Ask The Nutritionist: Multiple Sclerosis

Q: Dear Angie Michael, I would very much appreciate your advice. I was diagnosed with M.S 4 years ago. I am in remission and would like to stay this way for as long as possible.

Over the past 4 years I have cut down on sugary foods but that is all I have done. What else can I do to help myself remain well?

 

A: Multiple Sclerosis (MS), is a neurological condition, also known as encephalomyelitis disseminate or disseminated sclerosis. MS affects the areas of the brain and spinal cord known as the white matter. White matter cells carry signals between the grey matter areas of the brain, where the processing is done, and the rest of the body.

In MS, the coating around these nerve fibres (called myelin) is damaged, causing a range of physical and mental symptoms, which often progress to physical and cognitive disability. Physical symptoms can include vision and balance problems, dizziness, fatigue and muscle stiffness and/or spasms.

MS can also have an effect on memory, thinking and emotions. The exact cause of MS is not yet fully understood. However, it is thought that both genetic and environmental factors may play a role. Many experts believe MS to be an autoimmune condition in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys its own healthy tissues.

In MS the target of the immune response is the myelin, leading to inflammation and decreased function known as demyelination. Other ongoing research suggests that MS may be linked with blockages in veins that drain the brain.

Links have also been made between MS and viruses such as the Epstein Barr virus, and also with vitamin D deficiency. Today there is much support on hand to potentially help slow the progression of M.S, with an integrated programme that includes therapies that improve blood circulation, cell energy production, myelin regeneration, gut and dietary balance, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, immune-modulating and antioxidant factors. The areas of the body that need supporting the most with M.S are:


Areas of attention Support
Nervous system - myelin regeneration and reducing inflammation B vitamins, chromium, iodine, selenium, magnesium, calcium. Increase intake of wholegrains, pulses, legumes and green leafy vegetables. A good multivitamin may also be recommended.There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that a lack of vitamin D may be a causative factor in MS. Vitamin D should be supplemented in the D3 form. Increase intake of essential fatty acids (EFAs) found in oily fish, nuts and seeds. These EFAs have powerful antiinflammatory properties. Lecithin - may help to strengthen the myelin sheath and is one of the important building blocks of neural membranes. Good dietary sources include eggs, seafood, legumes and green leafy vegetables.
Adrenal glands and blood sugar balance Eat small regular meals. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates, opt for whole-grains instead. Increase fibre intake.
Lymphatic system Support your immune system with foods rich in antioxidants- think brightly coloured fruit & vegetables!Avoid dairy products.
Homocysteine reduction Homocysteine inhibits the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine. Choline is an essential nutrient needed for cell membrane integrity and to facilitate movement in and out of cells. It is also a component of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is usually found in short supply in all central nervous disorders.nIncrease intake of B vitamins and dietary sources of choline- eggs, peanuts, cauliflower and soya beans.
Cleansing of the colon The colon collects all of the toxic waste our bodies produce and eliminates it in the form of faeces. When the colon is not functioning properly this toxic waste accumulates which can create a release of toxic chemicals - endotoxins. These endotoxins can detrimentally effect our neurological pathways and immune system.Eat food slowly and drink plenty of fresh water. Increase fibre intake in the form of fruit and vegetables.Take a good quality probiotic supplement daily.
Blood circulation Eat foods like ginger, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, cocoa powder to help boost circulation.Daily exercise can help support good circulation.
Mental clarity Mental clarity can support cell production and boost self-esteem. Seek Professional advice.
Foods to avoid The most common food intolerances in MS are wheat/gluten, yeast, dairy produce, chocolate, sugar, beef, citrus fruit and eggs. If you suspect one of these may be a factor, try eliminating from your diet. Laboratory food intolerance tests can help to identify offending foods.Remove sugar, margarine, added salt, fried and processed foods.
Kind regards,
Angie