Written by MasterHealth Staff
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What started out as an n of 1 study with Dr. Terry Wahls as both researcher and participant, the Wahls Protocol® has become a globally practiced and medically recognized protocol for people living with MS and other autoimmune diseases.
By following The Wahls Protocol®, Dr. Wahls defied the conventional understanding that progressive MS is irreversible, going from tilt-recline wheelchair to living a fully active and healthy life.
Originally established as an adjunct to improve disease outcomes in people living with MS, The Wahls Protocol® has since been recognized to be an effective guideline for improving overall health and preventing a variety of diseases.
The Wahls Protocol® uses principles of functional medicine, which aims to address the functional origins of disease – diet, lifestyle, environment, and the biochemistry in between.
This protocol has a core set of actions to get started that should provide you some level of benefit in the short term. Over time, people engage with as many as 112 different actions as they shift through phases of this protocol to maximize their well being.
Using her own experience and decades of research in nutritional studies, Dr. Wahls has customized a diet which focuses on reducing inflammation, improving brain health, and optimizing health status.
The Wahls Diet™, inspired by the paleo diet, emphasizes the importance of consuming animal products the way that our paleolithic ancestors once did – organic, free-range, grass-fed and wild – while focusing on eating a diversity and abundance of plants.
For a more in-depth overview of the different diet levels of the Wahls Protocol®, consider reading our extended overview of Wahls Diet™.
You can quickly reduce inflammation and flare ups by following a few simple steps involving diet, exercise, and managing your mental health. For MS and other autoimmune conditions, reducing inflammation is critical to managing flare-ups, and it’s part of what makes The Wahls Protocol® so effective.
The Wahls Diet™ consists of whole foods – vegetables, fruit, and grass-fed/wild animal protein – that equip the body with the resources it needs to build resilience, and lower inflammation. These foods contain compounds known to reduce inflammation, including Omega-3 fatty acids from fish and grass-fed meat, oleic acid from olive oil, and antioxidants from veggies and fruits.
Exercise helps to shuttle sugars from our blood into our muscles where they can be used for energy. This improves insulin sensitivity and reduces the inflammatory effects of high blood sugar. Exercise also helps to improve circulation, brain function and emotional regulation.
If you’re wheelchair bound, you can practice cardio by doing sets of arm circles or half-body jumping jacks, stopping after 10 seconds to hold your arms horizontally flat for 30 seconds. Repeat this cycle for 2 minutes.
When we frequently experience negative emotions like anger, jealousy, and fear as a result of the people in our lives and the grudges we hold against them, stress hormones increase. When we start and end our days with these emotions, the stress hormones become more chronic, leading to inflammation and long-term health complications.
Ending or mending these relationships can be extremely difficult and can take time, but will greatly improve your resilience and overall health. This is why it’s so important to find a close friend, family member or professional therapist who can support you.
Take a moment to consider the strengths, skills and virtues that you have spent time cultivating within yourself – what are your natural talents, and what do people often seek your help for?
A meaningful life is attained by using these skills and strengths toward a cause greater than yourself, at least according to the American psychologist, Martin Seligman. This might look like volunteering at a local charity, mentoring youth, or helping to build a community garden.
Seligman proposed that living towards an end greater than yourself leads to greater life fulfillment and satisfaction than simply seeking daily pleasures and self-gratifying experiences.
In a study led by Adrianna Ratajska, patients with MS who had higher levels of social support were found to have increased quality of life, reduced anxiety and depression, and improved disease outcomes.
The Wahls Protocol® emphasizes the importance of positive social connections that can reduce the inflammatory effects of stress hormones and increase your happy hormones.
The practice of gratitude is an internal experience, whereas gratification is externally derived. Gratitude increases the release of serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good hormones within the body, and reduces inflammatory stress hormones.
By taking time to consider the parts of your day that you’re grateful for, you’re rewiring the brain to respond to stressors from a more self-regulated state.
It’s within this zone of consciousness that chronic psychological stress is reduced and we can live to our highest potential, both physically and mentally.
Take a moment to consider the main reason you’ve decided to embark on this healing journey.
Was it to improve the outcome of your health so that you can live a long and healthy life? Was it so that you could spend more time playing with your kids and grandkids? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to run a marathon or climb a mountain?
Whatever the reason that led you to this health commitment, the driving force within your life, that’s your life’s purpose. Keeping this purpose in sight will be the key to your success in the Wahls Protocol®.
The Wahls Protocol® is offered as a mobile program in the MasterHealth app. It guides you through the complexities of the protocol, provides you a personalized health program, exclusive videos, coaching, peer groups, reports on your health goals, and much more!
Watch the trailer to learn more:
Ratajska, A., Glanz, B. I., Chitnis, T., Weiner, H. L., & Healy, B. C. (2020). Social support in multiple sclerosis: Associations with quality of life, depression, and anxiety. Journal of psychosomatic research, 138, 110252. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2020.110252
Amanzio, M., Bara, B. G., Gupta, R., & Phan, H. H. (Eds.). (n.d.). The Neurobiology of Gratitude. Frontiers. Retrieved July 3, 2022, from https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics/18327/the-neurobiology-of-gratitude