Dr Terry Wahls, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa, restored her health from progressive multiple sclerosis that left her wheelchair bound to being able to run a marathon. Today, she shares what her personal and professional experiences have taught her about immunity.
WELLECO (W): When it comes to the immune system, it’s important to know that…
Dr Terry Wahls (TW):
Our immune cell health is a reflection of cellular health, which we can best support with high quality diet, vitamin D, sleep, exercise and reduced exposure to pollutants. Our vulnerability is a complex interaction between our genes (the efficiency of our enzymes or inefficiency of enzymes to run the chemistry of life) and a lifetime of diet choices, recent diet choices, microbes growing in our bowels, on our skin, in our throat, sleep quality, physical activity level, social networks, and exposure to pollutants. We can’t change our genes, but we can begin addressing all those environmental factors -one by one.
W: Our immunity can be improved by…
TW: Steadily improving our health behaviours. Improving diet quality, removing sugar, improving vitamin D levels, eating more vegetables, moving more, improving sleep quality… this will all make a big difference.
W: To make sure that you’re getting enough vital nutrients to support your immunity…
TW: I recommend a diverse range of plants, two hundred different plant species per year. I specifically recommend 9 cups vegetables or berries, 3 cups of greens, 3 cups of sulphur rich vegetables (cabbage, onion, mushroom) and 3 cups of colour. Spices and herbal tea also improve the cellular pathways.
W: When I feel a cold coming on…
TW: The first thing that I’ll do is cut out the sugar and instead, add more raw garlic, oregano oil and take an extra dose of vitamin D for 3 days. Elderberry syrup and star anise tea also very helpful.
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W: When I’m travelling…
TW: I’ll protect my immune system from viruses in circulated cabin air or nasty bugs from new foods by eating raw cabbage to improve the body’s natural detox functions. I’ll also take additional Vitamin C, extra sulphur and more amino acids, all to support detox. I also carry some of my own food with me, so I still get my 9 cups of vegetables each day. I typically pack a head of cabbage, cut up into quarters, in my luggage.
W: The best way to not get sick…
TW: Remember that colds are viral in origin. Antibiotics will not fix a virus and will instead harm your microbiome, creating more health problems. Instead, I work on my overall immune cell function.
If you keep your vitamin D and vitamin K2 levels up by eating lots of greens, emu oil and grass-fed liver - and monitor your vitamin D level so that you do not have a drop in your vitamin D levels during the winter months - you are much less likely to contract viral infections.
The best antibiotic is a healthy immune system, and the best way to support your immune system is improving cellular health.