Dieting and MS in General

diet MS multiple sclerosis

Note: I am not a medical professional, the following information is my opinion based off of my own research and experiences. Always consult with a doctor before making drastic dieting choices.

Dieting can play a huge role in battling Multiple Sclerosis in fact, for some people, a good diet is all they need to beat most their symptoms and prevent further flare ups. But right off the bat I want to mention something I have said many times before: Everyone is different – MS effects everyone differently – Medications effect everyone differently. What works for one person might not work for you. What works for you might not work for someone else.

When I relapsed a second time I really started looking into dieting more closely as at the time I was simply avoiding junk foods and other unhealthy items that no one should really be eating to stay healthy. I wanted to take it to the next level, learn about dieting, and put myself back into remission. At the time all I really knew is that I wanted to avoid foods with high inflamatory properties but I didnt really have a clear idea of what exactly I should be eating and avoiding. So I started looking up specific diets that people with Multiple Sclerosis tend to follow. Here are the main ones:

The Best Bet Diet
The Paleo Diet
The Swank Diet

If you are just starting your quest to find yourself a proper diet this is where you want to start. All three diets are very similar and very popular but they do have some minor differences in opinion of what is “good” or “bad”. I went through each diet and created a list of “goods” and “bads” and then created a separate list of “goods” and “bads” that were in all three diets and I chose to eat and avoid those foods for a while.

Here is where the “everyone is different” concept comes into the picture. Though a healthy diet is good for you regardless of your current health condition I have come to the realization that food is not a “trigger” for everyone. A lot of people claim that when they eat certain foods with certain properties they can feel negative effects kick in almost immediately. After doing much “self-testing” and experimenting” it is starting to look like food doesn’t really effect me at all. I have been keeping a daily journal of what I eat and what symptoms I experience and looking back I can see that my symptoms havn’t really changed at all when comparing a week of strict dieting to a week of Red Robins, steak, and a few sweets. I have tried eating large amounts of everything your not supposed to eat when on these diets and have seen no flare ups in my symptoms and when I am strict about my diet I also see no improvements.

So again, everyone is different and for me dieting does not seem to be the secret to concurring an exacerbation. I am still going to continue eating healthy but I probably am not going to be as strict on certain things like potatoes or gluten. My obvious triggers seem to be limited to heat and stress at the moment: when I am in a hot area or stressfull situaton my symptoms flare up almost immediately which is something I have yet to experiance with food.

So how will you know what works for you? Trial and error. Look at the three diets mentioned above and try them out for a few weeks. See if you feel any different. Do what I did and keep a daily journal of everything you ate and the symptoms you experienced day by day. After a few weeks see if there has been any noticeable changes or patterns in you eating and symptoms. You can also go to the doctors and get a food allergen test done to see if you have any obvious allergies to different foods.

Either way you go, you won’t know till you try something and when it comes to dieting it might take you a while to find the right one in fact, you might find that certain aspects of certain diets apply to you and others don’t. In the end you will probably end up creating your own, personalized, diet as you slowly learn which foods are good for you and which foods cause you problems.

Trial and Error, Good Luck!

18 thoughts on “Dieting and MS in General

  • March 22, 2011 at 11:35 pm
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    So true, Matt. I get annoyed when people assume that one particular diet or drug will work on everybody. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. As far as the diet goes, I follow Ann Boroch's MS dietary guidelines, with a little personal tweaking in order for it to fix me. I'm gluten-free and avoid all processed foods. Will it work for every MSer? I doubt it. Bottomline, everyone has to find what works them. Shanti.

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  • March 22, 2011 at 11:45 pm
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    Perfectly put and a perfect example of exactly what I'm talking about! Thanks!

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  • March 22, 2011 at 11:47 pm
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    Ill probably do a list of other diets that are less common such as the Blood Type Diet and the one your on, Ill also better describe each diet but this is just meant to be an introductory. Thanks!

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  • March 23, 2011 at 9:50 am
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    Well, I can't say I've ever had a very good diet. After a powerful conversation with my ten year old who asked me what was more important… Cola (pop) or my health? I made the decision to quit drinking pop and avoid all processed foods. What a difference. The first few days were the hardest, but I noticed I was feeling better within a week. I don't follow a certain diet plan. Just eat more fruits and veg's and quit the bad stuff. If this is what it takes to funtion better. You bet I'll stick to it. It works for me.

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  • March 23, 2011 at 6:13 pm
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    @Jgycay: Yeah that's how I started out and then I got a little more strict but now that's what I am going back to, no junk, no processed, no soda, and lots of fruits. Doesn't cure me but I DO feel much better eating like this.

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  • March 23, 2011 at 10:54 pm
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    No, it hasn't "cured me" that is for sure. It helped me feel a bit better than I did. The term "you are what you eat" is true. I just pray for a cure very soon.

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  • August 30, 2011 at 5:46 am
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    Google dr. Terry wahls or the wahls foundation. She is a dr with ms and has made the most incredible recovery from ms I have ever heard of thru nutrition and exercise. What she is doing is absolutely amazing and hopeful……l

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  • September 14, 2011 at 10:18 pm
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    I follow Ann Boroch plan as well and find it very helpful! It's nice to see that there are others following her diet and supplementation plan:) good luck everyone and best wishes!

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  • November 4, 2011 at 11:00 pm
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    Matt,

    I am 32 yr. old female, Dx May of 2010. I lost feeling in my foot (thought it was a pinched nerve or maybe early onset of diabetes) then it went up to my leg, thigh…still thought sciatica, then up my waist, chest, etc..then it jumped to the other side of my body and was quite uncomfortable- at that point I knew I was fu@#ed. I knew enough about nerve paths to know that this wasn't following one and that meant either brain or spine. My dear friend is a Chiropractor- she immediately said "oh boy, go get a brain MRI" . I went to my GP and said, "I think I have MS". He said, "na", I said, "ya". Got the MRI's and they lit up like Christmas (a really $hitty one). Anyhow, I am from a very organic crunchy family… mom wanted me to go 100% holistic. I don't find comfort in antidotes, I find comfort in empirical data, but I think big pharma is pretty uncomfortable too! My method of attack (yes, I am attacking this disease- it is not attacking me) is both western and eastern approaches. I have been on Rebif 44mcg for over a year and I am relapse free for the last 6-8 months- it's a blur and I keeping track is annoying. I have been (90%) gluten free/dairy free/and very low sugar. I take some 15 vitamins a day. I did the same thing with vitamin plans as you did with diets. I created an excel spreadsheet of the different vitamin plans- yes and no's and then tried to formulate my own plan. I compared Ann Boroch's, MacDougle, Embry, and Best Bet… I will try to find it and you should post it. Also, I would love to see your diet comparison!

    As a side note, if in fact food can make us sick (usually in our late 30's and up), my logic tells me that it then took decades for the food (and I am sure environment) to intoxicate our bodies to a point where we become symptomatic. That said, if in fact food can heal us, my logic tells me that it could take decades to reverse the damage. I feel lucky being young with MS, I have time on my side and I feel that I also have modern medicine on my side to buy me more time. Western and Eastern are merging…give it another decade.

    Keep with the healthy lifestyle…heed inflammatory agents. Although, I am going to go have a few glasses of wine tonight (that is the only "sugar" I allow myself)!!! Cheers!

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  • November 6, 2011 at 4:51 am
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    Well, I can't say that I have been following any diet in particular very strictly lately but the last diet I was researching was in fact the MacDougle one that you mentioned above which is actually a continuation of the Swank Diet. I don't seem to react to food really at all but there is definitely something to the whole dieting thing if you ask me. I mean… basic logic says that if your body uses food as fuel them like a car your body will run only as good as the fuel you put into it.

    Anyways, I pretty much stay away from all soda, fast food, sugar, processed food, dairy, and I try to avoid red meat when possible though I admit that is my kryptonite… I'll probably write about this in more detail pretty soon. As far as western and eastern medicine merging? Well I would like to see it happen but there is not very much money in eastern medicine and I'm afraid the insurance companies and major pharmaceuticals might be a little bit of an obstacle but we will see!

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  • November 6, 2011 at 7:04 am
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    Matt,

    thanks for your blog. I'm 47 and was diagnosed almost 2 years ago.

    I think you're looking at the diet thing intelligently, but incorrectly. You can't know if a diet is working until a few years being on it. Certainly, you may feel better, but like the DMDs, they're not meant to make you feel better. They are meant to prevent relapses. The only, only one that's been looked at long-term, is the Swank diet.

    Here's the study, published in the Lancet.
    http://www.overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org/html/blob.php?attach=true&documentCode=6708&elementId=2

    You haven't spoken of VitaminD either. Have you seen the research? It's likely that for many people, it's as or more effective than any of the DMDs. Have you been tested?

    Finally, if Copaxone isn't working for you, why not try something different, such as interferon or gilenya?

    Thanks again for sharing. I keep my MS a secret from most people, so I admire you and thank you for sharing.

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  • November 6, 2011 at 7:14 am
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    One more thing – the food trigger thing is pretty much the anti-gluten people saying they ate a bagel and had trouble walking. There is no such notion in the Swank version. Certainly, anything that creates fatigue or inflammation will make your symptoms worse, but the swank diet is not about that.

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  • November 7, 2011 at 1:06 am
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    hi Alex, I do actually take vitamin D, this post is a little out of date.

    I don't want to try interferons because of the flu like symptoms associated with that, that in itself would not be worth it and I'm still skeptical about gilenya as it is still pretty new. I will be coming up with a new treatment plan once I have my new insurance and Doctor all set up but for now I am not really doing anything…

    we will see what route I go soon. Sorry to keep it brief but I'm not feeling very well at the moment and this voice recognition software is really frustrating me.

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  • November 8, 2011 at 1:35 am
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    Matt,

    I understand. My concern is that since you're having so many debilitating exacerbations, that the copaxone is obviously not working, or in the parlance you have "failed" copaxone 🙂

    I have been taking Avonex for almost 2 years now and it's only recently tolerable. But Rebif is supposed to be much easier to tolerate and considering your current suffering, I think you should try it – it's even easier to stop than to start.

    Finally, you've put diet at the bottom. I think you should try the only diet with years of study behind it, for preventing exacerbations. It's not a fad diet – it has been around for 50 years. Do try to have a look at the study.

    Be well,

    Alex

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  • November 8, 2011 at 1:41 am
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    Yeah I understand, I'm going to have a new doctor soon, hopefully one that I trust, so I'm kind of holding out to start anything new till I see him. Dieting is obviously really complicated so I'll be doing more research soon.

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