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Diet and Lifestyle to Help You Thrive with MS, Part 9 - The Light and Dark of Inflammation

Posted December 5, 2011

This is an awesome installment by the Chronic Health and Wellness expert, Laurie Erdman, on how we may think of inflammation, our immune system, and MS diets:

I was recently at a talk by Dr. Andrew Weil. He was talking about inflammation and made a statement that is controversial to many of us with multiple sclerosis or other auto-immune conditions. “Inflammation is the cornerstone of our body’s healing system.”

When I posted that quote on my facebook page, I got a lot of pushback. If you have an auto-immune condition (like many of my facebook fans do), you’re not too fond of your immune system or the inflammation it creates. Yet Dr. Weil was right. You see, our immune system has a light and dark side.

On the light side, it goes after bacteria, germs and viruses. It’s responsible for the redness and swelling when we cut ourselves. It’s responsible for that itching that occurs when the cut heals. It’s a good thing.

On the dark side, inflammation attacks our body. It goes after cells in the nervous system, thyroid, joints, salivary glands, pancreas or any number of organs. This is auto-immunity.

The inflammatory duality of our immune system creates a paradox for those with multiple sclerosis. Boost the immune system or not. The standard thinking is don’t boost but suppress the immune system. But what if we did things to reduce the inflammation so our immune system was more stable?

That is the underlying theory behind an anti-inflammatory approach for those with multiple sclerosis (or anyone wanting to have more energy and vitality). Indeed, all the so-called MS “diets” are different paths to the same destination: anti-inflammation. Whether eliminating bad fats, allergens, red meat, dairy, all the diets are addressing inflammation. However, many of them miss the mark in some way or another. Or they are just too hard to follow.

Instead of focusing on what causes inflammation – red meat, dairy, wheat, sugar, etc. – I like to focus on foods that reduce inflammation. That is, I like to focus on what we can eat to manage MS (even while eliminating certain pro-inflammatory foods) and excite our tastebuds.

In my next installment, I will talk more about how to easily determine which foods you should be eat and which foods to leave off your plate. Until then, let me know your opinion or experience of the MS diets.

Laurie Erdman helps busy individuals living with chronic illness, stress or fatigue double their energy so they get moving again. She overcame multiple sclerosis, fatigue, and chronic stress, and now inspires and educates others to create a healthier, more vibrant life. Laurie is Founder and Chief Wellness Hero at Chronic Wellness Coaching.
Follow Laurie on Twitter.


  • I have spent several years experimenting with the effects of diet on my MS symptoms. I am eating some dairy and generous amounts of animal fats now successfully while following the Specific Carbohydrate diet. The suggestion to include animal fats came from "Nourishing Traditions"; it also eliminates the modern oils like canola. Maybe I am getting by with saturated fats because I have low cholesterol, but it helps give me a feeling of fullness and a source of energy since I am grain free and mostly starch free according to the SCD. The SCD diet is very similar to an anti-inflammatory I have seen, so maybe that is why it is helping reduce my symptoms.

    Sally said (5 years, 8 months ago)

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