Plan for beating MS and looking good
You may not be able to cure multiple sclerosis (MS) but the odds are that you can beat it. Remember, most with MS never end up in a wheel chair. Also remember that the same ultra healthy living steps that will help you beat MS will make you look your best.
This plan for beating multiple sclerosis (MS) is based on a review of thousands of research abstracts on PubMed and extensive reading, It is a well-rounded plan and includes 11 steps in addition to any medicine you decide to take. This approach has worked for me. I was diagnosed in 1991 and still have no visible symptoms even though I have never taken any MS medicines — not even steroids. More important, the research seems to be showing this plan can help you sizzle too.
Every major organization serving those with MS recognizes the importance of following a well-rounded plan for staying healthy. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and others all recommend that those with MS follow a healthy low-fat diet, get enough sleep, exercise, etc.
As recommended on the Mayo Clinic web site for some cases, I have always followed a “wait and see” approach to medicines for MS. I do follow the 11 steps rather religiously but, of course, I cheat a bit.
The steps below are in list form. I include more detail in blog posts on each of the 11 steps in the plan (for example, where to get a cooling vest for free if needed). I am still working on my blog posts, however, so if you cannot find what you are looking for, please stop back or send me a comment and I will respond if possible. I also am writing a book I hope to have ready in another month in electronic form. Here are the 11 steps for staying healthy and looking drop dead gorgeous:
- Avoid heat and stay cool (100% natural fabrics for clothes and sheets help do this as does a cooling vest). Avoid hot tubs, etc. Reason: exposure to heat often increases severity of MS symptoms.
- Take Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B1, and fish or flax seed oil supplements (enough for a minimum of 4,000 milligrams of Omega-3s each day). After one year of taking fish oil supplements, flax seed oil supplements may be used as a replacement for fish oil if oily fish are or have been eaten regularly as part of the diet. Reasons: research shows that 60% of those with MS have a Vitamin D deficiency, scientific studies suggest that Vitamin D deficiencies help cause MS and lead to rapid worsening of MS, Vitamin B12 deficiencies are also frequent for some reason and cause the same symptoms as MS, fish oil may reduce the number of MS relapses, and most diets probably do not include enough of the other B vitamins on the list. Also, a recent study found that those taking flax seed oil regularly have 60% few relapses. Please see my post on Vitamin D for information on how much Vitamin D3 is probably needed. Please also note that Professor George Jelinek, M.D., recommends 6,000 milligrams of Omega-3s each day.
- Get 10 to 20 minutes of midday sun each day in the summer if at all possible. Reasons: the sun is an excellent source of Vitamin D3, sunlight probably helps lift depression, and some scientists report sunlight exposure helps you sleep soundly. More recent research suggests that the sun helps heal MS even though it is not understood exactly how sunshine exposure helps.
- At minimum, follow the Swank diet developed by Dr. Roy Swank, a professor of neurology from a medical school in Oregon. Information on the diet is available for free at by borrowing his book The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book by Dr. Roy Laver Swank from the library using an interlibrary loan if needed. I think this is 100% necessary. No slipping up or things get worse, I think. Reason: this or another low-fat diet is the healthy diet everyone should eat and reduces inflammation. This diet reduces fatigue. I like the Swank diet because it is precise about what “low-fat” means and has some precise rules from Dr. Swank, who treated thousands of MS patients. An even better approach is to follow recommend the dietary recommendations of Professor George Jelinek, M.D., who has a web site called Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis. Professor Jelinek updates Swank’s recommendations.
- Get the the right healthy fats. Ensure you have at least the one gram of Omega-3 fatty acids each day as recommended by the Swank diet and preferably four to six grams of Omega-3s. Also, ensure you have a fat called linoleic acid each day. This fat is available from sunflower seeds, etc. Reason: recent research suggests MS may be caused by a deficiency in Omega-3s and polyunsaturated fats such as linoleic acid. Research suggests both Omega-3s and linoleic acid help reduce MS problems. Also, even when take fish oil and eating oily fish, be sure to take at least one tablespoon of flax seed oil each day because, as mentioned above flax seed oil may reduce relapses up to 60%. Finally, remember that Dr. Swank found that those who take at least 50 grams of healthy oils each days have very little disability and the oils may even help eliminate some any existing disability. (Do remember, however, that if you have any cardiovascular disease, you will probably be best off also avoiding more than minimal omega-6 fatty acids. Also 50 grams a day would be too much for smaller persons.)
- Sleep 7 to 8 hours per night and take a 2-hour nap each day if needed. Get extra bed rest during a relapse. Reason: those who sleep enough have fewer symptoms and do better than those who do not.
- Exercise (this is needed to evoke what is called brain plasticity — the ability of the brain and neurological system to regrow and even re-wire itself). Reason: those with MS who exercise do better than those who do not; those who exercise sleep better, have less fatigue and even think better than those who do not exercise. Moderate, not strenuous, exercise is needed.
- Consider food intolerance and stop eating any food that gives you loose stools, diarrhea or cramps. (I had to stop eating gluten such as wheat, barley, oats, etc. and this made a big difference for me.) Reason: if something makes you sick, it is obviously not good for you and can only make the MS worse.
- Avoid viral and bacterial infections by practicing good hygiene (this means frequent hand washing and no long or polished finger nails). Reason: scientists have found that both viral and bacterial infections can cause MS relapses. Also, treat all ailments aggressively because ailments are extra difficult when you have MS.
- Quit smoking. Reason: those who smoke are more likely to get MS and even children exposed to second hand smoke are more likely to get MS. Also, studies show smoking seems to make MS worse by increasing the amount of disability.
- Set lifelong goals and go for them. Be like my friend the diplomat. Don’t let MS hold you back. Reason: this evokes brain plasticity too and helps your brain grow new cells and rewire itself.
If you follow these 11 steps, you will be on your way to being as healthy as you can be. You will also find yourself looking attractive — your skin will glow, you will get in shape, and you will sizzle in more ways than one!
Please let me know if you find my blog helpful. Please add a comment. What did you like? What would you like added? Thanks! Together we can change the way the world views MS.
Please remember to consult your doctors about how to stay as healthy as possible. Nothing here should be interpreted as medical advice. Instead, please use the information you find here in your discussions with your doctor.
Copyright 2009 Rebecca Hoover