Multiple Sclerosis and Diet: What Should MS Patients Eat?

Multiple Sclerosis and Diet: What Should MS Patients Eat?

There is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis and current treatment options can only slow the progression of the disease. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make those treatment options more effective, and maintaining good overall health is one of the best ways to make MS more manageable.

That’s why diet is so important for people with Multiple Sclerosis. Eating the right foods will not eliminate symptoms, but living a healthy lifestyle will make the body better equipped to handle the rigours of the disease. That can lessen the severity of symptoms, reduce the frequency of relapses, and greatly improve quality of life over a long period of time.

So what foods should you be eating? To an extent, the recommended diet for people with MS is similar to the recommended diet for the population at large. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grain carbohydrates are the foundation of any healthy, sustainable meal plan and that remains the case regardless of any other complications.

The same is true for some of the foods that should be avoided. Excess sugar and refined carbohydrates like white rice and white bread are strongly correlated with weight gain, and can also cause inflammation and spike blood sugar levels throughout the day. Fatigue is already one of the most common symptoms of MS. Weight gain often exacerbates that fatigue, which makes it important to limit the intake of processed carbohydrates.  

Beyond those broader recommendations, certain foods are especially risky for people with Multiple Sclerosis. For instance, MS patients face a higher risk of cardiovascular problems, so it’s best to avoid unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats that have been associated with heart disease. Red meat and fatty dairy products are both high in saturated fat, while trans fats are usually found in processed foods that contain shortening or partially hydrogenated oils.

Salt can be even more damaging for people with MS. Studies have shown that sodium can spur new lesions and increase the likelihood of a relapse. Eating too much salt will also raise blood pressure, which decreases life expectancy when combined with Multiple Sclerosis.

Of course, every person is different, so you’ll want to consult with a doctor to create a diet plan that meets your individual needs. The tips here are simply useful guidelines for people with MS and the broader population, though the stakes are higher for those with MS because poor health carries a risk of relapse or other medical complications.

A good diet is not a panacea, but it one of the ways you can take care of yourself (and your body) on a daily basis. Healthy food habits will boost physical and mental health, and that can be a huge boon for people with chronic conditions like MS!

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