There are lots of so-called “MS diets” out there, each one claiming to ease the difficulties of living with MS. This, despite the fact that neurologists don’t often address nutrition when discussing disease management with their patients. Why is diet so rarely discussed by medical practitioners? And why hasn’t there been more research in this area? These are questions I get asked all the time.
Unfortunately, it’s notoriously difficult to test a diet, for several reasons:
- Compliance! People forget what they’ve eaten (and sometimes they’re not honest) so it’s difficult to know exactly what’s being tested
- It would be virtually impossible to confine individuals to a room and have them eat a specific controlled long term diet, to obtain verifiable results
- Each body is unique, and responds to foods differently
But just because it’s difficult to perform a “diet test” doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to how we fuel our bodies.
So let’s take a quick look at three popular diets and examine their differences and similarities and potential health impact.
- Restricts red meat in the first year
- Avoids processed food with saturated fats
- Includes low fat foods
- Daily intake of 2 servings of fruits of vegetables
- Permits white fish, shellfish and lean poultry
Wahls Protocol (Paleolithic Diet)
- Emphasis on meat
- Includes plant foods
- Restricts processed food
- Avoids dairy
- Emphasis on whole grains, olive oil and fish
- Includes vegetables and legumes
- Avoids saturated fats, red meat and dairy
As we know, there’s no proven MS diet — nothing that has been tested on a large group of individuals with MS and found to have significant and measurable results. But we do have an understanding of which foods are better and which are worse for most people when it comes to keeping organs healthy and working optimally.
Minimizing processed foods and keeping an eye on your intake of saturated fats are good dietary habits to adopt. While the jury is still out on the harm that saturated fats may do, at this time it makes sense to keep them to a minimum. Including plants in most meals has been shown to promote good health and even contribute to disease prevention.
Remember that your body is different from your neighbor’s body, and will respond to food in its own unique way. We all have our own personal goals when it comes to diet — weight loss, muscle gain, health maintenance, getting an energy boost — and your food choices can help you realize those goals in a way that’s right for you.
Does it really matter which diet is the “best?” Maybe the better question is, “Which diet is best for you?”
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