Listen in as I chat with MS counselor Matt Rowe about the T-cell response caused by certain foods (t-cell activation is thought to be the reason for the cause of brain lesions for patients with MS) in the Identity of Health Podcast.
But first, I apologize if you’ve gotten strange or multiple emails from this blog as we’ve been dealing with more Tommyknockers in our back end, but I hope it is all worked out now and you will only receive notification about this blog post once. Sheesh… tech.
But, if you or someone you know has multiple sclerosis, please consider this a must-listen!
After adjusting results for age and gender, asthma was found to be almost three times more common in MS patients than in the general population according to a new study presented at the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIM) Forum.
This finding didn’t surprise me.
According to the dictionary, asthma means difficulty breathing due to spasms or inflammation in the lungs usually as an effect of allergic or hypersensitivity reaction.
I hope that those of us already diagnosed with autoimmune conditions already recognize that we are hypersensitive people and riddled with inflammation, at times both severe, as during a flare-up or exacerbation, and chronic, low-level hidden inflammation.
Asthma is a symptom of inflammation. Integrative medicine teaches us to look to the root of the symptom in order to address the real issue. Asthma is not the real issue; it’s what’s causing the hypersensitivity reaction that is the problem. Identify and remove the triggering offender, and the symptom will disappear.
The reason this finding didn’t surprise me is because I welcome all of my MS and other autoimmune sufferers to the “club of the hypersensitive.” Congratulations, I tell them. “You have just entered an exclusive club of those of us who have crossed our tolerance thresholds and are now officially hypersensitive. Your job now is to identify and avoid your inflammatory triggers while healing your gut so that you can live a pain-free life again.”
Why heal the gut? 80% or more of our immune system is based in our digestive tract. A dysfunctional gut may have helped send you down the road of autoimmunity to begin with.
Oh yes, and parasites. The buggers can contribute to chronic inflammation, too.
I’m always surprised at how many adults admit to drinking mainstream sodas on a regular basis, both diet and otherwise. At my talk about hidden inflammation last week, I mentioned the potential inflammatory role that artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, saccarine, and high fructose corn syrup may play in sparking the inflammatory response in sensitive people, and the benefits of avoiding them all together. The majority of the audience (mostly middle-aged women) confessed that this was new information for them!
“The authors found that the highest consumption group consumed around 290 calories per day of soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages, which is the equivalent of about two cans of non-diet soda.”
The first thing I wanted to know was if the soft drinks in Germany were formulated with high fructose corn syrup like they are here in the US. In yet another sad example of how big companies formulate unhealthier and artificially sweeter products for the US market than the European market, it appears at least Coca Cola uses sugar (most likely from sugar beets) in European Cokes.
Of course, they still add food dye and preservatives like phosphoric acid to European Cokes, just like they do in America, and the study did not take these artificial ingredients into account as potentially influencing factors, which I believe they are, and more so than the sugar itself.
Regardless, if you are looking to avoid and reduce inflammation in your body, whether you have MS, another autoimmune disorder, or are just dealing with rampant inflammation, the results of this study should influence you to cut out all mainstream soda, both diet and regular versions.
If you like carbonated drinks, the safest bets are to stick with bubbly spring waters or make your own with a Soda Stream and mix it with pure and natural substances like coconut water or organic fruit juice.
The evidence is coming in that our diet makes a difference when it comes to MS and other autoimmune diseases.
It’s so gratifying when the research catches up with my theories on Multiple Sclerosis and diet. While I focus on food sensitivities more than food allergies with the dietary therapies I design, the general public and many healthcare providers use the terms interchangeably
Like many other medical conditions, the mechanism of multiple sclerosis remains an enigma–a puzzle composed of complex genetic and environmental factors. A key piece to this puzzle is the immune system, which is also responsible for regulating many other physiological (and pathological) phenomena–including allergies. Although previous studies investigating the association between MS and allergies have yielded mixed results, a research team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital sought to uncover the putative link in a new way. Investigating the correlation between allergy and inflammatory disease activity, the team found new evidence connecting food allergies and relapses of multiple sclerosis. The results are published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
“Some multiple sclerosis patients with significant allergies would complain of frequent relapses associated with their allergic episodes,” said Tanuja Chitnis, MD, senior author and a neurologist at the Partners MS Center at the Brigham. “We felt that the most likely mechanism associated with allergy and its influence on MS would be related to inflammatory activity.”
Accordingly, Chitnis and colleagues set out to investigate the association between inflammatory disease activity and allergy history in a subset of patients enrolled in a large study known as the Comprehensive Longitudinal Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (CLIMB). A total of 1,349 study participants completed a self-administered questionnaire outlining food, environmental and/or drug allergies. Disease activity was assessed through evaluating the cumulative number of attacks over disease course, and new gadolinium (Gad)-enhancing lesions, as detected by MRI.
Interestingly, only participants in the food allergy group demonstrated a significantly higher rate of cumulative attacks and increased likelihood of new Gad-lesions compared to participants with no reported food allergies. This effect remained significant even when adjusted for potential confounders such as sex, age at symptom onset, and disease category. No significant effects were observed for the environmental and drug allergy groups after adjusted analyses.
This association between food allergy and MS disease activity highlights an important role for a potential player in immunity and inflammation–the gut. “It is interesting that this association was only found with food allergies and not other types of allergies, which might have been expected had this solely been an immune deviation issue,” said Chitnis. “The presence of food allergies and mechanisms related to food allergies may increase relapse rate and inflammatory activity in MS patients. There may be a common mechanism here, or other mechanisms which may induce MS relapses in a predisposed host.”
Currently, Chitnis and colleagues are working to further uncover these mechanisms of immune dysregulation in allergy and delineate how such dysregulation impacts MS inflammatory activity. Given the correlative nature of this study, the researchers are careful to highlight the limited clinical actionability of their findings. However, Chitnis is optimistic about the potential translational significance of the work and highlights the importance of addressing food allergies in MS patient care.
“There has long been a hypothesis of the gut being related to the immune system, and this really points to a stronger association than previously understood,” Chitnis said. “This research opens up a new way of thinking about the immune mechanisms in MS.”
Funding for this work was provided by Merck Serono and the National MS Society Nancy Davis Center Without Walls.
Paper cited: Fakih, R et al. “Food allergies are associated with increased disease activity in multiple sclerosis,” Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1136/jnnp-2018- 319301
Very interesting stuff going on in the world of MS, including a new disease-modifying drug, Ocrevus. Is this new drug the solution to MS that we’ve all been searching for? Let’s take a closer look at how it works.
“Ocrevus works by depleting a specific type of a patient’s B cells, which circulate in the blood and are part of the immune system. While they normally help the body fight off infections, they are believed to malfunction and contribute to central nervous system damage in people with multiple sclerosis.”
This new drug reduces the number of B cells because they are “malfunctioning”. B cells are activated during hypersensitivity reactions triggered by an exposure to a substance deemed to be a threat by the T cells, which do the initial assessment.
Although Ocrevus is targeting B cells instead of T cells, the view of the immune system as “malfunctioning” and needing to be dampered is sadly familiar and mainstream in the medical community.
In my theory of MS, the B cells are not “malfunctioning”, but rather being triggered unknowingly by the foods and chemicals that the T cells have decided are threatening to that person’s body.
Therefore, if we can identify what substances are B cell (or T cell, as they work together) triggers and eliminate those exposures, then we can get the same result as this new medication– a pause in the downward trajectory of MS– without any of the pharmaceutical side effects or a decrease of normal immune functions.
It’s much less expensive for someone to use the highly accurate MRT test to identify those reactive substances and change his or her diet accordingly (less than $2,000) than it would be to go on this new drug ($65,000/year for an infusion every six months), and he or she wouldn’t have the side effect of a lowered immune system without enough B cells to fight off a cold.
In my clinic, I have worked with more than 80 multiple sclerosis patients and have found that more than 90% improved when following a customized anti-inflammatory diet, where improvement meant no unexplained exacerbations, less fatigue, more energy, clearer thinking, better balance and coordination, and most importantly, a halt to the downward slide that is the otherwise unavoidable trajectory of MS.
I’d love to tell you more about how it works for MS patients! Send me an email to schedule your free 30-minute initial consultation today!