Factors and Multiple Sclerosis
Ashton F. Embry
here to visit Dr. Embry's website
To understand how nutrition plays a critical role in multiple sclerosis
(MS) it is essential to understand the basic disease process of
MS. Most cases of MS are due to autoimmunity, which means one's
own immune system is attacking their body. In MS the white blood
cells of the immune system are attacking myelin, which is the substance
which wraps around nerve cells in the central nervous system (CNS).
The progressive loss of myelin results in a variety of disabilities.
Disease Process- Extensive research has revealed that there
are three main factors that cause a person's immune system to attack
and destroy their myelin.
Susceptibility- It appears as if about .5% of northern Europeans
carry the genes that make them susceptible to MS. People of other
heritages tend to have a much lower susceptibility.
activators- The immune system is activated by the introduction
of foreign proteins into the body. Autoimmune disease is mainly
caused by foreign proteins which have a molecular structure similar
to self proteins in the body. Thus, when immune cells are activated
against such foreign proteins, the immune cells also attack similar-looking
self proteins. In MS, self-proteins in myelin in the central nervous
system are "mimicked" by foreign proteins and consequently attacked
by the immune system.
Suppressants- The activation of immune cells against one or
more self proteins seems to occur in many people, especially following
an infection. Thus the immune system has evolved a system of shutting
down such autoimmune reactions before they cause any noticeable
damage. Persons with MS seem to have a defective immune suppressant
mechanism due to various deficiencies. This allows autoimmune
reactions to get out of control and to cause damage to the central
factors play a significant role in MS by contributing to both the
deficiency of immune suppressants and an overload of foreign proteins
which activate the immune system against the central nervous system.
Thus the keys to using nutrition for controlling MS are to:
the intake of nutrients which help the body suppress autoimmune
eating foods which contribute to the activation of the immune
system against self and the occurrence of autoimmune reactions.
Autoimmune Reactions- Notably there are two nutrients which
are effective in suppressing the immune system in the central nervous
system. These are vitamin D and omega three essential
fatty acids. Not surprisingly these nutrients are in very short
supply in our society and persons with MS are very deficient in
them. By greatly increasing their intake, persons with MS can help
the body suppress autoimmune reactions.
has shown that a vitamin D supply of about 4000-5000 IU is required
every day for optimal functioning. The main source of vitamin D
is the sun and Canada is much too far north to allow anyone to obtain
an adequate supply of vitamin D from the sun on a yearly basis.
A few foods have some synthetic vitamin D added to them but this
amount is very small and is no where near enough. Thus to ensure
an adequate supply of vitamin D, a person with MS should take a
daily 4000 IU supplement which is readily and cheaply obtained at
most drug stores (Jamieson and Natural Factors make a good product).
Such an amount has been shown to be safe and to be well below any
three fatty acids are found in substantial quantities in only a
few foods. The best source is fish with fatty fish such as salmon
and mackerel being the best. Thus persons with MS should eat fish
at least three times a week. Salmon oil supplements are also a convenient
way of increasing one's supply of these essential fatty acids. Flax
also contains a lot of omega three EFA and a tablespoon of flax
oil every day is another good way of obtaining such a nutrient.
Immune Activators- Infectious agents are one source of foreign
proteins which active one's immune system to attack self. However
it is often difficult to avoid contracting common infections. Another
main source of foreign proteins, which have the potential to activate
the immune system against self, is our food supply. Studies have
shown the foods that have the greatest potential to cause autoimmune
reactions are dairy, gluten grains (wheat, rye ,barley and oats),
legumes (beans) and yeast. Thus persons with MS should avoid eating
anything which contain these food types.
types of fats eaten can also affect immune activation and saturated
fat (animal fat) and omega six essential fatty acids (vegetable
oil) can be problematic. Thus persons with MS should use mainly
olive oil (monosaturated fat) in conjunction with fish oils to provide
most of their fat intake. In order to greatly reduce saturated fat
intake, red meat should be avoided with skinless breast of chicken
and fish providing most of the protein supply.
Nutritional changes can be very effective in controlling MS and
slowing or halting disease progression. The key changes are:
a 4000 IU supplement of vitamin D every day
fish at least three times a week and use a flax oil supplement
eating any food that contains dairy products, gluten grains (wheat,
rye, barley and oats), legumes and yeast
eating red meat and greatly reduce the intake of saturated fat.
mainly olive oil for fat supply
mainly skinless breast of chicken and fish for protein supply
any food which causes an allergic reaction as determined by either
a body reaction or a blood test
a variety of supplements to enhance health and heal various systems.
A suggested list is on the site
nutritional regime can be used in conjunction with any of the current
MS drugs. Notably a lot of people find they do not need the drugs
once the nutrients are working.
Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties
and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements
have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and
these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat,
cure or prevent any disease.