Guest Blog Post: Dr. Terry Wahls - Your Bowels and Multiple Sclerosis

As many of you know, I am a big advocate of gut health for MS.  I've worked with Dr. Terry Wahls on several projects and am grateful to have her expert advise on the connection between gut microbiota, the brain and MS health.  I take a probiotic every morning and have tested my hut health.   Thank you Dr. Wahls for providing this insight! 

Your Bowels and Multiple Sclerosis

The microbiome impact on multiple sclerosis risk is a hot area of research these days.   The microbes living in and on our body have a major impact on our weight, mood, immunity, and even heart health!  If you want health – you need to cultivate a healthier microbiome.  The mix of species living in your bowels depends on many factors.  

Did you know your poop could be so valuable for keeping you healthy?



When we are born, we acquire bacteria from our mother as we pass through the birth canal. If we are born via C- section, we acquire bacteria from the hospital workers who help deliver us, and which bacteria we acquire can greatly influence our health. Children born via C-section are at a higher risk of developing obesity, mental health problems, asthma, allergies, and auto-immune problems.
There is growing evidence that the microbiome has a role to play in patients with multiple sclerosis. Those with MS have a different mix of species than those without MS.   Also, scientists can, by examining the mix of microbial species living in the stool, predict who is experiencing a flare of MS symptoms.
Severe constipation is a hallmark of having a problem with the microbiome, and constipation is a common problem for those with MS.   One of the best strategies to address constipation is to increase the fiber in the diet. This can be done by adding more non-starchy vegetables, fermented foods, salads, and raw vegetables and fruits.  We instruct our patients in our clinics and our clinical trials to monitor their bowel movement consistency and adjust their diet.  

Here are a few simple strategies that we teach our patients to begin shifting the mix of species living in their bowels.  

1.       Eat 6 to 9 cups of non-starchy vegetables and berries each day
2.       Eat fermented foods with every meal
3.       Ditch the sugar and replace dessert with fruit to top your meals
4.       Eliminate artificial sweeteners
5.       Add more fiber (such as a chia puddings, flax seed puddings) to have soft bowel movements each day.

Cultivating a healthier microbiome begins with eating more home-cooked meals.  

In my clinics at the Veteran Affairs hospital, many of our patients were on disability with limited financial means, plus they have either forgotten or never learned how to cook.  We spend time giving our patients cooking classes and teaching people how to save money by making meals that are both delicious and affordable. 
I do clinical research and study the impact of diet and lifestyle on multiple sclerosis related symptoms.   In our current clinical trial, we are comparing the low saturated fat diet to the low lectin version of the modified paleo diet (Wahls Elimination).  In this trial, we are collecting detailed information about what people are eating as well as stool samples so we will also be able to asses how the microbiome changes as they adopt the study's diets.
I have also written a book, The Wahls Protocol, which gives people the tools to reclaim their lives from the ravages of autoimmune problems like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis and asthma.  In addition, I have written a cookbook, The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life,to make it easier to learn how to cook at home. It is filled with strategies to make affordable meals, simply and quickly to get your life back on track.

Take action for a healthier gut.

If you want to learn more about the diet and lifestyle approaches I use to treat autoimmune, neurological, psychiatric, and other health conditions and the clinical trials that we conduct, visit www.terrywahls.com. If you want to dive deeply into the protocol that I use, consider attending The Wahls Protocol Seminar that I teach every July.   In the seminar, we teach people the skills they need to be more successful at adopting and sustaining the diet and lifestyle changes that restore health and vitality.  

Thank you, Dr. Wahls, for sharing this important information with us.  We appreciate all you do to help us say #takeTHATms!.  

Articles about Gut Health, Diet and MS: 


Plasma Cells in the Gut May Actually Help Fight MS

A Fish Diet May Help Reduce Risk of Multiple Sclerosis


Probiotics May Be Able to Help People with MS



Emotional Hangover from MS - and what to do.

The MS got a hold of me, worse than it’s been in months.   But there were reasons.  Pushed beyond comfort by demands of life, it caught up with me.  And caught up bad.   

Often we talk about the physical pain of MS, the tremors, the spasticity.  The pain the comes from every nerve ending or the fatigue that covers us in a lead blanket.

And then the pain wanes and we feel better for a bit.  But the emotional sludge that remains behind is detrimental to our health and happiness.  

And boy did I feel it this morning when the day got started.  Frustrated, irritated and angry at life, my legs crumbled their way out of bed to get some coffee.  Crumbled for sure as there was no jumping for joy today.  



Why my?  Why this damn MS that suffocates me and keeps me jailed up in my body?  

Sure, I aim for happiness.  Positive thinking and all is great an my focus.  But today, I’m not going to fight it.  My emotions are way over the top upset and there’s no denying that I really I despise my MS right now.  

Unfortunately the angrier I get the more worked up my MS becomes.  This isn’t productive or healthy for anyone.  
Time to force a change! 

Yes, I’m using the word force.  Enter something beautiful in life:  A sit in the garden.  A chat with a friend.  A stroll through the neighborhood.  Find the beauty, grace and appreciation that is the bases of life.  It’s there but when I’m this worked up it’s hard to see beyond the tears. 


But forcing this is easier than it may seem.   Just sitting out in the garden for a few minutes is helping.  

BREATHE DEEP EXERCISE
1.  Breathe in deep to the chest.  
2.  Take the breath deeper, into the belly and gut and let it distend out as far as possible
3.  Keep taking in more air, aware of the beauty around you. 
4.  When full of air, sit a second then exhale deep.
5.  Exhale through the mouth, letting out everything dirty, angry and evil. 

Repeat! 

Ahhhhh...  Feeling so much better already.  

Now, to remember this trick during the busyness of the day.  


Now that I can see straight and am calming down, time to record my issues.

Even after almost 20 years of this illness, I am still learning about it.  Today was a lesson learned.  AFter three days of physical hell, the emotional hangover was even worse.   Next time my body faces exacerabations from mismanagement I must remember this tailing wind of emotions that have entwined me.