MS and Healing Through Healthy Eating

MS and Healing Through Healthy Eating

Jennifer Silver LiningsAwareness is, at times, barely imperceptible, a quiet conviction that lies within. As with most truths, they are self-evident long before we decide to own them. And when we do, it is as if we have opened our eyes for the first time.

My eyes are open.

Living with progressive multiple sclerosis is a lesson in reacting to everchanging variables. It can sometimes be difficult to discern what we can change. For me, this inability is due to willful ignorance on my part. Willful, because I have been a lovely combination of stubborn and exhausted; ignorance, because I know better.

I have decided to revamp my eating habits and begin my journey by doing the Whole30 Program. I am so tired of feeling fatigued, pained, and just blah. I understand secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) and chronic pain can exacerbate all three, but why not mitigate my contribution?

Adopting healthier eating habits has been in the back of my mind for far too long. Then, five days ago, I was prompted to make this decision when I witnessed an incredible metamorphosis in someone I love.

I have never been one to walk away from a challenge, yet I admit that I’m feeling a bit nervous. Change is hard. Habits are hard to break. Betterment requires effort. Do you know what is harder? Stagnation, monotony, and staying small — a life resembling a flat line on an EKG. No, thank you. I want more than a simple existence. I want that line to dance as there will come a time I do not have a choice. A life that’s less lived is a life taken for granted.

I have slowed significantly since my progression, and at times, I find myself feeling scared. I am scared of a future of wheelchair confinement. I am scared of being reliant on my husband and family. I am scared of being unable to care for those I love. How can I blatantly ignore anything with the potential to help?

“Help” is the keyword here. This is not a cure. This is not a diet. This is a short-term nutritional reset. For 30 days, I am eliminating anything which can exacerbate inflammation in my body. Afterward, I will follow a sensible, healthy eating plan. My goal is to be as healthy as I can be, and I’m hoping that weight loss will be a “side effect.” I have no idea where this will take me, but it is time to find out.

I look at all who advocate, support, encourage, and care for me, and say I am finally here. I am reclaiming my body and my health. I am taking responsibility for what I put into my body. I am not using multiple sclerosis or chronic pain as an excuse. Each of you give so much to make my life better, and it is time I do the same.

I have had a few people warn me that this is going to be hard.

However, I know what is hard. Hard is living each day with an unpredictable and progressive disease. Hard is the inability to walk because your legs will not work. Hard, is chronic pain so insidious you can only sit and cry.

This will be enlightening, interesting, and educational — an eye-opening experience. And I expect that it will be as challenging as hell.

But this, my friends, will not be hard.

***

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

35 comments

  1. Georgina Kasimati says:

    It is true Jenn, you are such an inspiration.
    Among others I liked what you said “I am taking responsibility for what I put into my body”. I smoke and that’s too bad, I know. I have to make that decision to quit it.
    Are you keeping up a specific diet? I live in Greece and we have plenty of delicious fruits, vegetables etc.
    So, reading your article, I believe I must quit smoking and sugar…. I know, but its not easy to make the decision and keep it ….
    I wish you good luck ❤

  2. Amy says:

    Love this! Keep fighting! Nutrition + exercise + prayer!❤🙏❤ Perseverance. One day at a time. Every day won’t be perfect, but stay the course. MS-er for 10 yrs here but exercise and a healthy diet and God are my salvations.❤ Praying for you!❤🙏❤Believe your body can heal.❤

  3. Dave says:

    great closing line/statement! how can doing anything that makes you feel better be hard?
    I have had MS for over 30 years now (on SSDI) and am in the SPMS stage for 20 years now. I came across a book by DR whals. he explains a lot on diet and MS. quite enlightening. I wish the medical community put more emphasis in this area. diet and nutrition should be part of every MS pamphlet for every stage of MS. Yet, after having been diagnosed in the early 80’s with MS no doctor has ever spoke to me about dieting (the good and bad foods). its all been in my own hands.
    I have been doing the Paleo diet (whole 30) for several months now and truly do feel better. not as good as I wish I could be but not worse. and I did discover some foods that irritated me. you miss some of the foods you liked but eventually get over them when you start feeling better. it isn’t easy at first but definitely worth the try. Good luck in whatever path you take. bless us all!

    • Debbie Pentak says:

      View the TED talk on YouTube……Terry Wahl’s is speaking, walking across the stage as she shows photos of her in a wheelchair! Her diet protocol is wonderful.

      Why no one mentioned the Swank Diet when you were diagnosed is a shame on the medical profession…….developed in the 1950s.

      The Paleo diet is similar to Wahl’s.

      Good luck to you as you follow this course.

  4. Lon Honzell says:

    MS is a continually changing fight never knowing what effect it will, may have on ones health. Having no cure for Multiple Sclerosis, imagine having a fight with a Monster.
    This fight is taking place in the dark and the only weapon you have is a short Qtip.
    Unfair fight since this MS has weapons that you have never heard of, and it will use them against the individual.
    This MS will bring you closer to God and his son Jesus Christ, which their is no better place to be.
    Never give up.

  5. Ana Denic says:

    Dear Jenn,
    thanks for your text! So inspiring!
    Very similar simptoms, SPMS,chronic pain…
    Wandering if you can mail me that 30day diet?
    Wish to try…
    Never give up,fight, fight, fight 😉
    Best regards to all!
    Ana

      • Rhind says:

        Very inspiring ,you text rings a bell .i am at the same mindset and it is time to take action . From today i am starting my recovery plan no excuses anymore .Let`s do the diet together and maybe you can have a fb page for people who wants to follow the plan .What do you think? Please can you email me the plan .Good luck to all

  6. Roberto Manito says:

    Yes it is truth that at the beginning os MS no one knows what to explain about MS , but when times pases you start to learn that there has to be something that will make this problem easier to deal with. I have being in two places in north America where the diet was the answer to feeling better. It’s hard to change the things we are used to live with , but for a better living is all worth it . I myself was diagnosed 9 years ago , and live was diffrent, after my diagnose I lost my job and started to see how to adjust to live with MS . After that came to the knowledge that the sickness doesn’t have a cure and o fur the diet whith specific foods has being the best of all tratments I’ve had , do not give up easy to say but is some thing good to tray,also a prayer would help at least for me works well and I hope you does the same .

  7. Carol says:

    Hi to everyone
    I’m currently on a cruise around France and Spain.
    Anyone that has been on a cruise will know there is food available 24-7!
    I was naughty at the start of my holiday, eating high sugar rubbish! I felt clogged up and tired.
    I’ve now been eating only healthy foods. Not much sugar, hardly any carbs.
    I’m enjoying my cruise and feeling better. I have PPMS
    It’s true what they say “you are what you eat”.

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Well done, it is not easy to modify one’s diet on vacation. Your body is clearly thanking you!

  8. Carol says:

    By the way….. does anyone want to know about travelling as a wheelchair user? Good and bad. The best way to travel? And still having fun doing it all!

  9. Karen Junqueira says:

    Read the research of Dr Valter Longo on longevity, or just google him and watch a few of his videos on the web. He has the answer to health and killing off the autoimmune cells damaging our brains (literally).
    I am in the process of repair and getting rid of MS for good. I am returning to the strong, healthy person I was 10 years ago – all through the fasting-mimicking diet of Dr Valter Longo.
    Go for it and go healthy.
    Regards
    Karen

  10. Ann says:

    Read Overcoming MS by George Jelinek….it is challenging to change ones diet but not as challenging as this disease! After 4 months of this, I am 20 pounds lighter, pain management is easier but fatigue is still the worst part of my symptom list. Hopefully over time that too will abate.

  11. itasara says:

    Good luck on this adventure. Would like to know how you do.. I read the rules. So What do you eat? I keep my carb count low and I think it has helped me keep my weight down. My MS is doing pretty good. But now I have some acid reflux issue, so many more foods I am not supposed to eat. I’d say Avoid. I can’t just avoid all foods.

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      I completely understand how this reset looks; ominous! It’s impor to cut everything for 30 days and then reintroduce things slowly to see how your body reacts. I never thought myself capable of this drastic measure so I assure that if I can do this most anyone can!

      • Georgina Kasimati says:

        Hi Jennifer, I stopped smoking on Saturday and started that diet the same day (internet was helpful!) I am thinking that it is just 4 weeks and I am expecting to see the reaction of my body!!! I am sure we will all share the outcome …

    • June S says:

      Hello Itasara,
      Looks like that you are handling it all very well. You should be pretty proud of yourself. Just thought that I would let you know that every morning I have a glass of warm water with a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar on an empty stomach and it seems to be working quite well for me – I am no where near as bad as I used to be.

  12. Kellie says:

    Yes!!! My MS had started to progress. I was waiting to start a new drug. In the past 10 yrs (18 with MS) I have done everything possible to be “healthy” and even changed my diet but never to the extent of no sugars , caffeine , gluten, diary etc. I was reading a lot about Gut Bacteria and MS and saw how well MS patients were doing with Wahls protocol and specifically the way Dr. Terry Wahls life was transformed. I decided while waiting on insurance for new drug I would try this healthy eating theory and taming my “gut bacteria”. I did this in February 2018 and I am still doing Whole 30. I did not have a problem with it. In fact the first 3 weeks I felt fabulous. As of today , I do not see a lot of changes with MS symptoms but I feel better and healthier from the inside out. I’m still hoping to see more positive results with MS .
    Go for it!!! Eating healthy is a huge part of life with MS. Good luck and don’t listen to negative peeps.

    • Margaret says:

      I’ve lived with MS for the past 11 years and my physical therapist suggested a diet change. At the same time I read a few books on diet and MS and decided to try it — the rule of thumb was good nutrition, exercise, meditation, and medication. I added the diet piece — that was July 4th, 2017 — and I’ve been sticking to it since. For me it’s been fruits, vegetables, no dairy, no gluten, no red meats. I’ve learned to live with almond butter and almond milk. It takes a lot of persistence. People have stopped asking me to take a little of something I’m not eating and telling me I’m not eating something because I don’t want to not because I can’t. And I do have a lot more energy! I take mid-day naps, but I can live with those and work around them.
      Good idea to try. It will be worth it.

  13. Mark Upnorth says:

    It may be hard, but tough S! I did it, from essentially years of being comatose (according to my Neuro’s – severe typical brain fog). Out of necessity as my life savings (not that much) were on the line because it was financing my companies. I stopped eating, to keep from going comatose, except at night, when I knew I would “turn” thereafter. I did years of juicing as a means of keeping from turning. To Vitmixing the same, then Terry Whals was presented to me by one of my Neuro’s. Did that, almost (never kicked the dairy part though), but really, religiously followed it, and pushed myself to accumulate steps, cane in hand. It took time. It didn’t happen in a month, six months, but little by little, IT REALLY DID. I’m off all MEDS, do 10K steps a day, yeah, still with cane…,
    but life is much better than the decades of RRMS. Doc says I may be through it. Over 5 yrs since my last relapse. And actually improving! Regained lost eyesight told would never return,…, but yeah, I’ve still have many “battle wounds” fighting M.S. But healthy eating, does work! Do it, stick with it. But like my one Neuro used to tell me, only antacids work immediately. Well, nutrition does take time. And it may be a hard adjustment, but One Does Get Used To It, and Actually Like It!

  14. Kristin Hardy says:

    Nom Nom Paleo has some great Whole 30 recipes. Super easy and super tasty. As to sugar withdrawals, don’t overthink it. This is summer time, which is the best time of year to go sugar-free – clementines, cherries, strawberries, stone fruit. If you’re allowed bananas, try my favorite go-to smoothie: 3 cups greens (kale, spinach, regular salad greens, Swiss chard, etc.), one banana, 2 tablespoons full fat coconut milk, 1.5 to 2 cups carrot juice. Blend until it’s liquefied then add 1 cup of black/blueberries and 1 cup of red berries (strawberries, raspberries, cherries, etc.). I also add a mixture of powdered kelp in a few supplements (creatinine, taurine, nutritional yeast). Blend until smooth and drink up. It’s great for dessert after dinner – fills you up, tons of nutrition and fiber. As long as I have my smoothie, I never feel deprived. Good luck! It does make a difference.

  15. Elise Dunster says:

    I, too, have PPMS and I am treating it through lifestyle. Many people are surprised that eating and exercise are prescription to help yourself! There is so many unanswered question with MS I am afraid to take chemicals that are supposed to help. It is not a diet. It is eating what your body needs and doesn’t inflame your immune system. A quote that I repeat is “Eating well never felt so good” Go for it! I find that having PPMS reminds me daily that my body is not what it used to be. Keeps me scared. One more recommend Matt Embry’s documentary Living Proof. Way to go everyone who is working on their health! Blessing and hope:)

  16. C Morrison says:

    Although your article is helpful, my antennae went up when I saw the photograph at the top of it, as pictured amongst the veggies were some that are known to cause inflammation. Nightshade vegetables — tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc. — are no-nos for people with inflammatory diseases, of which MS is one. We should all eat healthily, true. But we should also eat intelligently. Being informed of foods that can be problematic is important, and we all need to educate ourselves about foods that are good and bad for us. This is a great part of taking charge of one’s MS.

  17. GEOFFREY THOMAS FLYNN says:

    I’ve done a variation of the Wahl’s diet. Totally useless. It accelerated my decline and made me weaker. Unless you’re after weight loss, I definitely lost weight.

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