Last Month (May 2016) I received an excited WhatsApp message from a friend who lives and Works in Malaysia TK.
The message was about an article discussing a revolutionary concept of reducing calorie intake to stop the progress of Multiple Sclerosis in mice. A day later I received another message from my sister EH with the same link to the article.
I read the article which highlighted that mice that had a similar auto immune illness to Multiple Sclerosis were placed on calorie controlled diets and after a number of months showed improvements with their immune systems. In my estimations a challenge had been offered and I willingly accepted: Could I reduce the amount of calories consumed through my week?
The article suggested that the control group of mice that had their meals reduced showed marked improvement. From the article:
‘Results showed that the fasting-mimicking diet reduced disease symptoms in all the mice and cured 20 per cent completely.’
‘They also saw a reduction in the inflammation-causing cytokines – proteins that order other cells to repair sites of trauma, infection or other pain.’
‘And they found that white blood “T cells,” responsible for immunity were boosted.’ Sarah Knapton
2 worthy choices
Since June 2011 I have lived with the knowledge that I have a disease that could get worse limiting my movement and overall ability to perform regular tasks. On receiving the diagnosis I decided two things.
- Regardless of the diagnosis I was going to live as well as I could
- If I found a way to slow or stop MS from worsening I would in the least do whatever was necessary to limit the effect of the relapsing remitting strain of Multiple Sclerosis I have.
Can MS be Managed With Diet?
I was introduced to a book titled Managing Multiple Sclerosis Naturally in December 2011. The idea that foods could be involved with managing my autoimmune response was a new and challenging one. The aim would be to assist the T cells that attacked my nerve cells and myelin membrane around my nerves to recognise the difference between foreign bodies and my cells.
The Paleo diet and other MS diets were tested. The longest time I stayed with these diets were for 6 months. I stopped the diets for a few reasons.
1 I felt terrible,
2 I witnessed no upside to the strict diet of no bread, no cheese, little – no red meats, no legumes or modern pulses, certain fruits were also off the menu and I lost a considerable amount of weight.
3 As a slim person, the thought of losing more weight and being called Skeletor by one of my sisters CF, was enough to halt this experiment.
Experimentation With Diet – Cut
I had tried and failed to heal myself with diet. December 2012 – May 2013 was a useful length of time to try something new out. What I found funny was how fastidious a new diet enabled me to become. I often had friends ask if I could or would eat this or that food. In all honesty I had become a pain. Which was a problem for me. Being obtuse and by being awkward about what I was and was not eating I saw as not a good cause for friend’s and family’s discomfort. This dieting nonsense was not what I had signed up for. I brought the experiment to an end and ate what I wanted to, the disease progressed as it would have done had I not interrupted with the annoying diet.
My experience of the illness is mainly challenged by fatigue, brain fog, spasms in my legs and back, weaknesses in my hands and forearms, dizziness on standing and changing my heads direction when walking, stairs have become my nemesis. Tripping stumbling and falling have become a pre-occupation and a daily experience.
TV – Dashed Hopes
Earlier this year a TV show highlighted that if an MS sufferers immune system was rebooted there was a large chance their symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis could be halted or even reversed. The treatment costed the NHS between £25-£30,000 and is currently on an experimental basis for those that screen in to the study. If I had been asked, I would have jumped at the chance to be involved with the experimental procedure to live with a reduced or no continuing symptoms of the disease.
However, the reduced calorie diet was immediately accessible and I thought I could at least give it a try. On Monday’s Wednesday’s and Friday’s I do not eat until 12:00 pm. Effectively not breaking my fast for between 14-18 hours 3 days a week. Just like those mice! A few years ago I read ‘Callus on My Soul’ by Dick Gregory. (Picture Insert, above) The book, a Christmas Present – from Ananta (cousin), observed Dick Gregory’s life. The book inspired me to think differently about food consumption, protest and activism. Mr Gregory wrote about engaging in hunger strikes for various humanitarian causes. The book was like a wake up call for me. I was fortunate enough to see Mr Gregory speak at a community centre in Harlem in 2000. As a comedian he had the room in uproarious laughter.
I chose to engage on my first fast during the time of Ramadan in the winter of 2001. I successfully observed the 28/29 days of Ramadan and gained a new level of respect for those who are able to successfully give up various comforts for a higher ideal for a specific period of time. For the next 3 years I observed Ramadan and did not eat or drink during the fasting period. I gained strength from the knowledge that others all over the globe were also fasting.
I am to observe a 6 month fast to relieve the experience of Multiple Sclerosis. If it works and reduces the inflammation, brain fog, tripping and falling, spasms, and dizziness then the effort will be a worthy venture. If the experiment causes nothing more than a slightly better way of appreciating food and overall health then that will be an outcome I also can acknowledge as being a beneficial one.
As I enter my 6th week of the experiment I have noticed a few things that are not like the Paleo diet. I haven’t lost as much weight, I am continuing to eat what I want, chocolate, bread, red meats, cheese, nuts, fruits, and everything that I would have eaten pre 2011 are joyfully consumed.
Noticing my energy levels remain high, especially during the fasting periods, and do not have me look for a pillow a quiet and dark place to catch a nap in – have been wonderful. The brain fog that had besieged me since before the diagnosis in 2011 has dissipated. It feels like I can think, and create at a high functional level. Before, it felt like I had to pull my thoughts through thick treacle to get any degree of coherence together and then be spoken.
I have noticed that I am tripping and falling less. The dizziness/vertigo and occasional spasming remains but I feel more hopeful about the illness and how I am tackling Multiple Sclerosis. My aim is to again complete 6 months of a calorie controlled diet and note the effects on my experience of Multiple Sclerosis during this period and into the New Year.
Whatever the outcome, I recognise that change is a sought after part of the experience, and I look forward to whatever that may be…