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S4E64 Introduction to Overcoming MS with Dr. Jonathan White

Welcome to Living Well with MS. In this episode, we are taking you back to one of our particularly popular webinars, ‘Introduction to Overcoming MS’ with Dr. Jonathan White. Whether you are new to Overcoming MS or have followed the Program for years, this episode will be a well-worthy listen as Jonathan guides you through each step and the evidence behind it.

This webinar was recorded 30 June 2021 as part of our Finding Hope with Overcoming MS webinar series. You can watch the whole webinar here.

Make sure you sign up to our newsletter to hear our latest tips and news about living a full and happy life with MS. And if you’re new to Overcoming MS, visit our introductory page to find out more about how we support people with MS.

Keep reading for the key episode takeaways and Jonathan’s bio.


Jonathan went to University of Glasgow Medical School, graduating in 2008 (MBChB). He completed a further five years of training in Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (MRCOG). He works at the Causeway Hospital, Coleraine and has a special interest in early pregnancy and recurrent pregnancy loss.

In April 2022, Jonathan was awarded “Doctor of the Year” at the inaugural Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Awards.

Overcoming MS and personal life:
Jonathan was diagnosed with RRMS in October 2015 and has been following the Overcoming MS Program ever since.  Dr. White assists Overcoming MS as a medical advisor and event facilitator.

He lives on the North Coast of Northern Ireland, is married to Jenny and father to Angus and Struan. His interests include the great outdoors, cycling and running (reluctantly), reading, rugby, film and spending time with his family.

You can learn more about his background here

Download the episode transcript

Selected Key Takeaways

The 7 steps of the Overcoming MS program

Diet: Understanding fats and why animal fat is problematic

(22:58) “Saturated fats are those that are generally solid at room temperatures such as butter or the rind on a chop. They mainly come from animals when they are incorporated into the body. They are rigid. They’re sticky, they’re inflammatory, and they’re degenerative. None of these things are something that I want as somebody with a chronic degenerative neurological condition.

Sunlight and Vitamin D: A range of benefits for MS and other conditions

(26:09) “Vitamin D has a key role in regulating the immune system and in protecting the brain. We know that there’s evidence in a whole host of conditions for the benefit of vitamin D in terms of reducing depression rates, hypertension or high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and in my own field, pregnancy losses. There is substantial evidence, particularly for vitamin D in MS prevention and in reducing the severity of the disease.

Exercise: Start low but you can push yourself to improve

(32:29) “You should start low and increase slowly. It is okay to push yourself with MS. You’re not going to bring on a relapse by lifting one extra rep or swimming a little bit further or walking a bit further. It’s okay to go to the point of fatigue.”

Mindfulness and Meditation: Evidence they reduce stress

(35:41) Studies have shown that regular mindfulness practice increases the grey and white matter in MRI scans, it promotes neuroplasticity so that [means] rerouting of signals around damaged areas and creating new neural networks.

Medication: Part of the Overcoming MS Program

(37:16) “I think in the past, there was a perception that OMS was the slightly alternative area to pursue and, if you were going to that route, you were then against medication. That was Us vs. Them. That could not be further from the truth. It should be us and them together. We know that early medical treatment can alter the disease course in MS. But there are many issues to consider when you choose a treatment and you need to take time and have the space and opportunity to address these with your doctor.

Prevention in family members: Avoid smoking to protect your family

(39:23) “[Cigarette smoking] doubles your risk of developing MS in your lifetime. And you’re four times more likely to develop progressive MS and on average, eight years earlier. And that’s dose-dependent. The more you smoke, the more likely it is. Passive smoking around a child doubles their lifetime risk of MS. It’s vitally important that you keep children away from passive smoking.

Change your life, for life: Follow the whole Overcoming MS Program

(42:11) You are not to blame for getting MS, but you are the best person to deal with it. OMS firmly believes the best way to deal with it is: to eat a plant-based whole food diet plus seafood, if you like, with daily flax seed oil, to get enough vitamin D either through sunlight or by taking 5,000 to 10,000 units a day, to exercise for 30 minutes three to five times per week, to meditate for 30 minutes daily, to work with your doctor and take medication if it’s necessary and right for you and prevention for your family members. All of the elements we’ve talked about are effective in their own right but they work best when they’re put together.

Related Links:

The Overcoming MS Program:

Other useful links:

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