How eating meat might possibly affect any disease, let alone multiple sclerosis, was the furthest thought from my mind as a child.
My family, as I was growing up, were all meat-eaters and this has continued throughout my journey into adulthood including one long, but ultimately failed, marriage right up to the current day – almost five years into my second attempt.
I enjoy meat and have always laughed off the scare stories about risks to health. From the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, I was a rural affairs farming journalist in an area renowned for both quality lamb and beef.
Yes, I visited many farms but was able to keep a clear, albeit false, distinction in my mind between animals in the fields and the food on my plate. Lambs could be cuddled but lamb chops were for eating. I carefully avoided visiting the local abattoir, however.
Well, this is now changing, not because of any desire by me to improve my health but because my wife Lisa has started a new anti-animal abuse website called Please – No More! She has uncovered such abuse in terms of the shameful and disgusting methods used in modern factory farming that we have decided to become vegetarians. It won’t happen overnight as we still have meat in our freezer and it won’t help those animals if we just throw it away.
But once it has gone, it will be gone – and both of us will hopefully benefit from enjoying a meat-free Spanish Mediterranean healthy diet. Right now, Lisa is honing her vegetarian cooking skills. Indeed, tonight we ate a completely homemade vegan lasagna and were both absolutely stunned by the fantastic taste.
Coincidentally, the potential gains to MS patients of a low-fat vegetarian diet have been a topic of discussion for quite some time but without any firm scientific evidence either way.
Now, however a pilot study seems to be saying that such a diet would be beneficial.
A team led by Dr Vijayshree Yadav, at the Oregon Health & Science University, indicates that a very-low saturated fat, plant-based diet, can be a starting point.
The results were published in the study “Low-fat, plant-based diet in multiple sclerosis: A randomized controlled trial,” in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.
I am not going to go into all the details here but if you are that interested in reading the entire report, just click on the link above.
Although the results showed no effect on MS disease activity, neither in MRI nor clinical tests, improvement was found in quality of life, including overall mood and levels of fatigue, the latter being a debilitating problem among Relapsing RMS patients.
“Dietary intervention participants experienced reduction in weight, body mass index (BMI), LDL (“bad” cholesterol), total cholesterol and insulin levels,” the authors wrote. “These improvements would likely enhance their long-term general health if they remained on the diet.
“If maintained, the improved lipid profile and BMI could yield long-term vascular health benefits.”