You have probably seen a doctor, and maybe you have a diagnosis. Physicians treat your symptoms, but they cannot cure chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, or even obesity, for that matter. You may be prescribed a list of pharmaceutical interventions to ease your symptoms, but this may only exacerbate your problem long term because of medication side effects and the worsening nutrient depletion that may accompany long-term medication use. Medications for autoimmune disease do not cure the disease. Their only purpose is to make you feel a little better, which might work, and possibly slow the progression, which also might work. Or not.
Perhaps you are losing hope. I want to restore your hope.
This book is about hope. My overarching message couldn’t be more straightforward: You don’t have to be a victim. The disease or condition you have is already happening, but there are many significant things you can do to slow, halt, or even reverse your symptoms. Medication can’t take away your autoimmune disease, but your body can heal itself—if you give it the tools.
Disease is not a simple cause-and-effect condition. It is a complex melding of forces, both genetic and environmental. Fortunately for all of us, the environmental aspect is of much greater significance than the genetic, and you can start doing something about your environment today. The lifestyle you choose can actually repair your broken biochemistry and restore your vitality. That’s big, big news for anyone with an autoimmune or any other chronic disease. You can turn your life around. Not your doctor. Not your pharmacist. Not that bottle of pills. You. The power is in your hands.
When chronic disease is the result of a deficiency, drugs aren’t going to solve the problem. As I’m sure you realize, multiple sclerosis is not a deficiency of the latest multiple-sclerosis-disease-modifying drug like Copaxone, just as fatigue is not a deficiency of wakefulness-promoting drugs like Provigil or even caffeine, and depression is not a deficiency of antidepressants like Prozac. No, these problems are not deficiencies of drugs, but they are triggered by deficiencies in your cells that lead to broken biochemistry and impaired signaling between your cells. When you look at chronic disease in this way, it’s obvious that you should treat the cellular deficiencies that cause diseases to develop in the first place instead of just treating the symptoms, which is what most conventional pharmaceutical treatments do.
The bottom line is that your DNA will play a remarkably small role in whether or not you develop a particular disease like multiple sclerosis, even if it runs in your family. It’s the epigenetics that determine which genes turn on, and that determines your risk. Scientists believe that environment determines 70 to 95 percent of the risk of developing autoimmune problems, obesity, heart disease, and mental health problems.1 “Environment” means what you eat, what you drink, what you breathe in, what you bathe in, how you move, and even how you think and interact with people. What really matters is how your genes interact with the accumulation of your choices. This is what will determine whether you have good health or develop a chronic disease. The key is to know how to shift the odds toward achieving the most optimal health, given the genes that you were born with, by making your internal environment—your cellular environment—as favorable as possible.
Fueling Your Cells
This brings us back to the cell. Cellular fuel comes from the food you eat. This is one of the most important things I want you to take away from this book: What your cells use to fuel the chemistry of life comes directly from what you feed yourself. The food you eat has everything to do with how well your body functions, how likely it will be that your genetic susceptibilities will be activated, and whether or not you develop a chronic disease—as well as how well you are able to come back from the disabilities that a chronic disease has inflicted on you.
If you put sugar into the gas tank of a car, the car isn’t going to run right. If you are missing half of the parts in an “assembly required” toy, it’s not going to work. This is not a new concept, but for some reason people tend not to apply it to our cells. They have some general concept that “you are what you eat” or that certain foods are “healthy” or “unhealthy,” but really, it’s more concrete than that. Your diet directly correlates to your cells’ ability to function. I’ll say it again: Cellular nutrition is everything. It is the very basis of health. It all comes down to the cell, because when cells malfunction, eventually organs malfunction. When organs malfunction, eventually you malfunction.
Micronutrients Your Brain Needs Now:
Cellular nutrition is crucial for overall health, but of particular interest to those with MS and other diseases that impact the brain is nutrition that specifically targets brain health. Your brain is an amazing and complex organ, and it needs a lot of resources in order to function properly. One of the most important structures to repair and maintain in your brain is myelin, and myelin is the very thing that the immune system attacks in people with MS.
However, your doctor probably didn’t tell you which nutrients your brain cells need to function optimally, not to mention repair damage. Your doctor probably doesn’t even know this, as physicians receive very little nutrition training. However, I know. To make healthy myelin, you need to consume thiamine (vitamin B1, folate (vitamin B9), cobalamin (vitamin B12), omega-3 fatty acids, and iodine. (Later in the book I’ll tell you what foods you need to eat to be sure you have all these essential building blocks on hand)
Your New Prescription: Food
More than 250 different nutrients have been identified and likely there are thousands more that scientists have not yet identified that are important to enjoying optimal health. Are you getting them all? Probably not.
And is your gut capable of properly digesting the food you eat and absorbing the nutrients you need into your bloodstream, providing your cells with a sufficient supply of the vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants they need to thrive? This may also be a problem for you.
Biochemistry is complex, and the workings of the human body are unimaginably intricate and involved. When I talk about “global nutrition,” or what our bodies need overall, understand that while we know that we have these nutritional needs for thousands of different functions, we still don’t understand it all.
But nature does. This is why we can’t have optimal health by relying only on vitamins and nutritional supplements on top of our usual diets. Real foods contain all the secrets we don’t yet understand, and that is why the Wahls Protocol is specifically designed to use real foods in very particular ways to fulfill the vast nutritional requirements of your cells-even the thousands of requirements we don’t yet understand.
Excerpted with permission from The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles
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