Inflammation is not good for anyone’s brain, but people with MS need to be even more aware of lifestyle choices that can either increase or reduce inflammation. The below is an excerpt from the article, Fight Arthritis with Food and Supplements, by Dr. Leo Galland, a board-certified internist. The article focuses on arthritis, but these foods are just as applicable for MS.
If you are following the Swank Diet, McDougall Diet or have heard about Dr. Terry Wahls, this list of do’s and don’ts should be familiar. It’s always reaffirming to read about the benefits of nutrition to fight disease, which seems to be more common these days… or since I seek it out maybe I just notice it more!
1. Eat at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
Choose those with bright or deep colors like cherries and berries and sweet potatoes that contain natural anti-inflammatory nutrition. NOTE: Food allergies can trigger inflammation for some people, and if there is a food that your body reacts to, you should avoid it, no matter how healthy it would be for someone who’s not sensitive to it. Tomatoes, incidentally, seem to have more of anti-inflammatory effect when they’re cooked or juiced, but most other vegetables and fruits are better if they’re fresh.
2. Choose your oils wisely.
Extra-virgin olive oil has natural anti-inflammatory benefits, whether raw or cooked. Recent research has identified the antioxidant called oleocanthal, which is only found in extra-virgin olive oil. Oleocanthal is a natural anti-inflammatory with potency strikingly similar to that of the drug ibuprofen in inhibiting an enzyme that causes pain and inflammation. Even better pain management results have been observed when, in addition to fish oil, extra-virgin olive oil is part of the natural anti-inflammatory diet.
Flaxseed oil and flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed), also have significant anti-inflammatory effects, but should not be cooked, because cooking destroys some of the beneficial omega-3 fats.
But other vegetable oils, like corn, safflower or sunflower oils, can increase inflammation and counteract the benefits of anti-inflammatory nutrients in your diet.
3. Eat fish three times a week.
Especially wild salmon, if it’s available and affordable, but don’t fry your fish; frying interferes with the benefits. Supplement your diet with the natural anti-inflammatory, fish oil. The amount of fish oil you need is not fixed; it varies from about a teaspoon (4000 milligrams) to a tablespoon (12,000 milligrams) each day, depending upon what else is in your diet. The more meat, poultry, egg yolk or dairy fat you eat, the greater your need for fish oil, because these foods contain arachidonic acid, a pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acid. The more you use vegetable oils other than extra virgin olive oil, the more fish oil you need.
4. Avoid sugar and foods with added sugar and refined carbohydrates
Reduce inflammation by cutting out white flour products, white rice and white potatoes. Several studies have shown that consuming foods of this type aggravates inflammation. Instead eat high fiber foods like whole grains and legumes. Studies have shown that high fiber diets are anti-inflammatory. Don’t worry about carrots. All the publicity given to the Glycemic Index of foods (the tendency for a food to raise blood sugar) has given carrots a bad rep. The carotenoids in carrots, anti-oxidants that create the orange color, and the fiber, make carrots an anti-inflammatory food. Carrots, like tomatoes, are also more nutritious cooked than raw.
5. Drink tea, black or green.
Green tea and black tea can help with fighting inflammation. You need at least three cups a day to get the benefit.
6. Use anti-inflammatory spices in preparing your food.
Ginger and turmeric have excellent anti-inflammatory effects, although human clinical trials with these spices are much more limited than for the other principles listed.