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Location: new york
Registered: 28 June 2007
Posts: 665
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Dr Pickart:
What in your opinion is the cause(or causes) of the increase in rates of auto-immune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis in this country? Do you believe that the wrong types of foods can cause our immune systems to misbehave and attack our own bodies?

My siser was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 9 months ago. We are originally from a country where MS is practically unheard of, where the diet is composed of beans, fish, lots of fruit and vegetables, and lots of spices such as ginger, cayennne and turmeric. After migrating to this country, we adopted many of the American heating habits, especially the use of margarine,soda, processed breakfast cereals, processed meats, milk and polyunaturated oils like corn. When I went away to college, I reverted to the eating habits of my native culture when I realized how much healthier my family and I were before we came to America.

I really believe that the inflammation caused by our diets has an effect on these diseases, but her doctors say there is absolutely no relationship between diet and MS or auto-immune diseases.
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Location: Skin Biology
Registered: 15 September 2004
Posts: 7065
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It appears that most people in areas with low sunlight have inadequate levels of vitamin D. The Scientific American had a very good article on this in November 2007. The general advice is that a person needs about 400 units of vitamin D daily. But new research suggests that we need at least 2,000 units daily. This article disagrees with your physicians.

Another complicating factor is the fear of sunlight that dermatologists created.

Low vitamin D levels are associated with many autoimmune diseases. A woman in a bikini in the sunlight generates about 10,000 units of vitamin D in 10 to 15 minutes. Sunscreen products that are in many cosmetics will block about 98% of the UV that generates vitamin D. Persons with more skin color also have more difficulty generating adequate vitamin D.

That European Community has recently stated that it wants to raise vitamin D levels in the European population.

The USA diet is far too high in the inflammatory omega 6 fats (from corn and soybeans) and too low in the anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats. This may also increase autoimmune diseases.

Try to avoid margarine, soda and processed foods. It is often better to pack a lunch than to eat food in restaurants.
Location: new york
Registered: 28 June 2007
Posts: 665
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Dr Picart:
Thank you for responding. The sunlight connection is interesting. Maybe Multiple sclerosis is rare in my country of origin because it is very hot all year round and people are not afraid of the sun. There is not a lot of sun in new york state during our long winters and even if we did have sun, it is too cold to expose our bodies long enough to get our vitamin D. I myself was taking 2000 IU of vitamin D daily even before my sister's MS diagnosis.

I have been interested in health and nutrition since I was a kid, reading Prevention magazine and numerous books. I knew margarine, and processed foods were harmful long before doctors were willing to admit that trans fats were bad. I can actually remember my family doctor telling my mother to use margarine instead of butter and that the processed cereals were healthier for children than plain oatmeal because the processed cereals were fortified with vitamins.
He insisted that the butter and coconut oil that we were accustomed to using were harmful and would give us heart disease. And he did not think consuming a lot of sugar was unhealthy or that excess sugar consumption caused diabetes. He was against all vitamin supplements and he advised my mother to throw away my Prevention magazines and books by Carlton Fredericks.

My mother trusted him more than me so she refused to give up our newly adopted bad eating habits. After I went away to college I changed my eating habits, gave up margarine and processed foods and started taking cod liver oil and borage oil, eating flaxseeds, and taking supplements. As it turns out, I was eating foods and taking supplements that were anti-inflammatory without knowing it.

Because of the information on nutrition and supplements that I have shared with her since her MS diagnosis, my sister is now convinced that diet and supplements are important to her illness and she is making radical changes in her and her children's diet. It is so sad that doctors are more willing to let a patient suffer horribly or die than try complementary treatments.
<Paula>
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Please let us know how your sister does on the healthier diet! I hope it helps her.

I have been reading a lot lately on diet and inflammation, and have been trying to eat healthier, going on a month now. I also take fish oil capsules, a multi vitamin, and MSM.
<Paula>
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Also, if you don't mind saying, what country are you originally from? Or at least what area is that? I am curious because your way of eating reminds me of the Mediterranean diet.
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