One of the first questions that I asked my doctor when I was diagnosed, was about diet and exercise. Well, actually, it was my husband who had the presence of mind to ask the question. My original neurologist told us that I should just concentrate on a “good, healthy” diet (whatever-in-the-hell that means) and stay away from exercise or anything that would make me hot or more tired. So, as I said, that was the advice of my “original” neurologist. I’ve moved on.
This truth is self-evident: when I eat “better” – I feel better. I’m sure everyone can say that. But the question remains: is there a specific diet that is more beneficial for Multiple Sclerosis than others?
In an effort to find the answer, I did some digging. Dr. Roy Swank was the first M.D. to really place credence in this idea. He developed a suggested diet regime that concentrates on low-fat eating for the treatment of MS. His findings are very interesting – compelling, really. There have been a great number of MS patients that have shown marked improvement and very little progression while adhering to this diet. Check it out for yourself: The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book.
There have been others in between, but the next really big splash for how to eat when you have multiple sclerosis came from a patient herself. I’m sure you’ve heard of her: Dr. Terry Wahls. She had primary progressive MS and went downhill – fast. She tried a lot of pharmaceuticals, none of which deterred the MS devil. At some point, Dr. Wahls, a clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa, decided to research clinical studies being done on multiple sclerosis. In her research, she started to learn about supplementation for brain health. While utilizing that knowledge, her MS progression slowed, but did not halt. She continued on her quest and decided to find the foods that could give her the brain and neuromuscular nutrition rather than supplementing. The “Wahls Diet” was born, and in 1 year, she went from being in a tilt-recline wheelchair to going back to work and walking without a cane. Oh and, by the way, she also completed an 18-mile bike tour in that time as well. Yep – pretty interesting stuff. Seems a lot of people are having great success with this diet as well. Dr. Wahls has a foundation to help fund research on her “intensive nutritionals” and there are currently clinical studies ongoing at the University of Iowa. This diet is very dependent on the Paleo diet (lots of meat, certain veges, no dairy, no gluten) and brain-building foods. She also incorporates exercise, meditation and neuromuscular stimulation into her lifestyle. She wrote a book on her experiences outlining her recommendations. Here’s the link: Minding My Mitochondria.
Here’s a link to her Tedx Talk from November 2011:
All of this is very interesting – and very contradicting! My internal medicine doc tells me I should be on a TON of supplements, gluten- and dairy-free and eating mostly vegetables and fruits. My acupuncturist (also an herbalist and nutritionist) tells me I should eat a TON of fats and protein. In fact, he told me to go out, get a gallon of whole-milk, add some cream and chug it! So how do you decide? I don’t really know. I think it comes down to educating yourself and trying what feels right to you – what makes the most sense to you. That’s my plan. I’ve gone gluten- and dairy-free. I must say, I’m feeling more energized, less “achy” and I don’t feel “bloated.” All good things, but it remains to be seen whether this change in diet will affect my MS or not.
I’d love to hear your opinions and experiences. Do you believe there’s a link between MS and diet? Have you made changes in your own diet? Did it help? What are your thoughts?
Special thanks to www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net for use of the yummy salad photo. Eat well!