Dr Terry Wahls
Premise of diet:
Elimination diet following a modified Paleo approach.
Structure of diet:
Dr Wahls devised this therapeutic dietary-elimination protocol following her own MS diagnosis by focusing on a large volume of specific fruits and vegetables; precise quantities of certain meats, fish and cheeses while excluding grains, eggs and legumes. Certain dietary supplements are also encouraged. The focus is on excluding any foods considered to contribute to inflammatory processes.
- Meat (including organ meat)
- Fish (including shellfish)
- Large amounts of specific vegetables
- Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables
- Fats from animal and plant sources, especially omega 3 fatty acids
- Legumes (beans and lentils)
- Grains (including rice, wheat and oatmeal)
- Nightshade vegetables (eg peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes)
Specific supplements are also recommended.
Wahls states that her diet helped her move from wheelchair- reliance to walking miles at a time, but there is little independent evidence to show that this diet ‘works’ for others; notably Wahls’ disease has progressed to the secondary progressive stage so as with all dietary protocols it cannot halt progression of the disease.
One small study published showed that with the addition of stretching, massage therapy and an electrical stimulation therapy programme, following the protocol helped them feel less tired for the year-long study. It is difficult to know which aspects of this programme were effective in bringing about this outcome.
In partnership with the National MS Society Wahls and her team have published a recent study comparing the Wahls protocol to the Swank diet [
Wahls et al., (2019) ‘Review of two popular eating plans within the multiple sclerosis community: low saturated fat and palaeolithic’. Nutritics, Feb 11 (2): 352 concluding favourable impact on MS symptoms but indicate that further research is required before forming conclusions.
In citing this study I think it is worth adding the conflicts of interest statement from the original paper:
“ T.W. strongly advocates for a modified Paleolithic style diet in academic and business
settings and follows variations of the Wahls Elimination diet and the various diet plans described in the Wahls
Protocol® books and programs. She has copyrights for The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life, The Wahls Protocol and
Minding My Mitochondria, 2nd Edition and has trademarkedWahls™ Diet,Wahls Paleo™ Diet andWahls Paleo
Plus™ Diet. She has not trademarked Wahls Elimination Diet. T.W. has financial relationships with BioCeuticals;
Genova Diagnostics; Institute for Health and Healing; Integrative Medicine for Mental Health; MCG Health Inc.;
NCURA; Penguin Random House Inc.; Suttler Pacific and an equity interest in Terry Wahls, LLC; TZ Press, LLC;
The Wahls Institute, PLC; and www.terrywahls.com. T.W. received funding from the National Multiple Sclerosis
Society to conduct a randomized clinical trial comparing the effect of the Wahls Elimination and Swank diets
on multiple sclerosis-related fatigue. The University of Iowa prepared a conflict of interest management plan
for this clinical trial that TW follows to mitigate conflicts of interest. L.S. is a co-investigator on the clinical trial
comparing Swank and Wahls Elimination diets and reports no other conflicts of interest; she does not follow a
special diet. C.A.C. has been employed by T.W. since 2013, was paid to calculate the nutrient composition of the
menus in The Wahls Protocol and was paid for the preparation of this manuscript; she does not follow any special diet. The funding sponsors had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript and in the decision to publish the results”.
There is limited research published to evaluate specific risks to this dietary pattern but some concerns may be adequate intake of calories and certain essential nutrient availability.