Yesterday I responded to a Tweet from @mattalleng after he re-tweeted the question, “Do you follow a diet for #MS?” A screen capture of some of the conversation is below. @molly_macd also joined the conversation. The thread generated two quotes which got me thinking. Molly stated, “Ppl want quick answers but really it’s about how YOU feel. There’s no magic template.” Matt followed up with, “Yes, everyone is D I F F E R E N T. What works for one does not work for all.” I couldn’t agree more.
After my official diagnosis in 2007 I experimented with diet. I found the website www.direct-ms.org and incorporated the dietary strategies found there. I was never under the delusion that I could cure my own disease. I read the papers on the site, and others, which were consumed through the context of my own life. For me they boiled down to nutrition. I was honest with myself and had to admit that, even though I was carrying extra weight at the time (and now, lol), I was likely malnourished in terms of acquiring the proper balance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Do I feel this was the cause of the disease? No, but unhealthy habits can exacerbate a wide variety of conditions, so why couldn’t my MS being negatively effected as well? Combined with exercise I set myself on a path to try to be healthier and hoped that maybe the efforts would have a positive impact on my disease.
That was 10 years ago. In the subsequent decade I’ve run two 1/2 marathons, 4 Ultra marathons, married, and welcomed two awesome kids. Can I say for certain that the diet has played a role? No, objectively I cannot. Similarly I can’t objectively say that the countless hours of exercise has helped either. I have no way of measuring or testing my experience in a controlled way. I complely accept that reality.
What I can tell you is what I believe. I strongly believe that diet, exercise, and following the recommendations of my doctor (medication, vitamin D, etc.) have all combined to give me a relatively progression free decade. I have my ups and downs like any other #MSWarrior, but overall I feel extremely fortunate that I’m able to be as much of a pain-in-the-ass as ever! The other thing I believe is that every #MSWarrior should do their own research and be comfortable with the information they are being asked to consume by their doctor or anyone else in the community who suggests they should follow a certain path (ex. diet). As @mattalleng states, “What works for one doesn’t work for all.” I have collected a number of papers and articles which may be a good start for you. You can find them here.
We all know that a proper diet and regular exercise are excellent for a person’s overall health and well being. What can be debated is how utilizing these tools will impact a disease like MS. I’m not going to pretend I have the answer. Subjectively, my experience has been they are of an immense help and I would recommend using one of both to anyone. Objectively, I also have to admit that the direct evidence isn’t yet there. If you can incorporate something into your regular routine which: won’t harm you, improve your physical health, and improve your emotional well being , why wouldn’t you? Does it actually matter if it doesn’t improve your MS if it improves other facets of your life?
Don’t mind me I’m probably just nuts.