I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS at 19, and for 26 years suffered the on-again/off-again awful symptoms of numbness, tingling, optic neuritis and profound fatigue. I had no idea that my chronic, mild digestive discomfort had anything to do with the MS. I just thought that it was normal to feel some digestive distress after meals.
In the “dark ages” of the 1980s, before the Internet opened vast horizons of information, there were very few books on healing MS. I believed that what I ate might make a difference, and so I experimented with macrobiotic, vegetarian and low-fat food plans. I even tried the Swank MS Diet, an ultra low-fat approach. Nothing helped. In fact, the lower the fats and higher the grains, the worse I felt.
Finally, by 2010, I had educated myself enough to know that I needed help in finding the root causes of my MS. I decided to see a functional medicine nutritionist. Test results revealed that I had non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and a “leaky gut.”
The nutritionist advised me to eliminate gluten from my diet and led me through a 30-day gut-healing protocol. From that day forward I went cold turkey on gluten. Within a week I stopped experiencing tummy issues following meals, and within a few weeks, the numbness and tingling retreated. I have never again experienced a single MS symptom. A blood test later confirmed that my antibody levels against myelin sheath were completely within the normal range. That meant I no longer had MS!
In the intervening years, I quit my job as a sales and marketing executive to research how it was possible that I reversed an autoimmune condition. After all, each of my six neurologists over 26 years had told me “there’s nothing you can do” – except take powerful immune-suppressing steroids or injectable medication. Yet, after reading hundreds of publically available, scientific studies, and dozens of books, including Grain Brain, Brain Maker, The Wahls Protocol, and The Immune System Recovery Plan, I learned there is much that I and anyone else can do.
I learned that health and disease is a continuum, and that environmental factors are mostly responsible for which end of the continuum we tilt towards. I found that the big categories come down to food, infections, gut health, hormone balance, toxins and stress, which happen to spell the helpful mnemonic, F.I.G.H.T.S.! And of these categories, integrative physicians and immunologists agree, food is the best place to start. I also learned about epigenetics – the relatively new and very exciting science that reveals that we can modify how our genes get expressed.
Today I follow a modified ketogenic diet, which means I avoid all grains and instead opt for a rainbow of above-ground vegetables, grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish, and ample healthy fats, like coconut and MCT oil, avocado, and raw, sprouted nuts and seeds. The bonus of eating this way is that, at age 51, I’m in better health and fitter than ever before.
I decided to devote my life to helping those seeking to reverse or prevent autoimmune conditions become empowered and get the information they need to live their most authentic and vibrant lives. I blog and post daily about the heart and science of getting and staying well. I am also studying to be certified as a Functional Medicine Health Coach.
A huge THANK YOU to Dr. Perlmutter for going against the grain of last century’s neurology, and for educating and empowering the world to get and keep our brains and bodies in the best shape possible!