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The Wahls Protocol, by Terry Wahls, MD, Published 201

By September 29, 2015Blog

The first level of Dr. Wahls Protocol Diet is called the Wahls Diet= Basic level, kick starts intense nutrition, removes foods adding to your illness. There are 3 main concepts:

  1. 9 Cups Fruits/Vegetables
  2. 3 cups leafy greens
  3. 3 cups deeply colored fruits/vegetables
  4. 3 cups sulfur-rich vegetables
  5. Gluten and Dairy Free
  6. Organic, Grass-Fed, Wild Caught vegetables, fruits and animal based protein.

So, lets elaborate on each of these concepts:

1a. 3 Cups of Leafy Greens:

Think Green-BACK for vitamins B, A, C and K

Known benefits: Anti-cancer, Anti-inflammatory, Better Brain Health, Balanced Hormones, Better Liver Health, Improved Eye Health, Blood Vessels less prone to plaque.

1b. 3 Cups of Color:

  • Fruits and vegetables that are brightly colored all the way through. (apples, pears and bananas do not count)
  • Color is a sign of antioxidants
  • Benefits: Anti-inflammatory, Anti-cancer, healthier cells, DNA protection, Anti-bacterial properties, immune system health, strong/elastic vessels, reproductive health, eye health.

1.c. 3 Cups Sulfur-Rich Vegetables:

  • Nourish cells and mitochondria
  • Eliminate Toxins
  • Synthesize proteins and produce collagen
  • Improves skin, hair and nails
  • MSM for arthritis: “I like to get my sulfur on my dinner plate, so it comes in its natural and complete package”
  • Sources include: Cabbage Family, Onion Family and Mushroom Family

The Cabbage Family: Cruciferous Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts.

  • Support detoxification, reduce oxidative stress by providing vitamins that produce glutathione

The Onion Family: All onions as well as garlic, chives, leeks and shallots.

  • Antibacterial properties
  • Blood and blood vessel strengthening
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia

The Mushroom Family: Rich in sulfur and B vitamins

  • Stimulate natural killer cells that balance the immune system
  • Some can be sensitive to mushrooms, so if increased symptoms then eliminate for a few months and then try occasionally.


  1. Gluten and Dairy FREE

Gluten:  is a protein in wheat, barley and rye and Casein: is a protein in dairy foods

Both of these protein molecules have a similar amino acid sequence and are very difficult for our digestive track to digest well and our immune cells see them as equivalent.  Both also get converted to a morphine-like structure that interacts with receptors for narcotics which leads to addiction. Most people who are sensitive to gluten and dairy (90%) do not have any abdominal complaints. The symptoms they do have are insidious and gradual:  fatigue, rash, headache, mood disruption.  They are not aware of their sensitivity because the body is in a steady state and has adapted to the damage being done.


Here is a list of disease states connected to Gluten and Casein Sensitivity:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Autism and other brain disorders
  • Migraines
  • Eczema and other rashes
  • Infertility
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Irritable Bowel Disease
  • Psoriasis
  • Psychiatric Disorders
  • Thyroid Disease


Your patients may say “so what Can I Eat?”

List of Gluten Free Options:

  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat
  • Chickpea flour and other legume flours
  • Coconut flour
  • Corn
  • Flax meal
  • Millet
  • Nut flours
  • Oats (certified gluten-free)
  • Potato flour
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Soy flour
  • Tapioca
  • Teff



List of Dairy Free Options:

  • Almond Milk, yogurt or creamer
  • Coconut Milk, yogurt, ice cream or creamer
  • Hazelnut Milk
  • Hemp Milk
  • Rice Milk
  • Soy Milk, yogurt or creamer


  1. Organic, Grass Fed and Wild Caught:

First of all knowing what should really be bought organic due to the level of pesticides is very important and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) can help out a lot with this.  Go to their website and review the Dirty Dozen vs. the Clean Fifteen.  The Dirty Dozen should always be bought organic and the Clean Fifteen are okay to buy traditionally farmed.


When it comes to animal products the concept of the bioconcentration of chemicals in meat and fish is what is concerning.  The bigger the animal and the higher up the food chain it is the more toxic it can be.  For example, smaller fish have less bioconcentration of chemicals, but when they are eaten by a bigger fish, that bigger fish ingests the entire toxic load of the smaller fish.  Also, if the animal is fed during the farming process Growth Hormones, Antibiotics, and Pesticides, these are bioconcentrated in their tissues and passed on to us.  The highest bioconcentration of toxins are also stored in fat.  So, let’s not forget that We are at the top of the food chain & our brain is made up of 60-70% fat. So, eating smaller fish like sardines rather than tuna is one way to avoid toxic load, but also eating grass fed and wild caught game and fish are the cleanest concepts for your animal protein sources.


Finally, Dr. Wahls makes these further “Elimination Prescriptions”:

  • Non-GMO (genetically modified organisms)
  • Eggs: do an elimination self-test for 3 weeks and then re-challenge
  • Nonorganic soy or rice
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Refined Sugar (white and brown)
  • Artificial Sweeteners & Monosodium glutamate (excitotoxins)
  • Trans-fat or hydrogenated fats
  • Vegetable Oils: Corn, soybean, canola, grape seed or palm oil  (high in omega 6)
  • Sodas
  • Microwaved food


So, these are the main suggestions and concepts of Level One of The Wahls Protocol.  Below is a comparison of daily nutrient intake between traditional U.S. Diet and this first level: The Wahls Diet.

trish diet wahls nutrition

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