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New Pathways issue 108 is out now!

Posted on: April 06 2018

Hi everyone,Front cover of New Pathways

I am pleased to say New Pathways issue 108 is now landing on doormats across the country! As always we have a packed issue, full of all the latest multiple sclerosis (MS) news and research, including drug updates and the latest cannabis study findings. 

As the sunshine begins to make an appearance, we get topical with lots on vitamin D. MSer Ian Cook puts vitamin D tablets and sprays to the test (see page 30) and Kahn Johnson reveals what happened when his vitamin D levels became toxic on page 16. 

Also in this issue, MS Nurse Miranda Olding discusses sexual dsyfunction and what can be done to help (page 14) and we have the big interview with the star of Channel 4 programme 'The Search for a Miracle Cure' Mark Lewis (page 24). 

I hope you enjoy reading this issue, and please do email me your comments and letters to newpathways@ms-uk.org.

Best wishes,

Sarah-Jane

Editor, New Pathways

P.S. Don't forget New Pathways is available to read on the go. Download the My MS-UK app from the App store on your phone or tablet device today!

Guest blog: Shake off the winter months with a nutrient spring clean

Posted on: March 02 2018

In this guest blog, Dr Carrie Ruxton, from the Health and Food Supplements Information Service (HSIS), shares her expert advice for embracing spring with a nutrient overhaul…

carrie-ruxton-approved.jpgMarch sees the first day of spring, but in the UK it can often still feel like winter! The dark, cold months at the beginning of the year can have an impact on our energy levels, immune system and cognitive function, so the start of spring is the perfect time to shake off the winter with a nutrient spring clean.

Dr Carrie Ruxton, from the Health and Food Supplements Information Service (HSIS), says: “We can’t magic up more sunlight in the UK but there are ways we can adapt our diets to get our health back on track for the spring and summer.

My five tips are;

  1. Take a multivitamin, or a supplement containing vitamin C and zinc. Vitamin C and zinc, as well as vitamin D, are known to support normal immune function. When Vitamin C and zinc are taken in combination at the start of a cold, they can knock a couple of days off your symptoms[1],[2]. Vitamin C can also be found in kiwi and citrus fruits, while fish and meat are a rich source of zinc
  2. Energy levels can feel low as winter recedes. B vitamins have a vital role in helping the body to extract energy from our foods[3], particularly carbohydrates. A ‘B complex’ supplement, containing thiamin, riboflavin, B6, B12, folic acid and niacin is a good option, particularly if you are vegetarian or vegan. B vitamins are found naturally in meat, fish and eggs
  3. Perceived energy can also be boosted by taking daily exercise[4], such as brisk walking, dancing or gym classes. This creates endorphin chemicals in the brain which make us feel more positive. Support your active lifestyle by choosing food and drinks rich in polyphenols which support blood vessel function, such as colourful fruits and vegetables, orange juice, tea and dark chocolate
  4. Mental function depends on the ease of chemical messages jumping from one brain junction to another, called synapses. Studies show that the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in marine oils help to make this process more effective[5]. Omega-3s can be found in oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel, or fish oil supplements
  5. While we can feel more sleepy and sluggish in the winter and spring, this can often be helped by getting better quality sleep, not necessarily more sleep! Switch off all screen-based entertainment at least an hour before bed, do some relaxing meditation[6] and then enjoy a warm milky drink. Dairy foods contain an amino acid, called tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin and help regulate sleep. You can also take a supplement containing 5-HTP.

About HSIS

HSIS (the Health and Food Supplements Information Service) is a communication service providing accurate and balanced information on vitamins, minerals and other food supplements to the media and to health professionals working in the field of diet and nutrition.

Multiple sclerosis and diet and nutrition

Find out more about diet and nutrition in our Choices leaflet on our website.

5 ways to stave off colds this winter

Posted on: October 10 2017

1_2.pngAs the cold nights draw in and the scarves and hats come out of the cupboard, we'll be looking at ways to stave off colds this winter. Over the next few days we'll be looking at a different thing you can do...

1. Diet

We all know that eating a healthy diet will ensure our bodies get all the vitamins and nutrients it needs to stay healthy, but when the weather changes most of us go searching for comfort food. Don’t deny yourself an indulgent treat, but try to eat foods that will fill you up so you won’t want to snack.

A recent study from the University of Warwick revealed chicken, mackerel, pork shoulder and beef sirloin steak as some of the most filling foods. They also found that plums, apricots, avocados, lentils and almonds have the same hunger-busting effect.

Check back tomorrow for our blog about vitamins!

Read our Choices leaflet about diet and nutrition and download it for free at www.ms-uk.org/choiceslife.

Guest blog: MS and sugar

Posted on: July 25 2017

chloe-photo-for-mum-blog.jpgIn her latest guest blog Chloe discusses the effects of sugar on multiple sclerosis and the work of Dr Terry Wahls...

I’ve had MS for 16 years now and it’s taken all of those 16 years for me to realise the obvious. Sugar is bad for me and my MS.

Okay okay…I’ve actually always known but have turned a very blind eye to it in the past. I mean sugar is delicious! I have a good diet, don’t get me wrong, but who can resist a sugary treat?! Not me.

The problem with sugar is that the effects are instantaneous with me. If I have something sugary I go tingly. End of story. Even having a yoghurt (pumped full of sugar it seems) would leave me with tingles all down the right side of my face. So the signs that sugar was no good for me were there.

It’s only been recently though that I’ve decided to do something about it. There’s been a lot of research done into the harmful effects of sugar and I couldn’t help but take notice.

There are a lot of websites in particular that talk about the effects sugar has on MS, and how one should avoid it. I found the work of Dr Terry Wahls in particular an interesting read, and was fascinated by her book, The Wahls’ Protocol. The protocol is designed to ‘restore health and vitality to those with MS’, and was created by Dr Wahls after conventional medicine had no effect on the progression of her MS. I, and Dr Wahls, are not suggesting that people with MS shun treatment and go with the diet instead, but purely that it’s an alternative for those who have had no result from treatment. Likewise, it’s a healthy and beneficial diet for all those who have chronic autoimmune conditions, whether they are on treatment or not. I’m on Tysabri which fingers crossed seems to be doing good things so far, but had been failed by 3 treatments before.

Dr Wahls found that changing to a super nutrient Paleo diet transformed her MS. She went from being wheelchair bound to riding a bike and I urge you to look at her work. Though I haven’t managed to stick strictly to the Paleo diet myself (no wheat, barley, dairy, eggs, processed food, sugar, and reduced intake of legumes and potatoes is hard to get your head around when you’re trying to man-handle a 2 year old and living in a predominantly vegetarian household!) the emphasis on sugar was what I really found interesting. To hugely summarise, Dr Wahls’ principle is that care needs to be taken to make sure our body is working as efficiently as possible at a very cellular level. Feeding our body a high-sugar and high-starch diet ‘gum up’ your mitochondria (an important part of our cells) meaning they diminish efficiency. Sugars and starches in particular affect your body detrimentally in two ways. Firstly they are high in calories and fill you up, but provide very little nutritional value. Secondly, they encourage the growth of unfavourable yeasts and bacteria in your gut which can lead to a lot of other problems*.

That evidence, coupled with the fact that I knew full well that it was detrimental to my health (with the instant tingles) it was a no-brainer that I had to cut out sugar from my diet. But my goodness me, it was hard. There is sugar in everything. It’s only when you start looking that you realise the hidden sugars that plague us. I had two weeks of complete detox from sugar (including fruit) and now I am very careful with what I eat, trying to eliminate it as much as possible and not eat more than 10g of sugar a day. I’m no angel though…obviously I still have bad days and slip. But at least I’m aware of the bad effect sugar has on my diet. If I eat some and get tingling and a headache then that’s my own fault and I have no-one else to blame.

6 weeks in and I’m amazed at the effect eating a low sugar diet has had though. Not only have the tingles gone, but I’ve had more energy and more stamina. I just feel brighter. I’ll never know whether it is no-sugar that has done this, or whether it’s coincidence and I’m just in a good remission, but I figured that any changes I can make to my lifestyle to help things along are only a good thing. If you’re stuck in a bit of a fatigue rut, I urge you to give a low-sugar diet a go. What have you got to lose?

*All information can be found in Dr Terry Wahls & Eve Adamson’s book The Wahls’ Protocol (2015), published by Avery.

Chloe 

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