Confused about which type of diet is most suitable for you? It can be extremely frustrating to weed through all the health and nutrition info out there, especially if you’re living with a chronic health condition. In this video I list 5 things that might be going on in your body, which might help lead you in the right direction as far as your food choices.
Mood swings are a common symptom of multiple sclerosis, which sometimes goes unrecognized. MS lesions in the frontal lobe of the brain can affect: mood, memory, emotions, judgement, motor function, impulse control, and problem solving abilities. But there are other factors that can contribute to mood swings that are not caused by multiple sclerosis such as chronic stress, blood sugar imbalances, depression and hormone imbalances.
In this video I talk about a few of the ways I have learned to manage mood changes since being diagnosed with MS in 2001.
When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerves do not conduct electrical impulses normally. This results in sensations like: muscle weakness, tingling pins and needle sensations, memory problems, and fatigue. Yes, all the symptoms of MS! The good news is that with the help of certain nutrients, the human body has an amazing natural ability to repair myelin. In the video, I talk about 6 of them.
You probably came here looking for a definitive answer about what specific diet is the very best diet to follow when you have multiple sclerosis. From vegetarian to vegan, to raw vegan to paleo – I’ve known people who have tried them all, including myself!
One thing I would say is this. Be cautious of taking advice from someone who gives general advice claiming one specific type of diet either cures or heals MS.
Even though nutrition can have a profound impact on our health and how this disease plays out in the body, there is no ONE specific type of diet for slowing, halting or preventing multiple sclerosis – other than a whole foods, anti-inflammatory diet that addresses some of the points I discuss further down in this post. Each and every one of us who have been diagnosed with MS are metabolically, genetically, biochemically unique, and we have different factors that could be contributing to inflammation in the body.
What is balancing for one person, isn’t necessarily going to have the same effect for someone else. And why would it? Your liver, your kidneys, your adrenal glands – every cell in your body has lived a distinct life specific to you and your experiences. Even the state of your digestive health is unique to only you. We all might have been diagnosed with the same health condition but the lives we have lived are very different.
I have been living with multiple sclerosis since 2001, and I’ve spoken to so many people who follow all kinds of different diets. Some people manage their MS quite well following a vegan diet, but that might not work for you if you an intolerance to grains, beans and legumes, or serious digestive problems.
Many people with MS have a tendency of having food sensitivities, meaning certain foods can keep the body in a state of low grade systemic inflammation and steady rate of progression. It’s up to each of us to figure out what works for us as individuals.
One popular diet for MS is the paleo diet, which includes animal proteins. Vegan and paleo are both completely opposite diets from one another, yet there are many people who are quite successful in managing their health while eating in these different ways. And well, some people are not successful at remaining symptom-free at all. So why do you think this would this be?
We each have to figure out what is anti-inflammatory for us as individuals! And this doesn’t just include food. Sleep, stress levels, and exercise also play a very important role.
The online program I have created is not a specific diet plan. It’s a program designed to teach you how to bring balance back onto your body – YOUR unique body. There has to be balance in the diet no matter what type of diet you’re following. Most importantly, it needs to be anti-inflammatory!
So the best diet for MS?
– is anti-inflammatory for YOU as an individual
– focuses on gut health
– corrects nutritional deficiencies
– supports brain health
– contains nutrients that helps regenerate myelin
– supports natural detoxification and functioning of the liver
– helps you identify and minimize all stressors that could be contributing to inflammation (above and beyond diet)
– addresses the importance of restorative sleep
– incorporates stress management techniques and exercise
The best diet for MS is one that nourishes your mind, body and spirit!
The best diet for MS doesn’t give you unrealistic, unattainable goals. It helps you achieve balance in your body and develop healthy diet and lifestyle habits for lifelong success.
My online program A Holistic approach to Living with Multiple Sclerosis, is now up and running!
Never let any medical diagnosis stop you from pursuing the best health possible!
~Chantale, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2001
Health conscious and relapse free since 2007!
Last week I did another talk for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and I mentioned this delicious anti-inflammatory soup that I use to help reduce inflammation in my body whenever I start to feel an MS flare-up coming on. * Knock on wood* no major relapse in 9 years now! You can read that story here.
Even when I suffer a minor hiccup (that’s what I call little random symptoms I might experience when I stray a little too far away from my healthy diet or experience a lot of stress), I’ve been able to avoid a relapse all these years by eating, living and thinking in a certain way.
Of course, there are often several factors that contribute to imbalances and inflammation in the body such as food intolerances, an inflammatory diet, overconsumption of sugar and refined grains, lack of good gut bacteria, poor sleep quality and chronic stress. Even though it’s always best to address the root cause of inflammation, adding anti-inflammatory foods and spices to your diet can help dampen some of the flames of inflammation.
This recipe uses many anti-inflammatory spices, including turmeric, which helps reduce pain and inflammation throughout the entire body. The beta-carotene in the butternut squash is also extremely healing and loaded with anti-inflammatory properties. I’ve even used this soup to help get over colds faster, due to the antibacterial properties in the purple onions and garlic.
Anti-inflammatory Butternut Squash Soup
- 3 cups of vegetable stock
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 large butternut squash
- 1/2 purple onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. curry power
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
- Dash of ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (optional)
- 1 tsp. Himalayan pink salt
- Dash of black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Wash the butternut squash thoroughly and poke several holes in it using a sharp knife, then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Roast squash for 45 to 60 minutes, until tender. Remove from oven and set a side until cool. When the squash is cool enough to handle, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and cut squash into cubes.
- While squash is cooling, dice the onions and garlic and sauté in half a cup of vegetable stock.
- Add the squash, remaining vegetable stock and spices to a pot with the onions and garlic.
- Gently simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Puree until smooth. Add the coconut milk, stirring well and gently simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes.
* Anti-inflammatory Cooking Tip: Vegetable stock can used as a substitution for cooking with oil. Refined oils not only adds empty calories to a meal but when heated, oxidizes and can contribute to inflammation.
Every living cell in the body requires essential fatty acids (EFAs). They are found in high concentrations in the brain, aid in the transmission of nerve impulses, control blood clotting and are essential for rebuilding and producing new cells.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats found naturally in a wide variety of nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, seaweed and fish. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids protect against heart disease, inflammation, certain types of cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration. Omega-3 fatty acids are also critical for proper brain development and neurological function. They are classified as “essential” because they are not made in the body and must come from the diet.
There are several types of omega-3 fatty acids. Two crucial ones, EPA and DHA are primarily found in cold water fish. Plants sources like flax, chia, hemp, and green leafy vegetables are primarily alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and are not in their bioactive form. The body must convert these short-chain ALA omega-3 fatty acids into EPA and DHA. This conversion is dependent on numerous key nutrients in a long sequence of complex, enzymatic reactions. Therefore, it’s important to avoid deficiencies by having a well-balanced diet in order for the conversion to take an anti-inflammatory prostaglandin pathway. For more detailed information regarding Omega-3 convervion pathways into EPA and DHA, visit this post.
The Benefits and Functions of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
• Research shows strong evidence that EPA and DHA can help lower triglycerides and blood pressure and that they play an important role in reducing inflammation throughout the body.
• Studies have found omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduce joint pain and stiffness.
• DHA is important for visual and neurological development in infants.
• Some studies show that EPA and DHA can improve cognitive function and may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
• Essential fatty acids are required for the production of neurotransmitters.
• Essential fatty acids are the building blocks of hormones and are linked to menopause, PMS and other nervous and endocrine system imbalances.
Symptoms of Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency
• Impaired learning or poor memory
• Rough, dry, flaky skin
• Dry, brittle hair
• Weak or dry looking nails
• Dry eyes
• Irregular menstrual periods
• Mood swings
Sources of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
• Flax seeds • Hemp seeds • Chia seeds • Walnuts • Macadamia nuts • Sunflower seeds • Pecans • Avocados • Wheatgrass • Spinach • Kale • Broccoli • Seaweed • Algae • Nori • Spirulina • Wild caught, cold water fish •
Cooking and Storing
Heat destroys EFAs and results in the formation of dangerous free radicals, which can promote inflammation. Therefore, when consuming omega-3 rich nuts and seeds, it’s best to eat them raw and store in sealed containers in the refrigerator or other cool, dark places that are out of direct sunlight.
Flax, hemp, olive, pumpkin and other omega-3 rich oils should never be heated or used for cooking. Instead, use coconut oil which is more heat stable due to its chemical structure, making it less vulnerable to oxidation and free radical formation.
* Those taking blood thinners and anticoagulant medications are warned to supplement with omega-3’s using caution, as they may cause the blood to thin and lead to excess bleeding.
I love being able to enjoy some of my favourite comfort foods that I grew up with, yet most of the time they don’t fit in with the anti-inflammatory, hypoallergenic diet that keeps me healthy. That’s why it thrills me to pieces to be able to adapt these kind of homemade family recipes, using ingredients on my safe list. The best part is that I can also share these meals with my loved ones, without fearing that I’ve sacrificed flavor. My dad used to make the BEST cream of broccoli soup. If only he was still around to try my version of this classic recipe! I think he’d like it.
I don’t usually keep vegetable stock in the pantry, but that’s no problem because my fridge is very well stocked with all the ingredients to make this quick and easy broth. There’s nothing better than completely fresh homemade soup, especially with the subzero temperatures that we’re having right now in Windsor, Ontario! brrr
You will need:
- 1 head of broccoli
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 medium sized potatoes, chopped
- ½ fennel bulb, chopped
- 2 medium carrots (1 chopped for the stock, 1 grated and added after stock is made)
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1 tps black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 cups of water
Wash, peel and chop potatoes and boil for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes they won’t be completely cooked but that’s okay. We’re going to let them finish softening up in the soup. This way, they soak up some of the flavor without making the soup too starchy.
Start the stock!
Heat the coconut oil over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic while you wash, chop and prepare the following ingredients for your stock.
Onions, garlic, celery, 1 carrot, fennel, broccoli stems, thyme, salt, pepper.
Add your stock ingredients with ¼ cup of water. Place lid and sweat veggies for ten minutes.
Add about half of your broccoli florets and 1.5 cups of water and gently simmer for another 10 minutes, or until everything is soft enough to purée. Purée!
Slowly pour in the coconut milk, potatoes, shredded carrots, nutritional yeast and the remaining broccoli florets and gently simmer for another ten minutes or so. Since I love sesame seeds and actively try to add them to every dish I make, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and enjoy!
Star Fruit, also known as carambola, is a tropical fruit high in vitamin C, potassium, folate, beta-carotene, quercetin, and loaded with antioxidants! One medium sized star fruit has 35 calories and 4g of sugar making it low on the glycemic index, a good choice for those with diabetes.
It also contains 26 mg of the amino acid lysine—helpful for the prevention of cold sores.
When ripe, the edible waxy skin should be golden yellow in colour with a touch of green, and slightly brown edges.
Fun Star Fruit Facts!
* The juice can be used to remove rust stains from clothing and metal.
* Wood from the carambola tree is used to make furniture.
* In India, the roots are combined with sugar and considered an antidote for poisoning.
* Poultices made from the crushed rushed leaves and shoots were once used to treat chicken-pox and ringworm.
This banana, mango, star fruit smoothie gets a gold star!
- 1 star fruit
- 1 mango
- 1 banana
- 1 cup of vanilla almond milk
Add all ingredients to a blender and process for 30 seconds, or until smooth and enjoy!
This is a great dish to serve for breakfast on a cold winter day, or have as dessert or a snack! Rich in protein, fiber and essential fatty acids, what a great way to start your day by promoting stable blood sugar levels and providing long lasting energy throughout your morning.
Served with chopped walnuts, cinnamon and hemp seeds, this dish offers anti-inflammatory omega 3’s and cinnamon for blood sugar control. The added blackstrap molasses also provides a good dose of calcium, magnesium, iron and B-vitamins!
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 can of coconut milk of a BPA-free can
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp of molasses
- Dash of cardamom
- Sprinkle of hemp seeds
Cook rice as per instructions. Brown rice typically takes 45 minutes to fully soften. After about 30 minutes, turn off the heat, add the coconut milk, molasses, coconut sugar and cardamom, and let the rice finish cooking with just the residual heat(lid on). A great way of not only preserving the nutrients from the molasses but you’re also saving a bit of energy.
When you’re ready to eat, throw in some chopped walnuts, sprinkle with hemp seeds and enjoy!
Curried Lentil Kale Soup
4 cups of kale, chopped
1 cup dried lentils
2 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
¼ tsp cumin
Pinch of cloves
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp curry power
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp fresh black pepper
Rinse the lentils under cold running water.
Add lentils and water to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Adjust to medium heat and add onions, garlic, celery and spices and simmer for 20 minutes before adding the carrots, tomato and kale.
Turn heat down to low, cover to let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
Purée and enjoy!