Managing Inflammation in MS
MS is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. When this nerve covering is damaged, nerve signals slow down or stop.
The nerve damage is caused by inflammation which may happen when the body's own immune cells attack the nervous system, or by a build-up of iron in the brain. This can occur along any area of the brain, optic nerve, or spinal cord.
The immune system
Many experts now see inflammation as arising from an immune system response that’s out of control. Acute inflammation that ebbs and flows as needed, signifies a well-balanced immune system. But symptoms of inflammation that don’t recede indicate that the “on” switch to your immune system is stuck.
Chronic inflammation has its roots in the digestive system
Many medical practitioners are convinced that chronic inflammation starts with the gut. Intestinal bloating, frequent bouts of diarrhea or constipation, gas and pain, heartburn and acid reflux are early signs of an inflamed digestive tract. Our evolution from the hunter-gatherer diet to convenience and fast food is overwhelming our metabolism and gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
The modern diet offers us an upside-down ratio of fatty acids (omega-3, -6, and -9), too much sugar and carbs, and high levels of wheat, dairy, and other common allergens.
Right foods to control inflammation
Most vegetable oils like safflower, sunflower, corn, peanut and soy are inflammatory. Also omega-6 essential fatty acid has a predominantly pro-inflammatory influence.
Omega-3’s, found in coldwater fish, phytoplankton, and flaxseed, soothe inflammation.
For most people, high-carb, low-protein diets are inflammatory. Refined sugar and other foods with high glycemic values jack up insulin levels, putting the immune system on high alert, and promoting inflammation.
Common allergens like casein and gluten (proteins found in dairy and wheat) also cause inflammation.
Foods high in trans fats create LDL’s, or “bad cholesterol,” which feeds inflammation in the arteries. Trans fats also create renegade cells called free radicals that damage healthy cells and trigger inflammation.
The first step in cooling inflammation on a cellular level is to pay attention to your diet, in particular your glycemic load, essential fatty acid intake, and food sensitivities.
Probiotics (supplements containing the “good” bacteria that support healthy digestion) have been proven to be effective in treating symptoms of irritable bowel as they lower inflammation.