Diet & MS- Nothing Scientific, Just My Thoughts
A new acquaintance who happens to also have MS asked the following in an email –
"It's taken me a little while, but I have finally admitted to myself that my life is going to be different with this ms horse now. As my level of activity has been cut backed drastic yet I am still eating like I did when I was younger and more fit, I am going to get huge! Do you have a resource or know of someone that has real knowledge about nutrition and ms? Too much info on the web seems contradictory, faddish or not ms specific.”
I am no expert and definitely not a medically trained person so these are merely my own thoughts and reflections on diet and MS. I know there are many people who benefit from special diets and some even claim that their MS has been cured by a special diet. Many of these Multiple Sclerosis diets have been subjected to scientific studies – do you remember learning scientific method in middle school science class and what makes the difference between good science and junk science? Not a single MS Diet, to my knowledge, has stood the test of legitimate scrutiny based on science.
There is a lot of anecdotal testimony all over the internet about eating this way or dieting that way, making a strong case, but there is no scientific evidence these special diets work for MS. One crazy part of this disease is it is possible to go into a remission state for long periods of time – some have gone 10, 15 even 20 years of feeling well in between relapses. How do we know that these stories of people feeling better because of their diet aren’t also into a remission stage with their MS? The deal with the internet is anyone can write anything and claim it to be the truth and they do - a popular Facebook quote validates this concept -
Back to MS and my thoughts on diet –
It is no great secret that the typical food most of us eat is far different than what was available 50 years ago – additives, preservatives, high levels of sugar, fat and salt go into our modern diet and it’s what we now think of as tasting good. It may taste good, but there are few people who will honestly agree all of this is good for us and our health. My anecdotal evidence for this is I feel horrible when I binge on too many carbohydrates, excess sugars or even the additional servings of fatty meat.
There are vegan diets, paleo diets, gluten free diets, and many more being promoted as MS diets. Too many of their promoters ask the reader to spend money to get the recipes and personal support, or to buy a special book that will explain it all to us. I won’t even get into the websites that are selling special nutrition supplements that will make our MS better.
When I eat better, I feel better and it would take a very stubborn person to disagree and claim the opposite. Whether we have MS or diabetes or cancer or any other disease or no disease at all, we are still living in bodies that respond positively to good nutrition.
If you are inclined to alter your diet and try gluten free, or vegan/vegetarian, or even the Paleo diet style of raw foods, go for it. It may be a new way of eating that you like and you might feel better getting off the bad foods. From what I know, there is nothing in any of these special diets that would be detrimental to our health. A big problem with these diets is the cost – it is pricey to buy fresh organic vegetables or specially raised meat
When it comes to weight loss, the formula is very simple - we have to consume fewer calories than we burn each day to lose weight. How are you going to consume fewer calories and not feel hungry all the time? Eat more vegetables and fruits to fill up and fewer carbohydrates and fat. How can we burn more calories if we are limited by our MS? Look for ideas on the internet for exercises that can be done by people with MS – there’s a lot of simple things we can do, even while seated , that will burn calories.
If you are frustrated by the need to take charge of your diet, don’t feel alone. There are millions of us right there with you. The first step is the one my new friend has already taken – acknowledging the need for change. Acting on that change is the next step for him and for me, and that should involve having this discussion with our physicians to be sure there is no medical problem that needs to be considered for our special health needs. Then it’s time to take action by making the change as to how we eat and move. Good luck in finding the right diet for your tastes and needs.
Wishing you well,
Do you celebrate your MS Anniversary?