We have been working intensely with a 41 year old man who didn’t see that the diet was working for him after two months of being on it. This didn’t make sense to us, so we took a very close look at exactly what he was or wasn’t doing. From this one week, I’d like to share our observations gained from his experience, which I feel could be helpful to others.
First, some background: Diagnosed ten years ago with optic neuritis, MS furiously disabled Jim in 2005, despite his taking MS drugs. As a musician and married man with two young children, I don’t need to tell you how devastated he was when he lost his vision, became numb from the bottom of his ribs down, lost use of his hands for playing his instruments, experienced some cognitive loss, was constantly exhausted, had constant pain in his feet, and had bladder problems.
Disillusioned with medicine, Jim stopped taking Tysabri and went first on a vegan diet and then on a raw food diet, losing 40 pounds very quickly. Though it seems these diets did stop the progression of the disease, Jim was undernourished and weakened. There were times, however, when his vision would clear a bit or his energy surged, or he could get around a little better. Locked in himself unable to do or see very well, depression, fear and anxiety played constantly in his mind.
Now to the MS Recovery Diet:
Not being able to read the specifics of the diet for himself, Jim missed some of the points and continued to eat legumes, went out to restaurants without knowing how the food was prepared and would eat small amounts of foods which were very probable triggers. For some people it takes a very little amount of a specific food to trigger the MS symptom response.
Jim is so compromised at this point with his symptoms so pervasive and profound; he can’t yet distinguish if a food is a trigger. Also, during this time, he became afraid of food, worrying that any one food could do permanent harm to him, therefore he ate very little.
He pushed himself to do and did not allow himself to nap. This kept his body exhausted and stressed, not a state conducive to healing.
To heal, Jim needs to eat generous amounts of nourishing food. The diet is not just about eliminating foods that harm, but also eating the foods that heal, repair and restore health. So he began to eat three full meals a day plus two snacks. Each day now, he consumes protein at each meal, many and varied vegetables throughout the day, probiotics, raw vegetable juice and at least 4 teaspoons of the healthy oils.
He is now napping after lunch, knowing that sleep is a wonderful, effective treatment.
Jim now understands that progress comes slowly and in small increments and to trust his perception of these small changes. He doesn’t panic anymore that it is normal to feel a little worse after a meal oftentimes because eating is a stress on the body and accepts that his body is fragile at this time. And along with that, his healing is fragile at first and can be temporarily lost with any stressor. But, overtime, the improvements add up and the healing becomes more firmly established.
Exercise is important, but not when you push yourself to exhaustion. The body needs energy to heal, and that is where the main focus should be until he is more improved and stronger.
So what are the results?
Jim’s vision has improved a bit and is holding at this higher level, with moments of some clarity.
Sometimes he forgets his cane and walks a short bit. His steadiness and strength are ever so slightly better with moments of even greater ability—again; the good moments will become more frequent and stronger until they become the new norm.
Jim’s energy is also up slightly.
As yet, there is no improvement in his pain or his bladder.
Jim has now seen enough improvement to know that the diet works. He needs to keep eating, resting and not stressing, trusting these little steps will add up over time to a full recovery. He needs to understand that at first recovery is fragile and can be lost temporarily, but not to get upset, forward progress will continue. Recovery is a bumpy road.
There is much left for him to do over the next few years. As his symptoms diminish, he will be able to discern or test which foods are his triggers and as more energy returns he will be able to exercise to restore his muscles which have atrophied. With the return of his vision he will be able to actually read about MS and the diet. The world will be open to him again. It is an exciting adventure to feel your body come back to life and now Jim feels his is on the right path.
I am going to present a different way of looking at the recovery process, not so much focused on what you do or don't eat, but more on the strength of the disease process versus the available energy and strength of your body to heal. I think this will help alleviate some worry about embarking on the diet and identifying every last trigger food.
As we have seen, eating the wrong foods fuels the cascading events that lead to symptoms and maintains symptoms already formed. When the body has the strength or energy to heal, it will. Those relative strengths of the disease and your body at any particular time probably explain relapsing and remitting MS. When the disese proces is weaker and the body stronger, symptoms are vanquished, but when the disease process overwhelms the body, symptoms result.
The strategy of the diet is to stop or greatly weaken the disease proces by not eating those foods that fuel it and then to give the body the proper nutrition, rest and low stress so it can heal. When I first started the diet, all I knew to do was to stop eating saturated fats, red meat and dairy. It wasn't enough so that my body could heal, but it was enough to stop the disease progression. After several months, I had reached homeostatis--the disease and by body were of equal strength so that I was stable. When I learned of the other triggers and stopped ingesting them, I weakened the disease process so my body could use its strength to heal. My recovery curve sharply increased. As I approached being symptom free, then some of the foods that fueled small symptoms came into my awareness and I was able to fine tune my diet to eliminate these last symptoms.
So, my point is that you want to stop ingesting as many of your triggers as you can at first as well as eat, rest and stay calm so that your body can use its energy to heal. You don't have to identify every small trigger. You only need to tip the scale of relative strength in favor of your body. As you get better the more minor triggers will become obvious. Then you can fine turn your diet. As one man said, you can go as far as you want in healing, it just takes time and patience.
I've been traveling lately, most recently to San Francisco where I walked the hills of the city as well as hiked through the Redwood groves in state parks farther north. Gratitiude fills me that I can do all this, something that seemed impossible in 1997 when I was going downhill fast. Recovery is such a gift and it is my hope and my aim to have everyone with MS have this same opportunity.
Our plans are to go beyond the book to get the word out into the publich consciousness and even into mainstream medicine that MS can be beaten. We can't do it alone and need the help of all of you who have found success in the diet. Please don't be quiet about your progress and success--and if you would write us and tell us about your recovery. If you are not finding that you are progressing, please write us about this as well. Perhaps we can help you to find what is holding you back or if we can't we need to know about your situation. There is so much more that needs to be researched, discovered and understood about not only the disease, but also about the diet and why and how it works.
This bring me to the next step: we are hoping to get a research study funded and done so that we can make our case to the powers in the medical infrastructure. We also hope to have a documentary done to further prove our claims and have the diet take its rightful place as an effective treatment for MS. This will all take time and patience, but we are determined.
We'll keep you updated on our progress in these endeavors. Thank you for all your support, your e-mails describing your successes not only touch my heart, they make my day.
Recovery from MS on the diet is dependent not only on not eating the foods that trigger symptoms, but also eating so that your body is strong and well nourished to facilitate healing. Being excessively thin or losing too much weight puts stress on your body and your health. So the question of how to maintain a good weight is a good one.
Really testing and trying to discern which foods are your particular triggers early on will be helpful. Sensitivity to legumes varies greatly, but if you can eat them, they are a great source of calories. If not, there are other strategies. Nuts, oils and proteins are usually more calorie dense. Wild game ususally presents no problems and though less calorie dense than beef, it is pretty dense. Potatoes, especially with a good oil on them, are a good filler.
Bryon, who is profiled in the book, has a fast metabolism and found he had to work to keep his weight up initially. He carried a bag of food with him and ate constantly. This is only during the initiail recovery. Now Bryon is able to eat more foods by following rotation and moderation, this includes foods that were previously triggers, so he is no longer having to worry about keeping his weight up.
So, eat and enjoy, with the goal of keeping your body well nourished and at a healthy weight.
When you start the MS Recovery Diet, plan on having some ups and downs. You are changing what you eat and may inadvertantly discover that you are sensitive to one of the new foods, or you may find it takes a little time for healing and recovery to start.
I talked about my cousin in an earlier blog and here is a followup e-mail I received from her:
I have continued the diet pretty well. I am pretty sure the biggest reaction I
have is to legumes, since I have tried hummus and the next day was the first time
I felt worse and not better. That made me think of the incident when I had a
dosa (with lentils) and woke up with the numbness spreading further up my body.
My mother came up for a few days and cooked some meals for me to have on hand,
which I froze for days where I was not able to cook. She also made some granola
with the agave, which did not cause a reaction. I have also had some rice and
corn products, which also seem to be alright. Other than those things I have not
Since I am no longer working or going to school, I am finding it nice to stop and
smell the roses. I have time to read things I enjoy and nap, which after my last
semester I did not think I would ever find time for those things again. I find I
am having more energy to do things. I still need to nap otherwise I get tired
and grumpy. Overall, the diet is making me feel better every day. Thanks for
giving me a jump start on the diet; seeing such rapid improvement has certainly
helped me stick with eating the right foods.
Judi just wrote another blog about other ailments which might complicate your MS picture. It will be helpful to read that as well. I guess the bottom line is htat we really learn our own bodies and then are able to better discern what is going on and what we need to do about it.