Dietary Restriction may ease the severity of MS. With first-hand experience in the improvement of multiple sclerosis symptoms after diet modifications, this MSer is more than convinced.
I saw very little benefit to periods of diet restriction. There was not a single disease-modifying effect on the nerve conduction test. I saw a reduction of MS flare-ups, exacerbations, and relapses, however. This is what I experienced.
Firstly, in the three years leading up to the diet, I was in the midst of a flare-up. Usually, I responded by blowing up quickly, with symptoms galore. I would lie in bed for days at a time, shaking, gagging, eye swollen shut, malaise. I was in absolute agony.
Norovirus infections full of bacteria were spiralling up from my gut, causing acute gastrointestinal distress. Plus, my joints were so heavily damaged from years of excess weight and lack of exercise that I found it nearly impossible to regain my pre-MS condition of mobility and ease of function.
The medical establishment told me I was not disabled. I told them that “emotionally challenged, chronic autoimmune disease” looked just like “average” disability. I was bright, but nowhere near average. It was entirely a personality disorder.
Being a distinct personality disorder, it matters not if you have mild to severe symptoms. I spent months, and then years, living a life where I gleefully threw myself back into unhealthy habits even though I knew they were harmful.
Getting real quality sleep was almost impossible. My energy levels were low for years. I knew already that if I allowed myself to return to an unhealthy lifestyle then I would get the same thrashing I got as a teen.
Eventually, in late 2019, I had my last medical checkup. They’d found an aggressive tumour attached to a biopsy specimen. But with few MS medications available at the time (Quarantine, 2021), I decided to forgo more invasive brain surgery in November 2020.
I made changes to my lifestyle in preparation for that “surgical” encounter. Losing 35lbs, I quit all gluten and sugar. I also sought support from medical professionals.
My neurologist was kind, adamant there was a good medical reason for supporting my choice to lose weight (at least I thought there was).
But he mentioned all the “free radicals” in my body that need to be “cleaned”. You know the ones. Pimples on my face, greying hair on my scalp, the myriad of birthmarks over my nose and cheeks.
“I need to take those out”. “Tightening up those wrinkles will blur your vision”. “No, those will only make them worse”.
When I told him of my plans to slim down, all my once bright eyes and joyful demeanour turned black. And worse than black was now.
“You will die if you do that”.
My doctors were right.
Better it than botox, right?
The MS Sufferer
Ged Kearney of Ipswich, UK has been MS sufferer for 48 years. He describes how dietary restriction makes a huge difference between him and others, and paints an interesting picture of how MS has impacted him:
Diet has greatly improved my life. At 42 I’m much more articulate and aware of my identity. Before I was unable to walk or speak. Being independent and able to go out and about in everyday life is a huge achievement for me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.Ged Kearney
Hence many supplements, foods, and vitamins which have probably improved his life greatly:
Supplements aka ‘crime fighting’ energy drinks, multivitamins, lactose pills, collagen, vitamins, minerals, herbs.Ged Kearney
I think many people can relate to the feeling in their body after an increase in exercise or diet.
Kearney understands the role diet plays in not only improving MS symptoms, but also regeneration, and says:
You totally regenerate when you eat right, it is like installing a new battery in your brain. The more that is done the more cells are produced and the more functions you have.Ged Kearney
A Ketogenic Diet
He maintains a ketogenic diet for the MSers who support him, but 500 grams of carbs a day is insufficient for him. According to him, an ideal dietary restriction for the MS sufferer must include at least 50% carbs, this is no easy task in a world of highly processed carbohydrates.
It’s not just dieters who can improve their MS: Mountain Dew, soft drinks, alcohol etc. have all been restricted.
Which according to Kearney, has reduced the “impairment” they cause: MSers are often cured of their disease, which is devastating in itself. He says:
Why then have doctors not accepted this approach as a viable alternative?Ged Kearney
Why can’t the diet be put in the same category as ‘regular’ exercise which is proven to be effective and proven to do a lot for the body?
The advantage of a ketogenic diet is that no carbs are used as energy. If you have tried binging on pizza and chips for dinner with a Keto drink beforehand that is where the calories are coming from hence carbohydrates not being used.
The real work of a diet is largely in how you live your life. A lot of people live dangerously and it’s partly this perception of diet which leads to undereating.
Dietary Restriction Fat
Our bodies are literally designed to store fat for times of scarcity and outside of this source, we cannot obtain the fat we need to survive. While time spent in restricted diets as a child did not harm my health or shorten my life expectancy, dietary fat is an important nutritional component in my MS approach.
MS Diet Classical: Allow yourself a range of foods that taste delicious or your choice of two:
- a) your preferred comfort food or
- b) a calorie restricted version of your usual diet.
MS Diet Modified: Reduce a food group(s) by 25% or more than you normally eat. Mix foods more frequently or even eliminate some of them completely. Monitor yourself consistently and implement the diet when it works.
When I decline a meal that was previously considered a full meal and the nutritionist asks if I will continue to have it given the reduced value, I always reply “No, without work and activity.
This states how important I feel the reduction in the food at least in part to help my condition. If replacing one calorie of a low carb versus high carb source, low in fat and moderate in carbs will affect the outcome in my daily life to the same extent as my consumed number of calories, then I do not want to compromise the quality of my diet among other factors.
Limiting how many carbohydrates or protein sources you consume is another key factor. Bananas are high in carbohydrates but they are low in protein. I’ve tried limiting the quantity and eliminating the types of protein sources (eggs, meat, seafood, milk) but the reduction in glucose is usually too much.
So, I can safely cut down on the consumption of carbohydrates like bananas, which forms a part of my MS Modified diet.
My diet mostly consists of complex carbs like white rice, white bread, pasta and grains. I easily switch from pasta to quinoa, rice to poached eggs and eggs to meat. Sweet carbs such as fruit and dessert fill my plate.
I don’t eat nuts, avocados or blueberries. Cereals are inevitably included. I avoid highly processed refined carbohydrates. Tortilla chips seemed like a good way to work on my processed food avoidance.
The limits to my substitutions and the overall diet are threefold.
Equally, I would advise anyone who has MS to avoid rigid diets. The principles on which MS Dieting is based were put before the discovery of where and how much MOST of our dietary protein is sourced. The human body is ingenious.
A lot of work has gone into bringing you this post. We hope you found it interesting and informative. If you have a question, please ask it in the comments at the foot of this post.
If you don’t have a question you can use the comment to say “Hi”. If you have MS – stay strong and follow the warrior code.