I’m 68 years old and hail from Boulder, Colorado. Just ten years ago I found myself in the ER, unable to walk. At the time, doctors diagnosed me with MS. For years I went through steroid treatments and many nasty relapses.
Along the way, my neurologists never discussed with me diet or other environmental issues. But recently I was introduced to a nutritional therapist who shined a light on Grain Brain, as well as the work of Dr. Terry Wahls. Continue reading
It is very exciting to see the incredible increase in scientific research being released that relates gut issues to various health problems elsewhere in the body. The research that explores this relationship in terms of autoimmune conditions is particularly interesting, not just because it links gut-related problems to changes in immune balance, but in terms of how this new understanding might open the door for new treatments for these challenging conditions.
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is an autoimmune condition, and this is a disease that actually has its origin in the gut! The gut, as you know, regulates inflammation in the body and plays a huge role in regulating immunity. As it relates to MS, we want to implement a diet that improves gut health and preserves the gut lining. The tenets of that diet include being low in carbohydrates, rich in healthy fats, and stocked with plenty of prebiotic fiber. It’s also possible, as recent science is discovering, that vitamin D could have a role to play too.
Two years ago, at age 36, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was devastated. I sought out the help of a nutritionist, who, before she even met me, told me that I should probably go gluten free. If she had not said this to me, I am convinced that I would, by now, have suffered multiple relapses.
I immediately quit eating gluten. I noticed that I had more energy, I was thinking more clearly. My digestive system seemed to work, causing me to realize that, in fact, I could not remember a day of my life that it DID work well. I could think….and I realized that I never remembered a day when I didn’t feel foggy and tired. I lost 27 pounds in about 6 weeks…and the weight has NEVER crept back up on me. I had been so sick for the entire 36 years of my life that I did not know what “wellness” felt like until I cut gluten out of my diet. Still, I had lingering doubts: would this be enough to help me achieve brain health?
Then I found Grain Brain, and after that I found Brain Maker. The principles taught in these books have changed my life. Going gluten-free was an immediate fix for me, I felt better very quickly. The concepts from Brain Maker came more gradually. I started eating fermented foods. I learned that, if I had problems with gluten, I should probably be dairy-free, too. I cut dairy out of my diet. I eat as many vegetables as I can squeeze into a day. I learned that my kitchen was the place where I was going to get well…and not in a neurologist’s office. Food truly has become my medicine. Did I mention that I am not at all affected by my MS to date?
I started eating fermented foods. I learned that, if I had problems with gluten, I should probably be dairy-free, too, so I cut dairy out of my diet. I eat as many vegetables as I could squeeze into a day. I learned that my kitchen was the place where I was going to get well, and not in a neurologist’s office. Food truly had become my medicine. It should thus come as no surprise for me to mention that I am not at all affected by my MS (to date).
Today’s program features an interview with my good friend, Dr. Terry Wahls. Dr. Wahls is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa and a staff physician at the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Hospital, where she teaches medical students and resident physicians, sees patients in traumatic brain injury and therapeutic lifestyle clinics (who often present with complex chronic health problems that include multiple autoimmune disorders), and conducts clinical trials.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) has been diagnosed in more than 400,000 Americans, with about 200 new cases identified each week.
The overwhelming approach in addressing MS is centered on drugs designed to alter the course of the disease once it has manifested. Fortunately, leading edge researchers around the globe are exploring other approaches, including modifiable lifestyle factors, that may be leveraged in a situation like MS, in which the immune system has became out of balance.
In this video blog, I review a study published by German researchers in which they manipulated the fatty acid availability in laboratory animals while they assessed various markers of immune regulation.
What these researchers discovered is that when short chain fatty acids were enhanced in the laboratory animal model of human MS, the immune markers that are typically out of balance were brought under control. When long chain fatty acids were accentuated, the immune markers worsened.
We make short chain fatty acids when our gut bacteria are provided fuel in the form of prebiotic fiber. So the take home message is that this research would indicate that it may be reasonable for MS patients to consider increasing their consumption of prebiotic foods as a method of achieving immune balance.