The View From Here: Opinions from a Life With MS
My wife and I hosted a group of friends for an American Thanksgiving feast at the end of last month. The conversation turned to Irish food culture and habits verses America’s during the night. It got me thinking about the topic of MS and diet (or “MS Diets”). So, with the holiday eating season in full swing I thought I’d bring the topic to our new blog community.
There are books and websites and newsletters devoted to everything from “altering” to “overcoming” and even “curing” MS with one diet, supplement, beverage or another.
Generally, the use of diet falls into the category of “Complementary and Alternative” therapy for MS. If a diet claims to be more than “supportive” or “healthful” when it comes to living with MS, I take exception. The science behind such claims is rarely regulated and often hype outweighs substance.
There are vegetarian diets for MS, Paleolithic diets for MS and juicing diets for MS. I’ve seen diets designed by “noted experts” and by people who say they have all but ended their disease simply by eating one (new) way over their former habitual repast.
I just don’t buy it.
There is some credible evidence that a diet low in saturated fats and supplemented with both Omega 3 (from fatty fishes, cod-liver oil, or flaxseed oil) and Omega 6 (from sunflower or safflower seed oil and, perhaps, Evening Primrose oil) might just be of benefit to people living with multiple sclerosis, but not much else has been proven.
In other words; the same low-fat diet that most people would find healthy, we find healthy. Food is fuel and it’s important to give the machine that is our body the proper food so that it can do the work of keeping us on course.
I’m not going to say that I don’t feel better when I eat better. In fact, I think that diet and exercise have a great effect on my greater health. I don’t, however, believe that my general diet has much to do with the way the course of my multiple sclerosis will be run.
I firmly believe that a healthy body will maintain and recover better from the slings and arrows that MS will throw than an unhealthy body would. A well balanced diet of loads of veg, some fruits and whole, “real” foods (if you can’t pronounce it; it isn’t real in my book) that is low in overall saturated fats is good for everyone. So, yes, diet is good for people with MS. I don’t know, however, that any diet has been proven to change MS.
A recent study about a particular bacterium in the gut may spark the next wave of MS Diets, but I want to know more about the prevalence and mechanism (and just more, period) about this theory. That’s why I support research both financially when I am able and with advocacy when times are tight. We simply don’t know enough about MS and diet to say for sure.
So, eat a healthy, low-fat diet; exercise more, drink lots of water and stretch. It won’t likely change the battle in which we are all engaged, but it will make us stronger when we meet the enemy.
I look forward to your comments.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.