Can the body heal itself? This is the question on the minds of every person with MS. We are all hoping and praying that by changing our lifestyle and following the MS Diet, whatever complex chemical processes that are broken in our bodies will start to correct themselves. To motivate myself to be disciplined, I often picture what is happening to the nutrients from the food I'm eating. I envision these perfect food particles traveling through my blood to my cells and fixing the root of the problem that has caused Multiple Sclerosis. I do believe that the body, if given the chance, can heal itself. In this post, I want to explore some theories and scientific findings of how the healing process works and applies to Multiple Sclerosis.
Motivation To Heal: If Only We Could See Into Our Bodies
Yes, if only we could rewind through the entire history of our bodies and see what went wrong and where. We could go right back to the beginning and watch as our bodies were nourished and built by our mother's breast milk in the first few months of our lives. Wouldn't it be amazing to see what actually happened that lead to us developing Multiple Sclerosis? Was it a vitamin deficiency or perhaps an over abundance of stress hormones, or a result of years of not feeding our bodies what they needed? Perhaps a genetic disposition? As I'm sure we have all realised by now, it is very difficult to answer that question with any certainty. Our MS was most likely caused by a combination of many factors that created the perfect conditions for its development.
[blockquote width="270" align="left"]Less strain results in healing[/blockquote]
More interestingly, I would love to be able to see the effects that various nutrients, vitamins and minerals had on our bodies. We would be able to watch as vitamin D was absorbed and put to work in the various systems where it is needed. We could look on as it set to work modulating the immune system and bringing those naughty rogue T cells back into line. Our inside view would also allow us to see how the MS diet allows our bodies to be more efficient at what it does, thus putting less strain on the overall system and allowing time for healing and reconstruction to take place.
Homeostasis: The Mechanism Of Healing
Simply put, homeostasis is the body's ability to bring itself back into perfect balance, the way it functions best. When we are exposed to a virus, the immune system is activated and immediately responds to exterminate the virus, thereby re-establishing balance. When you get too cold, or too hot, your body signals you to either put on a extra layer of clothing or take one off. When you injure yourself the body immediately sends reinforcements to the damaged area to begin the process of healing and repairing.
[blockquote width="270" align="right"]bring our bodies back to balance[/blockquote]
This is the constant goal of our bodies and every lifestyle choice we make either helps this process along or makes it more difficult. We all know how we feel after a stressful week when we have eaten too many greasy fast food dinners and had a bit too much to drink - pretty darn awful! However, as soon as we have had a good rest and started cleansing ourselves with water and healthy foods, our bodies can bring back that balance, and start healing the damage we have done.
This is all great news for people with MS! Our bodies are not going to give up without a fight! Yes, we may feel a bit let down that our body allowed the initial development of MS but we need to realise that our body is not going to give up on us because we have MS - it is going to continue to do everything in its power to help us heal.
Cell Renewal Using Your MS Diet
The more we learn about Multiple Sclerosis and other chronic diseases, the more we learn that the brain, and body are in a constant state of being remodelled and improved. The brain has a significant reserve capacity that it can use to repair itself - great news for people with MS! Activities that exercise your brain and body appear to be of the utmost importance to the development of the brain's ability to “work around” the areas of damage caused by MS. Interestingly, there is a new theory that disease progression in people with MS happens because the brain is no longer able to repair itself. So, once the rate of damage is greater than the rate of repair, we can say that MS is progressing. It really is up to us to make sure the rate of repair is faster than the rate of damage! This is of vital importance when it comes to cell renewal.
On average, you renew about one percent of the cells in your body daily and every cell in your body is replaced every seven years (tweet this). If the cells are already strong and healthy, they will reproduce more healthy cells. However, if they are weak and damaged, unfortunately, more weak and damaged cells will be manufactured.
Cells seem to pass on their good or bad health to the next generation. This sounds like bad news because you would hope that a shiny, new and healthy cell is born when the old cell is replaced. The good news is that unhealthy cells can heal themselves if given the right tools to do so.
Diet and lifestyle plays a vital role in cell regeneration. Giving your body the right nutrients, eating anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods and eating the right types of fats (especially the omega-3 fats) all work to keep your brain “flexible” and “fluid” giving it the “edge” it needs to manage MS. These are all essential tools for healing but what are some of the obstacles?
Obstacles To Healing
We all know what makes us feel strong and healthy and what makes us feel weak, lethargic and unhealthy. In previous blog posts we have discussed many obstacles to healing but I just want to reiterate them briefly, just so that they are fresh in your minds!
- Stress - chronic and unrelenting (see How To Manage Your Stress, To Manage Your MS)
- Insufficient Water Consumption (try to have a big glass before each meal)
- Insufficient exercise (see Improving Your MS Diet Through Exercise)
- Food Sensitivities - eating too much or any of the wrong foods (see the MS Diet for a full list)
- Lack of Nutrients - not eating enough of the right foods (see the MS Diet and the shopping list)
- Toxins and Heavy metals (although fish is important, it may contain mercury so don't eat it more than 2-3 times a week)
- Alcohol Consumption (alcohol consumption exacerbates leaky gut syndrome which can trigger immune response)
All of the above factors significantly reduce the body's ability to heal itself. They are all 'obstacles' in the path to healing and we need to make sure that they do not prevent the body from doing what it needs to do to make us better. Many of us live in unreality and because we cannot actually see the internal damage that is being done, we convince ourselves that everything is fine until one day it all catches up with us. We realise that our lifestyle is full of obstacles to healing and that our body has not been able to keep things in tip top shape. For most of us, all we need to do is clear the obstacles and start living disciplined lives and our bodies will, very quickly, bring things back into balance. However, the longer you leave them in the way, the bigger they will get and the longer it will take for your body to clear them.
Top Tips To Speed Up The Healing Process
So, there a few things you can do to help speed up the healing process. They are the usual suspects, but we all need a reminder to constantly work on these areas daily to give our bodies not only the best chance to defend against MS, but also to reverse damage it has already caused. Here are my top 6 tips:
Juice Fasting: Juicing is an amazing tool to allow your body the time and space to do some healing. Not only is your body receiving concentrated nutrients which travel straight to your cells, but it is getting a break from the process of digestion. Juice fasting allows it to focus on clearing out the toxins and making the cell healthy and strong.
Sufficient Sleep: Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night is essential for people with MS. This is when the healing activity and cell rejuvenation takes place!
Water (lots of it): This will flush out the toxins and obstacles to healing that the body wants to get rid of and is absolutely essential for healthy cells.
Rest: Give your body regular breaks throughout the day so that it can regain homeostasis and balance.
Anti-inflammatory foods: Foods that feed the cells and enhance the way it functions are one of the biggest predictors of healing. See The MS Diet for a full list of all the foods that will aid in the healing process and Why A Healthy Gut Reduces MS Symptoms.
Exercise: Vitally important, exercise keeps nutrients circulating around the body, stimulates repair and cell replacement, all of which are wonderful benefits for MS'ers.
Summing It Up
So, have we established that the body actually does heal itself? Definitely! The human body has been described as a self-healing, self-organising machine. It lives to heal itself but it just needs a little help from us. Every single day we need to make the right decisions about our lifestyles, especially our MS diet. The amazing thing is that as you become more sensitive to the effect of various foods on your body, it's almost like you can see what's happening inside because you either feel great, more energetic, happier and calmer or more lethargic, moody and agitated. Next time you drink a raw juice and feel amazing afterwards, picture those nutrients healing your cells, and the cells they produce.
Why wouldn't you do this for your body?
Do you think healing MS damage in your body is possible? Let us know via a comment below.