The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book

About Nutrition General & Practical Points


In recent years there has been an increased interest in natural foods, food supplements, and vegetarianism.

This originates largely from a growing feeling that the processing of foods, use of chemical fertilizers, Hormones, Pesticides and the diministed use of organic fertilizers have caused a deterioration of the quality of food.

To combat this perceived deterioration, whether real or imaginary, numerous people are turning to natural sources for their food, adding supplemental Vitamins and minerals to their diet and becoming vegetarians.

This movement has produced many food fads and has focused more attention on the value of balanced nutrition.

In turn, the medical profession, poorly educated and uninformed on this subject, is being barraged with questions that many doctors are unable to answer. As a result, the patient is looking to questionable sources for guidance.

This chapter has been included to assist the reader in evaluating his or her own nutrition and some of the current assumptions. We will consider Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats. We will also discuss briefly vitamins, minerals and the vegetarian diet.



Proteins constitute about 75% of the dry weight of the tissues of the body when bones are excluded. These Proteins make up the bulk of the muscles and organs of the body.

They are also the basic ingredients of enzymes that, with the Hormones, Vitamins, and minerals, constitute the metabolic (energy producing) machinery of the body.

In emergencies, some of the Protein mechanical and metabolic machinery can be converted to fuel for making energy; but this capacity is limited as is survival, since the body cannot rely upon its own Protein indefinitely, after exhausting its fat stores.

Proteins consist of various combinations of Amino Acids, of which there are more than twenty. The way in which these Amino Acids are combined determines how the Protein molecule (basic building/metabolic unit) will be used in the body.

They can be used as a part of the composition of muscle cells, with the ability to contract and exert a force; as enzymes with the ability to supply energy from carbohydrates, fats, or Proteins. They can change Carbohydrates into fats for storage.

During digestion, Proteins are broken down into Amino Acids, first by the grinding of the food to small particles during chewing, and then by enzyme actions in the Stomach and Intestines.

The enzymes are supplied by special cells in the Stomach, Intestines, and Pancreas. These enzymes rapidly break down the Proteins first to peptones, which consist of several Amino Acids bound together, and then into the individual Amino Acids.

As such, they pass through the Intestinal walls into the Bloodstream. From there they reach the Liver, which removes those Amino Acids it requires. The rest circulate to the entire body.


Tissues needing growth or replacement selectively remove those Amino Acids needed to produce the special Proteins required by that tissue. In order to accompliah this, all the Amino Acids in the required amounts must be available or the special Protein needed by that tissue will not be produced.

In this event, the Amino Acids will converted to Carbohydrate and burned for energy, or converted to fat and stored. The tissues are able to store individual Amino Acids for only a few hours.

It is at this point that practical nutrition enters the picture. By accident or design, the consumer must supply to his or her tissues the more than twenty different Amino Acids, at an interval little longer six hours.

Thus, if the Amino Acids supply from breakfast is incomplete in any one or more Amino Acids, for all practical purposes the missing Amino Acids shoulld be supplied by lunch, about four hours later.

If one must wait until dinner (eight to twelve hours after breakfast) for these missing acids, repair and growth based on breakfast might suffer. The Amino Acids are divided into two main groups.

The essential Amino Acids, of which there are eight or ten, cannot be produced in the body. They must be supplied by food.

The remaining fifteen or more nonessential Amino Acids can, within limits, be produced from other Amino Acids (both Essential and NonEssential) to make the required complete Amino Acids.

Eggs, milk, fish, poultry and meat are easily digested and contain a fairly complete Amino Acid composition. They are considered to have high biological value, which means they contain all essential Amino Acids and alone can support growth and metabolism.

Most vegtables and grain Proteins are low in some essential Amino Acids (low biological value) and when used alone, do not support growth satisfactorily.

If, however a number of these foods of lower biological value are used simultaneously, the overall biological value of the Protein meal is improved.

Proteins in breakfast cerals are used more efficiently when milk Proteins are included with them. Corn and beans, the staple foods of Central American populations, are better utilized when they are eaten together.

Certain combinations of barley, wheat and soy Protein are good substitutes for dairy products, if eaten together. Supplementation of Proteins to improve its biological value, has only recently been proven scientifically to have merit.


Among nearly one guarter of the world's population who, because of poverty or lack of knowledge, consume a vegtable/cereal diet of low Protein biological value.

And a growing number of Westerners, who are vegetarians by virture of religion or conviction, the problem of mutual supplementation of Proteins becomes of prime importance.

Sensible mixing of different vegtables, fruits and cereals by the addition of small amounts of milk, eggs, fish or meat becomes necessary, if good health is to be maintained.

Mutual supplementation of Proteins is not a problem to those residents of the industrial West who have a high animal Protein diet. Their total Protein intake has a very high biological value and is usually excessive.

This leads to energy waste by the body; the excess of Amino Acids, both essential and nonessential, is used as energy or stored as fat at a certain loss of efficiency.

Another consequence of the high animal Protein diet, which bears directly on the main point of this book, is the accompanying high animal fat intake.

This factor is important in the frequency of MS, Stroke, Heart Disease, Obesity and other Chronic Diseases in the West. If the trend away from animal Protein continues, we can expect the general diet to move towards a cereal vegetable base.

As this trend develops, the mixing of different Protein foods at the same meal will increase, to have the different Amino Acids simultaneously available, thus making possible the body's complete utilization of the Proteins.

Rejection of a high animal Protein diet will increase the intake of complex Carbohydrates from vegetables and cereals.

This will further aid the efficiency of Protein use, since all energy requirements will be satisfied by Carbohydrates, making Protein breakdown for this purpose unnecessary.

It is inevitable that some Protein will be metabolized for energy. In order to assure that all Amino Acids, necessary for growth and repair of tissues and enzymes are available more or less simultaneously, some excess of Protein must be consumed.

However, this should not be an extreme excess as usually occurs among the majority, who rely on meat and potatoes as their staple diet in the United States, Canada, and much of the rest of the industrialized Western world.

It is also necessary that adequate Vitamins, including C and all of the B Vitamins be available, if structural Proteins of good quality are to be produced; otherwise substandard tissuees and enzymes will result.


The amount of Protein intake that is desirable in a human being is debatable. If the Protein intake is balanced so that all Amino Acids can be used constructively, the requirement is less than when the intake is unbalanced.

During moderate exercise there seems to be no need to exceed normal limits, but after severe exercise for prolonged periods there may be need to replace lost tissue Proteins.

During fever, after major burns, multiple fractures and surgical procedures, there is a significant loss of tissue Proteins and these need to be replaced by an increased Protein intake.

Proteins are not stored or held in reserve, and one cannot push constructive Protein metabolism by supplementating a normal diet with high Protein or Amino Acid additions unless disease or injury is present.

Such supplements are a burden to the metabolic mechanisms since the Amino Acids must be degraded and burned as energy or stored as fat.

A high Protein diet is not harmful; however, after periods of Protein starvation, the Protein intake must be increased slowly to avoid harm. Excessive Protein may lead to fluid imbalance and its retention in the body.

This may occur when the total calories from Proteins exceed 15 to 20% of the total caloric intake. Also, the end products from excessive Protein metabolism may lead to accumulation of Nitrogenous Waste products in the Bloodstream and place a burden on the Liver and Kidneys. It is clear that an overload of Protein should be avoided.

Continued In 17-03

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