I’ve let this blog go for awhile, and now that I’m writing again – I thought I’d pull together the links that helped me decide to eat gluten and dairy free – which (nine months after the diagnosis) has almost become normal to me.
Before learning about MS I would say my diet consisted of: Ice Cream, Chocolate and Fast Food. I’d eat healthy here and there, or try to make sure I ate a vegetable at dinner, but for the most part my boyfriend would say I ate like a Ninja Turtle (ice cream and pizza).
At first it was hard to change my diet. And I only say it was hard because it was hard to know what to eat and what not to eat – especially when eating out. It was never really hard for me to not eat cheese – that is the question that most of my friends ask – “How can you just stop eating cheese!?” – and my answer is simple. Cheese vs. walking. I choose walking. While that sounds extreme and a little bit dramatic, its how I feel and it works. I can honestly say I really don’t care about eating cheese anymore.
So how did I decide that pulling gluten and dairy from my diet would help keep me healthy? Well, I have to give some credit to my uncle for introducing me to one of his childhood friends – Frank. When Frank was graduating from college in the early 1970s, he experienced issues with his vision and doctors confirmed he had multiple sclerosis. At that time there were not any medical treatments for MS and doctors pretty much told patients they were doomed and would be paralyzed.
Fortunately for Frank, his mother read about an English playwright, Roger McDougall, and how he completely recovered from MS by restricting his diet. Frank shared Roger’s story with me – along with his own. Frank is 60 now and is still doing okay. After hearing about Frank and reading Roger McDougall’s account, my boyfriend and I searched online for any information we could find about MS – specifically about how diet affects the disease.
I read about Dr. Swank, a neurologist who treated his MS patients with a low fat diet and followed their progression for 30 years. Nearly all of the patients who stuck to a low fat diet had little to no progression on the disability scale. I also read a few articles noting that dairy proteins are very similar to the myelin that covers the nerve, and that T-cells could mistake the myelin for dairy protein. And I spent a lot of time just educating myself on autoimmune diseases in general.
After everything, I determined that diet plays a huge role in the development of the disease. So – along with being dairy free and gluten free, I try to limit my sugar intake as much as possible, no artificial sweeteners at all – and I’m strict about keeping my saturated fat intake under 10 grams/day.
AND I’m happy to report that at my six month follow-up – all of my lesions decreased in size. Even more proof to me that changing my diet was right the decision.