In our societies, it has become the norm to have deficiencies in vitamins and nutrients. We all run to the pharmacies to get some supplements, without really knowing what our body is specifically lacking. When I read about a doctor who changed her whole health through eating a specific diet, I needed to try it out for myself. Keep on reading about the 9 cups in the Wahls Protocol, if you want to learn to heal your body and mind!
An amazing woman
When I heard about Terry Wahls, M.D., I was truly inspired by her story. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which has no cure. She went from being very active (running marathons, climbing mountains, getting a black belt in tae kwon do…) to having to get into a wheelchair. She did lots of research and tested out different options until she discovered that with paleo concepts combined with more importantly a high nutrient diet, that she called the 9 cups in the Wahls Protocol, she could reverse her symptoms.
After 3 months of eating this new diet, she could walk with a cane for short distances. One month later, she could walk without a cane and even longer distances. A month after that, she could ride her bike for a short distance. After 9 months, she could ride her bike 18 miles! This is amazing!!!!
Her concept is not only for people with Multiple sclerosis or another autoimmune disease, this concerns everyone who is searching to have more energy and to bring their body what it needs to be truly healthier.
What to eat for optimal health
In the wahls protocol book, she explains how to eat so that your cells get all the nutrients that they need to thrive. She does follow a hunter/gatherer diet, but what I found that was so fascinating was the quantity and the variety of vegetables we actually need to repair our bodies and have more energy.
To transform yourself into a superhuman, you will need each day :
- 3 cups of leafy greens
- 3 cups of colorful fruit and veggetables
- 3 cups of sulfur rich vegetables
Don’t even think about juicing all your veggies, that doesn’t count!
I find that when I combine this to eating fermented foods, which she also talks about in her book, make my results even stronger!
The leafy greens (3 cups)
Leafy greens are rich in:
- B vitamins: help you get your nervous system working at its best.
- Alpha- and beta-carotene: are vitamin A precursors, which will boost your eye health, your immune cell function, bone strength and skin elasticity.
- Vitamin C: is essential for the immune cell function, to get better skin and helps with gum tissue. It’s also an effective antioxidant which fights against cancer.
- Vitamin K: “reduce risk of high blood pressure and calcification (hardening) of the blood vessels and heart valves”. It boosts your brain and helps create myelin.
Basically, eating your greens will make your brain work better, have healthier eyes, better skin, better liver, balanced hormones and help you fight cancer.
In the morning, I still have a hard time eating veggies (it’s a work in progress), so I love to mix spinach or kale in a smoothie with some berries. Then, I add some other type of leafy green like bok choy to my plate at lunch and the evening.
Just so you know, if you are trying to make your plate look like you have less of these veggies by cooking them, you’re going to have to eat much more. Unfortunately 2 cups of the raw leafy greens is equivalent to 1 cup of cooked greens!
Here are some of the best examples of leafy greens that Terry Wahls suggests in her book:
- Bok choy
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
The colorful fruit and vegetables (3 cups)
Colorful fruits and veggies have lots of antioxidants which prevent the damage that is caused by free radicals. These antioxidants protect us against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia.
The benefits that you will get from eating the fruits and veggies of this category are great: anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, healthier brain cells, improved prostate health, DNA protection, immune system health, eye health, …
There is a catch when it comes to our lovely colorful fruit and vegetables, they must be colorful also on the inside. To my great dismay, bananas, apples and pears are not part of this category, they are considered a treat!
Your goal will be to eat a minimum of 3 different colors each day. I realize that finding all the colors depending on the season and where you live can be sometimes difficult, especially if you want to eat locally. In the winter months, I feel like all I am eating is orange colored fruits and vegetables: pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, tangerines, …
For berries lovers, don’t worry if they’re not in season, get them in the frozen section. They were frozen right after being picked so they have retained their nutrients. I usually only used them to put in smoothies, but I have recently discovered I actually like eating them frozen on their own. Yeah, I thought it was weird at first too, when my fiancé was telling me it tasted like candy, I was skeptical at first. Then I tried a frozen blueberry and I got hooked.
Here are some more examples from The Wahls protocol book:
- Cucumbers with skin
- Green Kiwi
- Zucchini with skin
- Green pepper
- Red cabbage
- Red peppers
- Black or purple grapes
- Purple kale
- Black olives
- Yellow grapefruit
- Sweet potatoes and yams
If you love this article, you probably also want to know what foods you’re intolerant to and the best way to know them is to do an elimination diet!
The sulfur-rich vegetables (3 cups)
“Sulfur-rich foods nourish cells and mitochondria*, and more specifically help the body to be more efficient in eliminating toxins. Sulfur is also important for synthesizing protein and for producing collagen, which makes up all your connective tissues.”
Sulfur rich foods not only help your brain but also gives you better skin, hair, nails. They improve joint issues and blood vessel health. They help your liver and kidneys to detoxify the toxins in your blood.
You can find these powerful sulfur-rich veggies in 3 families: cabbages, onions, and mushrooms.
*mitochondria helps the cell produce energy so that your body can function correctly.
The cabbage family
This category consists of:
- Brussels sprouts
A great way to start adding lots of kale to your diet is by making kale chips! They’re delicious and easy to make. You just mix them up in a bowl with some olive oil and sea salt (and any spices you really like), then place them in the oven between 7 and 10 minutes or until they’re crispy.
The cabbage family :
- lowers oxidative stress
- detoxifies the body
- protects the brain
- reduces risk of heart disease
- reduces risk of cancer
The onion family
They consist of:
- Every type of onion
The onion family are antibacterial and are beneficial for blood health.
“Regular consumption of these vegetables is also associated with a reduced risk for heart disease, cancer and dementia.”
The mushroom family
Careful for those who have an autoimmune disease, there is a risk of sensitivity with mushrooms. Try a little and see how your body reacts. If you can eat them with no reaction, then they can be quite beneficial since they balance your immune system.
The mushroom family properties :
- detoxifies the body
- helps your gut, heart and liver health
- is full of B vitamins
If you don’t know what to eat for breakfast, here are 3 healthy breakfast ideas to have energy all day!!!
Some difficulties, but…
On the minus side, I don’t always find it easy to follow. Sometimes I have to go to some shops that are pretty far away to get the variety and the quality of foods that I need. It also takes time to prepare, though meal prepping is a huge help. It’s easy to get lazy when you’ve had a busy day and make some yummy sweet potato fries and make that your dinner. Of course, I would NEVER do something like that! Honestly, it’s worth the time when you see how it brings you more health, vitality, concentration, …
Huge benefits for my health!
On the plus side, when I follow the Wahls program, it has an important impact on my energy and strangely enough my eyesight. I notice when I eat a bunch of kale and some raspberries and blueberries, it’s like I have an extra strong pair of glasses on. I see colors more brightly and what surrounds me has more details. My mind feels sharper. I can concentrate more easily. I still feel tired but much less and I feel like I can accomplish much more tasks in the day. Also, it’s the only times that I can wake up in the morning and not be totally grouchy with everyone (well most of the time…). With the extra energy, I can exercise more, when usually my body crashes after 10 minutes of light exercise.
Warning : I noticed that when I eat the vegetables from the different categories, but I eat always the same ones, I don’t have the wonderful effects mentioned above.
I definitely recommend her book
Go read Terry Wahls, M.D. book: “The Wahls Protocol”. She has a lot more fascinating information about nutrition who concerns not just those with a chronic illness but everyone.
Have you tried this way of eating? Share what changes you saw in your body and health!
7 thoughts on “The 9 cups in the Wahls Protocol”
If I have 3 cups of kale, does that count for leafy greens and sulfer rich or do I need three more a day?
Hi Candy, thank you for your message. Dr. Terry Wahls says in her book that if a food falls into two categories, then you need to include this food in one or the other group to make a total of your 9 cups. Hope it helps you!
Thanks for this article!
Please clarify: if I have 3 cups of fresh kale, and I cook it down, doesn’t it still count as 3 cups?
Hi Melissa, I am glad you liked the article. About your question, Dr. Terry Wahls says in her book, on page 112 : ” …go by the rule that 2 cups raw equals 1 cup cooked”.
How do you calculate the cups.I’m in the UK so we measure things differently.
Is there some sort of conversion by weight or alternative?
Thank you for your message. 1 cup of veggies is equivalent to about 250 ml. Actually, if I don’t have a measuring cup, I just use a big glass, fill it up and count that as 1 cup. Hope this helps!
Does 1 cup of mixed green salad from Costco is equal to 1 cup of green?