Food for Thought: Medical Food & Nutrition
We are what we eat. I think everyone has heard that at some time, especially when our mothers prompted us to eat better. I am the first to confess my eating habits are less than stellar. I appreciate the nutritionists’ suggestions that our plates of food should be full of color – the reds, greens and yellows of vegetables and fruits are beautiful. The covers of many magazines, especially this time of year when we enter into the growing season, are often populated with eye popping color. The reds of tomatoes and the green of broccoli are spirit lifting sights, but the problem is I don’t like either of those. The truth is, so much of my food is the color we are told to avoid – various shades of brown.
Cognitive decline is a common concern of all of us with MS – it is a very real problem and it got my attention when a Facebook MS friend told me about her participation in a clinical study for a new Medical Food, Axona. I was immediately concerned that she was being taken for money with another ‘this will cure MS’ scheme promoting special foods or nutritional supplements, and was pleasantly surprised that this is not the case. She is participating in an MS study through Miami University (Florida, not to be confused with Ohio's MU).
Axona has been approved by the FDA and is being used to treat mild and moderate cases of Alzheimer. A few limited studies have shown its effectiveness and is being studied further. Axona is a medical food, something I am just learning about. Medical foods are not nutritional supplements, but are also not a drug. Medical foods are studied in trials but don’t have to go through the same rigorous testing as pharmaceutical drugs. Medical foods are available only through prescription from a medical provider and are not on the shelves at your local grocery store, so they have much tighter control that those supplements you see advertised on tv or in magazine ads that claim to improve memory. The fact is, those other supplements have very little controls at all.
Alzheimer patients in the early and middle stages of this memory robbing disease, have been found to have improved cognitive function when they are taking Axona. If it works for this population of patients, there is always the possibility it will work for other diseases, like MS, that create cognitive problems. We can only hope this coming trial of Axona and people with MS will yield positive answers.
In thinking about this, I began looking into what food group Axona might fit into – and was surprised to read it is a derivative of coconut oil. The thinking behind this is the brain needs fuel to function, and that fuel can be boosted by Axona, which is a type of caprylic triglyceride, which is different from the triglycerides that clog our arteries. Please remember I have mentioned repeatedly I am not a scientist or doctor and the particular details escape me.
The loss of brain power – cognitive function – is a very real concern for most people with MS and this medical food may hold promise for us, too. It’s much too early to tell, but I would like to make one more observation – coconuts are brown. That fits my food color scheme quite well and I hope someday Axona can be added to my diet.
Do you celebrate your MS Anniversary?