Healthy habits and a well-balanced diet can help fight multiple sclerosis. Perhaps, this could be the most important step one can take for living an almost normal life with this disease. The upcoming article provides comprehensive information on multiple sclerosis diet.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a degenerative neurological disease in which signals from the brain are not transmitted by the nerves to the rest of the body. It is also known as disseminated sclerosis or encephalomyelitis disseminata. Before designing a diet for people diagnosed with MS, it is necessary to know what people with this disease suffer from. The disease can significantly impair the quality of life.
The most important thing to note is that MS life expectancy and life expectancy for those without MS is almost the same, because MS is not a fatal disease. However, some people with MS may succumb to secondary illnesses caused by the disease. Hence, a balanced diet plays a very important role in their life.
Lack of motor coordination in the hands, arms, and legs; changes in vision; incontinence and muscle pain; numbness and tingling; burning or crawling sensations; clumsiness; and fatigue are some of the symptoms of disseminated sclerosis which need to be managed with the help of a healthy diet. There is no conclusive scientific data available which can prove that any kind of nutritional therapy can worsen or better the condition of this disease.
Dietitians do suggest to include the best nutrients in a MS diet, but the diet plans suggested require a great amount of attention to detail, which cannot be looked into by a person with MS. Moreover, most diet plans tend to be quite expensive. However, if you know some basic concepts in nutrition, it is easy to design a MS diet.
Diet to Fight Multiple Sclerosis
Everybody needs proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water to function properly.
- Proteins are required for growth, normal maintenance, for protection against diseases, and for repairing the body tissues.
- Saturated fats are of animal origin and they can lead to an increase in cholesterol levels, which can in turn result in a heart disease. Unsaturated fats come from plants.
- Carbohydrates provide energy, and especially those that come from starch are good for health.
- Vitamins and minerals also provide energy and strengthen your nerves and muscles. Your body needs more than 20 different minerals which play a crucial role in the body’s chemistry.
- Water is essential for the transportation of nutrients and hormones. It helps throw away waste products from the cells and, thus, regulates the body temperature.
- For a person diagnosed with MS, a rise in body temperature can lead to fatigue or worsen the already existing symptoms. So, a daily intake of 8 – 10 glasses of water is a must. Drinking small amounts of water frequently, rather than large amounts at longer intervals, may cut down trips to the bathroom.
- Dietitians suggest that 60 to 65% of daily calories should come from carbohydrates, 15 to 20% from proteins, and 20 to 25% from fats. But, it is difficult to focus on percentages, so you may just remember that most of the food should include vegetables, whole grains, fruits, low-fat dairy foods, and legumes, with minimal amounts of fish, lean meats, and skinless poultry. In a multiple sclerosis diet, you need to include foods from all the six food groups.
Some Diet Tips
- While following a MS recovery diet, it is essential to avoid carbonated drinks, soda, alcohol, tobacco, sweetened beverages, excess salt, sodium-rich foods, etc.
- In a MS meal, the largest amount should come from whole grains. There should be a minimum usage of fats, oils, and sweets.
- Foods may be selected from the list of low carbohydrate foods or from the list of ‘filling low-calorie foods’.
- Including low-fat versions of dairy products will be beneficial.
- Selecting lean cuts of meat, sea fish, and skinless poultry is necessary to avoid excess consumption of fats.
- Actually, meat consumption should be restricted to three to four ounces per day, and the amount of fat added to foods (butter, oils, dressings, and spreads) should also be limited.
- Baking, broiling, and boiling should be preferred instead of frying. These days, numerous MS recipes are available on the Internet, and you can easily refer to them.
- Sugar and salt can be replaced with specific seasonings. For example, vanilla extract, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, mint, mace, clove, and ginger can be added instead of sugar. Onion, garlic, parsley, celery, cayenne, chili powder, rosemary, sage, tarragon, oregano, and basil can enhance the taste of a dish without the presence of salt.
- As mentioned above, drinking plenty of water is essential. The most common problem faced by MS patients is constipation. Drinking plenty of water and having a high-fiber diet can help avoid the problem.
- Another factor that contributes to constipation is lack of physical exercise which may result in weight gain. A low-calorie diet is not always the best solution. MS patients should perform some exercises that can be done from a chair or bed to keep limber and increase the muscle tone. Initially, they might find it difficult to perform, but it’s not impossible.
- A perfect balance between caloric intake, exercise, and fatigue should be maintained by the patients of MS. Weight loss is possible if they eat smaller but more frequent meals.
The exact causes of MS are not yet known. So, learning to live with it is necessary once the symptoms are noticed and diagnosis is confirmed. There is no cure for MS; however, following a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not very difficult. Just a bit of discipline, persistence, and patience is required.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.