expat, i had one major episode in jan 2006 and after a flurry of tests, by early feb i met all the macdonald criteria for 'lab supported definite ms'.
i had been a strict vegetarian, ie vegan, for 15 years prior.
while i considered my treatment options, i was leaning towards rebif. from wikipedia:
'Interferon beta-1a (also interferon beta-1-alpha) is a drug in the interferon family used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS). It is produced by mammalian cells while Interferon beta-1b is produced in modified E. coli.'
hmm i thought. produced by mammalian cells, or produced by modified E coli. which to choose. (keeping in mind that was 2006, here's an update
"At present, the most common source of interferon-beta is derived from CHO (Chinese-hamster ovary) cells."
anyway i figured i'd rather figure out why my mammalian cells weren't doing it right and needed more. i strongly suspected some serious imbalances due the vegan diet i had been on for so long.
therefore i have always strongly objected to diets which cut out whole foods or groups of foods. for example cutting out dairy as a solution made no sense to me since i had not consumed dairy in well over a decade.
first i tried to figure out how to be the most nutritionally and biologically appropriate vegan but then i realised that the safest bet was a careful return to a healthy omnivorous diet including eggs, dairy, fish, and various types of meat. within reason.
so no, personally i don't agree with your doctor that going vegetarian is the answer. i do agree that ms patients have known nutritional problems that can be addressed through dietary modification. i *did* have many of the nutritional problems seen in ms patients but i had to correct them by *stopping* being a vegetarian.
so going back to mammalian cells and interferon production. the article below is specific to interferon gamma. (i'm having more trouble finding research on human interferon beta production) please note in particular the importance of things like protein and zinc, both of which you can expect to be lower in vegetarians.
Prog Food Nutr Sci. 1984;8(3-4):193-228.
Cell-mediated immunity in nutritional deficiency.
Dietary deficiencies of specific nutrients profoundly alter cell-mediated immune responses in man and experimental animals. Both moderate and severe deficiencies are associated with significant changes in immunocompetence. Diets with inadequate levels of protein, calories, vitamin A, pyridoxine, biotin and zinc result in loss of thymic cellularity. Secondary to thymic atrophy, the production of thymic hormones critical for the differentiation of T lymphocytes is reduced, especially in protein-calorie malnutrition and zinc deficiency. Confirmation of a T cell maturational defect in nutritional deprivation comes from the observations of decreased total (T3 and rosette-forming) T cells in the peripheral blood of children with kwashiorkor and marasmus, with preferential loss of helper/inducer (T4) T cell subsets. Reduced number and in vitro function of T cells have also been reported in experimental deficiencies of iron, zinc, copper, and vitamins A and E. ... Natural killer (NK) cell function may be either enhanced or depressed, depending upon the nutrient and its effects on interferon production. Several authors have demonstrated normal or enhanced macrophage activity in a variety of experimental deficiencies. The extrapolation of these observations to infectious disease resistance is not straightforward, and depends upon the nature of the microbe, its own nutrient needs, and the relative importance of innate, as opposed to immunologic, defense mechanisms.
of course there are a lot of other ideas and theories out there about ms but if you're looking at interferon vs nutrition the article above is pretty relevant.
so how to go forward .. the 'best bet' diet (http://www.direct-ms.org/recommendations.html
) is something i would consider a lot closer to appropriate for ms compared to vegetarianism. i have some reservations regarding best bet, mostly with the way people take it on board, such as cutting out red meat altogether as opposed to sticking to no more than one serving per week. i also think removing nutritious whole foods because they 'might' be allergens is not that logical. i'm a lot more in agreement with the best bet supplement recommendations compared to the dietary stuff.
is making sure you balance pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods good? yes. definitely. i think that's where the merits of programs like terri wahls kick in.
there's lots of great info out there. IMHO reading is your best friend at this time.
hope that's useful to you as you go forward