Looking after your health with a nutritional diet is, of course, a normal way to keep in shape and live a healthy lifestyle. Often today you can tailor your diet to be very specific to your own bodily needs. This can be very important, especially for those with chronic illnesses and conditions such as MS (Multiple Sclerosis).
It has been shown that for many people, cutting out certain foods can have a positive impact on your health and well-being. For example, there is much discussion about this on the premier MS Forum site Shift.ms – just see the discussions on MS Dietary health and join in the chat if interested.
As Multiple Sclerosis is a problem that affects the working of your central nervous system, you might think that diet may not be very effective, in a way of helping manage the condition. But research and first-hand accounts have really ‘sung the praises’ of avoiding certain foods and eating the right ones, as an effective management of your MS.
A great start is with a review that was released in the Journal of Nutritional Neuroscience in 2015, which stresses the importance of MS sufferers to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat proteins and low-fat dairy. This review showcases that it aids in the lengthening of time between relapses. They have also shown that certain foods such as trans fats and sugar will make the symptoms worse, so what you cut out from your diet can be just as vital as what you add for your health and well-being.
It is very important you work closely with your MS doctor and nutritionist, as it is very much a case by case basis, to work out what is best for you from some solid research and understanding. You should finalise a plan to test out various ideas and that will put you onto the path of some great help with managing your MS symptoms. Have a talk about cutting out some of the foods below, to test if your MS symptoms worsen or improve:
The Big One Saturated Fats
A scientific report showcased in the February 2018 edition on Nature.com makes a case that people with MS have a higher chance of heart-related conditions. That would mean it is a much better idea to cut out saturated fats that are proven to increase your cholesterol levels.
High cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, which increases your chance of having a stroke or even worse a heart attack. Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products such as red meat and by-products such as dairy. So many people are looking at a plant-based (more commonly called vegan) diet now. It is worth noting of course that you can also get this in palm and coconut oil.
Unsaturated fats or Trans fats aggravate blood vessels and can cause inflammation inside them, leading to cardiovascular problems. Foods that could contain them include baked goods, biscuits and pies. You should look at the labels for the containment of “partially hydrogenated oils” to keep an eye on trying to cut this out of your diet.
As we all know, eating refined sugars is a sure fire way to increase your weight in a wrong way. It can also inflame and all in all, isn’t going to help keep you fit and mobile. Something you will need to be on top of, as you deal with the added problems that can come with your MS. It can make fatigue worse, which is a common symptom for multiple sclerosis, and can have an effect on you trying to keep fit. It might be a good idea to leave the chocolate dessert in the tray.
Farm Cow’s Milk
You should, as above, be looking to cut out saturated fat and that is found in cow’s milk. There are many other milk alternatives these days, such as almond milk, rice and oat milk, and the most famous soy milk. These all, in turn, have actually more calcium in them than cow’s milk (those that are fortified). Drinking non-dairy milk is also a good idea if you feel you might be lactose intolerant.
This is a big one and you should always check your nutritional labels for Sodium. A researched study from the website Nurology.org back in 2015 found an increase in the chance of a relapse and likelihood of getting new lesions. Sodium is also linked to high blood pressure and as the study showed, is a marked decrease in life expectancy for people with Multiple Sclerosis. It is advised to keep your sodium intake down to less than 2000 milligrams a day.
The problem with refined carbs such as white bread, cereals and white rice, is that they contain processed carbohydrates – that will again increase sugar levels in your blood and affect your heart. You should go for the browner options and pick whole grains and whole wheats. These will also help keep you regular and stop constipation, which can be a problem for MS sufferers.
Living with MS is challenging so you should give yourself the best chance of decreased symptoms and a long life, keeping healthy with a correct diet is a solid way to achieve that.
Written by James Helliwell who is a health writer who is interested in nutrition and a huge supporter of MS Charity Shift.ms as a great place to connect and learn.