This will be the first part in our Food is Medicine series in which we will explore the concept of using food to heal from disease. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Matt Rowe, an entrepreneur/CEO, who in June 2017 was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) and decided rather than taking the drugs offered by his doctors, that he would instead cure himself by eating fresh, organic foods rich in nutrients and probiotics. This also entailed cutting out all foods that contained GMO’s, toxic sprays, and preservatives. His doctor told him that he would be in a wheelchair by Christmas. This is Matt’s incredible story…
In 2008 Matt was an American Triathlete who at 31 thought he was indestructible. One day while shoveling snow he slipped and broke his spine which subsequently paralyzed his right leg. The doctors suggested surgery to insert metal rods, but Matt chose to rehab the leg through physical therapy instead. It would take two years before he could do a calf raise with that leg, but he would go on to finish an Ironman Triathlon in 2011.
With the injury seemingly behind him, Matt would go on to live a very active lifestyle until hurting his shin while doing box jumps during CrossFit. The misjump was likely the result of equilibrium issues dating back to his leg injury and to avoid possible infection the doctors prescribed several rounds of antibiotics. Upon receiving the last round of antibiotics Matt began receiving 25–30 stroke-like symptoms a day in which his veins would become constricted upon standing. When he described the symptoms to his doctor he was told that antibiotics don’t do that. They prescribed a statin drug with the intention of lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.
The drug was effective in lowering the stroke-like symptoms to five a day and most people would have probably just have left it at that and accepted the situation as their new normal. But Matt wasn’t satisfied. He began doing his own research and reasoned that since the stroke-like symptoms began after the third round of antibiotics, than perhaps he needed to rebuild his body’s own healthy bacterial cells. He began to eat local, fresh produce and foods high in probiotics and within three months the stroke-like symptoms went away.
Upon returning to the doctor they were ecstatic. “The statin drug worked!” “No,” Matt replied. “I quit taking the statin drug a month ago.” After describing his dietary regimen to the doctors they said they were glad that it worked, but that there was no studies to back his claims.
Matt went on with his life now free of the stoke-like symptoms that had plagued him. Two and half years later Matt received a call after going in for a routine MRI. The doctors told him he had MS (multiple sclerosis), a disease that is believed to result from the body’s own immune system eating away at the protective covering of nerves. This can lead to vision loss, pain, fatigue, and impaired coordination. The doctors diagnosed him with the rarest form of MS known as ‘Primary Progressive,’ in which a bad day of symptoms becomes a person’s new normal.
He asked the doctors what his options were and they enthusiastically announced their was a new immune-suppressant drug called Ocrevus that had just been released. While reading the sheet on Ocrevus, Matt noted that it was only effective in 27% of patients and out of the sample size, 38% ended up getting worse. The doctor’s told him that it was the best option available.
Drawing back on his previous experience, Matt delved head first into research on the subject. This lead him down a rabbit hole of information and to discover people like Dr. Terry Wahls, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000. “Because of my academic medical training, I knew that research in animal models of disease is often 20 or 30 years ahead of clinical practice.” She began seeking out vitamins and supplements that have been found to help any type of brain disorder, which eventually led her to form“The Wahls Diet,” which is based around eating what our ancestors ate; a diet that consists of fresh, organic fruit, vegetables, nuts, grass-fed meats, and fish. At the time of starting the diet she was wheelchair bound and getting worse. A year later she would be walking without assistance and taking 18-mile bike rides.
Matt took Terry’s story to heart and believed that if MS was not an autoimmune disease, than he could boost his immune system with foods high in antioxidants and vital nutrients. This also meant cutting out all processed foods, or in his words, “essentially the entire middle part of the grocery store.” When he told his doctor of his plan to refuse Ocrevus and tackle the problem head on by changing his diet, he was told he would be in a wheelchair in six months.
With his back against the wall, Matt took matters into his own hands and made a hardcore diet change. He adopted the TONI model (Toxins Out, Nutrients In) and began to also study soil health and how the nutrient density of fresh produce can vary based on the health of the soil it’s grown in. I just spoke to Matt last week, a little over a year after since he was diagnosed. Not only has he once again proven the doctors wrong, but he routinely does CrossFit and runs two miles a day! He says he feels better than ever and since he does the cooking, his family is also healthier.
Matt’s story defies conventional medical beliefs. In his research he found that often times medical science can find itself in a conflict of interest due to the funding many institutions receive from the pharmaceutical companies. Even Dr. Terry Wahls, a well-regarded clinical professor of medicine, was barred from sharing her story at the MS Society Conference. (Today they have fortunately allowed her to speak and have even donated over $1 million dollars to fund one of her clinical studies).
Matt’s story is both incredible and inspiring. Today he works as a health coach and uses his experiences to help others battling afflictions of their own. At the end of the day the psychology behind fighting disease is very important, but it all starts with the food we put into our bodies. The prevalent belief seems to be that merely eating good food is too simple to be the answer. Society seems to put more faith in ‘magic pills’ than in the food that has nourished our bodies since the dawn of man.
However maybe it’s time to take into account the philosophical theory known as Occam’s Razor, which states that the simplest answer is most often correct. After hearing first-hand accounts from people like Matt and Terry, I’m convinced that when it comes to disease, this is absolutely the case. We needn’t look any further than our own backyards. The cure for so much of the disease that ails our society is right in front of eyes (and just beneath our feet).
Written by Rand Gifford
Editor’s Note: If you are interested in learning more about Matt and his incredible story, feel free to visit his website at www.purposefulreality.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He currently offers coaching and is in the process of writing a book called Identity of Health and putting out a podcast by the same name.
Furthermore, if you or somebody you know has healed themselves through the use of food as medicine, please email us at email@example.com and share your story. We’d love to hear from you!