Food as Medicine: Embracing a Healing Protocol
"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."
This week I will be starting a healing dietary protocol. I hesitated about sharing this on my blog, but if my posts can help others then I should not only own my story, but share it. You may have heard of the Autoimmune Protocol, or even The Wahls Protocol. Terry Wahls, MD is a Physician trained in Internal Medicine who was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis in 2000 (which then transitioned to Secondary Progressive MS), became wheelchair bound, and in 2007 began her journey towards healing using a functional medicine approach. Dr. Wahls adopted a nutrient dense diet, shifting towards food and gut healing, and in December 2007 was able to complete a 18 mile bike ride. She now rides 5 miles to work every day. Powerful right?
As a person of science and traditional western medicine background with my own disease struggles, I have been somewhat skeptical of overarching claims or miraculous results. I like facts, and evidence based medicine. In my own research there have been several pioneers who have uncovered sound support for healing through food along with the importance of your gut microbiome. You might be asking "what the heck is the gut microbiome?" Well friends, your gut microbiome is individual to YOU and is made up of bacteria, viruses, eukaryotic microbes (like yeast) and these microbes all have the potential to impact our health and disease state. In the past several years there have been major advances in research on the human gut microbiome in both classifying as well as understanding the role that it has on health and disease. I will be explaining more about this link coming soon!
I am sure some of you have heard of the Paleo diet, and the press surrounding it in the past few years. While I will be following a certain type of paleo diet, this healing protocol is not just about the foods you eat but also about your home environment, toxin exposure and overall lifestyle. I want to be clear by saying I am not trying this approach because it is a fad diet, a weight loss program, or the dream of a magic fix. In fact I am nervous about starting this because I know it will be challenging. There will be friends and family members who don't understand, there will be times when I want to eat foods that I previously ate without hesitation, and there will be times when I want to give up on this. The motivation behind my choice is to try and provide my body with the best nutrients and environment for healing and disease management. If this could potentially help, then why not try?
I believe that what works for some people will not work for others. We have different food tolerances, gut bacteria, taste preferences, body composition and so much more. I believe in making conscious and sustainable food choices, and knowing where your food is coming from and how it can impact your health. This doesn't mean that the food I was eating before was "bad" or that there is anything wrong with certain foods that I will be avoiding during this phase. It just means that for me eliminating certain foods and focusing on others has the potential to reduce inflammation and enhance healing.
Starting today September 30th, I will be embarking on this new challenge and although I am nervous, I look forward to the potential benefits, the knowledge I will gain, and the growth I will find within myself.
What questions do you have about this protocol? Have you ever embraced a lifestyle change, temporary or permanent to help your body heal? If so what helped you?