The Best Bet Diet for Multiple Sclerosis

Can eating certain foods cause multiple sclerosis?

In This Article

Table of Contents

The Best Bet Diet was developed by Ashton Embry, Ph.D., as a dietary strategy for managing multiple sclerosis (MS). He and the diet's supporters suggest that leaky gut syndrome can initiate a series of events that contribute to MS, and that dietary modifications and supplementation can lessen this risk. Leading MS organizations, including the Multiple Sclerosis Society, are aware of The Best Bet Diet—and they do not endorse it for management of MS.

Dr. Embry began to look into nutritional and dietary factors in MS when his son, Matt Embry, was diagnosed with the disease in 1995. You too may be driven to explore any option that could possible help improve your or your loved one's disease course. If The Best Bet Diet is something you're considering, here's what you need to know.

Basics of the Best Bet Diet for MS
Verywell / Nusha Ashjaee

Principles of the Best Bet Diet

The Best Bet Diet is based on the widely known causes of MS. But the diet was developed based on additional ideas about the cause of MS that are not established or accepted by leaders and experts in the field.

Established Cause of MS

MS occurs when myelin, a type of fat cell that protects nerves, is diminished. It is not completely understood why MS develops, but experts agree that there may be genetic, environmental, and autoimmune factors.

Demyelination may occur due to an autoimmune process in which the body's immune system attacks the myelin, slowing or stopping nerve communication and resulting in neurological issues.

Embry's Theory

Dr. Embry and backers of The Best Bet Diet suggest that leaky gut syndrome could be responsible for MS. They believe that undigested components of food that can escape into the bloodstream with this condition prompt the immune system to respond by creating antibodies against them, as if they are invaders. This, they say, initiates a series of events that leads to MS.

The theory continues that these food proteins are similar to the proteins in myelin, and that antibodies formed in this immune response begin to attack the body's own myelin in a biological process called molecular mimicry, causing it to break down.

Basics of the Diet

There are two main components of The Best Bet Diet—dietary modification and supplements. Some of the guidelines follow healthy eating recommendations, and some are specifically focused on the leaky gut and molecular mimicry that are central to the principles behind the diet.

The dietary guidelines recommend avoiding foods that contain components that resemble those in myelin, as these are believed to trigger the autoimmune reaction that attacks it.

Eliminate:

  • Dairy: All animal milk, butter, cheeses, yogurt, and any products that contain them
  • Gluten: Wheat, rye, barley, and any products that contain them
  • Legumes: Beans, peas, peanuts, soybeans, and soy products
  • Refined sugar: This is also avoided based on the idea that it causes inflammation, which is suggested to exacerbate autoimmunity. The dietary guidelines suggest using other sweeteners instead, such as honey, maple syrup, and stevia.
  • Allergens: Any food that you have had an allergic reaction to

Get an Ample Amount of:

  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables

Supplement With:

  • Vitamin D3: Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is recommended at a dose of 2000 international units (IU)/day in the summer and 4000 IU/day in the winter.
  • Calcium: This is recommended at a dose of 800 to 1,200 milligrams (mg)/day.
  • Magnesium: This recommendation is based on a calcium-to-magnesium ratio between 2:1 to 1:1. For example, if you take 1,000 mg of calcium, it's suggested that you take between 500 and 1,000 mg of magnesium a day.
  • Other: Embry recommends omega-3 fish oil, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, and vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, copper, selenium, manganese, gingko biloba, grape seed extract, coenzyme Q10, acidophilus, lecithin, and amino acids. 

Effects of The Best Bet Diet

Matt Embry runs MS Hope, a website in which he shares his experience in coping with and managing MS. It includes videos in which he discusses his own personal experiences with the diet, which he says have been positive. And many people comment and share their own personal experiences about this diet and others in numerous MS patient forums.

Anecdotal reports can sometimes be helpful, but they must always be considered in light of available research. A multi-center review of online dietary advice regarding MS did not find any benefits of The Best Bet Diet, and there is no current peer-reviewed research supporting or explicitly refuting its use.

There are some theoretical concerns that The Best Bet Diet may not provide enough energy-supplying nutrients, but this has not been validated.

Furthermore, there are a number of medical conditions that can be worsened or improved with diet, but so far there is no evidence that any diet can have a major impact on MS.

A Word From Verywell

While you can easily find recommendations for dietary regimens and supplements in magazines and online in articles and forums, that doesn't mean they are right for you—or even helpful. Be sure to check with your doctor before making any changes to your MS care plan. Among the issues that she needs to weigh in on are whether or not the suggestions you want to try will provide you with adequate nutrition, cause toxicity, or interact with any medications you are taking.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources