One way to adopt the Wahls™ Diet is to use a phased approach:
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.
Many ask if a vegetarian diet that stresses grain and legumes, such as what is advocated in the China Study, is healthy or harmful. Certainly, a plant-based diet that is low in saturated fat is superior to the standard American diet. But my interpretation of the science is that a Paleo diet is likely superior. There are no head-to-head studies comparing the Wahls Diet and a vegetarian diet (grains and legumes), although I am working on a grant proposal for such a study. The risk of grains and legumes is the high level of carbohydrates and insulin needed to handle those carbohydrates. The high insulin levels lead to worsening inflammation. And too many carbohydrates leads to a greater risk of the wrong bacteria in the bowels, further increasing the inflammation and risk of autoimmune problems. For those who are vegetarians for deep reasons, I would recommend at least switching to gluten-free grains and soaking or sprouting the grains and legumes for 24 hours prior to eating them.
The problem with gluten (wheat, rye and barley) and casein (dairy) is that, in the genetically at-risk person (estimated to be 1 in 8), those proteins can sometimes be recognized as foreign invaders (bacteria) by our immune cells. Too much inflammation happens, leading to many kinds of health problems and symptoms including asthma, skin rashes, arthritis, mood problems and multiple sclerosis.
If you develop sensitivity to gluten or dairy, you are more likely to have autoimmune types of problems. If an individual has trouble with gluten sensitivity, that person is nearly always sensitive to casein as well. If you are going gluten-free, I urge you to also go casein-free (dairy-free). But don’t make the mistake of eating a lot of gluten-free pancakes, pastries and other such treats, or you will still have the sugar-loving trouble-making bacteria and yeasts in your bowels. When people eliminate sugar and white flour, they often find many symptoms reduce.
If you would like to learn more about how to design a diet that will ensure you have more of what your cells need to thrive, check out my book.
It includes recipes and sample menus to help you get started. Note that I donate half of all profits from the sales of my books and lectures to supporting my clinical research, which tests the benefits of intensive nutrition and lifestyle changes for those with multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases. These funds have allowed us to gather the pilot data, which will enable us to get funding for larger studies. The ultimate goal of all my research is to bring health and vitality to as many people as possible.
Giving up food you love to eat the Wahls™ Diet to improve your health is usually a journey. Many people make the transition gradually. Take your first step. Learn how to cook for your mitochondria.
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