I had been hitch hiking and traveling around Australia for the past year, but I came home because my body felt weird. I had extreme brain fog, vertigo, I couldn’t walk straight, and my vision was blurry. Half of my face had dropped and I was afraid that I had experienced a stroke. I went to an after-hours doctor service and was sent to the emergency department. A few days later, at the age of 24, I was diagnosed with ‘relapsing remitting’ multiple sclerosis (MS).
I struggled with the illness for a few years and was in and out of hospital many times taking courses of steroids to stop the MS relapses. Then something within me shifted. I decided that my life didn’t include ending up in a wheelchair. I wanted to be well, I wanted to live a full and healthy life.
So I searched Google. I found dozens of examples of people living with multiple sclerosis, some of whom were also health professionals and who followed a nutritional medicine approach without use of medications.
I had been sick for so long and the medications weren’t helping, so I decided to try the Wahls’ Paleo diet advocated by Dr Terry Wahls, who is living well after a diagnosis of progressive multiple sclerosis.
The Wahls dietary protocol is an eating plan that is full of nutrient dense plants and berries and includes meat from grass-fed animals. It is Paleo, naturally anti-inflammatory, brain protective, and rich in antioxidants.
In an effort to learn more, I started studying to be a naturopath. I had always been fascinated by medicinal plants, so I loved learning about nutrition and herbal medicine. As I added these medicinal plants into my life I started feeling better!
I have now been off medications and symptom free for five years. I simply have my life back. I can run, dance, work, have lots of energy and am in great health.
The Wahls’ diet protocol involves eating:
- 3 cups daily of green leaves, such as kale and rocket or garden greens, which are high in vitamins B, A, C, K, and minerals.
- 3 cups daily of sulfur-rich vegetables from the cabbage and onion families, as well as mushrooms, and asparagus.
- 3 cups daily of brightly colored vegetables, fruits, and/or berries, which are a good source of brain protective antioxidants.
- Wild fish for animal-based omega-3s three times weekly.
- Meat from grass-fed animals as a source of B vitamins, and omega-3s.
- Organ meats for vitamins, minerals, and CoQ10 weekly.
- Seaweed for iodine and selenium daily. (Ask your GP to assess your thyroid function before adding iodine to your diet.)
My symptoms only flare up when I stray from this diet, have prolonged stress or am exposed to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, oats and barley).
As well as following Wahls’ diet, I have been regularly meditating and exercising, taking medicinal herbs, and cultivating positive thinking to stay well.
I recommend these dietary tips to start your recovery:
- Remove all sources of gluten from your diet to both protect your brain and reduce autoimmunity.
- Add antioxidant rich foods to your diet such as blueberries, green tea, turmeric, and cocoa daily to protect your body from the damage of MS, reduce brain fog, and improve mental clarity.
- Add fermented foods to your diet (such as sauerkraut, kefir, miso or kimchi) to support the complex link between healthy gut bacteria and the brain.
- Eat rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, chia, and flaxseeds to reduce inflammation.
Nissa now practices as a naturopath and treats people with MS using nutritional and herbal medicine. You can follow ‘Nissa Lee Naturopathy’ on Facebook or Instagram. Her website is NissaLeeNaturopathy.com.