What if this is not an outlier?
This is the video that’s been shared around the paleosphere recently. If you haven’t seen it, take the time to watch. It is worth your time.
This is particularly interesting to me because I’ve spent my career working with people who have problems. I’ve worked with people with neurological conditions (traumatic brain injury, stroke, Huntington’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s), developmental disabilities (autism spectrum disorder, mental retardation), and psychiatric conditions (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder). I’ve done my best to help create a therapeutic environment for the people I’ve worked with. Every single one of them is, to some degree or another, a tragedy. If you’ve never met a person with advanced Huntington’s disease who was a functioning, productive adult 5 years ago but who now can’t remember what happened 60 seconds ago, I assure you that it is heartbreaking.
In any institutional environment, the diet is carefully designed (usually by a certified dietitian) to meet nationally recognized standards of nutrition. In some cases, I’ve been involved in trying to make the diet healthier—less sugar, more vegetables, etc. It is incredibly hard to get most teenagers who suffer from debilitating mental illness to eat anything but junk. It’s the same with most others.
I have no nutritional credentials, so there is be no way for me to advocate for anything like the diet that Dr. Wahls used to reverse her symptoms of multiple sclerosis. I would be dismissed as a crank and ignored. I wonder, however. Her experience is that of one person. It’s anecdotal data, of no scientific generalizability.
Imagine, however, that you could do the experiment. Take 1000 people with debilitating degenerative neurological diseases. Divide them randomly into two groups. Give them both standard therapy, while one group eats a normal diet and the other eats an optimized paleo diet. What if the results that Dr. Wahls got were typical for the paleo diet group?
Do the same experiment with other groups, such as people with autism, combat veterans with traumatic brain injury, victims of child abuse affected by severe trauma, and others. Imagine that many of them show similar improvement to that of Dr. Wahls. Not all, of course, and most not “cured.” But significant, noticeable, clinical improvement.
That could change the world. It could happen in the next 30 years. The research is certainly do-able. The biggest barrier, of course, is the lack of profit to push it. No large companies make lots of money pushing a paleo diet for people with disabilities. Lots are invested in the status quo. That makes the project much, much harder. It would take very clear results from large, well-controlled studies to generate any momentum. Not impossible, but very hard.
It is interesting to think about. I wonder…