1. Health
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.
Julie  Stachowiak, Ph.D.

The "Best Bet Diet" for Multiple Sclerosis

By August 11, 2009

Follow me on:

It's funny, I actually stopped eating gluten and legumes (beans and peanuts) before I ever heard of the Best Bet Diet, as I noticed that those foods made my multiple sclerosis symptoms more dramatic. The Best Bet Diet has been around since 1996, and is based on the idea that certain foods can cross the gut lining and cause an autoimmune reaction, as the rogue food molecules resemble that of our myelin.

The diet basically involves eliminating gluten (wheat, barley and rye products), legumes, dairy and reducing yeast and eggs. There are also a number of supplements that are recommended, the main one being a certain form of vitamin D, as well as calcium and magnesium.

So, do I think that I am slowing my MS progression and preventing relapses by avoiding certain foods? I really don't know and am fairly skeptical about the idea. However, I do know that I feel so much better when I avoid these foods and am always pretty sorry when I do give into the temptation to eat them, as I become aware of aches and pains and tiredness that is worse than usual.

Check out the full description of the Best Bet Diet here: The Best Bet Diet for Multiple Sclerosis.

Do you follow a certain diet for MS? Share your experiences here: Readers Respond: Do you think a certain diet can help slow MS?

August 12, 2009 at 12:13 pm
(1) Max says:

The basic diet for MSers is a healthy diet – lots of fruit, fish, vegetables, red meat seldom, alcohol in moderation, and processed foods never. Never. Hamburgers, tacos, processed meats – don’t go near them. And if you smoke, the single best thing you can do for your MS is to quit smoking.

I see too many MSers puffing, going to McDonald’s – they’re begging for trouble.

August 12, 2009 at 7:52 pm
(2) dee says:

Hi there, was really hoping to hear more about your experience with LDN…am about to fill a prescription…a little nervous…watching carefully for your next update. Thanks

August 12, 2009 at 10:27 pm
(3) James Eckburg says:

Boy what a good topic to talk about. I have been on a management program since the 27 of April of 07. I have lost over 86 lbs, and feel great. At the time I went on this program I was about 300 lbs. I have wore out 7 stationary bikes. I try to do at least 50+ miles a day. I’m in a wheelchair 24/7 because I can not walk. I like your News Letters a great deal. Keep them coming . Have a good day

August 12, 2009 at 11:48 pm
(4) Ree* says:

Always watching what u eat is paramount in any disease process. Removing gluten is always a good idea, however not an easy feat to do. Gluten is everywhere, even hidden in things u don’t realize. It is NOT just in wheat barley & rye, but hidden in certain vinegars & salad dressings, etc. EVERYTHING must be read first. BE CAREFUL! Breads & cereals are the hardest, besides pasta which is so available in our society………As for DEE—I have been on LDN for a while now & it is wonderful!! My energy level is better, & the weakness in my right hand is also better, as is my balance. U must find a pharmacy who compounds drugs to do it properly. But it really helps!!GOOD LUCK DEE!!!!!

August 13, 2009 at 2:58 am
(5) AJ says:

I’ve been on a low fat diet since diagnosis 3 years ago. I wanted to give myself every chance against the consequences of this horrible disease. I read Swank’s research plus Jelinek’s book and found them hugely compelling – I made my own decision to go with the diet. Yes, the diet changes your life and takes a huge amount of will-power to start with but I figure that I can eat all the cream cakes & cheese I like if I’m in a wheelchair. At least I won’t look back and wish I’d tried something to help myself. 3 years in, my relapses some to be reducing (I barely noticed one a few weeks back, the first in 15 months). I am also on Copaxone as get it free on the NHS – again taking no chances with this horrible disease. I don’t care which one works but evidence says the diet to me (research goes back about 50 years!) and if I had to make a choice I’d stick with the diet and ditch the meds. Read about it, make your own choices & take care of yourselves!

August 13, 2009 at 8:33 am
(6) Lynne says:

I feel this is a slightly irresponsible post.
There is such conflicting information relating to diet and symptoms of various diseases, esp MS. I have been to 8 nutritionsist and dieticians and all have given me conflicting information.
People swear by the Swank Diet, only low-fat
food (dairy and beans allowed) which conflicts with the Best Bet Diet. Also, foods in the Nightshade family, i.e. tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, peppers (which included hot sauces and paprika), are supposed to cause inflamation and be bad for althletes, also those with arthritis and MS, yet a Mediterranen diet (which included all of these) is recommended for people with MS.

Leaky Gut Syndrome can be caused by a range of things, and for MS sufferers it could most often be caused by Candida (yeast overgrowth in the gut) which is often due to multiple anti-biotics and steroids.

People avoiding healthy foods because one or another ‘MS’ diet says don’t eat them can lead to a very poor, unhealthy food intake. People are afraid to eat any of the food on the lists from the many various diets.

August 14, 2009 at 1:48 pm
(7) ubluem says:

Check out this link on WebMD regarding a study on the value of Vitamin D in people with MS. Unfortunately, I couldn’t respond to the article on Vitamin D.

August 14, 2009 at 1:50 pm
(8) ubluem says:

Julie, is it possible to communicate with you through e-mail? I would like to discuss Diet and Supplements with you if possible. Please contact me at the e-mail provided. Thank you.

August 14, 2009 at 7:06 pm
(9) E says:

I’m on Best Bet diet & Swank diet combined since I’m diagnosed with MS, can’t say if it contributed to any improvements. What I notice is when I cheat on this diet, I get much worse. Another trend I noticed: any grains/ bread / pasta (no gluten, of course) make my fatique significantly worse. I try to stay with fruit, veggies & protein. Don’t want to lie, it is hard but still worth it.

August 16, 2009 at 12:02 pm
(10) Peter R says:

There is an acid that as I have learned is something to get rid of, when you have any kind of inflammation; this includes MS. The diet is what you usually can here when ask for what is good for you: Nearly vegetarian; fish (fat ones) at least twice a week. For me it works and I follow that since two years now. In addition, symptoms after taking the injection (Avonex) are decreased greatly since following the advice to stay away from milk products and have pineapple on injection days. Dont know why but it works for me.

August 17, 2009 at 10:33 am
(11) Graeme says:

Hello hello

I stuck to the BBD religiously. After three years of relapses and disease progression I gave up. A bit depressing, but that’s my story. I’m still low fat though and I’m a vegetarian anyway (hooray!) so I’m still slightly BBD…

August 17, 2009 at 10:37 am
(12) Graeme says:

PS, I take LOTS of vitamin D too (14,000) iU. I have the feeling that vitamin D is the reason behind the success of the BBD.

I’ve not had a relapse since starting the super high dose but it’s only been six months. With a bit of luck it’s Rituxan next for me…

Bye bye!

August 20, 2009 at 9:01 am
(13) MW says:

I’m not sure about the amounts, but it is possible to overdoes on Vitamin D as it is a fatty hormone (called a vitamin to simplify it) and it stays in the body. You might want to look into that.

August 26, 2009 at 3:31 pm
(14) Calyson says:

I was diagnosed by Dr. Swank (recently deceased) in 1981. I started the diet then. Swank’s protocol is more than simply the diet. As his patient, he made it clear that controlling stress, avoiding excessive heat and getting plenty of rest were essential in moderating the progression of my MS. At the time, he told me that if I was able to do this, he believed I had a 90 to 95% chance of avoiding further damage. I am a cynic by nature but i worked hard to stay with and do what I could to stay with the program. I was newly married and 31 years old at the time. I studied nutrition and experimented with a lot of ” adjuncts” to the diet. It has pretty much worked out well until 2000, when I suffered a very serious head injury which really complicated my life. As a result of this, and stresses from work and family challenges, I am on a disability leave from my job as a college professor. After the head injury, I failed to understand it’s significance with regard to my fatigue and cognitive ability. Over time it became clear that I was not meeting my own high standard in my job. The injury, in tandem with my MS was too much.
That said, in all fairness, I really believe that the Swank program served me very well. I really feel that Roy Swank’s prognoses for me was dead on and I feel certain that, without the head injury, I would still be happily teaching today. Everything that he predicted came to pass. I recommend it heartily. Momentum, The National MS Society mag. has an interesting discussion on Swank’s work in the current issue

January 2, 2010 at 2:58 pm
(15) Liz says:

I found it interesting reading everyones comments, I was diagnosed in 2003 and since then have not had any relapses. I can confidently say it was down to my change in lifestyle, including my diet and avoidance of any drugs even paracetamol!

January 9, 2010 at 7:45 am
(16) kathy kohl says:

i also swear by the best bet diet and have set up a website with info, tips and recipes for people on this diet and many other health-related restricted diets. please visit http://www.sensitivefoodies.co.uk and / or join us on facebook.

January 12, 2011 at 8:43 am
(17) Nicolas Denis says:

Nice Article:) Visit us at Diet Program Have a nice day

January 12, 2011 at 8:46 am
(18) Nicolas Denis says:

Nice Article:)
Feel free to visit us at http://www.newdietcenter.com
have a nice day

May 16, 2011 at 7:29 pm
(19) Carrie says:

A few weeks ago I cut out sugar, gluten, eggs and dairy after a serious flare of new symptoms. I’m also cutting way back on coffee and drinking lots of water. This has been difficult but not as difficult as I thought it would be. I’ve noticed that my low energy level, poor balance, and the weird sensation in my left leg are all subsiding a bit. I am cautiously optimistic. I did notice that an incident with some maple syrup after a week of no sugar really set off my symptoms. I think I might have to moderate use of honey and pure maple. Stevia is really saving me. My naturopath also thinks I might be able to add goat cheese instead of cow cheese after my body has had some time to recover.

I have had to do a lot of my own baking in order to satisfy my diet requirements but the internet has had myriad recipes to draw from and my improving health is keeping me on track. I’ve eaten out once and it went okay. I tried to do the best guesswork I could for choosing off the menu and no flareups ensued.

If you are choosing between walking and eating a mainstream diet it is certainly worth the sacrifice.

June 9, 2011 at 7:43 pm
(20) jen says:

I was diagnosed over a mos. ago I changed my diet am now eating gluten free, dairy free, no red meat, hardly no sugars except in my coffee. I do yoga everyday now and joined the gym.

I was in a severe flare up, had all sorts of symptoms and now 5 days ago its all gone. I am hoping it is the big lifestyle changes.

I will say stress will due you in. i had extreme stress today and i began to flare up again……….. than i calmed my body and went back to normal. a positive attitude means everything also in any disease or illness.

January 5, 2012 at 10:39 pm
(21) Mark says:

Jen (above),

I am on the same diet. Gluten and yeast free, sugar free, dairy free, red meat free. Trying to cut out coffee next. I juice every other day.

I will say that I have cheated occasionally (during the holidays). I don’t really feel bad until 2 or 3 days later. I always regret it but i really do feel great for the most part. As family put it…you have color in your face now…you are walking better…you have gained some weight finally…your balance is noticeably improving.

It really seems like there isn’t much left to eat. But there really is. You just have to be hungry enough to look for it…lol.

Of course this is all new to me as I was just diagnosed September 2010 but I will stay on the diet for I was in hell on earth when this all began. Now most people don’t notice it enough to mention it. I just turned 43 and live in Colorado.

April 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm
(22) Joel Taylor says:

I agree with so many comments here.

Conflicting information every where. No ones mentioned Terry Wahls, but she seems to be headed to support paleo?

I am like a lot of people here dairy free, gluten free, wheat and yeast to a minimum, seems the safest things to eat are whole foods, or foods that can be found in nature. I have two kids, it’s hard for them, much easier for me, but lets face it, an ms diagnosis is very motivating.

I’m still torn on medicine, trying to get a 2nd opinion (don’t hold a lot of hope here, but I am in a small town) I need to spend more time around yoga and meditation, I dolieve in the stress comments here and the power of the mind. At the end of the day, my thoughts are we have an amazing body, that if we just need to get out of the way and it can do amazing things. After all, it’s attacking itself to defend itself, people wouldn’t do that on a regular basis.

Anyone is more than welcome to write me, Thanks Joel

August 24, 2012 at 2:12 pm
(23) Sam Chaudhari says:

I am also trying to be gluten free ever since I read Wheat Belly by Dr William Davis. I am enjoying make breads out of coconut and almond flour. Saying no to breads, pastas, etc can be hard but just look at the alternative reactions when you do eat it. No Thanks. I am also taking LDN for a month now. Feeling fine, no scary dreams, no needles, no depression. Life is good.

September 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm
(24) escorts agency london says:

Hi, Ι do believe this іs a greаt blοg.
I stumbleduρon іt ;) I’m going to revisit yet again since i have bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.

October 3, 2012 at 5:20 pm
(25) consuladoargentinoenlima.com says:

Appreciation to my father whο told me regaгdіng thіs
websitе, this website is truly awesomе.

October 8, 2012 at 8:44 am
(26) MiiracleGirl says:

Im 21, i was diagnoised in 2011. I had a big relaspe a few monthes ago, plus a major surgery. Over the years i have became a diet and exercise person, but with this idk If the diets i do are healthy while battling this. I tried reading everyones comments to get an understanding on which lifestyle diet is best to do. And are sum types of exercises limited.

November 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm
(27) Tricia says:

I try to excersise at least 3 times a week if not more. Sometimes it is exhausting and seems to make things worse but I feel that even with that it is better than doing nothing and for the most part feels good.

As for diet I have been vegetarian, gluten free, I limit red meat naturally I’ve never been a fan. I’ve juiced and I drink a protein mix every morning avoid coffe and go for tea. All that said, gluten free I felt great but it is expensive so I can’t maintain a true gluten free diet.

I was diagnose in 1999 I use a walker and a chair when I go out.

I wish everyone well and think that everyone needs to find what works for them. Practice moderation and keep a positive mental outlook.

December 5, 2012 at 11:41 am
(28) Julie says:

Here are my “issues” with “the diet” (any of them):

1) It can become a “blame us”. At the grocery store several months ago I dropped my debit card twice. When the clerk asked “what’s wrong?” I replied “I have MS, I drop things” — Her response “did you eat something wrong? My friend has MS and she goes to this guy who says to cut out diet soda…” I no longer get in this clerk’s line!! Which leads to my next two points:

2) There is conflicting evidence out there. In April, the European neurologists printed that consuming caffeine and alcohol actually help us stave off disability and those who consume three or more alcoholic drinks/day do the best! (If we don’t die of a pickled liver first — okay, that’s my take!!!)

3) All of our bodies are different. My 14 year old son struggles with outdoor allergies and possibly asthma (the asthma not diagnosed). He takes a prescription med that is supposed to help both. On the bottle it says to take it at night, as it can make you drowsy. He took it at night the first time and was up all night! He now takes he med in the morning and does just fine….

Thanks Julie S. for providing us with a wonderful support/information group. I personally REALLY appreciate it!

January 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm
(29) gambs says:

Thanks everyone!!

I’ve just recently, two weeks ago, been diagnosed with MS and was searching for a diet plan to follow as I’m looking to treat nutritionally/holistically for now.

February 16, 2013 at 6:13 am
(30) Ray says:

I have been dealing with sysmtoms now for 6 years, they cant seam to find any damage to my nerves or leastions. But as I am typing this my left leg muscles are going nuts. It used to only effect the left side of my face, now whole body.
I stoped drinking coffee and soda for the most part and do notice a differance. I want to start a diet and put more rotein into my life with the hopes of feeling normal again. I have read so much about diets and very confused about it all.
My sister has MS as well as my mother. Mother does just fine, my sister seams to have a hard time with it but is now getting treatment.
I am waiting to go to the MS clinc to talk meds, they are trying to get me in as soon as they can.

February 13, 2014 at 9:00 pm
(31) claire says:

What is LEN? I have had MS for several years and have n ed vet heard of it?

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Multiple Sclerosis

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.