I have been nominated to take part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. You can watch the video here. And I have made my donation. But in addition to doing the challenge, I thought that I should also take some time to write about ALS, what it is and some nutritional and Ayurvedic advice for those who do have ALS. ALS is also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or Motor Neurone Disease and although the Ice Bucket Challenge is a “fun” way to donate, ALS is no joke as it is a serious life-long condition. I do hope that those who have participated have taken some time to learn about ALS and why the donations are helpful with research in finding out the cause and providing a cure for this serious disease.
When I first graduated from University, in my first job as a Health Coach and Ayurvedic Health Educator, I started by seeing patients with autoimmune conditions. They were mostly those who have either Multiple Sclerosis or ALS. And since then, in my own clinical practice, I continue to see people with autoimmune conditions and although each case varies, here are some common advice I find myself giving to those who have ALS.
ALS is a very serious autoimmune condition and no one knows how and why you get it and there is no cure for it. An autoimmune condition is when the body’s immune system attacks itself. With ALS, the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord (known as motor neurons) stop working and thus impair muscle activity. Activities such as gripping and grabbing objects, walking, speaking, swallowing, and breathing are all affected. As the symptoms worsen, the condition becomes more and more debilitating to the point where even communicating, breathing, and swallowing become difficult. There is no known cure for ALS and there is no scientifically proven therapy that works. But there are ways to slow down the progression of ALS.
With the diagnosis of ALS, the first thing I would recommend is removing gluten, dairy, and soy from their diets, which will help to reduce inflammation. Next step would be to introduce more fish, such as salmon and halibut into their diets to increase omega-3s (if you are vegetarian, having more chia seeds or flaxseeds). Those with ALS also have a tendency to have a vitamin D, B6, and B12 deficiency, so supplementation may also be necessary. On top of all of this, one of the best ways to improve quality of life is to start eating clean, whole, and organic foods. Avoid processed sugars, sweeteners, additives, preservatives, and other chemicals found in foods. Instead, each freshly prepared meals and buy organic produce, organic meat, and even organic grains when possible. Juicing (using a blender) is also very effective way to get all your nutrients and also allows to have a diet high in antioxidants which in turn helps to promote a healthy functioning of the immune system.
Those with autoimmune conditions also have other underlying food sensitivites and intolerances, therefore, I would also recommend an IgG food test to see which foods are causing increased amount of inflammation in the body. By knowing food reactions, you can eliminate those foods and this helps to slow down the progression of ALS. One of the top Ayurvedic tips is to keep your digestion strong. Many people with ALS also have weaker stomachs and/or digestive systems, so its important to balance the digestive system to ensure that you are able to absorb nutrients. Another key factor is continuing to stay active as long as possible. Exercise, especially hatha yoga, helps to keep the nervous system strong. Avoid any strenuous exercise, but moderate activity, such as swimming, yoga, and low-impact activities are great way to prevent the progression of ALS.
These are some tips for those with ALS and can also be applied to other autoimmune conditions. Nutrition plays a huge role when it comes to the management of autoimmune conditions because it all comes down to which foods you put in your body. A balanced and personalised nutrition plan that eliminated food sensitivities and is high in antioxidants gives you the best fighting chance. If you have any questions, please do let me know.
In the meantime, my thoughts and best wishes are with those who are battling any autoimmune condition.
Health and happiness,