Surely it’s no big secret that a healthy diet is good for you – if you eat well you have a better chance of being well. I’ll be honest, I tend to shut down if I hear people talking about diets – perhaps I’ve been lucky never to have to worry about such things, having, as I do, a natural inclination to eat healthily and a love of exercise that, until MS came along, required minimum effort. For most, diet is an important part of managing Multiple Sclerosis though, which is why I have had this topic on my blog-to-do list for the last 18 months.
When you live with a chronic condition you find that there is a lot of advice around on how you can / should control your health through diet. Excuse me while I just yawn, sorry if it’s contagious… I’m very wary of diets that claim to ‘cure’ MS. But let’s face it, asserting some level of control over a seemingly uncontrollable disease allows us to feel at least a little, well, in control.
I occasionally take a look at all the recommended diets out there; and I always come away thinking that it’s all so obvious. In almost every instance these diets encourage you to eat more grain and eat more veg and to eat less meat and eat less dairy; oh, and processed foods are bad for you – it’s not rocket science. But, I’ve recently taken more of an interest since becoming a vegan. I had been a vegetarian since the age of 12 when my Food Tech teacher expected me to squelch bits of dead pig around in my hands and turn it into sausages, becoming an all-out vegan seems like a natural progression all these years later. Looking at the various MS-related diets, it’s interesting that most of them tell you to either reduce your intake of meat and dairy or avoid it completely; being a vegetarian didn’t stop me getting MS, but could veganism help to improve my symptoms or even abolish my MS altogether?
I have no doubt whatsoever that eating a healthy diet improves symptoms such as fatigue, in the same way that exercise improves it – I’ve tried and tested that with very positive results! But I have no intention of picking and sticking to a set diet, as laid out on all the MS sites – I remain sceptical that a certain diet can ‘cure’ MS. There are, however, snippets of advice that I do think are worth taking on board. For example, some of the diets encourage the consumption of wine and cocoa, if only in small amounts – I personally find the combination of wine and chocolate very beneficial to my mental health, if nothing else! And how can you go wrong with a predominantly unprocessed, plant-based diet? It is, after all, a win win for our bodies AND our planet.
Despite the evidence that meat and dairy products are potentially bad for someone with MS, my decision to become a vegan is purely ethical; nonetheless, I will be keeping a very close eye on how my health, and my MS in particular, responds, if indeed it responds at all…