According to Dr. Terry Wahls who healed her Progressive MS with a nutrient dense diet that she specifically designed for her mitochondria and her brain, we should be eating 6-9 cups of leafy greens and colorful vegetables per day. Per DAY. The largest part of our diet should be vegetables. Many people don’t eat 6-9 servings of vegetables in a week.
In fact, here’s a visual of what most American’s yearly diets look like. And don’t let the vegetable category fool you. The most highly consumed vegetables among most Americans are corn and potatoes, which are actually considered a starch, not a vegetable.
Dr. Wahls was diagnosed with MS in 2000, by 2003 she was at stage 2 on heavy duty drugs including chemotherapy to fight the MS. The medications and therapy didn’t help and she continued to get worse. Slowly, each night after seeing patients all day, she began to research and read everything she could get her hands on that involved MS. She started researching vitamins and nutrients that were important to the brain and overall health and began integrating them into her diet. Then, in 2007 she discovered functional medicine and redesigned her diet. She used the knowledge she had from medical school, what she had learned in medical literature, through functional medicine, and through her research of nutrients to design a specific diet where she could get the majority of the nutrients necessary for healing through food. This diet is now called the Wahls Protocol. She was in a reclining wheelchair and headed for a life in bed when she started that diet in 2007. Within one year, she was able to walk through the hospital where she was a physician without a cane, and even complete an 18 mile bicycle tour.
Why do we need such a nutrient dense diet? Why can’t we just pop a few vitamins and continue on with unhealthy eating or eating like “normal”? Well, let’s talk about our mitochondria. According to Harvard Medical School, “In some way, just about every cellular process is linked to mitochondria. Malfunctioning mitochondria have been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even resistance to radiation therapy. There’s also a set of rare, inborn metabolic diseases that stem from genetic changes that alter the function of mitochondrial proteins.”
Your mitochondria need a certain type and a certain amount of nutrients to function properly. If your mitochondria isn’t healthy and being fed what it needs to perform its job, then you aren’t healthy either. The mitochondria in your cells manage the energy supply for your cells. Dr. Wahls chooses to get the majority of her nutrients directly from the food she eats. She feels that although we know some things about the benefits of fruits and vegetables to our bodies, we don’t know about all of the benefits we’re getting from eating whole foods. Her theory was why take a supplement with one nutrient or a synthetic form, rather than eat the actual food and get all of the nutrients naturally?
If you haven’t read Dr. Wahls book, I would highly recommend it. Not only is her story quite amazing, it’s inspiring and you’ll learn valuable information about how to feed your body well and heal it naturally.
I have a few different ways I try to integrate as many vegetables as possible into my diet. My favorite routes are via smoothies, salads, and large batches of roasting. All are extremely simple and an excellent way to get multiple servings of vegetables in one meal. I also saute a lot of vegetables for our meals. If we’re eating something that can have a vegetable added, I add it. We eat vegetables with every lunch and every dinner and the majority of our breakfasts. If you’re new to eating large quantities of vegetables, I would start with 1-2 cups a day via salad. Then the next week add a cup and so on until you are able to consume 6-9 cups a day with no intestinal issues. Your body will adapt very quickly. Make big salads and trays of roasted vegetables to keep in the fridge for easy snacking. Keep fresh sliced carrots, celery, broccoli and other vegetables you like in small batches in baggies so they’re easy to grab on the go. 6-9 cups of vegetables may sound like a lot, but over time it will become habit and your body will crave them. In fact, you’ll find yourself on many days easily eating that amount without even a thought about it.
Simple Roasted Vegetable Lunch
Organic Red Cabbage
Organic Carrots, unpeeled
Organic Garlic Cloves, smashed and peeled
Organic Ginger, peeled and sliced
Organic Olive Oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
The quantity will depend on how many people you’re serving. But know that if this is my entire lunch meal, I can eat at least 1/3 of a baking sheet of roasted veggies! So if you have people with a big appetite for veggies, it’s always better to make more than you think you’ll need. They refrigerate and re-heat nicely and are also good cold.
Slice vegetables so that they are all relatively the same size. Cover a baking sheet with parchment. Load with the veggies, ginger, and garlic cloves. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil and sea salt and toss.
Roast for about 30-40 minutes until aldente and fork tender, stirring once . Don’t cook them too much!