At age 44, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Three years later, when I became dependent on a wheelchair, my MS was classified as "secondary progressive," meaning that the disease was steadily progressing with no periods of improvement. I kept getting weaker, even though I was receiving widely used treatments for MS including chemotherapy and immune-suppressing medications.
Now: Thanks to the regimen I designed, I haven't needed a wheelchair or even a cane for more than three years. I ride to work on my bicycle, my energy is good and I've stopped taking medications to treat my MS. What happened?
Here's what I credit for my dramatic turnaround – and a description of how it might help you, as well. Because MS is a neurological disease, this program is designed to also help people who are concerned about dementia or Parkinson's disease, have depression or have suffered a traumatic brain injury or stroke.
FINDING A SOLUTION
With the help of my medical training, I began pouring over the medical literature and designed my own treatment protocol in 2007 based on my theories of what allowed MS to develop and progress.
In people with MS, immune cells damage the myelin sheath, proteins and fatty substances that surround nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This results in slower nerve signals, which lead to muscle weakness, lack of balance and muscle coordination, bladder or bowel spasms, blurred vision and other symptoms.
Medications can reduce symptoms, but they don't accelerate nerve signals. As a result, MS patients battle physical and neurological disability – experienced either episodically or in a steady, unrelenting course. The disease often continues to worsen despite therapy. Within 10 years of initial diagnosis, half of MS patients are unable to work because of disabling levels of fatigue, and one-third need a cane, scooter or wheelchair.
After thoroughly reviewing the research, I decided to put myself on a diet that increases the efficiency of mitochondria, units within cells that supply the energy that's needed for nerve activity. Although the effect of diet on MS was unproven, I firmly believed that this was my best hope for fighting MS.
My eating plan was designed to improve the balance of neurotransmitters and supply the mitochondria with the building blocks needed for healthy nerve activity.
MY BRAIN-HEALTH DIET
People who follow this diet typically notice improvements in neurological symptoms within weeks.*
Because natural foods contain a variety of nutrients that can work synergistically, I recommend taking supplements only when you are unable to get the following nutrients in your diet. Be sure to discuss the supplements (and dosages) with your doctor If you take blood thinning medication – some supplements may have a blood-thinning effect.
In addition to taking such general steps as avoiding sugary and/or processed foods that are low in key nutrients, make sure you get enough…
Sulfur vegetables. Cabbage, kale, collard greens and asparagus are excellent sources of sulfur, which is used by the body to produce gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA). This "inhibitory" neurotransmitter counteracts the early brain-cell death that can occur if the neurotransmitter glutamate reaches excessive levels.
My advice: Consume 3 cups of greens each day, including one to three cups of sulfur-rich vegetables daily. Also: To get other important nutrients, consume one to three cups of brightly colored vegetables or berries each day.
Coenzyme Q-10. Exposure to environmental toxins, such as detergents, pesticide residues and mercury, has been linked to MS and other neurological conditions, such as dementia and Parkinson's disease. Coenzyme Q-10 is a fat-soluble compound that helps minimize effects of these toxins while increasing the amount of energy produced by mitochondria.
Organ meats, such as calf liver and chicken liver, are among the best sources of co-enzyme Q-10. I particularly recommend organ meats for older adults because coenzyme Q-10 production declines with age. It's also suppressed by cholesterol-lowering statin drugs
My advice: Eat organ meats at least once a week. If you don't like organ meats, sardines, herring and rainbow trout are also high in coenzyme Q-10. Coenzyme Q-10 is available in supplement form, too.
Omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish, such as salmon and sardines, are used by the body to produce the myelin that insulates brain and spinal cord cells. Myelin is also used to repair damage caused by MS. Omega-3s are concentrated in the brain and are necessary to help prevent depression and cognitive disorders.
My advice: To avoid concerns about mercury and other toxins in cold-water fish, such as salmon, get your omega-3s from fish oil supplements that are purified. Recommended dose: 1 g to 3 g daily.
Kelp and algae. These detoxify the body by binding to heavy metals in the intestine and removing them in the stool.
My advice: Take supplements – one to two 500 mg to 600 mg capsules of kelp and one to four 500 mg capsules of algae daily. Or, as an alternative, add about a tablespoon powdered algae – different types include Klamath blue-green algae, spirulina and chlorella to morning smoothies.
Green tea. It's high in quercetin, an antioxidant that reduces inflammation. Green tea also changes the molecular structure of fat-soluble toxins and allows them to dissolve in water. This accelerates their excretion from the body.
My advice: Drink several cups of green tea daily. Best choice: finely milled Matcha green tea. It has more antioxidants than the typical tea brewed with dried leaves. Note: Most types of green tea contain caffeine – on average, about 25 mg per cup.
*Consult your doctor before trying the diet and/or supplements described here – especially if you take any medication or have kidney or liver disease.
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