A New Study on Using Food as Medicine for People with MS

There’s been a lot of buzz about a small clinical trial about diet and MS. Dr. Ilana Katz Sand, a neurologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, is conducting a small study on using food as medicine - the relationship between what we eat, the gut and MS symptoms - and how this may help combat MS symptoms.

The best foods for MS

Dr. Katz believes the bacteria living inside our immune system has far reaching implications throughout our body, so she’s put 30 patients on a strict Mediterranean Diet - lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and eliminating processed foods, dairy, and meat.

Why the Mediterranean diet?

She believes the foods in this diet contains anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties that may reprogram the immune system and slow down the assault on itself.

Many patients have reported feeling more energy. Quality of life, blood pressure, and weight loss are also being studied. The full results will not be available for several months.

In the meantime, it’s important for all of us to avoid certain foods that may trigger symptoms of MS. In general, it’s good to eat a healthy diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, and eat low-fat protein and dairy to increase the time between relapses and promote overall good health.

Food as medicine

A poor diet can increase disease activity so it’s important for everyone to use food as medicine.

Saturated Fats: Avoid saturated fats that come from animal-based food such as full-fat dairy products and red meat. Palm and coconut oils are loaded with saturated fats. Saturated fats can put you at a higher risk for heart attacks, heart disease, and stroke and can raise your bad cholesterol that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Trans Fats: Check food labels! Commercially baked cookies, pies or other packaged goods will list trans fats as an ingredient. Another clue are the words partially hydrogenated oils or shortening. Stay away from these. Eating them may lead to cardiovascular disease.

Cow’s Milk: Some studies have shown that cow’s milk may be harmful to people with MS, but the jury is still out. If you do give up milk make sure to eat other healthy sources of protein, calcium and Vitamin D.

Sugar: Lots of sugar in the diet can add pounds, and that’s something you want to avoid, especially with mobility issues. Excess weight can increase fatigue, so ease up on your consumption of sugar. You’ll be glad you did.

Salt:  According to an April 2015 article in Neurology, a higher intake of sodium is associated with increased disease activity. So think twice before using that salt shaker.

Refined Grains: Hold back on white! White flour, white rice, and white bread are all unhealthy choices because they are processed foods that can elevate blood sugar and hurt the heart. Dealing with MS is enough to handle. Adding heart disease is something we’d all like to avoid.

Gluten: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, something people with celiac disease must avoid. Yet some people without celiac disease feel healthier and more energetic after removing gluten from their diet. This has been working for me, removing the pain and trauma of gut issues that may or may not have been directly related to my MS. It’s been a godsend and gave my life back to me.

NOTE: Before starting any diet please consult with your physician.

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