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Julie  Stachowiak, Ph.D.

Food Sensitivities and Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

By October 26, 2010

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For the past 3 years, my diet has been pretty much gluten-free - I have strictly avoided anything with wheat, barley or rye. In addition, for the past 2 years, I have avoided legumes (beans, soy and peanuts).

Before eliminating these foods from my diet, I would observe a direct correlation between eating stuff with these ingredients and the severity of my MS symptoms, especially fatigue and parasthesia. One incident comes to mind when I had not had anything to eat all day, so I grabbed a handful of peanuts to tide me over until lunch. Within about 5 minutes I was literally on my knees, my head pounding and spinning and my feet feeling like they were on fire.

I'll admit it. I am a little sick of the whole thing. I have started experimenting with some foods - tofu or a little flour. So far, so good. I know that if I eat a cupcake, I will feel terrible, but I am finding a little soy sauce or a little dusting of flour on pan-seared fish is okay.

Again, I can't find anything about this correlation in the medical literature. There are books written about avoiding certain foods if you have MS, especially once you have figured out you have a sensitivity. There are many forum posts and blogs from people saying that they "cured" themselves by avoiding specific foods, or at least completely eliminated symptoms.

I guess it makes sense. MS has an autoimmune component (or at least is thought to) and an overactive immune system is at play with food allergies and sensitivities. I never got myself tested - just cut foods out of my diet and monitored how I felt. I guess that would be the next step if I really wanted to see what my situation is with certain foods.

So, I'm bringing it to you. Is anyone out there sensitive to a particular food that they are aware of? Which symptoms are aggravated by these foods? How did you figure it out? Please tell your story below. It might inspire others to consider food sensitivities as a symptom "trigger."

October 26, 2010 at 10:18 pm
(1) danny Fernandez says:

Yes. I believe strongly in the correlation between food and MS exacerbation.

I’ve had ms for about 8 years. I was officially diagnosed on 05.
Since then I’ve paid close attention to my diet.

I am off the meds, fully functional, and happier than I was before the diagnosis.

Please take a look at my blog too:


I’d love to compare information with you.

October 26, 2010 at 10:31 pm
(2) Matt says:

I think it’s very possible that you’re right. But it’s also very possible that you’re not right.

The thing is, there’s a book about how eating organic miracle foods cures pretty much every disease. Does this mean it’s true? Clearly not, because people are still dying and getting sick. It does prove one thing, that writing a book about how eating organic cures disease is a great way to make money.

I could say that avoiding stuffed-animals cures MS and a month from now everyone who wasn’t having an exacerbation would report back that it totally works.

If you really believe in something, then get to know how the medical system works and get some double blind tests going. Until then, you’re just adding to the static and misinformation. Everyone who’s doing well will say that your “system” totally works and all the people who aren’t doing well will be either too sick or too busy trying other things to speak out.

Again, I’m not saying you’re wrong, but what I am saying is there are ways to prove what you are saying is either true or false. Until you work toward scientific proof of your theories, you’re just the same as a snake oil salesman.

By the way, it’s been proven that snake oil cures MS in all people that are lucky enough not to need medicine.

July 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm
(3) Sofia says:

One commonly accepted component of MS is the autoimmune response, in which the antibody IgG (the one that fights bacteria and viruses) attacks the bodies “self-cells,” and passes through the blood-brain barrier. I think all of us who have MS would agree that our symptoms are worse when we contract a viral or bacterial illness, and our doctors advise us to avoid this.

Similarly, when our bodies are sensitive to a food, we have an immune reaction, producing the IgE antibody. Less is known about this antibody than about IgG, but it seems logical that if the above is true, the same thing may be occurring in people with MS when they have a food allergy or sensitivity; the IgE antibody may be unable to distinguish the offending food molecules from our own cells. So, if people with MS can find out what foods they are sensitive to, either through testing or by eliminating the major offenders-dairy, red meat other than grass-fed or wild game, eggs, legumes, wheat and refined sugars- they can eliminate or decrease the frequency of these immune responses and potentially reverse symptoms.

We do need studies. For now though, I think it’s important to note that there is nothing to lose here. Either it works to relieve your symptoms, or not. Even if not, this diet WILL make anyone who follows it (with MS or not) healthier, if only because it forces us to eliminate processed foods and eat high quantities of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish, and oils high in the omega fatty acids. Unlike snake oil, there’s a definite, proven positive effect (see recent Harvard studies on diet in the general population).

Let’s cast aside cynicism and discouragement and continue to research ways to make ourselves healthy.

October 26, 2010 at 11:31 pm
(4) Judy says:

For almost 40 years, I have managed my MS in part by identifying what foods I am allergic/sensitive to, eliminating them from my diet, and also using a food rotation plan. I believe this, as well as identifying my chemical sensitivities, has been responsible for keeping my MS from becoming more serious. I think the important thing is to identify the food that is problemmatic for the individual, not for the general population. For me, that includes beef, wheat, soy. Given the prevalence of those foods in the western diet, I have had to be creative. The symptoms for me include everything from affecting my gait, to bloating, to sleepiness, etc. I determined my allergies through a combination of allergy testing and testing through elimination.

October 27, 2010 at 12:28 am
(5) Jen says:

I did allergy testing through my naturopath and am trying to stay away from all of those items listed. I try to also keep my diet motsly organic, gluten and soy free. It seems to help. Along with yoga :-)

October 27, 2010 at 1:28 am
(6) T.S. says:

I have MS (not officially diagnosed, but I still have it), celiac disease and various allergies/sensitivities. Few years ago, I was in very bad shape. Then I found out that I have the celiac disease. That led to a lot of experimenting, and getting the diet in order removed a whole lot of symptoms. The thing is, nobody can tell, which symptoms were MS and which ones were celiac disease. The only sure thing is that if the celiac disease is not under control, the MS symptoms will flare too.

I talked about this with my neurologist and he agreed with me. I guess this is a very clear case as I actually have another disease, but it is probably the same with any sensitivities. With MS, you need to keep your body as calm as possible and that means removing from your diet anything that causes problems (and even if you don’t have MS, why suffer, if you know how to remove the problem).

However, I do not recommend allergy tests, except as a pointer to the right direction. The tests are not reliable (according to them I’m not allergic to anything, when in reality I’m allergic at least to animals, pollen, potatos, celery…). The only sure way to find out what your body cannot tolerate is the elimination diet (minimal, “safe” diet, and then adding one item at a time, monitoring symptoms). It is a lot of work, but if your problems are severe, it is worth it.

October 27, 2010 at 2:12 am
(7) Sherri says:

I was diagnosed with MS four years ago. At that time, I weighed more than 300 pounds and I felt horrible. During the first year of my new diagnosis, I didn’t do much with my diet. The only thing that changed was the disease-modifying medications I was on. After having exacerbations every 4-6 weeks and having to leave my medical career to go on permanent disability, I got serious about my health.

I was so afraid I would be bedridden and I knew the extra weight wouldn’t help my situation. I started following gluten, dairy and sugar-free diet. I found that dairy was a trigger for my migraines and once I eliminated it, they went away. I also started feeling better, had less water retention (edema) in my legs, could move better and I lost a lot of weight. Gluten and dairy are known to cause inflammation, which is why I removed them from my diet. I’m proud to say I’m now wearing a size 4 (three years ago I was wearing a 22-24). The best news: I’m not bedridden or wheelchair bound and I havenít had an exacerbation since changing my diet like I thought I might. I have to contribute my lifestyle change to this. So yes, I do believe people with MS suffer from food sensitivities.

October 27, 2010 at 4:31 am
(8) DH says:

I think there are some correlations. I gave up gluten for digestive reasons and felt hugely better, but four years later I had my first relapse and was diagnosed with MS six months later.
So is that evidence for or against your theory?

October 27, 2010 at 11:56 am
(9) faye says:

Yes i notice immediatly if i eat a cupcake cookies- i feel terrible.
need to lay down, im sure there is something to it.i stay away from as much prossed foods as i can.

October 27, 2010 at 11:57 am
(10) April says:

I have had MS since 2001 (unofficially ~ 1995). I have been Celiac (gluten allergy) since 2008 and Diabetic (Type 1) since 2006. The doctors never say, but the pharmacists have no problem blaming the interferons. I think autoimminues attract other autoimmunes… It all sucks.

October 27, 2010 at 12:01 pm
(11) Cari says:

I have always thought I was allergic to certain food items, medicines, as well as pollen and other environmental things. I would randomly break out in hives sometimes and other times I would be covered from head to toes and even my hives had hives. I kept a food journal for quite awhile but never had the same reaction twice to the same things. 15 years ago,my doctor ran an allergy panel on me, did a series of allergy shots and found nothing. He told me, “Well, what we THINK is that you are overly sensitive to everything, but not ALLERGIC to any one thing.”

What the heck does that mean?? I have found over the last several years that for me, I need to have a very wide variety of foods to eat. In the past few months I have found that I am highly sensitive to apples all the sudden. I LOVE honey crisp apples and I would sit and eat them all day if I didn’t get that itchy, tingly feeling in my throat, on my lips, and eyelids. At first, I started thinking it was maybe the wax or pesticides they put on them, so I switched to organic, but I got the same results regardless. If I eat too much of any one thing very often, I find this happens almost immediately. I had half an apple this morning so I need to wait at least a day or two to eat another. It is so sad…I love apples. =)

May 29, 2011 at 8:04 pm
(12) Sharon says:

Many people have candida overgrowth and dont know it. It cause food sensitivities, IBS, and i believe is connected with auto immune diseases. It causes leaky gut(binding to the intestinal wall allowing food particles to be absorbed into the blood causing IgG sensitivity response. This is why I believe its always what people are eating allot of that they become allergic to it. IaG, IgG, IeG response of the body if continues to be exasperated causes autoimmune disorders? One person found out she was allergic to lettuce how bissare. She ate it all the time when she had leaky gut.
Not a doctor just noticed a connection.
We the people need to think for ourselves and be deligent in finding the answers.

October 27, 2010 at 12:36 pm
(13) Pam says:

Wow! You have given me a lot to think about! I had my first autoimmune disease in 1979 (eyes). At the same time my allergies went from being “a few” (milk, chocolate) to “OMG everything!” (milk, chocolate, wheat, corn, yeast, malt, citrus fruits plus many pollens). Migraines were common. In 2003 I was diagnosed with my second autoimmune disease (RA), in 2004 with my third (thyroid), and in 2006 my fourth (MS)! My neurologist says she thinks I’ve had MS much longer than anyone would suspect (from the number of old lesions I have). It may have started with the 1979 immune wackiness.

Four years after my MS diagnosis, I had a flare-up while eating chocolate. It’s my one big food hang-up!

Everyone’s comments show me I need to clean up my diet. Thanks for the additional information, everyone!

October 27, 2010 at 1:06 pm
(14) Pam says:

Matt, your comments are very interesting. There may not be double blind studies about diet and MS symptoms, but that doesn’t make them untrue. Who wants to pay for these studies anyway? There’s no money to be made in those studies. And the people who successfully control their MS using these therapies do not need to prove them — they have already been proven to themselves. I’m just curious, what do you use to control your MS symptoms? How long have you had MS and how are your therapies working? Peace!

October 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm
(15) Holly Blomberg says:

I agree that more attention must be given to nutrition and MS–be it allergies, leaky gut, or nutrient deficiencies. I would like to know if others have had the experience of hypoglycemia and wide fluctuations with blood sugar during the day? I know that glucose is “brain food” and perhaps the wild sugar cravings that I seem to get in the afternoon signify a need for small frequent meals–maybe a correlation between the speed of digestion/ability to absorb nutrients from food and maintenance of a level blood sugar is much more difficult when MS innervation problems to the gut are in play?

October 27, 2010 at 2:20 pm
(16) Diane says:

Perhaps the National Ataxia Foundation diet would be interesting reading for some of you…www.ataxia.org Many of the comments above on foods to avoid are key to this diet. I’ve been following the diet for about 7 months. It’s been an amazing eye opener and has significantly reduced my balance problems.

October 27, 2010 at 2:48 pm
(17) Elizabeth Mroz says:

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Before I was dx I started having tons of food allergy reactions and not good ones, all anaphylactic shock reactions. I had eaten blue cheese dressing my whole life and was at my favorite restaurant one night, took a big bite out of an amazing salad with the blue cheese dressing on it and wham!!! The beginning of my food allergies. I did end up getting tested and I am allergic to not only blue cheese but apples, strawberries peaches and tree nuts. This was 2 yrs ago and since the testing (and now the official dx of MS in June ’10) I just now avoid a lot of foods. Sad to say, but the doctors do believe that there is a correlation between the disease and my allergies so I am almost scared to eat anything out of my daily routine now and carry an epi pen everywhere.
Thanks for the article!

October 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm
(18) Betsi says:

I’m most interested in Matt and Pam’s comments, particularly Pam saying these theories don’t need to be proven, because they’ve been “proven” to the individual.

My MS was diagnosed in 82, and for a decade I had frequent and severe attacks. Then they stopped, and I was left with only slight residual damage. I didn’t change my diet, use medications, or otherwise change my life. If I had done ANYTHING differently at the time my illness changed course, I’m sure I would believe that was the reason. My neuro and I were considering Betaseron and decided to wait — he says now that he would have been positive it helped. This is why it’s almost impossible to prove a theory when it comes to MS.

I say do whatever makes you feel better, and don’t discount intuition — but intuition doesn’t = science.

October 27, 2010 at 5:05 pm
(19) Derek says:

It’s funny this was your topic today. I was told a month ago not to ear nuts, wheat or fish. I have MS and Sarcoidosis as well. It has always been for me colon woes. Now I am a month of eating great for you food and no real bad for you stuff and I don’t really feel any better. I go to bed tired and awake tired. I have had about every test you could think of. Sensitivity to foods is something you see a lot more of. Some days I can eat fish then next time I can’t. The trips to the er have become more frequent so I am giving it all up. Julie I love your letter and thank you for putting it out.

October 27, 2010 at 5:39 pm
(20) Kevin May says:

For the past 2 years I have been on a diet that eliminates gluten, dairy, legumes and limits red meat. When I started, I had recently been diagnosed with PPMS and was experiencing deterioration at an alarming rate. Initially, my conformance to this restricted diet was very strict and I also began reducing work and stress (culminating in early retirement), increasing the amount of sleep and focussing on my fitness and core strength. Between the diet, rest, stress reduction and fitness, I was able to significantly reduce the rate of deterioration from PPMS. I do not observe any direct effect from the diet and do not detect any effect when I “cheat”, which is something I do with greater frequency than I did at the start. Regardless, I intend to remain on this diet, with a somewhat liberal interpretation of what is okay, as I have no appetite to return to the time when I experienced new and increasingly severe symptoms on an ongoing basis.


October 27, 2010 at 5:54 pm
(21) Cindy says:

Does anyone else besides me see increase symptoms after eating (or drinking) anything fermented? (ie…pickles, or anything else pickled, sauerkraut, and of course alcohol). I’ve avoided alcohol for years, but I’s starting to wonder if other foods fermented my also increase symptoms.

May 29, 2011 at 8:20 pm
(22) sharon says:

Those fermented foods are all connected with Candida
There on the list to avoid . and Yes I do.

October 27, 2010 at 6:32 pm
(23) Sylvia says:

Well I have noticed over the past 6 months that I have a nut Allergy I gave been on copaxione 6 months now I do think that we do get more sensertiverty than others.

October 27, 2010 at 8:25 pm
(24) Hector Arreola says:

Hi? I have had MS for 10 years and I have noticed that when I eat pork and lots of saturated fat I feel slugish, headaches, burning sensation on skin, and weakness. Now I am going for one a month meat, usually chicken, and lots of greens and less dairy products a day. I usually have between 5 to 15 grams of saturated fat a day and I feel wonderful. so, usually red meat and sweets make me feel like crap. for me I just eat healthy as much as I can and exercise is the key!

October 27, 2010 at 9:41 pm
(25) Jan says:

I’ve wondered about the connection between food and symptoms. I’m sometimes in a very foggy state and very tired for no obvious reason. Lately, I’ve suspected legumes and soy. There’s a bit more – I try to maintain a vegetarian diet and I have gained weight in spite of careful food habits. I wonder if weight gain is related to immune system responses to some foods?

Julie, I read your posts all the time. Thanks for the comfort you give by sharing.

October 27, 2010 at 9:42 pm
(26) Dana says:

I am 43 yrs old, just diagnosed with MS in May ’10. For 30+ years I have had bouts of hives that would last for 6-12 months at a time. Most were after a major crisis in my life so I felt that stress was a large component of the hives. Then I started to think that they were part of an autoimmune reaction…I never seem to catch whatever bug is going around as if my immune system is in overdrive. Now I no longer seem to have hives and have MS instead. I have made major changes in my diet…gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, yeast free, no red meat, few processed foods. It does seem to help the fatigue especially. I become sluggish and have “brain fog” when I slip-up, especially with sugars. Yeast and sugars have a strong corrolation in the body and I feel that part of my hives may have been due to yeast overgrowth.
The fermentation that Cindy is talking about is due to yeast overgrowth which comes from the fermentation of sugars in the gut…read about “leaky gut”. Georges Fractionally Distilled Aloe Vera is very good for systemic yeast overgrowth.

October 27, 2010 at 9:43 pm
(27) Megan says:

Its interesting ones keep saying after they eat a cookie or cupcake they feel horrible I think another big culprit here is Sugar…Sugar for me may it be alcohol, sweets whatever makes my symtoms worse if I eat whole food oatmeal, spelt bread healthy items I dont get that but I understand the whole gluten intolerence dont get me wrong but sugar and MS dont mix for sure!

October 28, 2010 at 1:09 am
(28) Alahnna says:

There are proteins (lectins) in gluten that pass into our bloodstream, breach the blood-brain barrier, and look like myelin to our immune system.

The Role of Lectins from Grains and Legumes in the MS Disease Process

Here’s a link to Dr. Cordain’s presentation (part 1 of 7), as referenced in the article above.

The Paleo Diet and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Part 1/7

Something you might be interested in trying is baking with almond flour. Elana’s Pantry is a great place to start.

October 28, 2010 at 3:38 am
(29) Anne says:

I agree with Matt wholeheartedly! What I haven’t seen anyone mention is difficulty in swallowing many foods anyway. For me (I have PPMS) my diet is anythng I can actually swallow and that a) doesn’t stay in my mouth and b) that doesn’t “go down the wrong way” into my lungs. That means I’m restricted to liquids and foods that can be liquidised without tasting too bad. Believe me mealtimes aren’t fun anymore and things like nuts and bread are a thing of the past. Cutting them out hasn’t made any difference. I think anything that coincides with remission is given miracle status. I can’t believe that I’m the only one that has difficulty swallowing and sometimes talking as well (my family aren’t too woried about the last as they say I used to talk too much anyway!

October 28, 2010 at 8:55 am
(30) Pam says:

Anne, if it’s any comfort, I had a swallowing “episode” 2 months ago. I’m RRMS. It was harrowing, upsetting, frightening, woke up in the middle of the night coughing uncontrollably like something went down my throat the wrong way and gagging. I read I needed more magnesium so I increased. NOt sure if it helped bc it did go away, but that may be coincidence. You know how MS is. Anyway, I have to agree with most posts that diet plays a role. How can it not? It’s the fuel our body uses to function? Garbage in-Garbage out.

October 28, 2010 at 9:39 am
(31) David says:

Yes, Holly [Blomberg] there is definitely a correlation between blood sugar and MS. When blood sugar is low, symptoms do seem to intensify.

October 28, 2010 at 11:47 pm
(32) Heather says:

When I eat wheat products including bread, beer, cakes and cookies I AM SLUGGISH AND ACHEY. I tested negative for gluten allergy (celiac disease) so sensitivity is the correct description. When I am pure and on track with sticking to a wheat and gluten free diet I feel better. I would never consider this a cure or the reason my MS is stable over several years, but it certainly helps with my quality of life. Complimentary approaches to all of life’s ailments is by far the wisest approach. There is no heresy or malpractice in suggesting that looking at diet as a complimentary approach is helpful. I also find that when I go several days without a 30-40 minute walk the subtle weaknesses that have been silent start to act up. THE ONLY WAY TO STAY WELL IS TO LISTEN TO OUR BODIES whether it is food, sleep, exercise or medicine. Staying well is an active life long process.

October 29, 2010 at 12:32 am
(33) Julianne says:

I have been gluten-free for three years too, and I find that I am feeling better and better. I also find my fatigue and my numbness improves the longer I avoid gluten. There is a book called The MS Recovery Diet by Ann Sawyer and Judith Bachrach. Please read it and discover their theories and the past research on this – McDougal in the 50′s (?). The more I research this, the more I find the inflammation of the bowel as seen in food sensitivities adds to the inflammation in our entire body. The immune system responds or over-responds to inflammation, so elminating it in one system surely helps the nervous system as well.
Take good care of yourself and thank you for your informative blog.

October 29, 2010 at 1:34 am
(34) Debra says:

Reading all these comments feels like you are all telling the story of my life! 13 years ago I was dealing with blood sugar problems, thought I was becoming diabetic but found out that it was reactive hypoglycemia and that I had cerebral sensitivities to food (leaky gut). Every time I ate something sweet or just had sugar in it (didn’t know that sausage had sugar) my right arm would go numb and my head would balloon. I cut back on everything that was bothering me and ended up eating just almonds, greens, soy and the alternative grains. The problem was I wasn’t getting better. Finally found a doctor that realized I was sensitive to everything I ate changed back to junk food:) and started taking vitamins and did colonics for a few years. Thought I was doing good but 4 years later had my first MS episode. My immune system had been damaged. I can eat food now but do notice increased symptoms when I don’t take my vitamins/eat a lot of sugar etc. Thank you Julie for your wonderful blog and letting me ramble! :) Debra

October 29, 2010 at 10:13 am
(35) Kelly Donovan says:

Thanks for opening up a forum on this topic! The question for me has always been, if it’s not an allergy, why is it my MS symptoms (diagnosed 1989) and IBS symptoms (diagnosed 2003) are greatly reduced when I remove them from my diet? And, like Sherri, lost 92 lbs.–so hey, another benefit! Like many of you, I know that the piece of cheesecake I have for dessert at holiday-time is gonna kill me, but sometimes I’m willing to suffer ;-)

The answer I have found is as long as I listen to my body, do the what I can to keep stress in check (hah!) and have a good relationship with my neuro to make sure what I’m doing is not hurting my body–then I’m doing what’s best for me.

October 29, 2010 at 11:38 am
(36) Judith says:

I battled what in hindsight I call massive fatigue everyday into my mid 30s. I would get up very early and then struggle by afternoon. But I found I felt slightly better if I did a swim/exercise session almost everyday. Counter-intuitive, but that was my only solution at the time.

In 1995 I was writing my PhD dissertation when I got what they diagnosed as Bell’s Palsy. Because I could not chew (or hear or hold up my head) I accidentally shifted to a gluten free diet of mashed veggie soup, mashed potatoes, rice, etc. In the middle of this scary facial paralysis, with the stress of writing a dissertation and all the financial shoe-stringing, I started feeling the best I had ever felt in my life. I wasn’t struggling to survive every day. A friend mentioned the cause might be the lack of gluten. I tried the occasional bagel/pasta and felt the hammer of fatigue descend. So I gave up gluten.

In 2000 I noticed that legumes (esp soy, peas, and peanuts) were correlated with some occasional bouts of fatigue. So I gave up legumes. With both exclusions I saw intestinal symptoms disappear. It still feels like magic. I have played with other food exclusions but saw no difference so gluten and legumes are my only exclusions other than being vegetarian since 1983.

In 2004 I took a DNA test for celiac. I am not in the 90% of people with celiac who have 1 of 3 genes. The other 10 percent are diagnosed on their clinical condition and I will not eat gluten to get that confirmed. I don’t know if I have celiac, but it doesn’t matter because a diagnosis will not change how my body reacts to it.

Then I got diagnosed for MS in 2008. My history suggests it started in my teens, and definitely by 1985 with some falling down episodes, and episodes every 2+/- years since then.

No one needs a double blind population study to validate their personal experience. But you do need those studies to identify what solutions or changes to recommend to a target population.

October 29, 2010 at 7:13 pm
(37) Susan says:

I’ve had MS for > 20 years. The last year I’ve cut out gluten, dairy and legumes and now add them back a little here and there.

I can’t even begin to tell you the difference in how I feel. I have more energy, clearer mind, less numbness and tingling. Plus I’ve lost ~15 pounds, so it’s easier to move this body around!

Sweet baked goods make me feel the worst….I imagine it’s the combo of refined flour and sugar that does it.

My inspiration is the book “MS Recovery Diet”. I first read it 3 years ago and thought, that’s very nice and all but who can eat like that? Then I re-read it last summer and decided that I would eat to live and not live to eat. If diet could impact my MS Sx for the better, then why not give it a try? SO glad I did..!

November 5, 2010 at 10:22 am
(38) Carla says:

Hello – I have MS and have been seeing a naturopathic doctor regularly who tested me for allergies. I am allergic to cow’s milk and suspected gluten allergy (celiac disease runs strongly in my family). I have just started to avoid these foods and am finding that although my muscle weakness hasn’t improved, my balance and fatigue are less severe. Here’s an interesting story related to your question: http://www.direct-ms.org/rogermcdougall.html

November 9, 2010 at 1:19 am
(39) Lara says:

Hi I am sooo HAPPY to hear sooo many people talk about food sensitivities. I have known I had food allergies for years. I have not been officially diagnosed with MS but have been told to go on meds for MS since 2006 just in case. However, I think it is pretty obvious now.

Anyhow I have been aware of my food allergies for sometime, especially chocolate. This was confirmed with a blood test. And just the other I had a little gluten and it really affected me. I started the paleolithic diet http://www.thepaleodiet.com/paleolithic-diet.htm a year ago and was feeling pretty good until recently when I started getting lazy with the diet and got tired of people making comments on my crazy diet.

It is good to FINALLY see so many people understand this problem. I have a PhD in nutrition and I am very interested in trying to understand this dietary problem and wonder why I have yet to meet a doctor who agrees that food allergies are associated or common with people who have MS.

I think MS doctors should read these forums and try to understand us better. I am currently involved in medical research and I hope to someday get funding to study these food allergy problems and the benefits of changing to a paleolithic diet and other issues associated with MS.

Finally, I want to mention that I seem to have less reactions when I eat meat. I usually eat hormone and antibiotic- free meat. I wonder if anyone else noticed that they have less problems when they eat healthy and lean meat.

I wish everyone the best of luck and I really hope someday there will be more research about diet and MS and food sensitivities.

November 9, 2010 at 12:36 pm
(40) Paula says:


I was diagnosed with MS in almost thirty years ago. I was initially RR MS (Relapsing Remitting) but within 5 years diagnosed as Progressive, all the while taking the prescribed Meds. I was one of the first to receive Betaceron and Copaxon. I have been off those treatments for 3 years and taking a simple Methotrexate oral weekly. Now I have decided to take the next step to recovery. Which I believe is the diet. I have been on a restriction of diary, gluten, legumes, sugar, eggs and red meat (saturated-fat). I try every way possible not to eat any of these foods. I have been on the diet for 3 weeks. I can say I can see and feel the difference in my body. See my blog to keep up with my progress.

MS Scars 2 Stars http://bit.ly/akGh5R

November 12, 2010 at 4:42 am
(41) faceless says:

I’m a 59 years old Indian man. Was diagnosed MS in 1977. 2 major relapses since. Have had all the symptoms etc associated with MS but have kept a job, raised a family all that sort of stuff. My rule is that no matter what, walk a km every evening. I don’t seem to have food allergies though I stick to an Indian diet which is no beef, no pork, no processed, no fancy stuff, lots of legumes (daal), whole wheat, etc. And I have 2 stiff whiskey soda before dinner every evening.
So I wonder what makes sense. A diet or keeping oneself going?

February 4, 2011 at 9:07 am
(42) Caroline says:

The diet question has consumed so much of my time and energy! I had food allergy/sensitivity testing done and the results came back that I was ‘sensitive’ (not allergic) to lots of things. But their results were confusing, and in some cases, contradictory. In the end all I could eat was beef, lobster and shrimp for the first 12 weeks “to heal my gut”. My husband balked at the report and said I was trading “possible symptom improvement” with high cholesterol!!! I’ve had MS for 23 years and through the course of it have tried many different ways of eating, including vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic and carnivores’ delight! In the end, I don’t really see a difference. I definitely felt better going vegetarian/macrobiotic while practicing yoga and meditation. But so did all my friends who followed a similar lifestyle and who did NOT have any diseases. The latest round of cutting out certain foods caused weight loss (10 lbs) which I don’t need. My neuro saw me for my 6 month check-up and commented on the weight loss. The comment he made was quite true “you don’t want to start losing too much weight because it will leave you less able to fight off colds, coughs and other seemingly benign winter ailments ” that my young kids bring home! At this point, without PROVEN scientific evidence that diet truly affects MS in a positive way, I don’t have enough energy to make separate meals for my kids, my husband and myself!

March 22, 2011 at 10:22 am
(43) kda says:

Caroline, I understand where you are coming from! I am a mother of 2 teenagers and a meat-and-potatoes husband. They all enjoy red meat and bread is almost always on our table. I suffered with food allergies in high school (25 years ago) and unexplained hives about 5 years ago – at times all over. I tried to go sugar/wheat/soy free and almost starved. I need to gain about 15 lbs NOT lose. I am on Avonex now for 3 months and I think it is making me worse!! Any advice anyone??

May 12, 2011 at 7:32 pm
(44) Cathie says:

I have been on a gluten-free vegan diet with no refined food that has more than 8 ingredients and no cooking with any oil. Only oil I get is when I eat at a restuarant occasionally. My stamina has improved, I don’t have the fatigue wash outs I used to have. I take no MS drugs at all. My diet is making all the difference. My cognitive fog has cleared as well.

June 5, 2011 at 5:47 pm
(45) NJ Fulmer says:

I have know for years that I have food sensitivities and that wheat causes direct sinus, digestive and neurological problems. However lately, it seems that when I consume wheat, the next day my legs get weak for a couple of minutes. Yesterday after eating 2 brownies the night before, my legs went weak and my feet burned. Sounds like wheat could be creating MS symptoms. I am done with wheat for good!

June 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm
(46) Aron says:

I believe there is likely a link between diet and exacerbation of the MS symptoms – If you want medical literature to back it up, there are citations in both the Drs’ Eades Protein Power Life Plan book and also Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution. I’ve recently switched over to a mostly paleo plan (from a mostly low carb, high protein) diet – and I’m feeling great and have seen a lot of positive signs – next scans happening at the end of the year…



July 31, 2011 at 11:45 am
(47) Pat G-F says:

Publication of several recent papers argue that MS is a neurodegenerative disease of inflammation. In addition there is convincing evidence that gut microflora shapes intestinal immune response and subsequently that of the brain – leaky gut and leaky BBB. One recent study followed patients with gluten sensitivity for 20 years, a high percentage eventually developed coeliac disease. A relapse occured after accidental gluten ingestion, my neuro was not surprised as this is common in his MS patient population. Food sensitivity, unlike allergy, is not IGE mediated (Type 1 reaction). It is mediated by histamine, cytokines and prostoglandins (Type 3 and 4). By treating a blood sample with various food antigens, a profile of food sensitivities can be determined. This profile can guide you in finding a diet that may keep you symptom free. This is the Mediator Release Test available through Signet.

August 4, 2011 at 3:40 am
(48) hlsuderlund says:

Clearly, anyone with any serious disease, and those who never want one, should seek to avoid any substance they identify as an irritant to them. I can’t have a dog or a bird nor eat corn, my allergist found these, heat, alcohol, and hateful people we’re added by me:)

August 16, 2011 at 4:14 pm
(49) Natalie says:

I totally believe that diet and lifestyle can affect the course of MS. After being diagnosed in the summer of 2010, I feel blessed to have learned about Dr. Swank and Roger McDougall so quickly. I cut out gluten and dairy and eat a low fat/saturated fat diet. I also try to reduce sugar.

I take no meds and have not had any symptoms or a relapse since my initial diagnosis. I started a blog about my experience if youíre interestedÖ http://mystoryms.wordpress.com. Iíd like to connect with others who are going this route.

August 26, 2011 at 12:39 am
(50) Alexandra says:

Yes, definately. I was diagnosed with MS a few days ago and even before I knew what was wrong with me I noticed that certain foods caused me a lot of trouble. For example: Every time I ate Pho soup with soybeans and beef I felt awful afterwards. It seemed like every time I ate red meat i felt nausious and I couldn’t explain why. For years and years I had abdominal problems whenever I drank milk or cooked food with cream or heavy cream in it, to the point that I thought I was lactose intolerant. When I ate cakes or bread I seemed to feel terrible. Every time I open the bread drawer from my work (I am a server) and I take a deep breath in, I would get a sneeze attack….these are just a few examples of an endless list. So automatically I started cutting out certain things and exchanging them with others. Soymilk seemed to give me trouble, but rice milk worked just fine. Bell peppers, jalapenos and random things would stuff up my sinuses. I was trying to eleminate one thing at a time. My doctor told me it’s allergies. The weired thing was sometimes certain things caused “allergies” and some days I could eat it just fine and nothing happened. I was going crazy for the last 2 years. You know something is wrong with you, but no doctor knows what exactly. Last year I thought I got an allergic reaction to food (I ate jalapenos). My arms were numb and tingeling and I had this awful pain in my chest. Now I actually think it was an MS attack. I was at the hospital. All tests were negative (blood, urin, ct scan) and they dismissed me with a viral illness.

October 17, 2011 at 1:17 pm
(51) Elle says:

I’ve always been curious about the connection between food sensitivies and MS. I was diagnosed with MS eleven years ago. From the beginning, I’ve never embraced MS drug therapy but rather have tried to manage mine with diet, exercise, rest. After reading all that was out there, I embraced Dr. Swank’s MS diet. I eliminated all red meat and dairy fat from my diet. I’ve had no major exacerbations since my diagnosis. I have chronic migraines, sometimes 4 or 5 a week. One doctor linked these to my MS. Earlier this year I listened to my inner voice and saw an ENT. He diagnosed severe sinustitis which he believes is directely connected to causing my migraines. Testing revealed major food sensitivities to all dairy, all meats (except chicken, turkey, pork, and fish), all grains (except oats, corn and rice), gluten, almonds, peanuts, avocados, green beans, green peppers, kidney beans, soy, squash and mushrooms. I completely eliminated these items from my diet. My sinustitis has cleared and the migraines are gone. MS is in check. I wish there were more studies done in MS research about the connection MS may or may not have to diet, food sensitivities/allergies. I strongly believe that the connection is there.

December 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm
(52) Diana says:

I so agree whole heartly with Heather. I am caught between gluten allergy and celiac disease. So i am now Gluten, dairy and Sugar free and got ride of anyone or anything that pulled me down. I didn’t have any tests, it was a matter of illumination, and bye-kricky it was hard saying no to foods i love and to whatever or whoever drove me down. But now feeling good for it – slowly but surely. Now i have done whats right for me. Since i can remember from the age of 5, i was always nervous, not feeling well and thought thats life deal with it, now i know that was the worse idea. Now I pay the price 43 years later i was diagnosed with MS in 98. It is so so important “YOU MUST LISTEN TO YOU BODY”.

December 28, 2011 at 11:45 am
(53) Faith Servant says:

My son has had ms for 16 years. in a nursing home now, tube feedings. he can eat pureed foods with thickened liquids but lately that has been hard for him too. he is on jevity tube feeding daily & i know he builds up a lot of mucous in his lungs when he has any dairy. I’ve cut out all dairy products but the jevity is made with milk & supposedly for lactose intolerent people. but i’m wondering if just the milk in the jevity is causing a problem. the n.h. argues with me about it & they don’t want to try elecare which is dairy free. has anyone had a problem with dairy products? if so what kind? thanks


December 28, 2011 at 10:07 pm
(54) Nina says:

@kda = I am learning here as I have only had MS for about 2 years and as a single parent which leaves me little time and energy to focus on my health – pretty much anything, actually. But I did the Avonex treatment and only lasted 4 months – I took myself off as it was literally robbing me of my life instead of helping me. I was told in the beginning that it was a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 reaction ratios for the populous. Well.. only 4% of the worst 1/3 have major hair loss and that was me. I was the worst of the worse 1/3. I lost every weekend with my son who was only 9 at the time – I could not take not living everyday while watching myself crumble into nothingness. And I was trying to work a full time job as well. Man, what the Lord doesn’t give you, he helps you through it – looking back I wonder how I managed, but we do and we eventually find our way. God Bless you on your unique path to wellness.

January 26, 2012 at 2:03 am
(55) Nina says:

I just finished reading “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf. I am already trying being gluten free – certain meals I will avoid it completely and for a day here and there along with dairy. I feel totally great when I do that experiment. Then I eat a “regular, think I don’t have MS” meal and the fatigue gets worse, my thinking is slower and frustrating… YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK! Eventually, my home will be gluten free and this book mentions MS directly – many autoimmune diseases can be managed by our diet. There is also information on what kinds of supplements to take more of than our known vit D, B Complex and such… please read this book, you will thank me if you even remember me after reading this post….. lol… but you will love yourself and your life much better.

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February 14, 2013 at 5:19 pm
(60) Mitch says:

I think I am also noticing an exacerbation of symptoms after eating certain foods. My symptoms have been mild for 20 years. Lately they have gotten a little more pronounced. Sometimes I have many days where I have no sypmptoms at all. Then all of a sudden – bam – I feel like hell. I have begun to notice that the exacerbation occurs almost immediately after ingesting nuts.

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(61) product technology says:

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April 12, 2013 at 10:02 am
(62) Annie Friedman says:

I was found with MS 6 month ago.
My body felt like being under attack constantly , not knowing how to
control it, then I realized that food was playing an important role and also
adding Estriol/Progesterone in my daily routine was even more important not to get crazy.
Salt , I try to remove it as much as possible. Sugar I do not buy chocolate
milk or cake anymore, I eat a lots of fruits instead and nuts; no more dairy,
I replace with rice milk or almond .
Best an keep positive.

April 21, 2013 at 7:59 am
(63) Shelley says:

I have had multiple food sensitivities for years that would exasbarate my conditions BUT what I also found out is I had something called SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) this is not candida. In fact many nauturapaths are thinking symptoms are being confused with SIBO. Just finishes Xifaxin an antibiotic that stays (99.7%) in your small intestine and has been miraculous with bowel and nasau issues. I think because of the motility issues in my guts, along with too many carbs (of any kind) created situation. This is also a problem that many people who have autoimmune diseases have. Can’t tell you how much it has helped (antibiotic and special diet) I’ve been eating a modified paleo diet. No dairy, gluten, soy. corn, legumes. Have been looking at GAPS diet, FODMAP diet and Specific Carb diet. All have generally similar ideas. http://www.siboinfo.com is a really helpful website.

May 22, 2013 at 10:47 am
(64) Patrick Rodrigues says:

I’ve had MS for 5 years approx and found all dairy triggers my MS symptoms from acting up. I also take mult vitamins and try to be gluten free. Almond milk is a great alternative and I enjoy a nice cold beer on any given day, but in moderation.

June 5, 2013 at 7:11 pm
(65) marcia says:

My husband gave me a book on food and MS and it was the best thing for me…I was never allergic to any food ever, but after my diagnosis i found i would get numbness sometimes. i read the foods to avoid, and by trial and error i found that i am very allergic to milk, legumes, and lentils. All of which i love the most lol. i now drink almond milk, i avoid egg yolks, soy, peanuts, and the above mentioned items. i found that not only do i get numbness although mild, i also get dysphagia. i take nexium when it is very bad. it takes 4 days to remove the dysphagia. what happens to me is that i choke on water and any food or liquid, i can feel my throat being closed,etc. i also don’t take the medication cuz i’m not ready to have worse side effects than what i have now…i will be seeing a neuorologist soon to get an update on my condition. i also want to say that i was raused in florida, and moved around a lot when i was 20. i lived in seattle for 8 years where i was diagnosed. the sun hardly appears,it rains always. i moved back to florida and it has helped tremendously. i also want to add that my maternal uncle has MS too. his is very severe and i pray for him…

June 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm
(66) richard says:

for me, in the evening, anything sugar, nuts, lettuce, caffeine too close to bedtime and i don’t sleep well. red meat has always left me more hungry next day than a fish or chicken or vegetarian meal. gluten has always made me sleepy – eat a bagel any time of day, i get drowsy. eat more than very lightly mid day and i get drowsy – has always been that way for me. but none of these have more or less to do with my ms. that said, when i eat to avoid issues that do cause me problems, my daily dealing with ms is easier and i sleep better which makes next day better. however, in regards to diet, i am beginning to study inflammation at the cellular lever out of curiosity to see the studies of cause and effect foods have – because i want to learn.

July 4, 2013 at 9:13 pm
(67) Pierre says:

For me, the correlation is extremely clear. Gluten or dairy trigger symptoms. I’ve avoiding all gluten and dairy for 3 years now and I have no more symptoms – except when I accidentally eat gluten or dairy.

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September 23, 2013 at 4:39 pm
(71) Cindy C says:

I was dx with MS 1999. I can not drink anything with Alcohol in it even cough syrup it makes me get optic neuritis. I can not eat any sugar or sugar substitutes, even some fruit they make my left side slow, I get a migraine and dizzy. Chocolate and caffeine are the worst, they make my left side slow, I get pain in my head and feet, they make my nerves tingle, almost makes me feel like I will die. I try to keep a gluten free diet. It is hard coming up with food ideas to eat that doesn’t make me feel dizzy and fatigue. I watch all food labels. I want to go for allergy testing because the symptoms are happening more frequently to other foods as well. maybe something can be done????

February 15, 2014 at 9:22 pm
(72) Mark says:

I believe there is a correlation as well…..and not sure if any of you have heard this before but when gluten is broken down through digestion some of the polypeptides it breaks down into have the ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier which is thought to be a problem with MS patients – not specifically the wheat but the fact that the blood-brain barrier has been penetrated. Strangely enough, the administration of Naloxone or Naltrexone blocks any effects of this.

What I find interesting is the fact that many MS patients say that a specially mixed script for Naltrexone greatly decreases the frequency and severity of their symptoms. So is it possible that going wheat-free can help MS patients live better lives?

May 15, 2014 at 3:25 am
(73) kim says:

I havent noticed if any food has made me relapsed or not but one thing i did notice is a drink calledspakling ice water it is flvered water that has helped me feel much better it is loaded with vitamins and somehow helps the ms. as well as i lost fifty pds last summer by drnking that last summer and not soda which helped the ms too the weight loss is what my dr said any way. and i eat green vegitables like salads fresh spich etc. Sorry bout typis my my pho.e wont let me correct them either.

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