Chew on This

With incurable diseases such as MS and Alzheimer’s, why not look at how you eat

Morning television can educate and infuriate.

I experienced all emotions recently watching a piece on pop singer Chad Vaccarino revealing his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Feeling worse after traditional treatment, Vaccarino researched other treatments.

He found and followed Dr. Terry Wahls’ protocol. Wahls is a physician with MS who follows and recommends a low-carbohydrate diet and has been feeling well since. She eats nine cups of vegetables a day and of that, three cups are sulfur-containing vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli and asparagus. A number of supplements are also included.

After Vaccarino, the next interview was with an MS specialist who stated, “There is no evidence that changing one’s diet will affect the course of MS.”

Oh, doctor, could you not have included “at this time.”

Evidence for the physician is a published randomized control clinical trial. I agree that clinical trials are essential for establishing the safety and efficacy of medical interventions. If I am having surgery, I want a proven technique and the same goes for a medication. But it is sometimes difficult to apply those same standards to food. It is the totality of foods one eats over a lifetime that provides optimal health. That is why food and nutrition research looks at population studies.

Paula Wolfert is an acclaimed cookbook author who did extensive nutrition research after receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She is eating in a style similar to Wahls.’


I am not recommending a diet for MS or Alzheimers. My point is that many nutrition therapies have gone from maligned to mainstream in the past 10 years as more is learned about the powerful properties of food. The FODMAP diet that eliminates all fermentable carbohydrates was rarely recommended five years ago and is now helping countless people with irritable bowel syndrome. With incurable diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and MS, my philosophy on food therapies is this: What do you have to lose?

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.