In 2017, I was at a bookstore, and a book called The Wahls Protocol fell into my hands. It was a book written by Dr. Terry Wahls, and it described her own battle with MS, and the diet and lifestyle protocols which had prompted her healing. Her own MS had progressed to the point that she was confined to a tilt/recline wheelchair, and she could not even sit up. She had gone to the best MS doctors and taken aggressive drugs, and her decline continued. After researching, creating, and following her protocols, she was able to ride a bicycle within six months and ride over 20 miles within a year. She immediately became my hero and source of inspiration.
I started her most aggressive protocol - Wahls, level 3 or Wahls Paleo Plus. At the time, I was still going out to eat a lot and feeding or eating with my family. Some of the highlights for her level 3 diet protocol:
- No refined or added sugar (and minimal natural sources of sugar like fruit)
- No gluten
- No dairy
- No eggs
- No grains
- No legumes
- No soy
- No corn
- Sprouted nuts & seeds (soaked in water before consuming)
- Mostly organic
- Grass-fed and/or organic meats and chicken
- Wild-caught fish
- Lots of fermented foods, seaweed, organ meat
- 2 cups a day of greens, 2 cups of colored veggies/fruits (berries), and 2 cups of sulphur-rich vegetables
- Lots of fat (the goal is ketosis through low carb - but healthy carbs - and high fat - healthy sources like avocados, coconut oil, olive oil)
- Intermittent fasting, two meals per day
As you may gather, this diet is nearly impossible to eat out and follow, or to eat a meal cooked by another, and it's very difficult to follow at home, especially with a disability.
At that time, I had no support from my family (and this is a critical factor). My own husband at that time thought there was nothing wrong with me and that I was 'faking it'. I will never understand. I could clearly sense my own difficulties, but he could not or would not 'see'. So, I tried hard to follow the protocol for several months, but I ultimately stopped. I justified it by saying that I am not diagnosed with MS (one neurologist did think MS but several thought not). Now that I am separated, I am once again trying to follow the protocol - sort of a hybrid of her three diet plans. Sine of my diet principles include:
- Intermittent Fasting (I typically eat twice per day between 2 and 8pm)
- One meal is usually a smoothie which I load up with nutrition (e.g. avocado, wild blueberries, sweet potatoes)
- The other meal is a prepared dinner from an organic/paleo plan; I just heat and eat
- Strictly gluten-free
- Very little dairy, gluten-free grains such as rice, soy, corn, legumes, nuts and seeds
- Organ capsules
- Green powder
- Mostly organic (or grass fed or wild caught)
Dr. Wahls recently issued a revised version of her book which contains more content and is less focused on MS and is broader to encompass all autoimmune, neurological illnesses. So, it is harder for me to use my 'not MS' excuse. Several doctors do think the basis of my illness is auto-immune.
One cause of Ataxia is Gluten Ataxia. While I don't know that this is my cause, doctors advise staying away from Gluten if you have Idiopathic Ataxia. One day, someone with diagnosed gluten ataxia shared with me a list of foods which cross-react with you cerebellum. While I have reduced the consumption of these foods, it is too limiting to completely avoid.
Now, I generally follow the Wahls guidelines above with very little nuts and seeds through a big smoothie for my first meal at about 2pm and a prepared, paleo meal for my dinner at about 7pm.
I followed a mostly vegetarian (with some seafood and fish) diet for 30 years, so it has been hard but grass-fed and organic meats are on the list of foods encouraged by Dr. Wahls.
Has the diet healed me? Unfortunately, no. But, I do believe it has lessened my decline and made it easier for me to cope with my symptoms.