I’ve recently been phasing into The Wahl’s Protocol which calls for 9 cups of fruits and vegetables each day.  Yes, you read that right.  NINE!  It is designed to optimize the functioning of our mitochondria, a brilliant approach created by Dr. Terry Wahls, MD when she became wheelchair bound from Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  People with all types of autoimmune diseases, neurological issues and Lyme Disease experience miraculous results following her program.  It uses Paleo principles but is not strictly Paleo – which fits me perfectly.

Hello green smoothies and green juice!

One of the only ways for me to consume 9 cups of fruits and veggies in a day is by having both a green smoothie and a green juice.  Today I started with a green smoothie even though it’s only 10 degrees outside!  I’m in the process of moving my juicer front and center in my kitchen (which involves lots of rearranging in my tiny space!) so will have a green juice tomorrow in addition to the green smoothie.

What made the difference?

I made one of my standard 3-ingredient mix and match green smoothies, with one change.  For the liquid I used coconut water for the first time.  Doesn’t sound like much of a variation, but it made a HUGE difference. I’ve never enjoyed a smoothie so much!  I was always forcing myself to drink them because they were good for me and a great way to get in my greens, but I REALLY enjoyed this one!

Coconut milk can have a bite to it, even when cut with water but this smoothie was smooth and silky.  I even used stronger, more bitter tasting greens than usual – a handful each of beet greens, parsley and kale.  And still, I didn’t taste them at all.  Next time I’ll put in more!

What is the nutrition in coconut water?

Coconut water and coconut milk are 2 different things.  Coconut milk is made from grinding the coconut meat and pressing out the liquid.  Coconut water is the water that’s poured off a coconut when you crack it open.   A cup of coconut water has around 50 calories, and contains simple carbohydrates in the form of natural sugars and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. You get more nutrition from it than straight water, but not as much as most of the online hype would have you believe.  What I like about it is the taste and that it’s yet another source of potassium and magnesium.  Every little bit counts.

One word of caution about coconut water

Most of it is pasteurized (meaning heated, killing off some of the goodness although the magnesium and potassium would survive) and sweetened with fruit juice (who knows what they actually use).  Usually I’d do this research first and then go shopping, but I was at Costco and there it was.  Just sitting there. So cheap. Was it on my list?  Of course not!  Was it an impulse buy?  You betcha!  Since I bought a 12-pack, I now have to decide whether or not to ditch it – or – use it up and then go to real, raw coconut water (there are 3 ways to obtain it, which I’ll do a post on in the future).  Being on SUCH a tight budget, I’ll most likely use what I have unless my research turns up something truly egregious about the pasteurized version.  So far I’m okay with it.

The Wahls Protocol

Do check out Dr. Terry Wahls and see how her approach sounds to you. She has a wonderful Facebook page and website full of resources and recipes.  She released a book entitled Minding My Mitochondria in 2010 and I got that on Kindle last year.  However, her new book The Wahls Protocol is coming out in March and her previous book is now unavailable except for lots of money from resellers.

So, between now and March, you can watch her on YouTube.  She is an inspiring and compelling speaker.  She is truly a hero and in my Healing Heroes Hall of Fame!


Photo credit: Horia Varlan via Flickr
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  • Lisa

    Great post! I periodically try to do the Wahl’s protocol (just because I find it so interesting and really believe in it!). I’m also having my father-in-law do it because he has MS… we’re still waiting to see results (he just started a month ago).

  • Dara

    Oh, I’m very interested in how he does with it. I have the hardest time eating 9 cups of fruits and veggies everyday! How do you do it? So far I’ve been able to eat 6 cups in a day. Still working on it!

  • Heba @ My Life in a Pyramid

    I fell for the coconut water at Costco too but I ended up returning after trying one carton because it tasted a little stale to me when I tried it on its own. The raw brand at Whole Foods is quite expensive, and cracking coconuts to get a bit of their water sounds like a lot of work. Let me know what you find with the different options for raw coconut water out there. I might just go the whole-coconut route if nothing else works out. Also, I’d love to try the Wahl’s Protocol sometime. Will have to find time to watch the video but in the meantime I’ll have to just start juicing! 9 cups is a lot to get in one day :)

  • Dara

    I know what you mean about cracking open coconuts! For now, I’m still buying the coconut water at Costco. It’s not perfect, but it’s what I can afford – especially since I have a smoothie every day. It’s definitely a trade-off. Getting more greens into my smoothie is the goal – trying to get in those 9 cups! Let’s keep in touch about the raw coconut water. Would love to find a source at a reasonable cost.

  • Lauren @ DC Healthy Bites

    Terry Walhs is such an inspiration! I heard her speak last year at a conference and have since increased my intake of nutrient-dense veggies as well. Do you use a cold press juicer? I’m considering converting. Also I’m looking forward to your coconut water post. I always buy plain but I never know which brand to buy. Visiting from VA Bloggers.

  • Dara

    Hi Lauren – I use a masticating juicer – the Omega 8006 – and love it. When I was doing research I didn’t find a cold press juice I could afford. You get very little foam, oxidation and heat from the Omega and you can use it for every type fruit, veggie and green. As for coconut water, for now I’m sticking with the Costco coconut water due to budget constraints. It’s not perfect, but it allows me to add way more greens to a smoothie than everything else I tried. A good compromise for now. Thanks for stopping by!