In recent years, I have developed multiple food allergies. The list has grown since about the time the doctor said I might have MS in 1996. Each year another item comes off my shopping list. Dang! I love some of those foods, but there’s no doubt I can’t eat them. Why? Is there a connection to multiple sclerosis? I decided to research the topic, and this is what I found.
There is a connection, and the link is more in line with relapses due to food allergies, not that food allergies are caused by multiple sclerosis. The National Library of Medicine stated, “The severest symptoms of multiple sclerosis were most often associated with food allergens, the moderately severe with molds and fungi and the least severe with pollens and chemical offenders.” Be aware that this study was done in 1953—half a century ago. Still, it is interesting that researchers identified this connection so long ago. It makes me wonder. Southeast Alaska has many molds, and I was pretty sick with multiple sclerosis when I lived there and have done exceptionally well in the Wyoming desert since I left. Connection? Maybe.
“There has long been a hypothesis of the gut being related to the immune system, and this really points to a stronger association than previously understood. This research opens up a new way of thinking about the immune mechanisms in MS.” Tanuja Chitnis, MD. (Science Daily)
To promote my Alaska and MS memoir, The Call of the Last Frontier, I appeared on Must Read Alaska’s podcast on June 30, 2022, for a 25-minute episode. Check this episode out on Facebook for the video (which begins 30 seconds in) and YouTube and Apple Podcast for the audio version. John Quick is so easy to talk to and handled my over-zealous personality in great stride. Thanks for having me on, John!
BOOK OF THE MONTH – July 2022
Book Recommendation – I recommend books I believe will benefit multiple sclerosis patients, people with chronic illness, and caretakers each month. I select books based on my recommendation and receive no compensation for choosing them. All links to Amazon are affiliate links, however.
No need for anyone to write a newbie’s multiple sclerosis book again—it has already been written. Kirkus Review says, “A bravely told and brutally honest self-help work.” This book is ideal for patients with multiple sclerosis, caregivers, family, friends, and anyone with an MSer (that’s what we call ourselves) in their personal or work lives. Knowing how MS affects the body and mind is crucial to identifying ways to help when needed.
Debbie Petrina is an MS veteran who volunteered for the National MS Society, MS community, and other institutions for over four decades. She writes from the heart with a compassionate voice giving sound information and advice. “What to do?” sections present options for managing and treating various symptoms and issues.
Managing MS is a thorough overview of potential issues MS patients face, from diagnosis to symptom management to disability and practical advice. Debbie shares how to get the most out of life despite multiple sclerosis. An optimist, she shares her darkest moments and most significant challenges along with methods she has used to stay positive and move forward to achieve bucket list items even when they result in “pay days” or recovery time after a big event. The most valuable piece of advice in the book is how to prepare for long-term disability. Spot on, in my opinion. The book ends with a wealth of resources.
If I could change one thing, it would be to have Debbie disclose her choice not to take a DMT (disease-modifying treatment) at the beginning of the book instead of the end. She was diagnosed in the 1970s before the various DMTs were available and had her reasons for not taking one when they came to market.
Today, there are many DMTs available which Debbie points out to readers. I have been on DMTs for 20+ years and worry about the long-term side effects, but I believe the quality of life on my current DMT is far better than it would have been without it. We each make this decision for ourselves with our doctor’s input.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Food allergies and multiple sclerosis: New link: MS patients with food allergies had a higher rate of MS disease activity.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190219133007.htm (accessed July 5, 2022).
Image. Salad. Pixabay.com. (accessed July 5, 2022).
Must Read Alaska. “200th Episode with Author Melissa Cook.” https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=3287812871448652. (accessed July 5, 2022).
National Library of Medicine. “The Allergic Aspects of Multiple Sclerosis.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1521914/. (accessed July 5, 2022).
National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “New Study Finds Links Between Food Allergies and Increased MS Relapses and MRI Activity.” https://www.nationalmssociety.org/About-the-Society/News/New-Study-Finds-Links-Between-Food-Allergies-and-I#:~:text=A%20study%20based%20on%20questionnaires,association%2C%20rather%20than%20a%20cause. (accessed July 5, 2022).
Petrina. Debbie. “Managing MS: A Roadmap to Navigate Multiple Sclerosis.” Gatekeeper Press. November 2021.