Try it to know. Open your mind to try.
Every year it’s the same. It’s getting boring now. You do too much – just one more thing – just one more and then I’ll rest – just this and then day off – and, before you know it, you can’t do anything anymore, for the next two or even three months. Sound familiar? You go to a wedding, to your boyfriend’s gig, to a baby shower. You’re doing loads, you feel like you again. Nothing crazy, no out-til-6am like the good old days; but maybe until midnight (woohooo) twice in a row (uh-oh). Two places to go in a day – MS Action (home for lunch) then to my sister’s house. Exhausting. Seriously. That’s how it is. I’m feeling tired just thinking about it, (right n0w it’s 8.30 and I’m ready for bed, teeth are clean and at 9 I will be in bed, I assure you. (I will probably finish this post tomorrow.)
As I was saying, you go to a wedding, do the shopping, work on your project. Go to a funeral. For me, grief is definitely the straw that breaks the camel’s back (fav expression of a friend I used to have). How can I describe it? Sadness is heavy. It is a load everyone struggles with. It is something you let yourself give into, in the moment, you stay in it a while longer than your body is telling you you can.
I have been thinking about this relapse problem. I need to learn my lesson, and slow down – especially in winter, when my body is weaker. I need to break the chain, and I am determined not to relapse next year. I will lay low and sit this one out as I must, but next winter I will take it easy until the weather gets warmer, and hopefully, I won’t relapse.
Scientists at the university of Wisconsin have found that when mice sleep, they produce double the amount of immature oligodendrocytes; the cells responsible for making myelin.
This is big news for anyone affected by MS and makes a lot of sense to me. I always make sure I get enough sleep, it is really important to me and I feel much better the next day if I have slept well.
It’s time to stop neglecting the basic tools for myelin repair: sleep enough every night, it is essential for everyone but especially if you have MS.
Now that we are talking about sleep, it is also very important to go to bed early. Apparently it is in the first two hours after 10pm that the body takes care of repair work. So, if we are sleeping more to repair myelin sheath, it is probably sensible to get to sleep before 10pm.
Nutrition to Repair Myelin:
folic acid and vitamin B12 supplements
The body needs these vitamins to protect the nervous system and repair the myelin sheath. As well as taking supplements, insure you eat foods naturally rich in these vitamins.
2) Follow an anti inflammatory diet
Take a look at this blog’s diet page for more good anti-inflammatory food sources
3) Eat Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) every day
The myelin is made up of EFAs – oleic acid (an omega 6) : fish, olives, chicken, nuts and seeds and omega 3 – which reduces inflammation and protects the myelin sheath. More EFA sources.
4) Look after your immune system
MS is an auto-immune disease and it is the immune cells which cause the inflammation damaging the myelin. The answer is not to suppress the immune system as disease modifying drugs do; that will only make you ill. Support your immune system and its correct functioning by liver flushing and by taking vitamins.
Before I was diagnosed with MS, I suffered quite badly from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). I remember being in pain for hours after eating, especially after dinner, for about a year. I didn’t understand why I was having so much trouble, as I thought I ate quite well, relatively speaking; vegetables as well as a lot of fruit. It was getting really bad. I was living in Mexico at the time and as well as the fruit and veg, eating quite a lot of meat and cheese. Cheese was something which I had never liked (I know, there are not many of us cheese haters out there!) but found a taste for when melted on pizza, in vampiros (the most delicious Mexican taco type snack), quesadillas (melted cheese in tortilla). I also ate a lot of greasy delicious Mexican food, a lot more fat basically, than my body had ever been subjected to before.
On a visit back to the UK I had an endoscopy to see if there was anything serious going on; after which I was diagnosed with IBS and told to use peppermint tea and oil to ease symptoms. I had realised that perhaps the heavy food I was eating was not so good for me, but didn’t really make a change to my diet until I was diagnosed with MS. (Saturated fats need to be reduced drastically in MS to reduce the risk of deterioration, I am also dairy intolerant and allergies are important to avoid if you have MS – see foods to avoid and other diet pages on this blog for more info.) A friend of mine had been on an alternative MS therapy which involved diet and exercise and so I immediately started his diet, took up yoga again as well as swimming, which I had not done for years!
A few months into my MS, after a yoga class my yoga teacher gave us a talk about the digestive system and how problems begun there and spread to other areas of the body. I approached her after the class to ask further questions and she told me about an amazing alternative doctor who gave medical talks and examinations for free every Wednesday evening in Guadalajara, where I was living. So, one Wednesday I went along to see if he had anything to say that could help. He gave you medical advice in front of his thirty or more followers who gathered in a room at his sister’s house once a week. First he explained that all illnesses started in the head – with the way we think. Through constant stress, self criticism, depression and so on, our bodies eventually develop problems with the digestive system. After which, more serious problems took place elsewhere in the body. In my case, the nervous system. His reasoning seemed very logical to me, and on dealing with my case directly he showed me, and his loyal followers the external signs which pointed to disease, as well as talking me through events in my past that may have triggered the problems in my head, how they then manifested themselves in my IBS and eventually MS. This doctor’s answer was “stop taking the steroids and fix the problems in your head”. This was the push I had been waiting for; already suffering from horrible Interferon side effects and having already decided to stop taking them.
As for the problem with the way we think, the thing that actually helped me make a big positive change was A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. However, I think that diet is also an extremely important part of the curing process and one you must consider in dealing with MS.
A problem that most of us have with the digestion of food is the elimination of what our body does not need: “poor bowel management lies at the root of most people’s health problems.” Dr Bernard Jensen (Green for Life – Victoria Boutenko)
Ideally we should have bowel movements at least twice a day. Who can say that they go as regularly as that? The toxins that build up in the colon come from so many sources. They build up from dust in the air, and food we have not digested properly, as well as metals and pollutants that we ingest. They also come from our dead cells: “70-100 pounds of dead cells per year, or more, should be passing out of our system. If they don’t [they] can be one of the most toxic kinds of waste because they begin to rot right away” (Green for Life – Victoria Boutenko). Boutenko explains that when your body cannot eliminate the way it is supposed to, it does so less efficiently through the skin which becomes rough and bumpy, through mucus in our eyes, throat and nose.
It is impossible to eliminate without fiber – this is missing from a lot of people’s diets. There are two types of fiber – soluble (pectin in apples, guar gums in chia seeds, oatmeal, legumes and mangos*) and insoluble (greens, peels, nuts, seeds, beans skins of grain) Soluble fiber sticks to cholesterol in the small intenstines to take it out of the body. Insoluble fiber is able to absorb much more toxin than its own volume and remove it from the body. Linseed is both soluable and insoluble fiber: I recommend adding it to you diet, especially if you have MS. It is important to ensure that you are giving your body the right amount. Victoria Boutenko has come to the conclusion that 50 to 70 grams a day or more are what we need, but that we shouldn’t suddenly increase it drastically, but gradually.
Fiber is magical, it can:
fight diabetes, high cholesterol, bowel problems, excess estrogen
prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, gallstones ulcers, stabilise blood-sugar levels
maintain the immune system, heart health, promote intestinal bacteria, help with weight loss
*The soluble fibers mentioned slow the release of sugar in food, reducing the risk of diabetes.
It is essential to reduce your saturated fat intake if you have MS to a maximum of 15g a day and to avoid hydrogenated fats, which are just as useless for the body. According to Professor Swank, although it will be un-apparent for several years, even a slightly higher amount of fat than 15g will result in a slow deterioration followed by an acceleration of the illness. Having followed 150 MS patients on their low-saturated fat diet for 35 years Swank realised that 90-95% of patients who begun it in the early stages of their MS with little or no obvious disability, did not worsen during that time. People who did not stick to the diet however, did get worse.
It is not just saturated fats that need to be reduced however. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are extremely important for people with MS; who have an unusual fatty acids pattern in their blood.
Because EFAs play an essential role in the maintenance of nervous tissues, they are needed in MS; where the nervous system is under attack, so that it may be repaired.
The myelin sheath, red and white blood cells, membranes, platelets, brain and blood plasma are all deficient in EFAs in people with MS. It is thought that lymphocytes (white blood cells) depend on the condition of cell the membrane. If a cell membrane is deficient in EFAs it becomes rigid causing certain of these lymphocytes to be less effective immunologically. A deficiency in EFAs also causes red blood cells to move slower than they should and have a lower surface charge in people with MS.
EFAs improve brain cell communication and ensure that cell membranes are fluid and flexible. It is suggested that by sticking to a diet rich in EFAs, people with MS will correct the problems mentioned above and have less demyelination resulting in less damage.
2 Types of EFAs –both are essential for fighting MS: both must be consumed so that the body can make them into longer chain, more biologically active unsaturated fatty acids, which are used by the brain. The derivatives** of these EFAs are more important than the parent* fatty acids. Eating the parent foods is fine, but it has been suggested that people with MS are possibly not efficient at converting them into their valuable derivatives.
1) *Linoleic acid (Omega 6) sunflower and safflower seeds, seed oils, vegetable oils, legumes etc
Regulates slow-moving and low surface charged red blood cells common in people with MS
Becomes (with the addition of bonds):
**Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) oats, evening primrose oil, borage oil, blackcurrant oil, breast milk etc – Is 50% more unsaturated than Linoleic acid, is rare and makes some prostaglandins, essential for health.
Becomes (through elongation of chain): DiHomo-gamma-linolenic acid with the addition of double bonds becomes:
**Arachidonic acid organ meats; liver, kidneys, brains etc
Involved in the production of prostaglandins, very important for healthy cells and said to help regulate immune system – liver is the best source.
2) *Alpha-linolenic acid (Omega 3) green leafy veg; broccoli, spinach, kale etc, legumes, linseed
Becomes Eicosapentaenoic acid which becomes:
**Docosahexaenoic acid Fish and sea food
Prostaglandins are made by GLA and Arachidonic acid (as outlined above) as and when they are needed.
– In MS, platelets clump together, prostaglandins are said to fix this abnormality.
– In MS the immune system attacks the body’s own matter. Series 1 Prostaglandins are said to regulate the T suppressor cells – a type of T lymphocyte (white blood cell) – which prevents the body from attacking itself. These cells are particularly low during an MS relapse and may become defective in a shortage of Series 1 Prostaglandins. Prostaglandins also stop lymphocytes which attack the central nervous system.
Enough polyunsaturated fats need to be introduced into the diet before there is an effect on the severity and duration of relapses. If these EFAs are not taken at the same time as enough anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals i.e. vegetables, they will be oxidised making peroxides which cause a lot of damage. Take a look at the MS diet for more information.