“Visualize Someone Who Has Been Supportive and Thank Them ”
This episode is all about autoimmunity and how the cellular defense response plays a role in chronic conditions.
Dr. Terry Wahls is a professor at the University of Iowa where she conducts clinical trials testing the efficacy of diet lifestyle to treat multiple sclerosis and is the author of The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles. Pick up a one-page handout for the Wahls™ Diet at https://terrywahls.com/diet/.
In this podcast, How Your Mitochondria Play A Role In Autoimmunity, we cover:
How The Wahls Protocol can treat chronic autoimmune conditions
The reason you need more ketones as you get older
Ways to solve autoimmune conditions by eating the right foods
What you need to know about the cellular danger response
How we can use the human connection to heal our health
Following the Wahls Protocol Even Includes Vegetarian Options
The standard American diet is very high in carbs, fructose, and high glycemic index foods. The average American only eats one and a half servings of vegetables a day. To help repair the mitochondria, Dr. Wahls has a few versions of her diet: paleo, keto, and vegetarian. We should all be mindful that some people are vegan or vegetarian for their deeply held spiritual beliefs. To force someone to eat meat may wound them spiritually. If you’re a vegetarian, you need to ensure sufficient protein. Also, it’s critical to keep track of your omega-3 and omega-6 fats.
The Reason You Need More Ketones As You Get Older
Ketones are very helpful in healing the mitochondria. Remember, our mitochondria can burn ketones, glucose, and amino acids. Interestingly, our brains become somewhat less effective at utilizing glucose as we age. However, we can continue to use ketones and amino acids. We’ll still be very vulnerable to a sudden crash and glucose. If you have diabetes, be careful to keep the blood sugars even. You can benefit from having ketones and amino acids. As we age, we will benefit from more ketones since they are a helpful resource.
Solving Autoimmunity By Eating The Right Types of Foods
We could solve most autoimmune conditions by just looking at the cells’ nutritional needs. Unfortunately, you can’t exercise your way out of a terrible diet. The foods that you eat will become your cells. If you don’t eat foods that your cells require, then you won’t be able to repair your broken cells. When you can’t repair cells, you will age rapidly, and you will have metabolic dysfunction, anxiety, and depression. You can feel dramatic reductions in fatigue and improvements in quality of life by changing your diet. All in all, remarkable changes in autoimmune health is a matter of what you put in your mouth.
The Foods That Your Cells Require In Order To Thrive
First, you need to get rid of sugars and highly processed foods. Instead, eat non-starchy vegetables, cabbage, onion, mushroom, and color. Then, be sure you have plenty of protein. Later, you will think about fasting, ketosis, time-restricted feeding, and metabolic switching. There are a variety of ways to personalize your diet and lifestyle. Dr. Whals says you will be much more successful if you do this work as a family. You need to vary your fasts and your foods in a community. Sadly, we have lost sight of the healing power of community. Pull together people that you love and find health with them!
How The Cellular Danger Response Can Hinder Your Healing
Cell defense is a very ancient biological response. The cells have to be able to recognize a threat and respond appropriately. The molecules that reside in the cell are doing the basic biological stuff they have to do. If molecules escape the cell, the neighboring cells will think there’s a threat. It will activate the intracellular machinery to create inflammation-producing molecules that activate the innate immune system. The innate immune system will then come in and neutralize the threat. This cell danger response is vital to our survivorship. How do you get the body to respond appropriately and turn off the cell danger response? It explains why some people do everything to get well, but they don’t gain momentum in their healing.
Dr. Mindy I’ve been following your work on autoimmunity and MS for years since the TED the famous TED talk. Yeah, you had so if for my audience, can you just give a little background on your experience with MS and and your research on autoimmunity?
Dr. Terry Wahls When I tell the story, sort of so go for it.
Dr. Mindy It’s a great story, please tell.
Dr. Terry Wahls So 20 years ago, I’m out walking with my wife, Jackie, my left leg goes weak, dragging it a hobble home. And the next day I see the neurologist who says to Me, this could be bad, or really, really bad. So at night in bed next to Jackie, I think about my zingers. Due to trigeminal neuralgia. They’ve been getting relentlessly worse for 20 years, and I pray secretly for a fatal diagnosis. Now, three weeks later, I hear multiple sclerosis. Three years later are here, tilt recline wheelchair. Clearly, things are getting continually worse. My zingers are worse. My face pain turns on. My 10 year old daughter hugs me is tear stripped down my face. Wow. I’m a physician. Night after night, I go to PubMed to read the basic science. And I began experimenting on myself. I think mitochondria are the big drivers. The speed about decline slows down, I discovered a study using electrical stimulation muscles. I asked my physical therapist, can I try that? He says it’s for athletes, he calls it east him. But he does give me a test session, which hurts like hell. But when it’s over, I feel great. So we add East him to my physical therapy. My physicians have all said, because I have secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, functions, what’s lost will not come back. That’s why I’ve been so aggressive with my treatments. But now I am wondering, Am I really doing all that I can to slow my decline. So I redesigned my paleo diet that I put on for five years, based on all the science that I’ve read it and the functional medicine course I’ve just taken it that is when the magic happens. My pain is stopped, my mental clarity improves, my energy improves. And I’m able to be in walking again. And then for the first time in six years, with my son jogging alongside in the left, my daughter on the right, I get on my bike, and I bike around the block crazy. My kids are crying, my wife’s crying, I’m crying. And of course it changes how I think about disease and health. It will also might change the way I practice medicine. And it will change the focus of my research.
Dr. Mindy And so what what did you discover about the mitochondria? Because now, I mean, that was years ago, you really pioneered the idea that you can heal chronic disease by healing the mitochondria. Yes. Did you discover?
Dr. Terry Wahls So you know, as I was reading the basic science, at first I was looking for drug studies. Then I had the highlight Well, I can look for things that I could access. I started looking for supplements studies, I was reading. I was looking for progressive neurologic disorders. I wasn’t really having relapses, I just had the slow progressive decline. And so I thought I had more in common with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s als as reading that literature. In for all of those disease states. Mitochondria seem to be the key driver. I and so no one was yet talking about mitochondria for a mess. But I thought mitochondria are probably the driver. What can I do to help my mitochondria? So you know, I was slowly building a supplement cocktail for my mitochondria. And, you know, they discovered the Institute for Functional Medicine, they had a longer list of supplements, which I happily added. In I mentioned, I discovered a stem and I was doing that. I and then that summer I had like, you know, I wonder if I figure out where these are in the food supply all these things I’m taking in supplements that probably get, you know, more nutrients that were important that really hadn’t been named yet. I and so I now created a very structured Paleolithic diet that I started following. And that was in December of 2007.
And it in that first month, at the end of January of 2008, I realized my energy is definitely improving. My mental clarity is improving.
And my trigeminal neuralgia was less. And then my physical therapist was saying, you’re getting stronger, we’re going to use advanced exercises. And he had me start starting to lift weights. Amazing. So they were a little tiny weights, mind you. Yeah, I was I was very, very disabled. Yeah, at that time.
Dr. Mindy So what I’m thinking about the Paleo diet, so you used the Paleo diet to heal the mitochondria. And now we have a lot of talk about the ketogenic diet and the power of ketones. What are the difference between those two?
Dr. Terry Wahls So we’re going to sort of walk through the standard American diet very high in carbs high in fructose, high glycemic index foods. And not so many vegetables. Right now, the average is one half servings a day. So that’s shockingly terrible, horrible. And I had done the autoimmune protocol AIP diet had not recovered from that. When I redesigned my diet, at first, it was sort of a list of here the foodstuffs to eat. Then when I started teaching, that’s what I thought deeplens. Okay, I’ve activated a framework to give people some guidance. The walls, Paleo Diet probably has about 50 to 80 grams of carbs in it. So it’s, and then if I go on the ketogenic version of my diet, now, it’s 25 to 50 grams of carbs. And then I also have a vegetarian version of the walls tied, and that’s probably more like a 220 grams of carbs. So it depends on which version of my dietary plan people are doing. And, you know, I certainly have the vegetarian option for people who are vegetarian for spiritual reasons. And also for people who are vegetarian or doing more vegetarian meals, because of the economics of it.
Dr. Mindy Yeah, and and thanks for it’s so great that you have a vegetarian version, because what I’ve noticed in the ketogenic paleo world, is that vegetarianism can sort of be criticized well, and so explain where you can use vegetarian diet in this manner to really heal those mitochondria.
Dr. Terry Wahls So the first thing I think we all should be mindful of, that some people are vegetarian or vegan for their deeply held spiritual beliefs. And if you in that may have a medical reason why you want to eat meat, and so you can present that. But I need to acknowledge their spiritual beliefs. And for many, it’s important enough that they to force them to eat meat wounds them spiritually, and so that that is just not going to work. For that person, I need to be sure they’re getting sufficient protein. So that’s going to be a gluten free grain and we’ll go in combination, I’ll put it in a pressure cooker to reduce the lectins. I also want to be sure that they have plenty of omega three fats and Omega six fats, I would probably use a DHA from an algae source, so I can honor their vegetarian, vegan spiritual beliefs, although I may ask them how they feel about krill oil. That might be okay to them, or it might not be and we’ll still want to have played with mega three fat Omega six fat. I’m certainly encourage a lot of olive oil and then non starchy vegetables. It may be more and then we’ll have to watch their glucose their insolence if they have any metabolic syndrome, but we have to address and sort out navigate help them navigate that.
Dr. Mindy Yeah. So one of the first teachings that I really grasped from your journey was that ketones heal the mitochondria.
Dr. Terry Wahls Well, ketones are, so ketones are very helpful and will remind your listeners that our mitochondria can burn ketones. They can burn glucose, they can also burn amino acids. Interestingly, as we age, our brains become somewhat less effective at utilizing glucose but We continue to, for most of us will continue to be able to use ketones and amino acids fairly well. And we’ll still be very vulnerable to a sudden crash and glucose. So you can so if you’re diabetic, you’re taking glucose lowering medications, to diabetics, so to be very careful to keep the blood sugars even. But certainly you can benefit from having ketones. But you can also have your mitochondria burn amino acids as well.
Dr. Mindy So would you would it be fair to say that as we age ketones and amino acids become more necessary, because they’re such a usable resource?
Dr. Terry Wahls As we age, you’ll probably benefit from more ketones. And certainly, I think it’s interesting, if you look at all of this, from an evolutionary biology perspective, our ancestors, yes, 6 million years ago, we’re much closer, the primates will begin to separate, we start eating more animal proteins, we are still having a lot of greens, a lot of, of relatively non starchy vegetables, we get to eat more animal proteins, we’re eating long bones, we’re having bone marrow, and grains and shellfish that we’re having. And we have to work incredibly hard to get our food. The men on the clan, run down big game by endurance, which might take all day in the big game, fall, kill over fall over, and then they carry the big game back. So the men are in ketosis on the basis of physical activity. The women in the clan are probably also in ketosis on the basis of physical activity, although they’re only traveling maybe two miles from the campsite that they’re doing, they’re foraging carrying food back. Because if you, if you’re physically active for a couple of hours of moderate physical activity, you’ve burned up your glycogen. So our ancestors were in ketosis. Most often, the basis of physical activity would also be on the basis in ketosis on the basis of, we have our food, right. So what Yeah, we don’t have food on hand, that’s what we do in your work together, we get our food, and then we get to eat, probably a higher protein diet, some fat, and probably a fair amount of leafy greens, and perhaps some root vegetables that are dirty. And occasionally, we get to have berries in the fall. So we go from a fat burning state to a Fed state. So there’s a fair amount of metabolic switching going back and forth, in probably the spontaneous mutations that occur. That make us more efficient in switching between the key key burning ketones and the Fed state that offer survival advantage from being able to switch back and forth easily increase in our genome. And that’s how we survived. And then then your species shows up 250,000 years ago. And so between then and now is about 64,000 generations. In most that time, we were I had lots of physical activity, I’d work really hard to get your food, then you’d have enough food to eat, you’d eat, you have to go back out and work really hard to get your food again. This concept of having food all of the time. eating all the time, is really a very new concept. At best, only 10,000 years old, probably more likely, for most people only about 300 years old. And this continuous, really continuous eating that we have is probably only about 50 years old.
Dr. Mindy Crazy. It’s crazy. What do you put in that perspective? And
Dr. Terry Wahls so it would, my observation is it would appear continuous feeding, high stress, inactivity, low vitamin D high glycemic index food, that’s all part of the environment. that just you know, appeared in the last 100 years. Yeah. And so in my practice in my tribe, I invite people to like, okay, let’s begin to do a better job of aligning my environment. So it’s a better match to how my DNA evolves. Yeah. And so you can decide that I just gotta fix everything all at once. That’s a few people can do that. Most of us have to do things sort of one at a time. One achievable behavior change at a time. Yeah.
Dr. Mindy So would it be fair to say that when we’re eating all day, when we can sit on our couch and have DoorDash come to our straight straight to our front door? That when we’re eating highly processed foods, we are literally going against our genetic design?
Dr. Terry Wahls Oh, yeah, absolutely. Our ancestors couldn’t, couldn’t do that. In our biologists such that we’re we’re set to crave sugar. Why do we crave sugar? Interesting question. There are many mammals that can’t make vitamin C. I blues, hamsters. And humans in some primates, interesting promoter posited that said so. And we also lay down fat far more effectively than most primates. They said, So why, you know, why did that become an advantage? His theory, it’s certainly a very interesting one is that the Earth cooled, said 15 million years ago, I don’t know the stats as well. So I’m quoting Perlmutter here. But those ancestors who couldn’t make vitamin C had to eat more fruit in eat more. So more berries, some more fructose, in berries have lots of vitamin C in them. And if you have more fructose, you lay down more fat. If you lay down more fat, you’re more likely to survive a cold challenge, you’re also more likely to have reproductive success in the women, your milk will be more productive as a woman. And so you’ll have a higher survivorship. It probably also made it possible for us to grow our bigger brands. And so history was losing our ability to make vitamin C ensured that we’d have to eat more fruit. And that ensured that we’d have that increased the ability to store fat, which increased milk production in the ladies and bigger brains for everybody. Interesting theory, I don’t know. What my other evolutionary biology folks would think of that with Okay, well, that’s, it’s a good question to ask. So why did it become helpful for humans? What Why did it become a survival advantage? To not be able to make your own vitamins? Right? Because that that normally goes up when you’re severely stressed or fighting infection. And the fact that it can’t for us, makes us more vulnerable to infections.
Dr. Mindy And then how do you you know, where my brain goes with that is like, how do we rectify that with the need to keep glucose down because if we start to go towards fruits to get our vitamin C,
Dr. Terry Wahls well store
Dr. Mindy and strategic about which our
Dr. Terry Wahls ancestors how big How big were fruits in the wild. They’re not the kind of yeah, get in the grocery store. So
Dr. Mindy what is it in papaya?
Dr. Terry Wahls What when I go out into the wild forage, you know, fruits are very small. crab apples are very small. Plums are a little bit larger, sweet, incredibly delicious. wild grapes quite small. The berries are all really quite small. I and so we would consume those. They would be delicious. They’d be available more and more in the fall. That’s it signal for storing more fat in the fall to make it easier to survive the winter. Now how but Again, you could you could raise the question that that may be faulty logic, because we evolved in Equatorial Africa. And so winter wasn’t probably a big thing. But still having more fruit in our diet in it more fat in our belly with more milk production would would be a huge advantage whether or not you have to face winter, in having more fat in our belly to grow a bigger brain turns out to be helpful.
Dr. Mindy So do you think we become this culture that’s obsessed with thin? Do you feel like we’re actually should be having carrying a layer of fat than on our body? Is that? Is that a helpful tool for our brains?
Dr. Terry Wahls I think becoming underweight BMI, body mass index 15.5 Certainly markedly increases frailty. So I think underweight has very serious health consequences, healthy weight 18.5 to 21. You know, that’s, I think it’s healthy weight goes all the way up to 24.9. I think. So. The optimal weight, I think, is a BMI of 20 to 21, which is still very, very lean.
Dr. Mindy Right? Right. So we have to put it in perspective is what I hear. Yeah. So the other concept nutritional concept that you really brought to people’s attention was organ meats, and the power of organ meats on the mitochondria. Are you just so
Dr. Terry Wahls delicious? Like oh, my god, no. Our ancestors? Yeah, absolutely. treasured organ meats, you treasured brain, a heart, liver, kidneys, thymus, bone marrow, bone, Grace, these were all vital. Of course, our ancestors ate nose to tail, they consumed the entire organism.
Dr. Mindy Yeah, you know, we dove into some organ meats here in my household. And it turns out that we like chicken hearts, my 19 year old son, like down to a bowl of chicken hearts that I just didn’t onions and garlic. And it was so good. But my brain would really struggle to eat them because they look like little hearts.
Dr. Terry Wahls Well, another really great recipe, okay. Put some meat you eat bacon, put bacon in the oven, bake it for 10 minutes or so. So it’s a little bit done. Then put a layer of chicken lovers on the pan, lay the bacon across the top, put it back in the oven. About 275 degrees. It now you’re going to have to watch it intimately. Keep checking the liver, you want it to be pink, but not bloody. And they will just sort of melt in your mouth. It’s incredibly delicious. Ah. I think you may have started drooling.
Dr. Mindy I was gonna say I think if you wrap put bacon on anything, it seems to make it a whole lot.
Dr. Terry Wahls Yeah, you know, that’s because our, our cell membranes are fat, their cholesterol saturated fat, then there’s about 10% Omega three fat and 1% Omega six fat, we we have to have that cholesterol, the saturated fat to make your cell membranes and the low fat craze created a lot of strain in makes it more likely that our cell membranes may be strongly which makes it more likely that your myelin in your brain may not be as robust as it would have been if it had maintained your cholesterol. somewhat higher level. Do you feel like
Dr. Mindy we could solve most autoimmune conditions by just looking at the nutritional needs of the cells of our cells
Dr. Terry Wahls have a huge impact? Absolutely. I tell my my patients that you can’t exercise your way out of a terrible diet that the food we eat will ultimately become the cells that I have. And so if I don’t eat the nutrients that my cells require, I’m not gonna be able to repair that broken down cells or maintain myself in I will rap have aging at a much more rapid rate, I will have more complications, if I have autoimmunity, I will have more anxiety, depression, I will have more metabolic dysfunction. Now, for some of my folks, and we’ve done this in, in dietary studies that I do, we’ll see these dramatic reductions in fatigue, dramatic improvements in quality of life, by changing their diet. And we tell them, you know, please don’t add exercise stress reduction, because we’re trying to measure the impact of diet. And you know, in general, people actually follow that instruction. And they, and they, because we put little monitors on them, so we know if they were exercising more or not. And so we see that, in my clinical trials, changing their diet can lead to remarkable changes in the autoimmune health of these individuals.
Dr. Mindy And if you had to give, I know you have this all in your book. So I definitely want to, and you have incredible resources online. I want to direct everybody there. But if you were to create a checklist for the nutritional needs of our cells, could you do that? Like, is it? Oh, yeah, sure.
Dr. Terry Wahls So. So key things, get rid of sugar, get rid of the highly processed foods, replace them with non starchy vegetables, struff, greens, cabbage, family, onion, family, mushroom, family, and color. Be sure you have plenty of protein. And we have to sort out are you a meat eater or not a meat eater? And then we want to talk about, are you interested in a fasting strategy? Are you someone that we should consider ketosis? Should we do ketosis through a time restricted eating or a fasting strategy? Should we do metabolic switching? So there are variety of a variety of ways to personalize all of this. What I did think that teachers will be much more successful if we do this as a family.
Dr. Mindy I love that, that you know, I have a my community we fast a lot together. And I have a term that I refer to called a fasting lifestyle. And I always say that there’s four pieces to it, that you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish. With your fasting efforts. You need to vary your fast vary your foods, and do it in community. Because I feel like we have lost sight of the healing power of community. And when I, when I hear you say family, that’s what I hear is, you are talking about pulling people together that you love and doing health with them.
Dr. Terry Wahls Many of our Christian a part of our religious traditions include a fasting component as part of their religious experience. The Christians have a Lent, fasting period. Ramadan in the Muslim community. Fasting is a purification spiritual purification practice is a healing practice. We’ve been doing this across many cultures, and all of our continents, probably since humans have emigrated from Africa.
Dr. Mindy Yeah, which is whenever somebody says that they’re nervous about fasting, I always say it’s, yeah, I get it, but it’s like sleep. It’s a very healing response for the body. So yeah, 100% agree with you. Where do you feel like toxins fit into this? Because I know you’ve you’re doing a lot of discussion right now on mycotoxins, hormones autoimmunity, where, where did the toxins fit in?
Dr. Terry Wahls Well, toxins are a threat to our cell biology. They can interfere with normal cellular function. So we have biologic toxins as in the bile toxins. We have synthetic toxins that we have created, and are now part of our atmosphere or water or food that our bodies have to process and eliminate in that will have biologic consequences. So we talk about that in my book will we’ll be talking about that in our seminar series that comes up very shortly, June 9 and 10th. Yes,
Dr. Mindy yeah. Have you heard of it a term? This is something that we’ve been studying in my community called a cellular danger response. Yeah. The cell
Dr. Terry Wahls danger response. Absolutely. So there’s a lovely quote, that no, the cell defense ants is a very ancient biologic response that the cells have to be able to recognize a threat and respond appropriately. And so the, you know, the molecules that reside normally inside the cell are doing, they’re important biological stuff they have to do to run the cell inside the cell. But if they escaped the cell, for example, ATP, that gets outside the cell, now that ATP molecule will interact on the cell membrane, and the neighboring cells will say, there’s a threat here. So that will activate the intracellular machinery to create inflammatory, inflammation producing molecules that activate the innate immune system, because the innate immune system will then come in and neutralize the threat. Eat up the damage cells. And the question that that the everyone’s talking about is, okay, this cell danger response is vital to our survivorship. How do we help the body respond appropriately to the threat, and then resolve the threat and turn off the cell danger response? And so again, that’s something that I’m talking about in my community as well, but it’s vital. It’s a necessary part of life. Why does it say on abnormally?
Dr. Mindy Yeah, and I think it explains why some people do everything to get well. And they just aren’t gaining some momentum with their healing.
Dr. Terry Wahls It’s Drax that they’re stuck with it chronically on.
Dr. Mindy Yeah. And do you feel like this cellular danger response is not just a nutritional thing, not just a toxic thing? There’s also a thought and trauma emotional traumas.
Dr. Terry Wahls Correct? Correct. It’s it’s all it’s it’s everything. It’s the whole expose, though. It may have to do with early life stress, it may have to do with sleep, it may have to do with your hormones, it may have to do with toxins, it may have to do with nutrition. In your in my practice, we go through the exposome is okay, we’ll have to address things as we can step by step by step. I also note that it gets us part of what we can discuss this, it will depend on where you are in the disease process. That Have you gotten so far and long, that will not be able to stop in reverse, in restore health, that all we can do is slow the decline. And there will be people with their complex chronic disease, that science yet does not know, even the best functional medicine approach doesn’t know how to stop decline that the disease processes may be too advanced.
Dr. Mindy Yeah, and do you? It boats, the question of the way we need to approach health when we’re in those chronic conditions is very personalized, because we don’t know what’s triggering this. This response? Everybody what’s triggered it new, maybe different. And then
Dr. Terry Wahls it will be it will be unique. Yes, no, you’ll you can still have some common themes in terms of I want to investigate the exposome as thoroughly as I can I in that person’s story as thoroughly as I can, and began to collaboratively address all of those factors at a pace that that person in that family can manage.
Dr. Mindy Right and that that’s key is how do you put it into the lifestyle of the person I think is correct. Absolutely key. So when it comes to auto immunity, what would it be fair to say that it’s not like there’s one drug one diet one specific thing that’s going to help a quote immune system balance.
Dr. Terry Wahls If we look at the drugs for MS, the very best drugs can reduce the relapse rate by 64%. Those which is a very exciting benchmark huge response rate. In our clinical trials, I would say in my clinics at the VA in the clinic, 70 to 80% of the folks had a really remarkable response to our diet and lifestyle program. So very high success rate, it’s not going to be 100%. And then, and that is what the VA when I couldn’t do more advanced functional medicine testing, in no doubt, if I’d had those resources we could have increased the number of folks that would respond in my clinical trials for all I got to do was the diet. I mean, that’s it, we could just put them on the diet. We could see against 70 to 80%, having a very nice response to reduce fatigue, reduce pain, improved quality of life, that’s not without any kind of personalization based on, you know, their lipids, their vitamin D, their homocysteine. And so that really is quite
Dr. Mindy dramatic. That’s amazing. Yeah, absolutely.
Dr. Terry Wahls So if they came see me as a, as a private patient, and now we do diet, lifestyle, personalized testing, it’s it’s, we can have remarkable improvements. If they have motor difficulties, you know, difficulty walking or the hand function. And now we add in physical therapy, occupational therapy to address that rehabilitation, we can achieve some remarkable improvements, natural in function, in addition to the quality of life.
Dr. Mindy And is this the same for all autoimmune conditions? I know you’re studying Ms. But it’s all the same for everything.
Dr. Terry Wahls Absolutely. So my clinical trials are for multiple sclerosis, my clinics at the VA, in my private clinic, and in my tribe, we have all sorts of autoimmune issues. Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus, there are literally hundreds of autoimmune conditions that we take care of. And then most of those folks who have an autoimmune problem, also have other significant comorbid problems, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, very, very commonly has not been recognized by their primary care team. And specialists team because they didn’t know that people thought immunity, you have much higher rates of metabolic syndrome. So we also help deal with those issues as well.
Dr. Mindy And is it true that auto immune conditions tend to I’ve always heard that they, they hang out in gangs that you once you get one, then you get another one. And they’re very common,
Dr. Terry Wahls very common if you so you get your first autoimmune disease, and you see your specialist for that autoimmune disease, and start the disease modifying drugs for that. If you’ve not addressed any of the diet and lifestyle, environmental factors, over the next, the underlying disease processes will continue. And every decade, five to 10 years, you’ll pick up a another autoimmune diagnosis. So certainly, in our clinical trials, we saw that the longer people had their MS, the more likely they were to have a second and third, or more autoimmune conditions.
Dr. Mindy And so if you’re put on a medication, that’s an end, you’re getting great results with the medication. That’s only one part of the story is what I hear you import
Dr. Terry Wahls it and, you know, I want to be clear that it’s a clinical decision for your autoimmune condition, or you’re on disease modifying drug and what level of medication you need. Fortunately, there are more specialists are now saying diet and lifestyle matter. But they usually don’t have the expertise to help you improve your diet or lifestyle. And so they send people to primary care. It’s, yeah, go get some books I bought. Pet chatted up. I don’t know how to help you with that. I and there are certainly more neurologists, more neuroscientists all agreeing that diet and lifestyle matter. Yeah. Next week, I’ll be going to the consortium of MS centers. And we’ll be presenting some of our research. And every year when we go, there are more lectures about diet and lifestyle. And they’re more neurologists coming up to me saying, Can I get a picture with you? My patients would so appreciate that. And so that’s sort of fun. Yeah.
Dr. Mindy So do you think they’re are we moving in a direction where there are more autoimmune cases going on? Right now,
Dr. Terry Wahls their rates rates are steadily increasing, and at younger ages, earlier, more early onset of disability earlier onset of loss of work?
Dr. Mindy And would it be fair to say that it’s really the confounders of this modern world that we’re in that our ancient healing body is stuck in a modern world? And that’s a mismatch?
Dr. Terry Wahls Well, certainly, many of our chronic diseases are mismatch diseases, that our current environment is radically different than what the environment we’re in 10,000 years ago, or even 100 years ago. Yeah.
Dr. Mindy And if you were to stop if you let’s say you were the general surgeon of America, and you were to try to stop the progression of auto immunity right now, you wanted to change the direction it’s going, what what would you say?
Dr. Terry Wahls So the kinds of things that I would love to see happen is phasing out of the subsidies for soybean, and corn. If we’re going to subsidize anything, subsidize vegetables, that would be lovely. I appreciate the desire to have more protein. So so that’s a separate conversation, I’d rather see regenerative farming, take some of our marginal lands out of corn and soybean and put them back to pastures and have a push towards gardening. The push towards in World War Two, we had victory gardens, everyone 80% of the world of the United States had the Victory Garden and they’re growing their own vegetables and food. So if we had victory gardens for chronic disease, taught children, in parents how to cook, how to meal plan, so that I am using up all the food that I purchased, I’m not throwing anything away. That would go a long way. In teaching our children a stress reducing practice. Sugar, putting, you know, we have a tobacco tax, which decreases tobacco consumption and makes it somewhat more manageable. Having a sugar tax in a white flour tax to make the high glycemic foods more manageable, I think would be helpful. Yeah.
Dr. Mindy Amen to that. I 100%. agree with that. Where do you feel like I want to I don’t want to lose this concept. Because this is a new one that I’ve been really diving into since the pandemic, which is the power of human connection on healing. Where do you I feel like with the social media, zoom in our phone, we’re connected, but we’re not really connected? How can we use human connection to heal us?
Dr. Terry Wahls So the vast majority of us, the person to person connection, there are very few number who who thrive and do well living entirely alone, most of us will wither in need to have at least one other human in our life. And being able to see the face and read the social cues we get from each other’s faces are important for that. Phones, and letters, not quite as good, but still could be very helpful. Finding a way to maintain that social connection and ideally that face to face connection, very helpful. The more time we spend on our phones and social media. Science tells us the less empathic we have, the lesser social skills are in certainly, I think the social media in the lack of social skills, empathy, the or the irritability of our microglia are probably driving more anger, more rage, and a shorter fuse to violence.
Dr. Mindy And is that because we’re comparing ourselves or is it have something to do I heard recently something about the way that we scroll down. Social media is not in alignment with our nervous system because we’re meant to look horizontally like out into the sunset kind of
Dr. Terry Wahls thought I’m not aware of that. Yeah, interesting thought.
Dr. Mindy So but it because it I mean, I’m just speaking for myself, I can go to social media, see an old friend comments on something, I get a little dopamine rush because I’m like, Oh, I haven’t seen that friend in a while. That was a really neat interchange. But what I’m hearing from a lot of experts is that’s really not human connection. That’s just a dopamine hit. And so how do we bring back human connection in this social media world?
Dr. Terry Wahls Schedule time, face to face with people, scheduled time where you are not on a social media device. Think about having 24 hour 48 hour fast away from social media. I encourage people to revisit going back to church, or your spiritual community, your support group, you can have some regular interaction with your tribe, your family in some capacity.
Dr. Mindy Yeah, that’s been my 2022 discovery is just how much more pleasure and oxytocin and joy I get when I’m in the presence of somebody I care about it just as a deeper than zoom, or more the phone can offer me it’s, it’s really profound. So we’re now thank you so much, again, for just enlightening us all. And I also want to thank you for just being a pioneer in the autoimmune world. And really, I mean, you really brought to attend the attention to the world how powerful diet is on on all kinds of conditions. So I just have a deep,
Dr. Terry Wahls we’ve been a lot of progress. Crazy, dangerous person in 2009, and 10. And now I’m seen as this brilliant, innovative scientist in 2022. So we’ve made a lot of progress. And
Dr. Mindy I love that. So I would have finished up on this. This is the season in our podcast, we’ve been really emphasizing gratitude. What do you have a daily gratitude practice?
Dr. Terry Wahls Absolutely. You know, I love as I fall asleep, I’ll visualize some point in my life, someone who has been very supportive in some way, and I’m thanking them. So I might start out, visualizing my parents calling me as an infant, or my father teaching me how to build a fence or my mom teaching me how to make bread. Then I’ll go through various other aspects of my life, perhaps college or medical school residency, my professional career. And it gives me an opportunity to visualize the gift that someone gave me. And to thank them. So lots of opportunity to thank my parents, for the many things that they’ve done. For me, it’s a lovely way to fall asleep. Another thing that that we did, during the pandemic, twice, my daughter or adult daughter moved back in with us during that time. i And so before each meal, we would stop, and each one of us would be grateful for something that day. And that was pretty helpful. is very stressful time. Jackie, my wife was working in doing helping with er overflow. And so you know, we had many concerns for a long time.
Dr. Mindy Yeah, yeah, we did. We’ve done something in my family over the years that I my parents started with me and then I continued with my kids, which is every Sunday night was family night dinner. And you had to be home you could you could bring a friend, you could bring people but you definitely had to be home to commune with the family. And we started asking a question and it can be anything from you know, a philosophical question to gratitude to a compliment we’ve we have had times where we go around the table and give a compliment to each person. And as as cheesy as it sounds, it has been an amazing way to connect as a family so I just I love that. And again, your your teachings are everywhere. But where do people find you and I especially want to talk about this summit because it’s about hormones, and I really think our audience.
Dr. Terry Wahls So find me at through walls.com to er y walls, w h ls.com. And if you want a overview of the diet, just add two walls.com forward slash diet and we have a great visual for that on June 9, and 10th. We’ll have the next in our seminar series and we’re focused on hormones and mycotoxins. So we’ll have some great lectures related to that. My two lectures that I’ll be giving you No one will be on the consortium of Emma center highlights. So we’re talking a lot about bowels, bladders and sects, that will be lots of fun. And then I’ll be covering the highlights from the annual International Conference for IFM.
Dr. Mindy I love it. I love it. I’m gonna be tuning in. I think that sounds amazing. And we will leave all the links all your links in the notes so people can get those. But Dr. Walls I just again, I have so much respect and admiration for you really leading the way for those of us that are trying to make an impact on with diet on the human health. So, thank you so much for being here with me and I’m sending you joyful thoughts and hope you have an amazing day.