”The Wahls Protocol ” – Paleolithic-Style Food Plans
If there is one consistent factor when it comes to dieting, it is the fact that change is inevitable. A diet that is viewed as excellent today can be tomorrow’s villain, and vice versa. Diet crazes seem to come and go, but one that has held its ground in recent years is the concept of so-called Paleolithic diet plans.
The paleo diet recently gained greater attention following the success of Dr. Terry Wahls in recovering from MS with the help of a paleo diet plan.
What is a paleo diet plan?
This increasingly common diet plan does not actually come with one strict, rigid set of meals that dieters must consume. It is not a diet geared towards losing weight, building muscle or boosting metabolism, but rather is designed to provide the body with healthier and more natural sources of nourishment and energy.
Known formally as the Paleolithic diet, this diet plan is so-named because it requires followers to adhere to the kinds of meals that pre-modern man would have commonly consumed. Highly processed foods, overly processed animal meats, dairy and gluten are all no-no’s on the paleo diet because they are items that were scarce or nonexistent in the diet of pre-modern man.
Basic tenets of the paleo diet
As already mentioned, the concept of a paleo diet is not to have dieters obsessively count calories, cut portions or focus on one particular food group to boost protein ingestion.
There are foods that are not advised for those following a paleo diet, almost all of which are creations of the modern food industry such as mac & cheese, butter, cheese, milk, grains (such as bread and pasta), sugar and artificial sweeteners.
If Paleolithic man could not get their hands on a particular food item, then those adhering to the paleo diet should not be consuming those items.
Examples of acceptable food items on a paleo diet include fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, seeds and grapes. The beauty of a paleo diet is that it is flexible in nature because Paleolithic era humans ate whatever was available at the time.
Freedom of multiple choices
When Paleolithic humans could acquire fresh meat or seafood, they would eat it. If no fresh meat came wandering by or hunting trips came up empty, then Paleolithic humans would forage for natural fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds to survive. Today this means that the right paleo diet plan for each individual is going to be the one they enjoy the most.
A paleo diet plan can be a low-carb plan that is high in animal-based food products such as meat, eggs, seafood and poultry. Conversely, some will opt to go with a high-carb diet plan that includes a lot of fruits, vegetables and other plant-based products.
Following a paleo diet plan by no means locks an individual into a strict diet that cannot be broken under any circumstances. There are some more modern nutrient sources that were not available to Paleolithic humans that offer too many beneficial nutrients to be left out of a modern diet plan.
Examples of acceptable indulgences with a paleo diet plan include red wine, tea, coffee and dark chocolate. All of these items are high in beneficial antioxidants the body needs to purge toxins that modern humans are exposed to on a daily basis.
Caveats to meat, seafood, and oils in paleo diets
While meat and seafood were part of a Paleolithic human’s diet plan, the meat and seafood those individuals consumed are vastly different from the meat and seafood the average individual buys at a supermarket in the 21st century. Paleolithic humans went out and hunted down wild game that had grown to considerable size by natural means. Today’s meat and seafood in many supermarkets are far from natural.
Although fishery standards have been changing, there are still instances of fish sold to the general public coming from fisheries where fish never see a stream or lake, but rather go from egg to plate in a fishery pond.
Cooking oils are a more modern invention in the grand scheme of things. While certain cooking oils (coconut, olive and avocado oil, among others) have numerous health benefits and low processing, other cooking oils are highly processed and offer little to no health benefit.
Natural sources are simply the best
When opting for meat, seafood, cooking oils and even eggs, paleo diet enthusiasts are encouraged to stick to natural sources. Grass fed beef is much healthier than typical beef sold in stores. Likewise, free range chicken eggs carry less risk and are considered more natural than their counterparts raised in chicken coups their whole life.
What is the Wahls Protocol?
Dr. Terry Wahls is a clinical professor at the University of Iowa Carver college of Medicine. In 2000 she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and began to suffer severely from the disease’s harsh impact. Within a few years, Dr. Wahls’ muscles had weakened to the point that she was confined to a mechanical wheelchair and suffering constantly with no relief from modern medicine.
After adopting a paleo diet of her own, and tinkering with it for years, Dr. Wahls slowly relearned how to walk and has now rebuilt her strength to the point that she can ride a bike to work. Dr. Wahls is releasing a book this spring entitled “The Wahls Protocol,” that talks about lifestyle changes and Paleolithic diet plans that changed her life.
Diet plans of the Protocol
In her book, Dr. Wahls recommends a number of Paleolithic diet plans to help individuals combat the negative effects of autoimmune diseases and other chronic conditions. Numerous examples of Wahls Protocol diet plans are covered in the book, with each focusing on paleo diet plans that naturally boost energy levels and provide vital, natural nutrients.
The basic plan detailed under the Wahls Protocol suggests consuming nine cups of leafy green vegetables, nutrient-rich fruits and certain sulfur-rich produce each day while removing gluten, dairy and many sugars completely. Under all Wahls Protocol diet plans, only organic meats are suggested as well as the elimination of non-gluten grains, legumes and starchy produce.
Overall, there is an emphasis on locally grown, organic foods.