Eat Well and Thrive When You Have MS
There isn’t one specific diet that can treat MS, but healthy food can help you in lots of ways. These tips will help you eat right and feel better. A good rule of thumb: If it’s good for your heart, it’s good for the rest of your body.
Go Low on Fat and High on Fibre
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and many experts agree that if you have MS, it’s smart to follow a low-fat, high-fibre diet, just like everyone should.
Eating well is good for your overall health. It can also help control things that make MS worse like diabetes, heart disease, or a lack of vitamin D, says Matthew McCoyd, a neurologist and MS specialist at Loyola University Medical Centre.
Some foods that can keep your menus low in fat and high in fibre are:
Beans. Try black bean soup, bean burritos, and bean dip.
Fruits and veggies. Apples, strawberries, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are nutritious choices.
Whole grains. Eat brown rice, whole wheat bread, and whole -grain cereals.
Low-fat dairy. When you’re at the grocery store, look for low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.
What a Healthy Diet Can Do for You
Make you feel better. “If you’re eating mostly junk food and not exercising, you’re not going to feel well,” McCoyd says. A healthy diet makes your body feel better.
“With MS, it’s all the more important to eat well because you’re living with something that’s already working against you,” he says.
It can also help you stay at a healthy weight. That can improve your mobility.
Improve fatigue. Think of food as your fuel. Your body needs vitamins and minerals to work right. . Without them, you’ll have less energy.
Make sure you don’t skip meals. You can eat three large meals or five to six small meals a day.
If you’re concerned that preparing food will use up your energy, stock your pantry and fridge with healthy, ready-to-eat foods.
When you cook, use ingredients like pre-cut vegetables and pre-cut shredded cheese. Try making a double batch of a meal and freezing half for another day.
Improve your bladder and bowel. Small changes to your diet can help your bladder and bowel run more smoothly.
To ward off constipation, try to get 25 to 30 grams of fibre a day. Look at the nutrition labels on food to help you figure out how many grams of fibre you’re getting. Try nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and cereal grains.
You may be tempted to limit the amount you drink because you’re worried about having to use the bathroom too often. But drinking fluids is important. If you cut back on water or other drinks, you can get a dry mouth, problems swallowing, and lose your appetite. You’ll also put yourself at higher risk for urinary tract infections.
Possibly improve MS attacks. It hasn’t been proven, but there’s some early research that suggests that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids from a heart-healthy diet cut down on how severe and long your MS attacks are. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are good sources of omega-3s. Omega-6s are in some oils, including safflower, sunflower, and sesame seed.
Be Careful With Special Diets
Many studies have been done to figure out if certain diets are better than others, but the results are mixed.
Most diets associated with MS aren’t backed by research. One example is the Swank diet, which is very low in saturated fats and polyunsaturated oils. The Swank diet is a heart-healthy diet, so it’s probably safe to follow, McCoyd says. But it hasn’t been proven to help MS.
Some special diets are OK. “If you feel better when you eat a certain way, by all means eat that way,” says Rosalind Kalb, PhD, vice president of clinical programs at the US National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
For example, if you’re gluten-sensitive or gluten-intolerant, you can follow a glutenin-free diet. Or if you feel better when you eat fewer carbs or less red meat, it’s OK to limit those foods.
Other special diets may be harmful. They may contain toxic amounts of vitamins or not enough of certain nutrients. Talk to your doctor before you start any diet.