Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast, the weekly podcast where Dr. G gives you the tools you need to boost your health and live your healthiest life.
Dr. Gundry (00:16):
Welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast. If there’s one saying I can’t repeat enough, it is this: food is medicine. My guest today is living proof of the healing power of food. In 2000, actually it’s 20 years ago, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Actually, within a few years, despite following phenomenal medical advice, she was confined to a wheelchair. But instead of taking the conventional approach, which clearly wasn’t working, she radically transformed her diet. Within a year, she ditched her wheelchair and the cane and was actually riding her beloved bicycle. If you go on the internet, you can watch pictures of her.
Dr. Gundry (01:04):
She’s Dr. Terry Wahls, professor at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, a bestselling author and, in my opinion, one of the foremost experts on the power of nutrition to reverse autoimmune disease. On today’s show, Dr. Wahls and I are going to tackle hot topics like the keto diet and intermittent fasting, discuss whether fruit is really all it’s cracked up to be, and discuss ways you can rebalance your gut microbiome for better health. Dr. Wahls, welcome back to the Dr. Gundry Podcast.
Dr. Terry Wahls (01:39):
Hey, thanks so much for having me.
Dr. Gundry (01:41):
Well, it’s a pleasure. We always have a great time talking with you. You truly are one of the greats in this field. It’s a pleasure to talk about your new book The Wahls Protocol, The New Edition.
Dr. Terry Wahls (02:00):
Hey, thank you.
Dr. Gundry (02:03):
What’s changed in the new Wahls Protocol?
Dr. Terry Wahls (02:08):
Well, so we have a lot more ability for people to personalize the diet recommendations. So I talk about histamines, we talk about oxalates, and we talk about ketosis. I have pulled back from my original discussion of ketosis in the first book. I’m much more specific about who should be on a ketogenic diet and that there are a wide variety of ways to get into ketosis. So we talk about time-restricted feeding, intermittent fasting, periodic fasting.
Dr. Terry Wahls (02:41):
Then I talk about hormesis. We’ve updated a discussion on metabolic resilience, on how to create more emotional resilience, the science of behavior change, and how we … Because the reason most of our colleagues struggle with getting their patients to succeed is that it’s really hard for people to adopt and sustain the lifestyle changes that you and I recommend. And so, I’ve created a much more robust process to support behavior change, so we talk about that. We talk about food addiction, addiction medicine. Then, finally, I have update the reader on electrical stimulation and the latest in neuro rehabilitation. So, all in all, it’s over a third new material.
Dr. Gundry (03:39):
That’s one of the things I so much respect about you is that you’re willing to make changes in your teachings, in your philosophies based on research that wasn’t available to you or me even a few years ago and based on the results of your practice with patients.
Dr. Terry Wahls (04:05):
And our clinical trials.
Dr. Gundry (04:08):
Yeah, that’s exactly right.
Dr. Terry Wahls (04:08):
So we’re getting ready to start our fifth clinical trial. So in this 10 years, we’ve made a lot of progress. We have a lot more insight as to how to help people adopt and sustain these changes, and we have more insight in terms of what happens as people adopt and then sustain these changes.
Dr. Gundry (04:29):
So keto wasn’t a big part of your original book. Tell me what’s changed your mind or where does keto fit in this whole process. Let’s start there.
Dr. Terry Wahls (04:47):
Well, certainly ketogenic eating is something our ancestors did. They were in ketosis a lot, either because of the prolonged physical activity, which depletes your glycogen stores and puts you into ketosis, or because of winter, drought, war, famine, they have to stop food, enter in ketosis on that basis.
Dr. Terry Wahls (05:12):
The science is very clear that being in ketosis does shift a lot of chemistry in very helpful ways. And so, there’s a bunch of research on the benefits of ketogenic eating for a neuro degeneration, cognitive decline, and certainly seizure disorder in cancers.
Dr. Terry Wahls (05:31):
I certainly still talk about that research and stand behind all of that. However, there’s also more research on the benefit of metabolic switching, of being in ketogenic state because of either physical activity or absence of food, and then resting and eating and loading your cells, replenish the glycogen, burn carbs or burn immuno acids.
Dr. Terry Wahls (06:01):
And so, we’re switching between the ketogenic state and a non-ketogenic state. That switching does even better things for our brain and better things for mitochondrial efficiencies than being in a prolonged ketogenic state.
Dr. Terry Wahls (06:17):
So now my preference is that I want people to be in ketosis intermittently, and you can do that either on a daily basis through time-restricted feeding or a weekly basis through a 5:2 internment fasting or a periodic fast or you can do a seasonal ketosis. I think, in general, that’s my preferred strategy. There are clinical circumstances, though, where I will still put someone in ketosis and leave them in ketosis forever.
Dr. Gundry (06:54):
You and I know these terms pretty well. But for our listeners’ purposes, intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding seem to be used interchangeably, but in fact they’re not the same thing.
Dr. Terry Wahls (07:10):
Dr. Gundry (07:10):
Can you educate us on that?
Dr. Terry Wahls (07:14):
So the time-restricted feeding refers to how long a period you’re not eating. So, in general, because most of us will deplete our glycogen stores, that is our stored carbohydrate, in about 12 hours. So if you can go longer than 12 hours without eating, you begin entering a ketogenic phase. That’s why most of the time-restricted feeding ask people to have at least 14 hours of not eating. Sometimes they’ll go as long 16 hours or 18 hours. I do have followers, I’m sure you do as well, who may eat once a day. I even have some followers who eat just every other day. They have a really prolonged time-restricted feeding.
Dr. Terry Wahls (08:00):
Intermittent fasting sometimes is using that same overlap term, but, more commonly, it refers to every other day or perhaps two days a week of either not eating or greatly reducing the calories on those days, perhaps like 300 calories or 500 calories. You might hear a very common plan of a 5:2 plan, where you have five days a week where you eat your normal metabolic requirements and two days a week where you have a fairly severe restriction to 300 calories, 500 calories. Some folks even do a water-only fast on those days.
Dr. Gundry (08:44):
Yeah, I think they’re not interchangeable. They both work in different ways. As you know, I wrote about time-restricted feeding actually back in the early 2000s with my first book, and my editor actually cut a huge chapter out of my first book because she thought I was crazy.
Dr. Gundry (09:04):
But during the winter, I think this is now my eighteenth year of doing this, from January through June, during the week, I don’t eat breakfast, I don’t eat lunch, and I eat all my calories between 6:00 and 8:00 at night. So 22 hours a day I’m fasting.
Dr. Terry Wahls (09:25):
That’s very similar. That’s what I typically do year-round. Then one week a month, I will do a calorie-restricted diet of 300 to 500 calories. By the end of that week, I’m pretty hungry.
Dr. Gundry (09:41):
Yeah. Well, let’s talk about that. People say, “Well, how can you do that? You must be starving all day?” The fact is it’s now past lunch and I’m not hungry at all. In fact, it shocks people that … If you’re starting this for the first time, yeah, you may be hungry for a couple of days, but then you there is no hunger involved.
Dr. Terry Wahls (10:08):
That’s right. Your body adapts and this becomes very comfortable. So eating one day a week is very comfortable. Even a week of the calorie restriction is way easier now than it was the first month that I did this. Interestingly enough, my wife, after watching me do this for a year, said, “Honey, I think I’ll start doing it.” And so, she now does this regularly with me as well.
Dr. Gundry (10:38):
Dr. Terry Wahls (10:39):
And so, our kids are looking at the two of us and going, “God, you guys keep looking better and better and better.” I think that’s true. Certainly my hair is still getting gray, so I haven’t changed that. But if you line up photographs of me, I certainly continue to youthen.
Dr. Gundry (11:03):
Yeah. I posted on Instagram, I think last year, a picture of me from 11 years earlier and a picture of me currently. Most people who see me comment, “Why aren’t you aging?” or, “Let me see your skin. It looks like a young person’s skin and you’re very old.” Yeah, I think just, again, personally, you can visually see … Or the lack of the changes or the backward aging, de-aging.
Dr. Terry Wahls (11:43):
What we’re doing is … I like to call this youthening. Part of what we’re doing is with the time-restricted feeding and the periodic fasting, we’re boosting the number of stem cells in circulation. We’re boosting the stem cells in our skin, we’re boosted the stem cells in our brain, in our heart, in our liver, our kidneys, our blood vessels. And so, we’re not aging at the same rate as all of our peers. So, yes, we are absolutely youthening. My kids laugh, you know that movie Benjamin Button, they’re like, “Oh my God, mom. Are you doing a Benjamin Button?” So we’ll see.
Dr. Gundry (12:26):
Yeah. Well, that was the comment on the Instagram is, “Oh my gosh. It’s Benjamin Button going on here.” So I think you’re right. You’re right. My hair is still gray. Initially, I was convinced that I was going to have a nice shocking black head of here again, but there’s certain things that I haven’t been able to kick into gear.
Dr. Gundry (12:46):
But interesting story. One of my patients had … A male, had breast cancer in his 70s, and it was a fairly aggressive form. He went on a chemotherapy for a year and his hair fell out. Surprisingly, when it grew back in, it grew back a luxurious black of when he was young.
Dr. Terry Wahls (13:13):
That is wild.
Dr. Gundry (13:14):
Now you also mentioned in your book … And there’s far more important things. But both you and I recommend the idea of Valter Longo’s idea, that a five to seven-day vegan calorie restriction is a really good way and clinically proven to boost stem cell production. I know you mentioned him in the book. Are you still using the ProLon every now and then?
Dr. Terry Wahls (13:43):
Yeah. So sometimes we’ll do ProLon, sometimes we’ll do water only, sometimes we’ll make our own soups and broths. I certainly agree with Valter that a high-protein diet is a problem, just like a high-carb diet is a problem. It stimulates a lot of insulin, it stimulates your mTOR, it stimulates insulin growth factor.
Dr. Terry Wahls (14:12):
It ends up increasing your risk for growth, which if we’re not toddlers and our bone plates have fused, growth can only do a couple of things. It can make me fatter, which I’d rather not have happen. It can cause benign tumors, which would be inconvenient, or it could cause cancer, which is terribly inconvenient. And so, I want sufficient protein to do the maintenance that I need for my body, but I don’t want so much protein that I have all these growth factors stimulated.
Dr. Gundry (14:50):
Well, I’m glad you brought that up because that, again, is something I respect a great deal about you. Even in some of your cookbooks, there’s, quite frankly, a lot of animal protein. I’m from the Midwest as well and I had to make the fundamental switch in my brain that this protein was probably not doing me a great service in the long run. What about the carnivore diet?
Dr. Terry Wahls (15:24):
Oh, yes. So I just had a very interesting conversation with Carnivore MD. And so, we had some robust of points of view. He quoted a study of two men from the 1930 that were followed for a year with zero adverse health consequence and a study that had looked at the microbiome change over a week. That was all the research that he could point out.
Dr. Terry Wahls (15:56):
He does make the case that plants, because of their lectins, he quotes you there, Dr. Gundry, that plants are noxious to us and are poisonous. Then I asked him like, “Okay. I’ve not been able to find a hunter-gatherer society that ate zero plants all of their adult life or all of their childhood life and the whole life of that clan. Do you have any that you can refer me to that I can read about?” So he couldn’t find any of that.
Dr. Terry Wahls (16:31):
I will agree with my carnivore colleagues that, for some people with a severe autoimmune problem that’s unresponsive to my protocol, to your protocol, that the carnivore diet may be the ultimate elimination diet, that it may allow them to reset their immune system, and that doing the carnivore diet for a period, is that three months, may help reset their immune system. Then they could begin to reintroduce foods.
Dr. Terry Wahls (17:07):
I think we need more information. I told them that what I really would like to see is to get this stuff in the peer-reviewed literature. So give me case series. Give me case reports. Do a survey-based study. Who’s following the carnivore diet? What is their clinical experience? Do some weighed food records so we know what are the nutrients that are in the carnivore diet as you are describing it, so we can identify are there nutritional insufficiencies we have to worry? Are there are nutrients that are up over the upper limit of what’s safe? For example, he wants people to have a pound of liver every week.
Dr. Gundry (17:59):
Every week, yeah.
Dr. Terry Wahls (18:01):
That’s a lot of retinol. I’m very excited about liver. I think liver is a super food. It’s really good for us. But a pound of liver is going to exceed the upper limit for retinol. Retinol, once you get it in your body, although it’s a critical nutrient, there is a narrow range. Within that narrow range, once you get over that, then you’re going to be at risk of long-term toxicity which can lead to problems with cirrhosis, needing a liver transplant, pulmonary fibrosis, needing a lung transplant. There is no getting it out once it’s in.
Dr. Terry Wahls (18:45):
And so, there may be a select number of patients for which the carnivore diet may be a helpful tool. I certainly don’t yet have enough information to feel comfortable saying that, historically, we have societies that have been carnivores with zero plant material for the rest of their lives.
Dr. Terry Wahls (19:05):
So I’m very reluctant to call this a safe long-term diet. It may be a safe diet for a month. You may go as long as three months. But I think we don’t know.
Dr. Gundry (19:22):
Yeah. I’ve talked with this physician as well and he praises me for bringing up lectins and turning his thoughts around. But I think you’re right. It may be for certain people with an autoimmune disease that you and I can’t break with our protocols, which are incredibly similar. Maybe a carnivore diet with true grass-fed, pastured, et cetera, may be a good elimination diet for maybe a month.
Dr. Gundry (19:59):
But I had the pleasure of debating another young woman, who I won’t mention because it was off-camera when we talked about this, who has done a carnivore diet for her autoimmune disease. But now she wants to get off the carnivore diet, and she can’t. Anytime she now reintroduces plant materials, her gut goes haywire. That’s one of my fears about all this.
Dr. Gundry (20:33):
Actually, that brings up a question. You and I see a lot of people with irritable bowel, with deranged microbiome that when we ask them to increase their plant material, let’s just use that generally, they get severe gastric distress, IBS, cramps, bloating, diarrhea gets worse. What do you do with those folks?
Dr. Terry Wahls (21:06):
So I have them get a pressure pot, an instant pot, and start doing soups and stews. We do a lot of bone broths. We’ll make sure that they are having liver once a week and that I have them cook everything in high pressure. I will potentially blenderize the soups and stews and take that route.
Dr. Terry Wahls (21:31):
I also make sure that we have a gluten detection kit and that I’m detecting their urine and their stool a couple of times a week. Often what we discover is their diet’s not as clean as they think. Then we have to figure, out, okay where’s this gluten coming from? Is it in their supplements? Is it in their medication? Is it in their food because they’ve not been as meticulous?
Dr. Terry Wahls (22:01):
Because when you go to the restaurant, 40% of the food that’s labeled gluten-free still has detectable gluten in it. If you go to the grocery store, 20% percent of the products labeled gluten-free still have gluten in them. I spend a lot of time telling people don’t get the gluten-free breads, cereals, pastas, brownies, cookies. Just get vegetables and meat.
Dr. Gundry (22:27):
Yeah, I know. I think that’s true. I’m friends with a number of James Beard Award-winning chefs. Really to a person, they say, “You really cannot eat gluten-free in a restaurant even if our servers tell you you will be eating gluten-free.” I think that’s incredibly important advice. It’s virtually impossible.
Dr. Terry Wahls (22:53):
You cannot reliably get it. There are some published papers now that have gone out and collected food from restaurants, food from grocery stores, and then tested that, quantified the gluten. So my advice is to be much more meticulous. The person who’s struggling, I’m on to their urine and stool, and that can create a big aha moment. So that’s area number one. Then number two, we have them use the instant pot.
Dr. Gundry (23:27):
Yeah. I just released my latest book, The Plant Paradox Family Cookbook, that uses a pressure cooker and instant pot for most of the recipes. It also helps busy families, which is-
Dr. Terry Wahls (23:40):
Dr. Gundry (23:42):
It’s miraculous in terms of a time-saving device. But, yeah, I do the same thing. I really have these folks cook their vegetables, pressure cook their vegetables to limp. Then I agree with you, blenderizing them, making them into soups. Then what I do is I introduce these things really in small amounts initially and work their way up. This is actually the advice I gave to this young woman off-camera, and we’ll see if it works.
Dr. Terry Wahls (24:18):
Yeah. You have to be very cautious. When the Carnivore MD and I chatted and he talked about this old study, which it’s very interesting, the 1930s individuals who are meat-only diet for a year. That was a very different kind of meat. The animals would’ve been grass-fed. It all would have been organic rations. And so, that was a very different product than what people are getting now. Even if they’re getting organic meat, it’s probably grain-based meat. It’s pretty tough for people to get grass-fed, grass-finished meat. And so, this is a very, very different product.
Dr. Terry Wahls (25:07):
The arctic dwellers, which were the original source of the diets for these two men, even those communities, during the summer, have plant material. They don’t have an animal-based product the whole time. There are products with whale blubber, seal, and primarily fish-based and some caribou. That’s a very different mix of animals than what most carnivores are eating.
Dr. Gundry (25:50):
That’s very true. Plus, interestingly, following modern hunter-gatherers, and certainly following carnivores like lions, they will actually eat the guts of the animal they kill first, including the parts of the intestines that the animals have eaten, which are digested plant materials.
Dr. Terry Wahls (26:15):
Dr. Gundry (26:16):
I think we have to understand that piece of that equation of the carnivore diet is missing.
Dr. Terry Wahls (26:25):
If we look at evolutionary, so six million years ago, we were part of the primates and eating primarily plants. Two million years ago, we’re in the Homo genus. We are eating more animal products as well. We still have a pretty large gut, so we’re still eating a lot of plant material. Then about 100,000 years ago, we’re eating more animals and we’re cooking. Our guts begin to shorten as we’re cooking our food.
Dr. Terry Wahls (27:02):
And so, I mean what I did agree with our Carnivore MD was that, okay, so my ancestral mothers and fathers, the Brunhilda and Beowulfs of thousands of years ago. During the summer, Brunhilda was out there getting plants and we were having a lot of non-poisonous leaves and some tubers and a lot of dirt and some small animals that she was catching in the nets. Beowulf was out there getting the bigger game and bringing that back.
Dr. Terry Wahls (27:39):
Then during the winter, I wasn’t eating many plant materials. I was either not eating or I was eating carnivore. So I was willing to admit that certainly several months out of every year, I was either fasting or being a carnivore. At least seven months to nine months out of the year, I was clearly an omnivore. That is what we have the most historical precedent with as Homo sapiens, or being omnivores, just very occasionally carnivores, and fairly occasionally having to fast.
Dr. Gundry (28:20):
On that same subject, let me give you another question. My wife and I will eat our meal at dinner because that’s, quite frankly, when we’re both home. We both work.
Dr. Terry Wahls (28:38):
Dr. Gundry (28:38):
And so, what say you that really if we were going to do this correctly, we should eat our meal at breakfast and then start our fast at that point?
Dr. Terry Wahls (28:53):
Well, again, let’s think about Beowulf and Brunhilda back to about 100,000 years ago. Beowulf was out there hunting. And so, he’s going to come back in the afternoon with his brothers and cousins, et cetera. They’ll probably be showing up around 1:00. Then I’m cooking that stuff. So maybe, at best, I’m eating 2:00 or 3:00.
Dr. Terry Wahls (29:22):
So I bet we have probably a longer history of the feast mid-afternoon. That’s when we ate. We probably had one meal a day. I mean the concept of three meals a day was a newly introduced European dictum to separate themselves from the savages. My guess is, historically, we probably had one meal a day.
Dr. Terry Wahls (29:50):
When we were farmers, we became farmers 10,000 years ago, we might have had a meal before going out and doing the farm work. You’ve slaved all day in the fields, working your tail off. You come back in and you have another meal in the evening. So you might have had two meals a day. But when we were hunting and gathering, it was one meal. It was probably late afternoon, mid-afternoon at the earliest.
Dr. Gundry (30:20):
Yeah. As I tell my patients, we didn’t crawl out of our cave and say, “What’s for breakfast?”
Dr. Terry Wahls (30:25):
We’re ready to go catch it.
Dr. Gundry (30:27):
Yeah. Breakfast means break fast. That’s when we found it. The other thing that interests me is, as you know, our cortisol levels rise early in the morning, starting around 4:00 in the morning. That actually kicks up our blood sugar. My argument to people saying breakfast is the most important meal of the day would be that we seemingly have an evolutionary fix for the fact that we weren’t going to have food early in the day because cortisol makes us insulin-resistant it kicks up our blood sugar, and we’re actually off and running.
Dr. Gundry (31:11):
So all my diabetic patients, I actually say, “Haven’t you noticed that your blood sugar goes up early in the morning?” and they go, “Yeah.” I say, “Well, believe it or not, that’s on purpose. You were designed for this.” So the idea that we’ve got to get that meal in first thing that we wake up, it doesn’t make any physiologic sense.
Dr. Terry Wahls (31:34):
No. No, I don’t think there’s any need for that.
Dr. Gundry (31:36):
All right. Like I say, you change your ideas, bless your heart. What have you learned about the microbiome that you didn’t know five years ago?
Dr. Terry Wahls (31:48):
That my colleagues are really getting excited about our microbiome, that they admit we don’t really know what species we should have in a microbiome. Even my microbiome scientist admits that he doesn’t know what species are the right species to have, that probably it’s what these species can do, and that microbes are gene-swapping all of the time.
Dr. Terry Wahls (32:18):
And so, even though we may have these probiotics, because they’re being cultured in these big steel vats, they’re gene-swapping all the time. We don’t know what processes that microbe can do. It’s the processes that I need, not the name of the species.
Dr. Terry Wahls (32:39):
So the research that is really the most interesting is the research that looks at the metabolites, the metabolome, and we’ve got that frozen. So we’re going to be analyzing that. Metabolon looks at about 20,000 different compounds that are in your urine, your blood, your poop, your spinal fluid and sees how that changes.
Dr. Terry Wahls (33:06):
We’re writing grants now, so hopefully there’ll be a time when I’m going to be able to analyze the changes in our blood, urine, and stool as people adopt the Wahls diet or as they adopt any of the other diets that we study, because, you see, that is what I think the change in the diet that you advocate and that I advocate that our gut then digest that foods into smaller compounds that get into our bloodstream that help us run the chemistry of life. It’s the microbiome making these metabolites that influence our health.
Dr. Terry Wahls (33:45):
So that’s very exciting. I talk about that in the book. We are writing grants. Hopefully in the next couple of years, we will get funded, be able to analyze that stuff. And so, hopefully, in 2021 or 2022, I can begin to much more specifically address that.
Dr. Gundry (34:07):
Fantastic. You’re famous for advising people to eat nine cups of vegetables a day.
Dr. Terry Wahls (34:15):
Dr. Gundry (34:15):
Now most people equate, because of dietary advice, fruits and vegetables as equally healthy, and because fruit tastes good and vegetables don’t, they tend to head for the fruits. In your new book, you aren’t particularly wild about fruit. As you know, I have told people to give fruit the boot. So what say you?
Dr. Terry Wahls (34:43):
Our fruit is very, very different. It’s been cultivated to have a lot more starch, have a lot higher fructose content. And so, that’s very different than the type of fruits that our ancestors would have consumed. For them, berries would have been this huge treat, a very seasonal treat. You could have that. It probably does not have nearly the amount of lectins because the plants want us to eat the fruit, so they aren’t going to be as noxious towards it.
Dr. Gundry (35:19):
Dr. Terry Wahls (35:20):
The fruits that we have cultivated and created, again, have so much more fructose, so many more carbs. Frankly, so do a lot of the starchy vegetables. So what I’ve discovered in my clinics and in clinical trials is that people ramped up on the fruits and did not have nearly the amount of vegetables I wanted them to have.
Dr. Terry Wahls (35:42):
So I’ve made it much more explicit that we’re dialing down the fruit, and my preference is that what we’re talking about ideally are berries. I think berries are the most beneficial of the fruit. It’s so much more important to get the greens, to get the sulfur, and a small amount of fruit. If you have a belly that’s bigger than your butt, then I’d rather you not have any fruit.
Dr. Gundry (36:12):
That’s most Americans, unfortunately.
Dr. Terry Wahls (36:14):
Unfortunately, that is most Americans and, unfortunately, most children now, too.
Dr. Gundry (36:20):
That’s true. Now we touched on this. The ultimate elimination diet may be a temporary carnivore diet. But give me your new elimination diet.
Dr. Terry Wahls (36:35):
So my preference is meat, vegetables, but we’re talking about the greens, the sulfur, the color. We had people remove nightshades. So that’s tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers. I have them remove all grain, all legumes. I talk about removing nuts and seeds, and preferably seed spices.
Dr. Terry Wahls (37:01):
If you’re going to cook, then I want them to cook with the instant pot. I do talk about if someone is a vegetarian, vegan, for their spiritual beliefs, then we have them have gluten-free grains and legumes, and we stress that this should be cooked in an instant pot. I have to do that ideally for six months, but at least for a 100 days. Then I have them begin reintroducing foods one ingredient at a time to assess what their reaction is.
Dr. Terry Wahls (37:38):
I talk a lot about biosensors and the subtle symptoms that may indicate that your biosensor is detecting more inflammation. So I have trigeminal neuralgia, which means I have bouts of electrical face pain either across the right side of my face or the left side of my face. As a result, if I begin to have any change in perception of my face, I’m very sensitive. That’s an early warning sign that something activated the microglia in my brain and my spinal cord, and my trigeminal neuralgia is about to start firing. So now I have to think about, okay, was I exposed to food that might be contaminated? Did I get too much toxin exposure?
Dr. Terry Wahls (38:32):
The most recent thing I realized, Steve, is that have to limit how many flights I take each month. I’m trying to help as many people as I can, so I’m flying around the country doing all of these lectures and realized that I can take two speaking gigs a month. If I do three, I’m likely to have my face pain turned on. And so, if my biosensor becomes active, if my sensation on my face changes, I need to sit down and really reflect on what’s going on, what could I improve in my environment, and how did my environment get contaminated.
Dr. Gundry (39:19):
I think that’s a really great point. Certainly people who have followed my program for a while notice they become very aware. They finally get back in tune with what their body is trying to tell them. Even a night of a cheat, or what they’ll call a cheat, they pay for it in sometimes subtle ways, sometimes in fairly vigorous ways. I have a number, particular in women, who had had MS that no longer have it, but they know their triggers and they feel it.
Dr. Terry Wahls (40:02):
Yeah. It also reminds me, like I talk a lot about epitope spreading and that early on people might feel like, “Well, it’s a special occasion. I could have pizza and beer with my friends,” or, “I could have an indulgence. I’ll just clean up my diet.” What I have to let them know is that every time that you are causing this flare, you’re damaging, your cells, you’re damaging how you run the biochemistry, and there’s no guarantee that you can get back to your previous baseline. And so, if you continue to damage, you may trigger another serious autoimmune condition and that you may discover you don’t get back to baseline.
Dr. Terry Wahls (40:53):
I also talk about if we don’t get to the root cause of what’s causing their MS or their rheumatoid arthritis or their scleroderma or their psoriasis and they keep taking their disease-modifying drug, but not address the diet, lifestyle root causes, what will likely happen is that every decade, another auto immune problem will develop. That’s why so many people now are having two or three or four serious autoimmune diseases.
Dr. Gundry (41:37):
Yeah. I tell my patients that when you and I were coming up through the ranks, if we know what we know now about autoimmune disease, I don’t think we would have put names on these things. I don’t think we would’ve named them, “You have MS,” “You have rheumatoid arthritis,” “You have psoriasis.” I think it’s far better to say, “Your immune system is activated against you. My personal feeling it’s because you have a leaky gut that has turned on your immune system.” That’s what we have to address, not the name that you have.
Dr. Terry Wahls (42:14):
That’s right. At the time that these things were being described, that was about the early 1800s and microscopy was just beginning to be developed. We didn’t understand the mechanisms of what were the root causes of these illnesses so we just could look at what organs were being damaged, where the gross symptoms were, and we device our treatment gradually addressing those end symptoms.
Dr. Terry Wahls (42:49):
Now when we look at the microscopy, electron microscopy, and the cytokine profiles, what, of course, is no surprise to you and I is that the basic biochemical processes are the same whether it’s psoriasis or scleroderma or anxiety or depression or MS. It’s mitochondrial dysfunction, excessive inappropriate inflammation, overactivated innate immune system.
Dr. Terry Wahls (43:23):
And so, if we help people address those root factors, they discover that their disease state that they originally came to see me for is getting better, but then so is their mood, so is their pain, and their husband is saying their blood pressure is getting better and their blood sugar is getting better. What we’re discovering is that the whole family’s health challenges are often steadily improving.
Dr. Gundry (43:51):
Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I’m so glad, again, revised and expanded, because I hope you and I have learned something in the last five years that we didn’t know before.
Dr. Terry Wahls (44:05):
Yes, hopefully so.
Dr. Gundry (44:07):
Hopefully so. There are, unfortunately, people giving nutrition advice who haven’t changed what they say in the last 20 years, which is unfortunate because I can’t wait for tomorrow because I’m going to learn probably something new from one of my patients that I didn’t know before.
Dr. Terry Wahls (44:30):
I have more appreciation when I think of George Orwell’s book 1984. Where I’m going with that is it’s very hard for us to learn anything new. We have so much information coming to us from the periphery, our brain and our nervous system keeps tamping it down, tamping it down, tamping it down. We managed by recognizing patterns of how we understand the world.
Dr. Terry Wahls (45:00):
So it’s really no surprise that our physician colleagues ignore lots of information for a long time because they can’t deal with the volume, so they interpret everything within the context of how they currently understand the world. Our physician colleagues do this, our scientific colleagues do this. We do this, all of us, in our lives. It’s how we manage the overwhelming amount of information.
Dr. Gundry (45:28):
Yeah. Well, Terry, it’s been great having you back on the program. Before I let you go, I want to share a few comments we got on the last show we did together.
Dr. Terry Wahls (45:40):
Dr. Gundry (45:40):
Yeah. Here’s Joanne, who wrote, “How exciting to hear this brilliant conversation between Dr. Gundry and Dr. Wahls. I am so very grateful to both of these magnificent healers who give us all great hope for joyful longevity.”
Dr. Terry Wahls (45:56):
Well, that’s sweet.
Dr. Gundry (45:56):
Thank you, Joanne. That’s why we do this. Here’s a great one from Barry. “She is articulate, humble, educated, helpful, and profound. She represents the future of good medicine.” So that’s a much deserved praise for you from our listeners. Where do folks find more about you, your work, and where do they get the new version of The Wahls Protocol?
Dr. Terry Wahls (46:26):
Please come find me at terrywahls.com. That’s T-E-R-R-Y, Wahls, W-A-H-L-S dot com. If you want to see our research papers, and including the videos of gate changes from before and after, go to terrywahls.com/researchpapers. That’s very exciting.
Dr. Terry Wahls (46:49):
We have an in-person event where we have hundreds of people coming every year to learn what we’re doing in our research lab and my current thinking about diet, lifestyle, restoring health that we have every summer. So that’s an amazing experience as well.
Dr. Gundry (47:10):
Fantastic. Well, thank you again for all you do. Before we go, we got an audience question. So Scorpio Mom on YouTube asks, “Dr. Gundry, how about kidney stones forming because of increasing intake of leafy greens?” So I prepped you about this. Dr. Wahls, what do you think?
Dr. Terry Wahls (47:35):
So if you have kidney stones and if your physician has told you that you have oxalate stones, then, yes, I’ll probably put you on a low-oxalate diet and we’ll tell you to avoid spinach greens and to avoid beet greens in particular. If you happen to have a problem with autism spectrum disorder, potentially oxalates may be an issue for you.
Dr. Terry Wahls (48:04):
However, aside from that, I’d say the vast majority of people do very, very well. The biggest driver of kidney stones is dehydration. It’s a sugar, high-processed diet. Again, our ancestral mothers and fathers did very well eating plant material and meat. They probably did not have access to as much water as you and I have access to.
Dr. Terry Wahls (48:33):
So advices, get rid of processed food, have plenty and plenty of water. However, if you do have a history of kidney stones, by all means talk to your physician about that particular type of stone you have and any guidance that you might need.
Dr. Gundry (48:49):
Yeah, I agree with that. Please, as I tell my patients, we’ve got to know what kind of kidney stones you have. They’re either uric acid, urate stones, or calcium oxalate stones.
Dr. Gundry (49:02):
I also advise, particular my female patients, please don’t take traditional calcium supplements. That’s out in my protocol. Quite frankly, I see so many people that have the urate crystal kidney stones and they are on a high-fructose diet, whether it’s from fruit, whether it’s from wine and beer or whether it’s from all the processed foods they’re eating.
Dr. Gundry (49:32):
All right, that answers your question. Boy, it’s great to see you again. Hopefully we’ll have you again on soon. Write another book, please. I’m finishing my next book called The Energy Paradox, which is going to be right up your alley as well.
Dr. Terry Wahls (49:51):
Great, I look forward to it.
Dr. Gundry (49:52):
All right, stay warm in the winter out there and come visit us in Southern California.
Dr. Terry Wahls (49:59):
Dr. Gundry (49:59):
All right. Take care. That’s it for the Dr. Gundry Podcast. See you next week. Thanks for joining me on this episode of the Dr. Gundry Podcast. Before you go, I just wanted to remind you that you can find the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcast. If you want to watch each episode of the Dr. Gundry Podcast, you could always find me on YouTube at youTube.com/drgundry, because I’m Dr. Gundry and I’m always looking out for you.