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Multiple Sclerosis Diet Plan: Foods To Eat And Foods To Avoid

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects the brain and central nervous system (CNS). It ruptures myelin (an insulating layer around nerves) of the brain cells and spinal cord and interrupts the signal exchange between the brain and different parts of the body.

By rupturing myelin, the condition causes inflammation and scar tissue or lesions [1]. The condition makes it difficult for your brain to send signals to the rest of your body. Some people will experience mild symptoms while others will experience severe symptoms as the effect depends on the amount of nerve damage and the area of the brain where nerves are affected [2].

Multiple sclerosis is one of the most common neurological disorders and causes of disability in adults and about 2.3 million people all over the world are affected by multiple sclerosis [3]. The symptoms usually depend on the amount of nerve damage and people with multiple sclerosis may lose the ability to walk independently.

Some of the common symptoms of multiple sclerosis are numbness or weakness in one or more limbs that usually occurs on one side of the body, partial or complete loss of vision, tingling pain in parts of your body, fatigue and dizziness [4].

No cure is currently available for MS, but multiple treatments such as disease-modifying therapies (DMTs), corticosteroids and lifestyle changes can help manage the condition. Today, we will look at the right way to plan a diet for someone with MS.


Diet Plan For Multiple Sclerosis

People with MS need a balanced, low-fat and high-fiber diet.


1. Consume 5 Servings Of Fruits And Vegetables A Day

Fruits and vegetables contain an array of vitamins and minerals and dietary fibre that can help ease constipation, a common health problem with people with multiple sclerosis [5]. Also, the antioxidants found in different-coloured vegetables are being studied to see whether they play a role in slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis [6].


2. Eat Fish Twice A Week

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society reports that omega 3 fatty acids may be beneficial in a multiple sclerosis diet plan [7]. The benefits of omega 3 fatty acids include improved heart health, lower blood pressure, and decreased inflammation. Have fishes like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout twice a week [8].


3. Follow A Low-carb Diet

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, low-carb diets aren't really safe for multiple sclerosis because these diets lack fibre and calcium which are important for the proper bowel movement in people with multiple sclerosis [9]. However, carbohydrates are known for providing energy to the body, which is essential for treating a symptom of multiple sclerosis, that is, fatigue [10].


4. Increase Vitamin D Levels

People with multiple sclerosis tend to have low vitamin D levels [11]. A vitamin D deficiency is linked to an increased risk of developing certain diseases related to bone health [12]. Intake of plenty of amounts of vitamin D such as cheese, fatty fish etc. may slow the progression of multiple sclerosis and may play an important role in early treatment.


5. Switch The Salt

Research has shown that high sodium intake may be linked to increased multiple sclerosis activity. High sodium intake can worsen the symptoms and increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis lesions. Instead, replace salt with healthier spices like black pepper, garlic powder or onion powder [13].


6. Choose Low-fat And High-fibre Foods

People with MS should eat foods that are low in fat and high in fibre because a diet low in trans fats and saturated fats and high in fibre will enhance good health [14]. Also, a low-fat and high-fibre diet is necessary for maintaining a healthy weight, an important health factor for people with multiple sclerosis.


7. Take Up Healthy Snacking

Snacking could be a good thing according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. As people might have symptoms of fatigue, snacking on healthy foods could keep your energy levels high [15]. Having smaller, frequent meals throughout the day will help keep your metabolism moving and help curb your appetite. Have healthy snacks like boiled veggies, cashew nuts, grapes, yoghurt etc.


8. Stay Hydrated

Drinking 8 glasses of water a day will help people with multiple sclerosis. Dehydration is a huge contributing factor to constipation and fatigue which are the common symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Drinking water improves bladder health, aids in digestion, keeps muscles working, and lot more of additional benefits [16][17].


9. Consume Probiotics And Prebiotics

Probiotics are foods that can boost levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which help strengthen the immune system and is beneficial for people with MS [18]. Foods that nourish probiotic bacteria are called prebiotics, such as garlic, leeks etc. also promote good health in people with MS [19].


Foods To Eat For Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Here is a list of foods an individual with MS can have for a balanced diet.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, sardines
  • Skinless chicken or turkey and lean meats
  • Beans and lentils
  • Probiotics such as yoghurt, kimchi, kefir etc
  • Prebiotics such as garlic, leeks, onions, chicory, asparagus etc.
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolk
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Tea
  • Yoghurt
  • Orange juice
  • Fortified dairy products and cereal
  • Brown rice

Foods To Avoid For Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Here is a list of foods an individual with MS should avoid at any cost [20].

  • Sugar-sweetened drinks
  • Excessive quantities of red meat
  • Fried foods
  • Low-fibre foods
  • Barley products, such as malt, soups and beer
  • Wheat products, such as bread and baked goods

On A Final Note…

A healthful diet for a person with MS is one that supports the immune system. Exercise regularly to help maintain strength and flexibility and if you have the habit of smoking, quit it. Discuss with a nutritionist or a doctor before changing your diet.

Story first published: Thursday, June 18, 2020, 23:04 [IST]
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