- Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, degenerative disease of the nerves in your brain and spinal column, caused by the destruction of myelin, the insulating substance around the nerves in your central nervous system
- Dr. Terry Wahls tells the inspiring story of how she reversed her multiple sclerosis by switching to a Paleo-style diet focused on fresh raw foods, high in specific nutrients needed for proper function of myelin and mitochondria
- Essential nutrients for proper mitochondrial function include animal-based omega-3 fats, creatine, and coenzymeQ10, while your myelin needs vitamins B1, B9, B12, omega-3, and iodine
- Optimizing your vitamin D levels, which is one of the best things you can do for your health in general, is also one of the best preventive strategies against autoimmune diseases like MS
- Artificial sweeteners like aspartame should be avoided at all cost, as aspartame toxicity often reveals itself through central nervous system disorders and compromised immunity, and can mimic the symptoms of and/or worsen several diseases, including MS
By Dr. Mercola
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, degenerative disease of the nerves in your brain and spinal column, caused through a demyelization process.
Myelin is the insulating, waxy substance around the nerves in your central nervous system.
When the myelin is damaged by an autoimmune disease or self-destructive process in your body, the function of those nerves deteriorate over time, resulting in a number of symptoms, including:
- Muscle weakness
- Imbalance, or loss of coordination
- Astigmatism and vision loss
MS may progress steadily, or acute attacks may be followed by a temporary remission of symptoms.
In the video above, Dr. Terry Wahls tells the inspiring story of how she reversed multiple sclerosis after seven years of deterioration on the best conventional treatments available — simply by changing her diet!
Nutrition for Your Brain and Central Nervous System
Through her research into MS, Dr. Wahls discovered that, for some unknown reason, in addition to the commonly known symptoms, MS patients’ brains also tend to shrink. This roused her curiosity, and led her to research other diseases that have similar brain shrinkage, namely Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease. One common denominator is poorly functioning mitochondria. Mitochondria are like little ‘batteries’ in your cells that manage the energy supply to the cell, and unless you consume the correct nutrients, eventual mitochondrial malfunction is the obvious result.
She discovered that three nutrients in particular are essential for proper mitochondrial function:
- Animal-based omega-3 fat
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) or better yet the reduced version known as Ubiquinol
Just by adding those three to her diet, her decline began to slow. But she wasn’t improving, so she continued sleuthing through the medical research in search for an answer. When she discovered the Institute for Functional Medicine, Dr. Wahl began to find more clues.
As mentioned earlier, myelin is an insulating, waxy substance that sheathes the nerves in your central nervous system. Your myelin also needs specific nutrients to function properly, such as:
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B9
- Vitamin B12
- Animal-based omega-3 fat
Furthermore, the neurotransmitters in your brain need sulfur and B6 for optimal functioning. Eventually, Dr. Wahls designed her own eating plan, based on the nutrients she now knew she needed for optimal mitochondrial-, myelin-, and neurotransmitter function, because while your body can create some nutrients, others must be provided through your diet.
A Paleo Diet Success Story
The majority of Americans eat high amounts of processed foods, which are loaded with high fructose corn syrup, grains, and harmful chemical additives of all kinds, such as MSG, and artificial sweeteners like aspartame. Unfortunately, this kind of diet is a near-foolproof prescription for chronic disease… Not only are you getting lots of what you don’t need, you’re quite simply not getting enough real nutrients!
While two-thirds of American adults are now either overweight or obese, many if not most of them are also, simultaneously, malnourished.
According to the graph shown during Dr. Wahls speech, less than half of all Americans get enough vitamin B6 and magnesium in their diet. More than 70 percent do not get sufficient amounts of iodine, and a whopping 80 percent do not get enough omega-3 fat from their diet. This, by the way, is why animal-based omega-3 is one of the few supplements I recommend to virtually everyone. In comparison, ancient peoples and natives around the world who have not significantly altered their diet over time, consume anywhere between two-fold to 10-fold the amount of today’s recommended daily allowances (RDA) of nutrients!
Dr. Wahls altered her diet to reflect the Paleo-style diet of the hunter-gatherers of old as follows:
- 3 cups daily (equal to one dinner plate, piled high) of green leaves, such as kale, which are high in vitamins B, A, C, K, and minerals
- 3 cups daily of sulfur-rich vegetables from the cabbage- and onion- families, mushrooms and asparagus
- 3 cups daily of brightly colored vegetables, fruits and/or berries, which are a good source of antioxidants
- Wild fish for animal-based omega-3’s
- Grass-fed meat
- Organ meats for vitamins, minerals and CoQ10
- Seaweed for iodine and selenium
She eliminated processed foods, grains, and starches (which includes potatoes and corn). Amazingly, she began to notice significant improvement in just three months, and at the nine-month mark of her new diet, she was able to go on an 18-mile bike ride! This is astounding when you consider that over the past seven years her condition had deteriorated to the point that she had to sit in a reclined zero-gravity chair and could only walk short distances using two canes.
That is the power of nutrition!
I’d like to add a few suggestions though. Two factors in particular that can have a profound impact are vitamin D and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. Vitamin D deficiency can play an important role in MS, and aspartame toxicity has been known to mimic diseases such as MS, so addressing these two items should be at the top of your list—in addition to improving your diet, of course; not in lieu of dietary changes.
The Links Between Lack of Sun Exposure, Epstein-Barr Virus, and MS
Optimizing your vitamin D levels, which is one of the best things you can do for your health in general, is also one of the best preventive strategies against autoimmune diseases like MS.
A large number of studies have confirmed that your risk of MS increases the farther away you live from the equator. In fact, a lack of sunlight was identified as a risk factor for MS as early as 1922. Within the United States, your risk of developing MS roughly doubles if you spend your childhood—up to the age of 15—in northern states than if you live in the south.
Another previously established risk factor is the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever. Over a decade ago, German researchers demonstrated the association between EBV and MS, showing that in contrast to control populations, 100 percent of MS patients had antibodies against EBV! The authors suggested that EBV might play an indirect role in MS as an activator of the underlying disease process.
In one recent study, published in the journal Neurology, researchers assessed the relationship between ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) exposure in British MS patients.
Using English national Hospital Episode Statistics, they obtained the prevalence of MS and infectious mononucleosis (caused by the Epstein-Barr virus) during the seven-year period from 1998 to 2005. The UVB intensity data was collected from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration. After evaluating the relationships between these three variables: MS prevalence, Epstein-Barr virus prevalence, and UVB intensity, they found that UVB exposure alone could explain 61 percent of the variations of MS cases across England.
When they combined UVB exposure and incidence of glandular fever, 72 percent of the variations could be explained.
“UVB exposure and infectious mononucleosis (IM) together can explain a substantial proportion of the variance of MS. The effect of UVB on generating vitamin D seems the most likely candidate for explaining its relationship with MS. There is a pressing need to investigate the role of vitamin D and EBV and how they might interact to influence MS risk to identify potential prevention strategies.”