6.1

Multiple Sclerosis & the Diet that saved my Life.

In January 2004, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

MS is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves within the brain and spinal cord, and currently has no known cure.

I had sold my house and purchased a van, set to travel Australia with a friend of mine—and the news was both shocking and terrifying.

How could this happen?

Why did this happen?

What did this mean for my future?

Should I still go away on my trip?

What should I do now?

What will my future look like?

Will I be in a wheelchair?

Will I die early?

Will someone love me?

Will I be able to have children?

Should I?

What if I can’t care for them?

Would that be fair?

Many questions swirled around in my head and I felt so much uncertainty, but one thing kept coming back into my mind—if I had been born perfectly healthy, why had my body/immune system suddenly started to attack my brain?

What was it that had turned my body into my enemy?

I didn’t know the answer, but through research and word of mouth I stumbled across the work of Professor Swank around dietary changes and positive outcomes for people living with MS. It made so much sense to me.

From there, I found Professor George Jelinek’s work and the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis and Holism Study research and community, further linking diet, specifically saturated fats, with MS. It recommended a low fat, plant-based diet for decreasing the frequency and severity of MS relapses and increasing the overall wellbeing of people living with MS.

I immediately began making the transition.

I attended an MS retreat facilitated by Professor Jelinek in 2006, and learnt more about transitioning to a whole food, low fat, plant-based diet. Prior to this I had been obese, clinically depressed and anxious, living with chronic pain from fibromyalgia and spending the majority of my life sleeping the days away. I was so addicted to my old way of living—smoking, energy drinks and high fat, junk foods—that it took me another two years and going numb from the waist down, to finally commit completely to this new lifestyle.

I was no longer able to feel my legs, no longer able to feel myself use the toilet, barely able to walk without assistance, and looking into a crystal ball of ever-worsening disease and disability.

Being diagnosed with MS could have been the final nail in my coffin.

It could have destroyed me.

I spent most of my 20s sick, significantly overweight, unhappy and in chronic pain. Making the switch to clean, low fat, whole fruits and vegetables gave me my life back.

Eleven years from when I first attended that MS retreat, I am no longer obese, no longer depressed, no longer living with chronic pain, yeast infections, or debilitating fatigue, depression and anxiety.

I am no longer medicated.

I run between five and ten kilometres per day. I ride my bike in the mountains. I’m a mother to two beautiful boys. I no longer sleep the day away, I have an abundance of energy and my mind feels so much clearer. 

It sounds like a cliche, but I don’t recognise the woman who was sitting in that doctor’s office in 2004, numb and terrified.

I feel stronger than ever before in my life and I am so grateful for every second of this life that I get to live. Before MS, I felt like death might have been a blessing for me, a way to escape from all the pain and discomfort I had been living with for so many years.

Changing my lifestyle completely was difficult, but it gave me the greatest gift I could ever have imagined. It gave me hope.

Of all the things I’m grateful for, 13 years down the track, it’s hope.

Life without hope feels unbearable to carry.

Chronic illness can leave you feeling hopeless, and that hopelessness can be debilitating within itself.

I am so grateful to Professor Jelinek and his research. I am so grateful to my family and friends, but more than all of this—I am so grateful for hope.

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Author: Corinne Maree Nijjer

Photo: Flickr/Married Bachelor

Editor: Lieselle Davidson

Jacqueline Wilisoni Jul 31, 2018 12:25pm

I was having joints pain in both hands inside and outside and muscle weakness due to multiple sclerosis (MS). I was falling a lot, I had headaches and lightheadedness. I couldn’t keep myself balanced, and walk with a tremor like I cannot control my steps. I was on Copaxone, the first year was daily and later was 40 mg, 3 times a week. It didn’t make a tremendous difference for me. I've tried therapy, but it is not helping. I was seeking something to help regain my life to be able to do things for myself. It is frustrating when it feels like nobody is trying to help you find some relief. Through my primary physician i learnt about a (MS) herbal formula from NATURAL HERBAL GARDENS and their success rate with the treatment, i immediately started on the (MS) herbal protocol, I am glad to report the herbal formula worked effectively and there was no side effects, I had a total decline in symptoms, the joints pain, weakness and other symptoms stopped, my MS is totally REVERSED, Here is a link to the website we ordered from ww w.naturalherbalgardens.c om DON’T GIVE UP HOPE.

Kristen Dutton Jul 6, 2018 2:20am

Five years ago, I went numb from the waist down. After quite a few MRI’s, spinal tap, I was diagonsed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was on Avenox for almost 2 years, i had 1 year of monthly steroids IV, had to stop due to hip pain. Through my physiotherapist i learnt about a MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS HERBAL TREATMENT from R.H.F. (RichHerbs Herbal Foundation) and their success rate with the treatment, i immediately started on the MS treatment, i experienced decline in major symptoms including hand tremor, back pain, difficulty walking, muscle paralysis and weakness, uncomfortable tingling and burning, fatigue, urinary retention,double vision, slurred speech difficulty swallowing, numbness. Visit ww w. richherbsfoundation.c om. I knew that a positive attitude is everything and to just believe, I’m in control of my life again….

Corinne Nijjer Mar 8, 2017 4:59am

Hi Janette, check out the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis website and check out the diet recommendations. Then google low fat whole food vegan recipes and find all the ones you might like and start exploring for yourself. If you'd like more info message me on my women's health academy Facebook page, I'd be happy to help out if I can. Xxx Corinne

Corinne Nijjer Mar 8, 2017 4:56am

Oh Nakita I hear you... I had to borrow money from my family and friends to get myself to a retreat all those years ago but it was so worth it to my health. One of my greatest lessons was allowing people to help me when things were hard. We like to simply soldier on at all costs but the cost when you have MS is a lot higher than when you're living in a 'healthy' body. The cost for people with MS is time with our family, time with our children, partners, and the ability to use our bodies with their full capacity. Please join OMS pages on facebook, follow me and Women's Health Academy on Facebook, and surround yourself with as much inspiration from people thriving as possible. And when you want to comfort eat, blend up some frozen bananas with some berries and eat some banana berry ice cream, or make a smoothie, or eat a baked potato with some hummus and salad. If they don't do it for you, look up recipes for low fat vegan food and find something that you enjoy and go for it! If you need any support, message me on Facebook any time. I'm happy to help! Xxx Corinne

Janette Campbell Mar 7, 2017 7:40pm

Corinne Nijjer how do I find out more bout htis diet please. I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia 5 years ago and will try anything to help aleviate my problems. I am trying to combat this with hardly any medication and by doing exercise, so any tips would be gratefully received. :-)

Nikita Lea Mar 7, 2017 9:32am

Thank you for this article. I am very much your 'before' picture. Only diagnosed 7 months ago and already with 2 young children I am struggling to find the 'hope' in my future. I am reading the OMS book at the moment but as an emotional eater in an emotional time, I am constantly battling myself. I hope to one day get to that retreat for the life change I so need.

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Corinne Maree Nijjer

Corinne Maree Nijjer is a qualified Health Coach and founder at Women’s Health Academy. Following her own journey with Multiple Sclerosis, Corinne graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and is now supporting other women living with chronic illness to make positive changes to their health and lifestyles. You can find her on Facebook.