Eating With Multiple Sclerosis
I’m the moderator of a Yahoogroup dealing with natural methods of managing Multiple Sclerosis. Over the last few days, we’ve revisited the topic of diet. Years ago, when I was first dx’d with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, the Swank Diet was pretty much known as “THE diet for MS.” Swank recommended eating very little fat. If I remember correctly, Swank calls for no more than 5% of your daily calories from fat. It’s the bandwagon that everybody jumped on. And many people had success with it. For a lot of people, the super low-fat diet helped their ms symptoms. It helped mine – for a while.
After a few years of Swank, my fatigue started to get worse, I started gaining weight, my brain fog came back, and it seemed impossible to gain muscle mass.
Then, I read somewhere that the myelin sheath is made mostly of fat. I forget where I originally heard that, but it dawned on me that if the myelin sheath is made of fat, and you want to grow myelin, then you needed to give your body fat with which to build it. I knew that common thinking was that myelin does not repair or regrow itself, but that didn’t make sense to me because of the way Relapsing Remitting MS happens. In RRMS you have what are called “flares.” During a flare, you lose functioning, and experience symptoms. Those symptoms are caused because the myelin no longer insulates the involved nerves and the signals get lost. Compare it to an electrical wire with the plastic coating scraped off. After some time, the flare resolves itself and the symptoms go away. That is what RRMS does. I started thinking about that – if the myelin sheath remained damaged, then wouldn’t the signal continue to get lost? That made me wonder if maybe…just maybe the myelin can repair or rebuild itself somehow.
But, if myelin is made of fat, then you have to give your body enough fat in order for the repairs to happen.
My years on the Swank diet taught me that the human body, or at least MY body, needs healthy fats in order to function at it’s best. I developed insulin resistance on the low-fat diet, and as a result, my blood pressure, blood sugar and weight went up. There are a lot of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and issues with weight in my family tree, so insulin resistance is something I very much want to avoid. I decided to try a diet that is supposed to help the body regain leptin and insulin sensitivity, called the Leptin Reset. The Leptin Reset was developed by a neurosurgeon named Dr. Jack Kruse. He first developed this diet to deal with his own weight and health issues, then he suggested it to some of his patients. The results have been positive. With all the great things I read about Leptin Reset, I decided to give it a try, and it worked for me. My blood pressure, blood sugar and weight started to drop. When I regained leptin and insulin sensitivity, I transitioned to a moderate fat Paleo diet.
I didn’t notice any changes in the MS with the Leptin Reset, but I certainly noticed changes as I spent some time on Paleo. The fatigue faded, I had more endurance, and I started gaining muscle strength and flexibility. Now, granted, I also follow a low oxalate diet because oxalates have been tied to autoimmune disease too. So, it could be the Paleo eating, the low oxalate eating, or a combination of the two. But I didn’t start them both at the same time, and I was able to see which eating changes effected which symptoms.
There’s been new research that suggests that eating very low-fat isn’t all that healthy for anyone. We all need healthy fats, and we all have different body chemistry, which means we need different amounts of fat, protein, vitamins and minerals in order to achieve our best health. Don’t be afraid to try something new, and don’t be afraid to experiment with diet. MS is autoimmune in nature, and each person’s immune system is different and reacts to different things. Give your body the protein and fat it needs to repair itself and learn what your immune system reacts to.