A nutritious diet is a prerequisite for good health for anyone, particularly for those with a chronic ailment like Multiple Sclerosis. Eating well improves heart health, controls weight, and increases overall energy levels — making it easier for patients to live actively and benefit from the best Multiple Sclerosis treatment. Here, we give you some dietary tips that are often recommended for patients with Multiple Sclerosis, as well as some food groups to steer clear of!
Understanding Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the central nervous system. It is an autoimmune demyelinating disease, which means the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues — in this case, the myelin or protective covering around nerve fibers. This leaves scarred tissues or lesions in multiple areas, disrupting impulses throughout the body. When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerve impulses slow or even stop, causing neurological problems.
Dietary tips for patients with Multiple Sclerosis
While there is no real evidence to show that a special diet can treat or cure Multiple Sclerosis, a balanced diet that is low in fat and high in fiber can help manage some of the symptoms and improve overall health and fitness. Other nutrients that patients with Multiple Sclerosis should consume include antioxidants to combat inflammation and plenty of vitamins and minerals to combat fatigue and reduce the risk of Osteoporosis.
Here are some dietary tips to try in consultation with your physician.
- Avoid processed foods as much as possible
- Cut out alcohol or limit it to just a few servings per week
- Opt for plant-based fat sources like nut butter, avocado oil, or olive oil, rather than animal fat sources
- Eat at least five servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables every day
- Ensure that you eat food items rich in Vitamin D such as egg yolks, oily fish and milk. If necessary, take Vitamin D supplements in consultation with your physician
- Omega-3 fatty acids are found in polyunsaturated fats and can be healthy when consumed in small amounts
- Avoid skipping meals, as this can reduce your energy levels
- Eat lean proteins such as white meat, fish, tofu, and beans
- Opt for the Mediterranean diet, as it contains most of the nutrients and food groups that are recommended for patients with Multiple Sclerosis. Consult your physician about going on this diet plan and any modifications that you might need to make
Food groups to avoid
- Cow’s milk: Dairy products made from cow’s milk tend to be high in fat and also inhibit the body’s production of active Vitamin D, owing to the calcium present in cow’s milk. Instead, opt for plant-based milk made from almond, soy, cashew, or oat (while taking any allergies into account).
- Gluten: People with Multiple Sclerosis have a higher risk of Celiac Disease, which is triggered by gluten-based carbs. Instead, choose carbs like rice, quinoa, or oatmeal that are filling as well as nutritious.
- Sodium: Too much sodium can trigger new inflammations in the body and should be avoided. You can flavor your food with spices instead.
- Saturated fat: These have been linked to higher rates of heart disease and stroke, and should be avoided even by people who do not have Multiple Sclerosis. Cheese, coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa butter, and chicken skin are all rich in saturated fats.
- Trans fat: Trans fats are even more dangerous than saturated fats and have no known health benefits. Sources of trans fats are typically man-made and include shortening, margarine, fried foods, cookies, and processed meat.
- Sugar: Consuming too much sugar can make you put on weight and make it harder for you to engage in physical activity. It can also increase your feelings of fatigue. You should also avoid artificial sweeteners, as these have their own health risks including potential bladder problems.
While there are no official dietary guidelines currently in place for Multiple Sclerosis, consuming certain nutrients may reduce the severity and progression of symptoms. A low-fat, high-fiber diet can be incorporated along with Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy as part of the best Multiple Sclerosis treatment plan.