Multiple Sclerosis is an auto-immune disease that leads to degeneration of the myelin sheath around nerves. Any auto-immune disease requires investigating the possibility of cross-reaction between food proteins and proteins in the body. The development of food allergies is also often associated with increased gastrointestinal problems.
Thus, the list of possible contributors for MS include:
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Food allergies or intolerance – most common foods being wheat, dairy and legumes
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Essential fat and phospholipids deficiency
- Poor methylation (high homocysteine)
Leaky Gut Syndrome and Food Intolerance
Increased gastro-intestinal permeability is a common contriboutor to food intolerance. It is easily investigated with a urine test available through nutritional therapists. The gut wall, consisting of rapidly multiplying epithelial cells, can be restored to full integrity by a combination of probiotics and glutamine. Food intolerances can involve different kinds of antibody reactions, the most common being IgG, IgE and IgA antibodies. Generally it is worth testing for both IgE and IgG antibody reactions with a reliable laboratory using the ELISA immuno-assay method (www.yorktest.com).
Foods particularly associated with MS are wheat and legumes, both containing lectins, and also dairy products. One stream of investigation is the possibility of a cross-reaction between lectins and proteins within the myelin sheath. Lectins are very high in legumes such as soya. For more on this subject read the attached link www.msrc.co.uk. Also www.dadamo.com.
Vitamin D is made in the skin in the presence of sunlight. The further from the Equator you live the lesser is sun exposure. The fact that multiple sclerosis incidence increases with decreasing sunlight exposure led to investigation of the role of vitamin D. Research to date tends to show a) that sufficient vitamin D in pregnancy reduces risk; b) that children with MS tend to have low levels and c) that supplementing high levels of vitamin D reduces relapses. In an unpublished study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology high doses of vitamin D dramatically cut the relapse rate in people with multiple sclerosis. Sixteen percent of 25 people with multiple sclerosis (MS) given an average of 14,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day for a year suffered relapses, says Jodie Burton, MD, a neurologist at the University of Toronto. In contrast, close to 40% of 24 MS patients who took an average of 1,000 IU a day -- the amount recommended by many MS specialists -- relapsed, she says. Also, people taking high-dose vitamin D suffered 41% fewer relapses than the year before the study began, compared with 17% of those taking typical doses. People taking high doses of vitamin D did not suffer any significant side effects. These doses, however, are very high and should not be taken without supervision. Toxicity has been observed in doses in excess of 50mcg a day for several months, equivalent to 2,000iu. It is certainly worth supplementing this amount and also checking your vitamin D status. This level is quite conservative and some recommend ten times this amount.
Essential Fats and Phospholipids
Since the formation of nerves is very dependent on predominantly omega 3 fats and 6 fats and phospholipids there is a good reason to optimize your intake of these. There is growing evidence that omega 3 fats may improve immune response and thereby lessen MS symptoms. The most critical fats for the nervous system are arachidonic acid (omega 6) EPA, DPA and DHA (omega 3). I would recommend supplementing a combination of these (eg Biocare’s Essential Omegas, plus an additional high strength EPA rich fish oil (eg Biocare’s Mega EPA) as well as eating oily fish three times a week and seeds every day, emphasising flax seeds, then pumpkin seeds for their omega 3 content. However, bear in mind that seeds contain lectins so if you wish to pursue a lectin-free diet then these foods should be avoided.
The principle phospholipids in the brain is phosphatidyl choline (PC), followed by phosphatidyl serine then DMAE. Personally, I supplement these every day in Biocare’s Brain Food. The best source of PC are eggs, and also lecithin granules. A spoonful a day is a good way to ensure optimal supply.
Homocysteine and Methylation
Reducing your homocysteine levels can reduce your risk of many different diseases ranging from cardiovascular disease through to Alzheimer’s and cancer. Evidence is growing of an association between increased risk for MS and associated depression and cognitive decline in those with high homocysteine levels.
Homocysteine is produced from the amino acid Methionine, which is found mainly in animal protein. Optimal levels of B vitamins and other nutrients in the diet convert methionine into one of two things; Either, Glutathione a potent antioxidant, or SAMe, which is known to alleviate depression and aid liver detoxification. If the body cannot turn methionine in to these helpful factors its route gets stuck at the damaging homocysteine. It is the extra need for B vitamins for people with MS that could lead to a build up of homocysteine and its detrimental effects.
Being a non-meat eater doesn’t release you from the high homocysteine risk group as you may think. Many vegetarian diets can be deficient in the B vitamins that are needed to lower your homocysteine. 1 in 10 people have a gene mutation that affects the ability of MTHFR, a B vitamin dependant enzyme, ......
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