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To beat multiple sclerosis (MS), be smart and eat fish but avoid too much mercury July 23, 2012

Posted by Rebecca Hoover in Uncategorized.

Fish are amazing! When high in omega-3s, fish make your skin soft, probably help prevent Alzheimer’s, are heart healthy and even probably help us beat MS.

Many with multiple sclerosis (MS), myself included, wisely eat a fish and whole plant food diet. Such a diet is low in saturated fats and high in the omega-3 fatty acids that may help prevent disability from MS. At the same time, the diet helps keep energy levels high, weight at the right level, and cholesterol levels low. All of this is important. Fatigue is a major problem with MS and eating right to help reduce fatigue is important. At the same time, research suggests that being overweight worsens MS  while high cholesterol levels also cause problems. Studies have shown that as cholesterol levels rise so do lesions and disability from MS. So, fish and whole plant food are all fine and good. But, what about the mercury in fish? Should you be worried about that too?

Yes, unfortunately, because so much fish is contaminated with mercury that can cause a host of neurological problems, it is important to know about the mercury issue and how to get the healthy omega-3s from fish while avoiding mercury to the extent possible. The very best source of information I have ever seen on the topic of mercury in fish is maintained by the United States Food and Drug Administration in a chart entitled Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990-2010). If you review this table and look up the amount of omega-3s found in fish on a site such as SelfNutritionData, you will see that sockeye salmon and sardines are some of the best fish available for those of us with relapsing/remitting MS. The Food and Drug Admistration also makes available much more information on mercury in fish than you might want to see.

When thinking about eating more fish, keep in mind that it is important to eat wild caught fish only. Many groups have reported on high levels of PCBs (hazardous chemicals) in farm-raised fish.

With this information in mind, fish can become a great part of your diet. Fish, nuts, legumes and lots of fruits and vegetables will make you look super and probably help you beat MS. For some evidence of this consider: Can Food Variety Add Years to Your Life? Also consider: Modifiable Comorbidities and Disability in Multiple Sclerosis. It’s all about feeling great and having fun looking good from eating right!.



1. G - October 2, 2013

Hi Rebecca, the same beneficial omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are also found in algae-based oil (which is supposedly what fish get their omega-3s from in the first place). I take it primarily because it’s vegetarian but I believe algae-based oil mitigates the risk of mercury contamination associated with fish oil.

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