with two crutches. Two years later she was able to ride 18 miles on her bike and her MS had all but disappeared. How? She completely changed the way she eats.
Your body is a complex set of chemical reactions. If it does not have the proper building blocks (i.e. nutrients), it cannot perform the necessary functions that keep you alive. Perpetually consuming a high ratio of processed and low-nutrient-value foods changes the chemical equilibrium and results in your body building the wrong compounds and not building necessary molecules. This process is more commonly known as disease.
Dr. Wahls studied the biochemistry of MS at Dr. Mark Hyman’s Institute for Functional Medicine. In short, MS causes mitochondria to stop working properly. It also impacts the ability for neurons to make and maintain myelin, a crucial insulative layer around the neurons known as “white matter” in your brain. Studying the chemical implications of these malfuncting reactions led Dr. Wahls to design a diet that quintessentially forced her body back into equilibrium.
She began incorporating 9 cups daily of vegetables and fruits into her diet, broken down into: 3 cups of leafy greens (Kale has the highest nutrient density per calorie of any vegetable); 3 cups of sulfur rich foods such as onion, cauliflower and mushrooms; and 3 cups of antioxidant-rich pigmented foods, such as blueberries, carrots and peaches, preferably in a variety of colors. She also worked in grass-fed meat and fish like Salmon, which is plentiful in Omega fatty acids. Finally, and not for the squeamish, organ meat is loaded with vitamins and minerals. A small factoid to support the evolutionary advantage of organ meat: guess what predators eat first when they have made a kill? That’s right, organs. Don’t knock it until you try it.
That’s it. You probably noticed that some major food groups are missing. Dr. Wahl’s Paleo diet remix excludes bread, dairy and refined sugars. Dairy and wheat are among the most common food allergens and can lead to many adverse effects if consumed in excess. Livestrong offers a good elucidation.
Now that you’ve read our thoughts, watch Dr. Wahls’s talk. While it may not motivate you to change your diet to 9 cups of veggies with a kidney on the side, it will definitely make you think twice about what you eat and how it can fundamentally change the life you live.