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Using Food As Medicine

“The nerve damage {in MS} is caused by inflammation. Inflammation occurs when the bodies own immune cells attack the nervous system. This can occur along any area of the brain, optic nerve, and spinal cord.” ~Medline Plus1

“There are indeed several lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce inflammation, like following the anti-inflammatory diet, and it appears that regular exercise is a good start.” ~Dr. Andrew Weil2

I’ve been following the Jenny Craig plan since December to lose weight and feel healthier. I lost fifteen pounds, but felt it was time to stop.

I have MS and reducing inflammation on my mind, because what I eat is now totally up to me. I’ll need to learn how to apply what I learned about portion control and adding more daily fruits and vegetable to a new food plan, one where I’ll work to keep the weight I lost off while trying to reduce inflammation to feel healthier.

That’s a tall order.

What food plan should I follow? Sheesh. I’m overwhelmed with the decision of choosing a new way of eating that will help me to feel less lethargic and healthier.

Using food as medicine.

“I am a better person when I have less on my plate.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

I’ve been told to follow The Paleo Diet, a gluten-free diet, The Swank Diet and The Wahls Protocol. Avoid animal and dairy products.  Limit carbohydrates. Stay away from white flour and sugar. Test for food allergies. Lower dietary fat consumption. Follow a plant-based whole food diet.

What’s a girl to do? 

Here’s the lowdown on some options. As always, please consult with your physician before beginning any new food plan.

  • Gluten-free – Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grain products such as barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye.)  Gluten may not be listed on labels; the FDA ruled a voluntary use of listing “gluten free” if the product contains less than 20 ppm.3
  • To learn more about removing gluten from your diet, I’d recommend taking a look at the blog “Gluten Free on a Shoestring” which offers not only recipes but also teaches you how to become gluten free.
  • The Paleo Diet –  Based on the hunter-gathered diet of our ancestors, it includes whole, unprocessed foods that resemble what they originally looked like in nature. You can eat foods such as meat, eggs, fish, vegetables, fruits and nuts but must avoid sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, vegetable oils and trans fats.
  • According to Amazon the book “The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body” by Sarah Ballantyne and Robb Wolf received 5 stars. There are many other books about this diet so check them all out!
  • According to The Physicians for Responsible Medicine, which touts the expertise of over 12,000 physicians, The Swank Diet is an important one for people with MS.4 Roy Swank, in his now famous diet, found that MS patients who followed a low-fat diet will see improved conditions and a slowing of progression.5
  • The Wahls Protocol – I interviewed Terry Wahls for and you can read it here. Dr. Wahls, who has MS, believes that a nutrient- rich paleo diet is the key to a healthier life. Using food as medicine and re-tweaking The Paleo Diet, Dr. Wahls established her own food plan using paleo principles and functional medicine.
  • LDN (Naltrexone) – There’s been much discussion about the use of LDN in patients with MS. At the fully recommended dose LDN has been FDA approved to block addictions to alcohol and opioids, and at significantly lower doses for MS. There are several clinical trials studying LDN’s effect on spasticity, pain, fatigue, symptomatic relief, bladder and bowel control, and other MS issues. Read more about LDN and these studies on The National Multiple Sclerosis website.

What food plan do you follow?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Dr. Weil. Q&A-Reducing Inflammation? Accessed October 7, 2014. Available at:
  2. Medline Plus. Multiple Sclerosis. Accessed October 7, 2014. Available at:
  3. Questions and Answers: Gluten-Free Food Labeling Final Rule. Accessed October 7, 2014. Available at:
  4. McDougall , John A. Treating Multiple Sclerosis with Diet: Fact or Fraud?. Accessed October 7, 2014. Available at:
  5. Swank MS Foundation. Accessed October 7, 2014. Available at:


  • Sonya
    5 years ago

    Thanks for another thought provoking article!
    I must say, I find these diets very confusing….eat red meat, no…don’t eat red meat, eat legumes….no legumes are out…eggs, dairy, soy, gluten…….to eat or not to eat? Due to other medical issues, my husband & I have been on ‘no red meat’ for several years, but legumes have become a source of protein for us. As I said, when you have one doctor saying,”you need to eat this” & another saying “no, it’s hurting you”., how do you determine who is correct?
    I love your articles! Please keep them coming!!
    Just curious…….have you chosen one of these diets, or are you mixing & matching 😉
    All the best,

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    That’s wonderful that you are following some kind of meal plan for you and your husband. As you know most Americans don’t do that – just look at the rate of obesity in America!

    In answer to you questions I have not chosen one. I am overwhelmed (and busy AND MS tired) as I try to read up on what I can. In the meantime I’m testing out the gluten-free principles.

    On top of that someone told me she got a blood test for food allergies to see what she could and couldn’t eat. She also said it’s very expensive and insurance won’t pay for it. So that’s out!

    Keep up the good work Sonya! You’re inspiring~

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