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Letís talk diets

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    Letís talk diets

    First off, I am not a dietitian, have no special training or even practical expertise to draw on. That means I am unqualified to make medical opinions. Iím not trying to ruffle any feathers. I wanted to start a conversation, especially if we do not agree.

    As MS patients, we already have an overactive immune system so try to avoid any stimulus that activates your immune system. This could be food, drink, perfume, environmental exposure, or whatever. For most MS patients, the disease is often characterized by two distinct phases. The first phase is primarily one of inflammation and the second phase is often one of decay and atrophy.

    Inflammation is part of the bodyís normal immune response. If you twist your ankle, it swells and that helps the healing process. For MS patients, any time something activates our immune response there is a risk it may cause damage. A good diet can help improve your overall health, provide the nutrition your body needs, help gain or lose weight, and may even reduce your immune response. There are absolutely no diets that will cure MS. There is also no single diet that is universally best for all MS patients. I prefer using general guidelines instead of hardcore laws. For example, if your grandmother didn't have it, then you probably should avoid. Avoid foods with long ingredient lists, especially those with name you cannot pronounce. Try to avoid things that never spoil, except honey.
    • You should eat a well-balanced diet, where the vast majority of your nutritional needs are met through your diet. Iím not against you taking a multi-vitamin, but itís better if you can get your nutritional needs from your diet. If you are looking for a starter diet, try the American Heart Association diet. From there you will need to tweak the diet until you find the optimal balance for your body.
    • Avoid any food that you know you are allergic to. This is conceptually pretty simple: if you are allergic to peanuts, avoid peanuts. Likewise, if you are allergic to gluten then avoid it. Generally speaking, you should avoid any food, drink, substance that makes you feel bad every time you eat it. For example: There is one restaurant where if I eat a roll, my stomach goes crazy. I can eat any other bread in the world, but not at that place. So avoid any food or drink that causes you to feel ill.
    • As I mentioned earlier, inflammation is a necessary healing component of a healthy immune system. MS patients have an overactive immune system and that is why many of our medications have either anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressant components. This is also where foods with anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce our immune response. A partial list of anti-inflammatory foods turned up: fatty fish, whole grains, dark leafy greens, nuts, soy, low-fat dairy, peppers, tomatoes, beets, ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions, olive oil, berries and tart cherries. This list allowed me to pick out a number of foods that I enjoy (Yeah for nuts, boo for beets!) and increase their frequency in my diet.
    • There are also foods that promote inflammation and MS patients should minimize these in our diets. These foods are generally either high in sugar and/or saturated fats. Common foods high in sugar include: sugars, syrups, soft drinks, drink powers, candy, dried fruit, cookies, cakes, jams, cereals, pudding cups, sauces, ice cream, etc. Common foods high in saturated fats include: cream, cheese, butter, ghee, suet, tallow, lard, and fatty meats.

    During your annual physical, your doctor may request blood work to include a complete blood count (CBC) and potentially a nutrition panel. The nutrition panel is comprised of a variety of tests that ensure you are not malnourished. The nutrition panel will often indicate how appropriate your diet is, whether medications may be altering your nutritional status, or whether supplementation may be required. You should personally review your results for any numbers that exceed or fall below normal ranges. Tracking these values overtime can show nutrition trends or the result of dietary changes that you have made.

    An easy way to improve your health is to eat foods from better sources. Improving your food sources can increase your nutritional intake, optimize your bodyís normal function, and minimize harmful exposures. Your diet should consist primarily of minimally processed foods.
    Examples of better sourced foods:
    • Grass-fed whole cuts of beef are better than highly processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, or sausage.
    • Wild caught fish are often considerably healthier than farm-raised variants.

    When possible, eat organic fruits, vegetables and even meats. This should improve your nutritional intake, while reducing your intake of harmful chemicals, like pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, etc. Not all organics are created equal, but are almost uniformly better than non-organics. Local farmers markets are often a wonderful source of organic fruits, vegetable and even meats, but sometimes quite pricey. Again, you may not be able to afford going "100% organic," but making the organic choice where feasible will help you.

    The Environmental Working Group has a list of a ďDirty DozenĒ and ďClean FifteenĒ produce products. The Dirty Dozen include non-organic varieties of : apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, potatoes, hot peppers, kale/collard greens. The Clean Fifteen include avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onion, mangoes, kiwi, papayas, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower, and sweet potatoes.

    Eventually, almost every food topic turns to dieting and losing weight. First, everyone has a diet, good or bad. To lose weight you must use more calories than you consume. Fad diets may work on an interim basis, but are generally unsustainable over time. Eating healthier is a habit, and the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Rigid diets are often too hard and confusing to follow. Make small changes, like substituting whole milk for 2%. Improve your diet your own way, and a little at a time.

    Things you can do to lose weight without dieting:
    • Drink water, more water and even more water.
    • Try to eat slower and quit before you feel full.
    • Try not to skip meals, especially breakfast.
    • Donít obsess about the scale. If you put on muscle your weight may actually go up and thatís not a bad thing. Try not to weigh yourself more than once a week. When you weigh yourself try to do so early in the morning around the same time.
    • You can use smaller plates to help you with eating smaller portions.
    • Avoid processed, and eat organic, foods whenever possible.
    • Exercise with approval of your doctor.
    • Increase your activity level in simple ways like parking further away, taking the stairs, or stretching during television commercials.

    Make smarter food choices. For example: I was once at a restaurant and deciding between two meals. One meal was 900 calories less than the other so that made my choice for me. That's just another example of where making small changes, or decisions, over time can help you maintain a healthier weight and help keep MS in check.

    There are no diet cures for MS, but a good diet can improve your overall health and that in itself is a win-win for your quality of life. Get creative with your diets. For example: 30 minutes before a meal, if you drink one glass of water and have a healthy snack (apple, orange), it may keep you from overeating at the meal. Find and do what works for you, and you'll be well on your way to improving your qualify of life, MS or no MS.

    There are absolutely no diets that will cure MS.

    Glad you said that.
    I don't like all the "healers" delivering cures, there is not one.

    The one nutritional plan that will benefit everyone is removing the processed foods.

    Thanks for the summary.
    1995-symptoms with no cause
    2000-diagnosed with Probable MS.
    2000/1-started Avonex
    2002-Rebif b/c increasing brain plaques
    Nov-13-Tecfidera b/c needle fatigue&sympt