MS-Diet Support Group  -  FAQ  Extended

 

We believe that Multiple Sclerosis can be efficiently managed by changing our diet and by taking some supplements. It's not a cure, but it can slow or maybe halt the progression of the disease. The core of the principles followed by the group and science behind them can be found at the Direct-MS website. This webpage is our Frequently Asked Questions and it answers most of the common questions asked in the group. If you'd like to join this discussion group, take a look at the question "How can I join the group ?".

 

You must read this disclaimer before reading further.

 

  1. Introduction
    1. Where does all of this come from ?

  2. Basic knowledge
    1. Core
      1. What is the Best Bet Diet ?
      2. What foods should I avoid ?
      3. What can I eat ?
      4. What kind of tests do I need to take ?
      5. What improvements in my health can I hope for ?
      6. How long will it take before I see positive results ?
      7. What are the symptoms I can experience when changing my diet toward BBD ?
      8. How can I join the group ?
    2. And what about ...
      1. Alcohol and beer ?
      2. Avocado ?
      3. Carob ?
      4. Chocolate ?
      5. Coconut and coconut oil ?
      6. Coffee ?
      7. Honey ?
      8. Legumes ?
      9. Nuts and Seeds ?
      10. Oats ?
      11. Soy and soy products ?
    3. Fats
      1. Saturated fats
        1. What are saturated fats ?
        2. Could or should I eat them ?
        3. Where are the most common places to find them ?
      2. Monounsaturated fats
        1. What are monounsaturated fats ?
        2. Could or should I eat them ?
        3. Where are the most common places to find them ?
      3. Polyunsaturated fats
        1. What are polyunsaturated fats ?
        2. Omega 3
          1. What are Omega 3 fats ?
          2. Could or should I eat them ?
          3. Where are the most common places to find them ?
        3. Omega 6
          1. What are Omega 6 fats ?
          2. Could or should I eat them ?
          3. Where are the most common places to find them ?
      4. Trans fats
        1. What are trans fats ?
        2. Could or should I eat them ?
        3. Where are the most common places to find them ?
      5. What should I aim for relative to the quantity and ratio of fats I eat ?
      6. Where can I find out how much of each fat type different food contain ?
    4. Supplements
      1. What are the supplements I should take and why ?
      2. How can I get tested for Vitamin D?
      3. What are the normal and optimal levels for the different tests ?
    5. ELISA Test
      1. What is the ELISA Test ?
      2. How can I get tested ?
      3. Can I eat dairy, gluten and legumes if I'm not allergic to them according to the ELISA test ?
    6. Tips & Tricks
      1. What can I eat for breakfast ?
      2. What can I eat at restaurants ?
      3. What oils should I be using for cooking ?
      4. How can I change my email profile or unsubscribe ?
    7. Often quoted persons
      1. Who is Ashton F. Embry ?
      2. Who is Dr. Swank ?
      3. Who is Dr. Mercola ?
      4. Who is Krispin ?
    8. Others (Basic knowledge)
      1. What do all those abbreviations mean ?
      2. Which food are legumes ?
      3. Which grains contain gluten ?
      4. Which grains do not contain gluten ?
      5. What can I do to help constipation ?
      6. Where can I read testimonials ?
      7. Where can I find BBD-friendly recipes ?
      8. How can I access the Extended FAQ ?

  3. Conclusion
    1. To help
      1. How can I get involved ?
      2. How can I make a donation to MS-Diet ?
      3. How can I make a donation to DIRECT-MS ?

 

Where does all of this come from ?  
It all started back in August 2000. Andrew and I had independently come across Direct-MS in our search for things to help MS. WOW! moments were experienced in Scotland and England, as we realised what a resource we had found. We were both immediately in contact with Ashton asking lots of questions, to which we always received thoughtful and detailed replies. Ashton put us in touch with one another. Somehow the idea of a support group emerged (Andrew), as we wanted to spread the message to others, having found that Neurologists did not believe diet could be a valid treatment (they have not read the carefully researched papers and arguments on Ashton's site). I suggested we try Topica as a means of distributing the email initially, and 2 years later, we switched to Yahoo! groups, which offered more features.
--Brian

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What is the Best Bet Diet ?  
The Best Bet Diet is the diet at the core of our MS-Diet group. It has been developed by Ashton F. Embry according to scientifically based information on the relationship between multiple sclerosis and nutritional factors. He has stated that we should stay away from some allergen foods. Those foods have been introduced in human diet relatively recently with the apparition of agriculture and we are not yet genitically adapted to them. Based on the work of Dr. Swank, he also recommends to severely restrict the consumption of saturated fats. According to Dr. Embry, "... it appears that diet revision [toward BBD] may be a very effective therapy for slowing or halting MS progression."

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What foods should I avoid ?  

It's important to remember that the diet represents a major change in eating habits, lifestyle and (to start with) elimination. It may take you some time to feel at ease with these changes; make them gradually if you want. Above all, don't be too hard on yourself.

For more information:
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What can I eat ?  
For more information:
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What kind of tests do I need to take ?  
For more information:
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What improvements in my health can I hope for ?  

Every single person will have a different response to the diet and will improve differently and at different speeds - some may not see obvious or quantifiable improvements at all but will slow or halt the progression of their disease.

Not everybody can achieve a complete halt of their MS progression through BBD. It mainly depends on the form of your MS: Relapsing/Remitting, Secondary Progressive or Primary Progressive, how long you've had MS and how drastically the MS has physically affected you.

However, everyone following the BBD sees positive changes and there are many other avenues you can explore which, when combined with the BBD, could produce even greater positive results.
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How long will it take before I see positive results ?  
It's different for each individual. If you have allergies to the restricted foods you can easily feel better in 2 weeks off dairy, or wheat for instance. Habitually, fatigue lessens after some weeks. The slow down and halting of MS can take from several months to several years. In some persons, the halting of MS is never achieved. It appears to be evident that the sooner in the MS process you start the BBD, the faster you see results. The healing of MS symptoms is a process that could take weeks or months if there is only inflammation, and years if there is damage to the myelin.
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What are the symptoms I can experience when changing my diet toward BBD ?  

Many people often feel worse before they feel better, as they are ridding their body of toxins and adjusting it to a new, healthier way of living. �Some people get colds, runny noses, headaches, and other symptoms that may lead them to believe they are getting worse!! �If you experience a "correcting crisis" while on a nutritional program, stay the course - it's working! �When your body begins cleaning out toxins, metabolic wastes, parasites, candida die-off and the like, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms. Because you may feel worse before you feel better, it's important to read up on this phenomenon so you can better understand this process.

The correcting crisis, when understood, is a clear indication that your improved nutrition program is truly working and leading you to improved health. �If you experience this, it doesn't normally last more than a few days to a week, at which point you'll be enjoying increased energy and a better overall sense of well-being.
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How can I join the group ?  
Simply by sending an email to MS-Diet-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Some time later, you'll receive a response from Brian asking you which email profile you want and... you're done! You are free to just read the posts silently or to introduce yourself to the group, and enjoy being a part of our interactive, lively discussions as you embark on a healthier lifestyle to improve your situation and take control of your MS!
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What about Alcohol and beer ?  
Alcohol is largely a no-no. However a glass of wine a day is fine as grapes are a natural anti-oxidant.
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What about Avocado ?  
Avocado is allowed on the BBD as it is relatively low in saturated fats and high in "good" fat. But each avocaco contains about 5g of saturated fats and you should keep them below 15g per day.
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What about Carob ?  
Carob is a legume, so it is not allowed on the BBD.
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What about Chocolate ?  
Milk chocolate is definitely out. Dairy-free (dark) chocolate is best avoided due to the high saturated fat and sugar content.�However, since cocoa beans are NOT a legume, some members treat themselves to a nibble of dark chocolate (Green & Black's organic Maya Gold for one) in moderation! Use your discretion, and check labels carefully.
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What about Coconut and coconut oil ?  
Coconut oil is about 87-92% saturated fat, so should be avoided. Coconut itself is high in saturated fat, so should only be eaten occasionally and in moderation.
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What about Coffee ?  
It has been stated that a cup or two of coffee a day won't do any harm. However, for overall health reasons many on the diet have cut caffeine out completely and prefer to avoid it altogether. Moreover, caffeine can interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin A and complex B vitamins.
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What about Honey ?  
Honey is allowed on the BBD.
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What about Legumes ?  
Legumes are to be avoided on the BBD.

For more information:
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What about Nuts and Seeds ?  
Nuts and seeds contain a lot of fat, so you should limit the quantity that you eat. Especially those containing high amounts of saturated fat.

For more information:
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What about Oats ?  
Oats are a gluten grain and are not allowed on the BBD.
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What about Soy and soy products ?  
Soy and soy products are derived from soybeans, which are legumes and therefore not allowed on the BBD. But Soy Lecithin is OK and we checked this out with Ashton ages ago.

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What are saturated fats ?  
"Saturated" means "saturated of hydrogen atoms". Each carbon atom in this kind of fat molecule is linked to two hydrogen atoms. There's no double-bonds between carbon atoms as in unsaturated fats, and there is no room for new hydrogen atoms. This characteristic makes saturated fat solid at room temperature. It's a very stable molecule, so your body can do almost nothing with it except produce energy.

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Could or should I eat saturated fats ?  
You should keep saturated fats to a maximum of 15g per day.
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Where are the most common places to find saturated fats ?  
For more information:
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What are monounsaturated fats ?  
Also called Omega 9 or Oleic acid, monounsaturated fats have only one double-bond between carbon atoms. It makes them the most stable unsaturated fat when heated. This is the kind of fat that should be used when cooking.

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Could or should I eat monounsaturated fats ?  
These fats are neither good nor bad; they should take up a large proportion of all the fats you eat for two reasons: to replace Omega 6, and to give you more calories and energy.
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Where are the most common places to find monounsaturated fats ?  
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What are polyunsaturated fats ?  
These fats, which include Omega 3 and Omega 6 families, have two or more double-bonds between carbon atoms. This makes them quite unstable and they should not be used for cooking to prevent the formation of saturated fats and trans fats. Your body uses them in many biochemical processes.

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What are Omega 3 fats ?  
Omega-3 (you may sometimes see it written as n-3 or w-3) is the name given to a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The parent omega-3 - alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) - is described as "essential" as, like vitamins, it must be obtained from diet.

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Could or should I eat Omega 3 fats ?  
Yes. Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory benefits and are essential to our health as they are components of nerve cells and cellular membranes. �They must be consumed regularly as the body has limited storage for them.
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Where are the most common places to find Omega 3 fats ?  
The best and richest sources of the omega-3 fatty acids are oil-rich fish and fish or cod liver oil supplements. This is because they supply the preferred omega-3's eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA and DHA) that the body can use most readily.

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What are Omega 6 fats ?  
Omega 6 is another essential fatty acid, a vital component of membranes and used in the body to lower blood cholesterol and support the skin. Although essential, omega 6 is inflammatory and most traditional diets are quite high in it. �To keep the omega 6:3 ratio in a more favourable position, it is recommended you supplement mainly with omega 3 and allow omega 6 to come from the fat in your diet.

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Could or should I eat Omega 6 fats ?  
Since Omega 6 fats are pro-inflammatory, you should limit their consumption.

For more information:
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Where are the most common places to find Omega 6 fats ?  
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What are trans fats ?  
They are produced through hydrogenation, a chemical process by which hydrogen is added to unsaturated fatty acids. Hydrogenation converts the unsaturated bonds in the oil into saturated bonds, creating a solid, spreadable fat with increased shelf life.

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Could or should I eat trans fats ?  
Trans fats are very detrimental to our health and should be completely avoided.
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Where are the most common places to find trans fats ?  
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What should I aim for relative to the quantity and ratio of fats I eat ?  
Ashton's vision:

Basically I am satisfied with the Paleolithic prescription for fat types, amounts and required ratios. Cordain's analysis recommends 50% monosaturates, 25% saturated, 18% omega 6 and 7% omega 3. Assuming a diet with 35% of calorie intake from fats (pretty standard) one can then work out the amounts of each fat type for a given total calorie intake. For example, for 2000 calories, one would use ~ 80g of fat (equals 720 cal) with 40 g monosaturates, 20 g saturates, 14 g omega 6 and 6 g omega 3.

I think the ratios of the fat types are the key for biochemical functioning. Very low saturated fat intake has been important in the past because of the very low intake of omega 3 and the optimal 3/1 - 4/1 ratio. Thus a 2 g of omega 3 intake would necessitate a saturated fat intake of ~7-8 g if one wants to maximize the immune regulatory benefit from the omega 3.

This idea of stopping all omega 6 is not wise. One just wants to use ~ 15g a day of omega 6 and to ensure an omega 6/omega 3 ratio of ~ 2-3.

Both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are essential but the body requires them in a ratio that is not normally achieved by the typical diet of today's industrialised nations.

Experts think that man evolved on a diet which would have had roughly 1-2 times more omega-6 than omega-3, though there is a school of thought which argues for a 1:1 ratio. Currently, average UK intakes are in a ratio of around 8:1 in favour of the omega-6s, while in the US it is around 10:1, and in Australia nearer 12:1. Many individuals within those populations will have an even greater omega-6 to omega-3 imbalance.

Because the omega-3s and omega-6s compete on the same metabolic pathway and the omega-6s may block conversion of omega-3 ALA to the more useful omega-3 EPA and DHA, non-fish eaters must be extra vigilant in cutting down on omega-6 intake Because of their wide-ranging roles, virtually every area of the human body is susceptible to problems if the balance of the two polyunsaturates becomes out of kilter. How extreme the imbalance needs to be before problems are felt is not yet known for sure and in practice it will probably vary from one person to the next.
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Where can I find out how much of each fat type different food contain ?  
Depending on where you live, the label laws differ.�Many food labels break down the different quantities of fat by type, in grams.

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What are the supplements I should take and why ?  

See Ashton's supplement list.

Remember that few persons in the group are taking all those supplements. Most of us limit ourselves to the ones each believe are the most important and he can afford.

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How can I get tested for Vitamin D ?  

Before considering supplementation with vitamin D, it would be wise to have your vitamin D level tested. It is very important that your physician order the correct test. The advantage of having your medical doctor perform the test is that it will usually be covered by your medical insurance.

There are two vitamin D tests: 1,25(OH)D and 25(OH)D. 25(OH)D is the better marker of overall D status. It is this marker that is most strongly associated with overall health.

The correct test is 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D

For more information:
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What are the normal and optimal levels for the different tests ?  
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What is the ELISA Test ?  
A blood test (Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay) used to identify food allergies and sensitivities.

Two kind of antibodies are tested: IgE and IgG. Whereas IgE antibodies are an indicator of Type 1 hypersensitivity, which is an immediately evident allergic reaction, IgG antibodies have to do with Type 3 sensitivity, which is a delayed reaction.

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How can I get an ELISA test ?  

At the present time, there is a choice of two options for ELISA tests, both from Labs in England and both available worldwide.

They are hometests and there is no need to visit a doctor to have a sample taken or to have the results analyzed. A special kit will be sent to your home, from the lab, and all that is needed is a thumbprick to release enough blood to soak a small swab.

Offer Number 1 - Cambridge Nutritional Sciences, 93 foods test.
Offer Number 2 - York Labs, 113 foods test.
(The first one being cheaper)

MSRC is in charge of this offer. So if you are interested in this test or want more information, simply send a email to them.
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Can I eat dairy, gluten and legumes if I'm not allergic to them according to the ELISA test ?  
No. These foods are to be avoided regardless of your test results.
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What can I eat for breakfast ?  
For more information:
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What can I eat at restaurants ?  
It is most important when dining out to not be afraid to ask for what you want, the way you want it! Most restaurants have a "safe" garden salad on the menu, and you can get that topped with grilled chicken. Broiled fish or chicken with steamed vegetables and a baked potato can be done easily enough; Always tell the waiter you are allergic to dairy and gluten, to be assured your dish is free of that. �It is a good idea when possible to call ahead to the restaurant to explain your dietary restrictions, and to be sure they can prepare something for you.
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What oils should I be using for cooking ?  
When oils are heated chemical changes occur producing trans-fatty acids, saturated fatty acids and other oxidation products that are far more toxic than trans fats.

Frying is not recommended for health. If you must fry use high oleic sunflower, high oleic safflower, sesame or olive oil. Adding water while frying will keep the temperatures down to acceptable levels. Extra virgin olive oil can be used for boiling and baking.

This quote comes from the book:
Erasmus, Udo.�Fats that Heal Fats that Kill.� Alive Books. 1993.� (pages 128-129)

Frying and deep-frying

If you insist on frying and/or deep-frying, it bears repeating that the less oils are heated, the less they are destroyed, and the better they are for us.

Frying and deep-frying destroy all oils and cannot be recommended for health. But some oils are damaged less by frying than others. If you must fry, use refined oils that contain the lowest amount of EFAs, and the greatest amounts of SaFAs and MUFAs, and use sulphur-rich garlic and onions in frying to minimize free radical damage.

Oils least damaged by high temperatures and oxygen include:

  • medium chain tryglycerides (MCTs) (in small quantities only, less than 1 tablespoon);
  • butter;
  • tropical fats;
  • high oleic sunflower (not regular sunflower) oil;
  • high oleic safflower (not regular safflower) oil;
  • peanut oil;
  • sesame oil;
  • olive oil;
in that order of preference. These oils are EFA- poor, and produce the lowest amount of toxic molecules when heated. The EFAs required for health must come from other sources.

Frying and deep-frying are completely prohibited if optimum health is what you are after, or if you are attempting to reverse cancer or any other degenerative condition using natural means.

Boiling and Baking

Boiling is less destructive of oils than frying because the temperature goes only to 100 C. Even the most sensitive, EFA-rich oils can be used in cooked grains and on steamed vegetables without deterioration.

Baking fits between safe boiling with water and unsafe frying. ... The temperature inside the bread being baked goes up to only just above boiling - perhaps 116 C and the inside of bread is also protected from air and from light.

The inside of 'baked' bread is actually steamed at an acceptable temperature for even the more sensitive oils. Only the crust is actually baked (meaning 'burned'). The oils in the brown (or black) crust are destroyed.

When you cook, always keep your oven temperature relatively low. You can add cider vinegar or water to the oil, as this helps to keep the temperature low.
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How can I change my email profile or unsubscribe ?  

All you have to do is send a blank email to the address below that corresponds to the new email profile you want. A few minutes later Yahoo send you a confirmation email. That's it!

Profile typeEmail address
Normal Mail ms-diet-normal@yahoogroups.com
Daily Digest ms-diet-digest@yahoogroups.com
Read on Web ms-diet-nomail@yahoogroups.com
Unsubscribe ms-diet-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
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Who is Ashton F. Embry ?  
Dr. Ashton F. Embry, Ph.D is the scientist behind the research and subsequent creation of the Best Bet Diet. �He is the founder of Direct-MS (Diet REsearch into the Cause and Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis).
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Who is Dr. Swank ?  
Dr. Roy Swank is the creator of the "Swank Low-Fat Diet for the Treatment of MS", a diet low in saturated fat (maximum 15g per day) and relatively rich in polyunsaturated oils (minimum 20g and maximum 50g per day). Although the BBD takes the link between diet and MS much further, The Swank diet book is worth reading as it promotes the low-fat aspect and has much useful general information.
The data demonstrates the lack of decline in numerous patients who were on the ultra-low fat diet for 35 years. Visit his website for more information.
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Who is Dr. Mercola ?  
Dr. Joseph Mercola is an Osteopathic Physician who practices a "whole person" approach to medicine, treating the entire person rather than just the symptoms. �It is Dr. Mercola's vision to transform the existing medical paradigm from one addicted to pharmaceuticals, surgeries and other methods that only conceal or remove specific symptoms - with morbid results to our health and economy - to one focused on treating and preventing the underlying causes. �His website is filled with comprehensive, clear and researched guidance on the best nutrition, medical, emotional therapy and lifestyle choices to improve and maintain total health.
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Who is Krispin ?  
Krispin Sullivan is a Clinical Nutritionist in private practice in Marin County, CA. She has studied and continues to study biochemistry, psychology, exercise physiology, biofeedback, positive thinking; nutrition and its role in degenerative disease; toxicology, parasitology; nutrient deficiencies caused by prescription drugs, chemotherapy and radiation, and many other nutrition related areas. She is Dr. Mercola's nutritionist and a consulting nutritionist to the health food industry. Her website can be found by clicking here.
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Which food are legumes ?  

For more information:
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Which grains contain gluten ?  
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Which grains do not contain gluten ?  
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What do all those abbreviations mean ?  

Official:
Just for fun:
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What can I do to help constipation ?  
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Where can I read testimonials ?  
Click here
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Where can I find BBD-friendly recipes ?  
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How can I access the Extended FAQ ?  
If you are new to Best Bet Diet and this group, it is suggested that you take the time to get a good grasp on all the information contained in the Basic FAQ. Otherwise, your journey toward health will come across as being very difficult! It is strongly recommended that you switch your focus to the "Extended" topics only after you feel at easy with the basics of the Best Bet Diet. If you're already there, then just click here and a new section will appear.
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How can I get involved ?  
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How can I make a donation to MS-Diet ?  
We now fall under the umbrella organisation of the MS Resource Centre. Click here to contact the MSRC with an enquiry (eg- "How can I get the New Pathway magazine ?").

Click here to donate online to the Best Bet part of the MSRC. Look for the big green "Donate Online" button on the right.

Or send cheque marked "Best Bet Biet" on the reverse, to this address:

MS Resource Centre
7 Peartree Business Centre, Peartree Road,
Stanway, Colchester, Essex
United Kingdom
CO3 5JN

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How can I make a donation to DIRECT-MS ?  
You can donate online to Direct-MS through their website or send a tax deductible (in Canada and the USA) contribution to:

DIRECT-MS
5119 Brockington Rd. NW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
T2L 1R7

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