Diets for MS?

“You are What you Eat”

February 17, 2012

For years, many different diets have been promoted to help MS. Some claim to “cure” MS; others claim to stop relapses or prevent it from progressing.

I personally never followed a specific diet, such as the Swank Diet, but I always paid attention to what and how I ate. Eating to keep my weight down and my resistance up to prevent getting sick were my priorities. What made me feel well and not necessarily tasted well also were considerations. Common sense ruled. I knew extra vitamin B’s (for the immune system), C (for my bladder) and calcium (for bones, especially since I was on steroids a couple times per year) were good for us with MS.

In my book, Managing MS: Straight Talk from a Thirty-One-Year Survivor I wrote this as one of My Ten Commandments for managing my MS:

2. Eat properly.
I follow no special diet, eat what’s good for me and avoid what’s not. Truthfully, I don’t eat a lot. Balance, variety, and quantity are key. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies (low in calories, good fiber). A mix of fish, poultry, pork, beef, pasta every week (balance of protein, omega 3, carbs…). Small meals several times a day (keeps the stomach from expanding). Very limited sauces, gravies, butter (less calories); the plainer, the better (lots of seasoning gives me gas and/or causes me to retain water). Cook, broil and grill at home—I eat out only occasionally. I always drink water, except for a mug of coffee in the morning or green tea later in the day. No dairy products (they cause bloating and nausea for me, and are binding). Instead, I take calcium, and acidophilus for ‘good’ bacteria. I don’t deprive myself of potato chips or goodies—I just put a strict limit on them. No fast food unless I’m desperate. Liquor? I’ve had a cocktail or wine many evenings for years and will not give that up! I enjoy it and deserve it. My doctor tells me to go for it, as long as it’s in moderation.

I’ve been following this regime since my early years of MS back in the 80’s. In those days, I don’t remember the tremendous focus on diets, supplements and scientific research like there is today.

Fortunately, most of what and how I eat is “correct.” Nevertheless, I find myself reading articles and studies with regard to diet and MS more and more; many of the scientific theories and findings seem logical.

There has been much buzz the past few years about Vitamin D deficiency contributing to the cause of MS and the implication for flare-ups and progression. Studies suggest this could help explain why MS is less prevalent the closer you live to the equator. There also has been attention on the negative effects of consuming milk and dairy products. Now, all this interests me personally since I grew up in Pittsburgh where there are few days of sunshine a year; I rarely drank milk or ate dairy products since I was young child. Clearly I had a Vitamin D deficiency, though I guess not consuming dairy products is supposedly a plus. Since I moved to the Phoenix area ten years ago and am always in the sun, my MS has been quite stable and so I wonder if loads of Vitamin D from the sun exposure has contributed to this.

Here are links to two sites that I would recommend taking a look at:  and

It is interesting reading. You may or may not agree with some or all of the content, but what do you have to lose? You are the best judge for yourself.

Debbie Petrina