Ketogenic Diet, Nutrition & Multiple Sclerosis – Introduction

This is not a post about the “fad diet”, rather information I gathered through research and my attempt to balance my system after a nonstop, downward spiral of MS and other diseases.

The first big nutrition information that came out in regards to MS was Terry Wahl and her Wahl’s Protocol. This was huge! She went from a wheelchair to walking and riding bikes, from her book mostly due to diet changes, which were paleo-ketogenic changes. Now the original book was hardcore, way more than what I was willing to do. When I was diagnosed with MS all I really had going for me was the delicious food I loved.

When I was first diagnosed the neurologist (several actually) pressed upon me a healthy diet. They never explained why though, I am a information and science kind of a girl and I am not going to do something just because you tell me to and say it’s healthy. I mean it wasn’t terribly long ago that people swallowed Radium because they thought it was healthy.

There are posts about Keto and MS on Reddit from more than 6 years ago, definitely before it really hit mainstream. Paleo has also been long thought to help, due to the fact that you are not eating any processed foods, most of which can trigger inflammation in the body. Though it is now known to not be a wholly inflammation disease (neuro-degeneration continues without inflammation) for a substantial portion of it’s history it was believed to be just that. Inflammation is the reason that people who have relapses get steroids, calms it down very quickly.

So what is Ketogenic? It was originally designed in 1921 by Dr. Russell Wilder at the Mayo Clinic for the treatment of epilepsy in children (this was before anti-convulsant medications). This original diet plan was 90% fat, 6% protein and 4% carbs, ack! There have been four additional versions since Dr. Wilder’s introduction of this diet for treatment of epilepsy. If you want to see that stats and some nifty graphs and charts definitely visit because those are helpful.

The most common version of the diet now is 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbs, this comes close to the “modified keto” which is 70, 15 and 15. “The diet enhances the ability of mitochondria, the power plants of our cells, to deliver our bodies’ energy needs in a manner that reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.” There’s the science I was looking for, turns out mitochondria are a big part of MS.

During the first attacks of MS, immune cells are mistakenly allowed through the blood brain barrier (it’s called a barrier for a reason, nothing is supposed to go through). With each attack the barrier becomes easier and easier to access. Once they realized MS wasn’t a diseased caused by inflammation and they started looking at numerous other things they found a pattern of dysfunctional mitochondria and damaged mtDNA (this is DNA inherited from the mother). I would be interested to know if this is why women are more likely to have MS than men.

“A ketogenic diet causes your body to burn off fat rather than carbohydrates. Glucose is the body’s preferred fuel, but a change in metabolism occurs when you restrict your intake of carbohydrates. Your liver starts producing bodies called ketones. These ketones appear to protect the cells of the nervous system, the site of damage in MS. ”

Interestingly, ketones reduce toxic effects of glutamate acid, which is a byproduct of injury to the brain and keytones are an alternative energy source during metabolic stress. The key to this diet change is eating good, healthy fats (avocados, coconut, olive oil, fish and nuts) and not heavy in the not as healthy fats mostly bacon and cutting out all processed foods and complex carbs. Ketogenic diet also helps decrease cancer/cancer cells, which thrive on glucose and insulin, can increase your HDL levels which will help lower your overall cholesterol levels.

The Ketogenic diet, which has been around for 95 years has been looked at for helping Multiple Sclerosis patients for at least the last 3 years. The book Wahl’s Protocol came out in 2014, so 5 years if you count that. There a multiple considerations when deciding if you are going to try Keto though, you should always talk to your doctor first, especially if you have more than one health concern.








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