Nutrition is the top factor that can either worsen a chronic condition or alleviate the symptoms of a chronic condition. And with MS, this is no exception.

All diseases begin in the gut – Hippocrates. The lining of our gut can change. And due to a variety of environmental, internal and hormonal issues including: stress, toxins such as pesticides, unfiltered water, and hormonal imbalances (just to name a few), the gut lining can thin and become vulnerable. When the gut lining becomes negatively affected, the cells in the gut are not able to absorb nutrients and use those nutrients. Also a person can develop a leaky gut wherein harmful bacteria, by-products, toxins and undigested food can leak into the bloodstream. As the gut and the digestive cells become irritated, our immune system gets activated in order to resolve the problem. Unfortunately overly processed foods, high sugar foods, high fat foods, gluten and yeast have a tendency to burden the gut lining (in addition to the environmental, internal and hormonal factors mentioned above). So the immune system has a long-term or chronic response. When the immune system is chronically activated, it can lead to systemic inflammation in the body.

Inflammation is a normal and healthy response to injuries, infections, and irritations in the body. It helps to heal the problem. So when the immune system is activated, the area that is affected becomes inflamed. This inflammatory response occurs in conjunction with the immune system. So when the immune system is chronically active, it leads to chronic systemic inflammation. And this type of inflammation is harmful and contributes to many diseases, including autoimmune diseases.

This is why medical research studies have shown chronic diseases to have high systemic inflammation, along with an increase of free radicals and toxins circulating the body. It’s important to heal and improve the gut (and the rest of the digestive system), and decrease systemic inflammation in the process in order to help alleviate MS symptoms. There are foods that increase systemic inflammation and foods that decrease systemic inflammation. There are numerous research studies showing the positive effects of raw, organic, fruits and vegetables in decreasing inflammation. What doesn’t get as much attention are the foods that increase inflammation, so as to avoid or minimize intake. Neurologists recommend to MS patients a Mediterranean diet in order to help alleviate symptoms and stabilize the progression of MS. A Mediterranean diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, legumes and nuts. But is this enough to minimize MS symptoms, stabilize MS and increase quality of life?

Healthy eating is still a confusing and subjective matter that lacks clear guidelines and education. There are many in the community who believe they are eating healthy and are buying healthy foods at the grocery store, but when their pantry and refrigerator are examined, it unfortunately shows a lack of understanding. Most still focus on the front labels of packaged foods such as “heart healthy”, “whole grain goodness”, “low-fat”, “all-natural”…there are many front labels. And instead ignore the absolute importance of the back label and the ingredients list.

I’ve heard several different doctors in seminars and lectures say if a person has an autoimmune disease such as Multiple Sclerosis, AND you want to stabilize MS and alleviate the symptoms of MS quickly, it is best to go Vegan. Now I understand that word has a tendency to scare people. It seems too stringent and restrictive. But going 80-90% vegan is still better than not doing it at all.

Meat products such as red meat, chicken and fish have been shown to increase inflammation, along with bread (yeast), wheat, gluten, dairy, and sugar. Some of you who are used to eating this way may think you’ll be starving once all of these foods are taken out. Unfortunately with a leaky gut, it takes more food and more calories to give the body energy. And these foods contribute to a leaky gut. Once a majority-of-the-time vegan diet is implemented, the gut heals and the body is able to absorb all the nutrition, therefore the body actually doesn’t feel starved and the body instead feels energized on less food.

A majority-of-the-time vegan diet consists of proteins such as beans, non-GMO tofu, nuts, tempeh, and chunky vegetables (yes vegetables do have protein), such as broccoli, eggplant, portabella mushrooms, bell peppers, chard, collard greens, brussels sprouts, spinach, and kale. Also fresh fruits that have a low glycemic index (sugar) such as apples, pears, peaches, and all types of berries. And healthy grains such as brown rice, quinoa and oats. You can also get a variety of gluten-free and/or sprouted grains bread and pasta. Also beans and nuts and healthy fats such as avocado, avocado oil, olive oil, and walnut oil are important. Outside of the 80-90% of eating vegan, you can have cheat meals of meat, gluten and sugar. This way it doesn’t feel restrictive. And it’s still beneficial.

When this type of diet is first implemented, you will probably feel hungry for at least the first 1-2 weeks (especially if you’re not used to this type of diet). But after the 2 weeks, a person starts to feel full. The reason is because the gut is healing. As the gut heals, the body is able to absorb and use the nutrients.

Along with the vegan diet, try taking a whole food (vegan, gluten free, non-gmo, and non-dairy), protein shake with soymilk or almond milk. This will also help to smoothly transition into healthy eating.

SCG HEALTH will be releasing a course on How to Live Healthy with Multiple Sclerosis next month that goes into more detail on nutrition, how to grocery shop, how to cook, etc. Until then, please visit our website, and check out our Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis online course. Use Promo Code: MSYINTRO to take the course for $75 ($45 off the original price). For questions, email: [email protected]