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Along with our modern epidemics of obesity, type 2
diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the degenerative
disease Multiple Sclerosis is also on the increase. In Australia
alone, its incidence is increasing at a rate of 7% each year.
Poor diet and lack of sunlight both play a part, suggests
Dr Peter Dingle PhD.
Just over a year ago, a student of
mine motivated me to look into
Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Bruce put up
a slide quoting the official authorities
saying there was no link between MS and
nutrition. He then presented a slide with
more than 40 peer reviewed scientific
papers on the link between MS and
Together with Bruce, I am continually
confused as to why such supposed
authorities continue to deny the existence
of nutritional treatments and, even worse,
the role of poor nutrition in causing
Since that slide inspired me, I have
now seen dozens of people suffering
from MS begin a new life through really
simple changes in nutrition -- and one
of the simplest changes follows on from
one of my earlier articles on vitamin D.
Many Australians just don't get enough
sun anymore. But more on that later.
What is even more important is that this
information can help prevent the
development of MS in the beginning.
There is now overwhelming evidence
that the risk of developing MS is linked
to a number of environmental factors such
as excessive dietary intake of saturated fats
and deficiencies in polyunsaturated fatty
acids, vitamin D and antioxidants 1,2. As
a result of these findings, good nutrition
appears critical in limiting the development
and ongoing effects of MS and enhancing
the quality of life, while limiting the risk of
secondary conditions 3.
Over the past 200 years, MS has
significantly increased in incidence and
prevalence. MS is a disease that affects an
estimated 2.5 million people worldwide
with over 18, 000 people in Australia with
the disease; the incidence rate in Australia
is increasing by 7% each year and financially
costs approximately 2 billion dollars each
year 4. It is twice as common in females
as in males (females have lower vitamin
D levels than males), and is the most
frequently occurring neurodegenerative
disease in young adults 5,1. Geographically,
MS is common across northern Europe,
Scandinavia and across the US and is much
higher in incidence among whites then
other racial groups 5. The disease is very
rare in Japan, the Indian subcontinent and
is unknown to black Africans. However,
these groups are at significant risk of
developing MS when they go to other
places to live, which supports the concept
that an environmental factor is responsible
for the disease 5.
MS is a chronic, degenerative and
autoimmune initiated inflammatory disease
of the central nervous system, which may
involve the brain, optic nerve or spinal cord
and is characterised by demyelination 5,6.
That is, the myelin that wraps around and
insulates the nerve axons in the central
nervous system suffers self destruction
and degeneration 7. This means damaged
myelin results in damaged nerve axons and
causes the various disabilities of MS 7. It is
worth noting here that myelin is around
80% lipids (fats), and cholesterol (which I
have written on in past articles in NOVA)
makes up an indispensable component
of myelin membranes 8. The inflammatory
reactions are poorly controlled and result
in substantial damage to the myelin 7. As a
result of demyelination, MS patients suffer
functional impairments such as abnormal
walking mechanics, poor balance, muscle
weakness and fatigue, which result in
reduced ability to perform daily activities 9.
The single most important factor linked
to the development of MS is a reduced
supply of vitamin D 7, which I have written
on extensively in the past. Research has
shown that the active hormonal form
of vitamin D,1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin, is a
natural immune system regulator with
anti-inflammatory action 10. We receive
vitamin D from two sources, diet and
sunshine, but it is considered that diet
provides insignificant amounts and
so sensible exposure to sunlight is
considered the most effective source 11.
Even Scandinavian diets (rich in oily fish)
scarcely exceed a few hundred IU/d of
vitamin D 12.
Sunshine is thus the principal
natural source of vitamin D, providing
approximately 90% of requirements.
Sunbathing can provide 10,000-20,000 IU
in 15 to 30 minutes, but this will only
last a few weeks before it needs to be
replenished 13,14. It is interesting to note
that women generally have lower serum
levels than men 15,16 and have significantly
higher levels of MS.
There is a 41% decrease in MS risk
for every 50 nanomoles per liter increase
in vitamin D (1,25-hydroxyvitamin)
in the blood. The prevalence of MS is
highest where environmental supplies of
vitamin D are lowest 18. There is significant
epidemiological data from Australia that
shows a very strong correlation between
vitamin D supply from ultraviolet (UV)
radiation and MS prevalence 7. The
correlation is indeed stronger than that
of UV radiation exposure and melanoma
development 7. Globally, countries of high
latitudes with insufficient UV radiation for
'The single most important factor linked to the
development of MS is a reduced supply of
vitamin D 7.'
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