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Nutrition

Multiple Sclerosis Diet and Nutrition Ideas

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder where your immune system disrupts the insulating cover (myelin sheath) that protects the nerve fibers in your body from any abrasive damage. This interferes with the impulse transmission process all over the body and causes various symptoms. The result of the interference is a series of uncoordinated movements associated with multiple tremors and shock sensations in the body. Other symptoms like vision problems, speech difficulties, fatigue, and dizziness vary from person to person. You may or may not experience these symptoms. Although there is no specialized multiple sclerosis diet, there are some foods that might help you cope with some of the most severe symptoms of this autoimmune condition.

Multiple Sclerosis Diet: Antioxidant Foods

What actually causes multiple sclerosis is still a subject under study. There are some potential triggers, and experts have tried to establish a causal relationship between MS and the environment, location, alcohol, stress, and genes. Researchers are now working on establishing a gut-brain connection cause to MS, and it’s possible that certain types of foods can trigger MS.

Woman having an healthy delicious breakfast at home as part of multiple sclerosis diet.
Antioxidants Fight Harmful Free Radical Chemicals In Your Body And Play A Major Role In Reducing Inflammation (Image Source: Shutterstock)

We already know that some types of foods raise the number of free radicals in your body that slowly damage the body cells. This is not good for MS, as it is an autoimmune condition that is already attacking your body. So, as part of your multiple sclerosis diet, you should consume antioxidant foods to reduce inflammation as much as possible. Antioxidants fight harmful free radical chemicals in your body and play a major role in reducing inflammation.

Some foods rich in antioxidants are:

  • Berries. The numerous health benefits of berries make them an essential antioxidant for a multiple sclerosis diet. All kinds of berries (i.e. goji berries, blueberries, and strawberries) prevent brain function decline.
  • Beans. Easy on your budget, beans help in reducing inflammation.
  • Beetroot. It contains betalain, an antioxidant rich in iron and folate that can help regulate the immune response of your body.
  • Nuts and chocolates.

Antioxidant foods keep your blood and cholesterol levels in check and help reduce the oxidation of bad cholesterol. They are an important part of a heart-healthy diet that minimizes the symptoms of many diseases including multiple sclerosis.

Apart from all these, many other antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables include watermelon, pumpkin, papaya, tomato, orange, mango, pomegranate, and all green vegetables. 

You can also obtain these antioxidants from several beverages. Many antioxidant supplements are also available on the market. But it is best that you obtain them from natural sources to avoid any further damage to the body cells. 

Here is a nine-minute YouTube video with five ways you can increase your antioxidant intake.

Natural Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Your body’s most common and immediate response to any injury is inflammation. The same is true for any damage to the nerve impulse pathways. According to studies, it strips off the blood-brain barrier and causes degeneration of brain tissues by forming inflammatory lesions.

Set of foods that help to reduce inflammation.
Your Multiple Sclerosis Diet Should Be Rich In Food That Fights Inflammation (Image Source: Shutterstock)

More inflammation causes more demyelination of nerve fibers and hence a vicious cycle starts that might prove fatal for you if left untreated.

This neurodegeneration indirectly affects your whole body and may cause other problems like muscle spasms and pain in the lower extremities. It may deteriorate your normal thyroid function. You may suffer from slurred speech and vision-related issues like partial or complete blindness. 

That is why your multiple sclerosis diet should be rich in food that fights inflammation. But before that, you need to first cut off any foods that promote inflammation in the body.

Oily foods like french fries, meat (especially red meat), artificially sweetened beverages, and most dairy products like milk, cream, and other bakery items should be avoided. These foods can promote the production of bad cholesterol in the body. It is recommended that you try to avoid these foods as much as possible.

Here are some anti-inflammatory foods that you should eat on a regular basis:

  • Yogurt and kefir. Though both are dairy products, they contain probiotics which are immensely beneficial for fighting gut inflammation.
  • All green vegetables like kale, spinach, celery, cabbage, and collards, etc.
  • Tomatoes. They defend the body against invaders both internal and external.
  • Berries like strawberries, blueberries, and goji berries are all equally helpful in reducing inflammation.
  • Oranges.

Choosing the right anti-inflammatory foods can help manage the appearance of your symptoms. These foods are crucial in building a healthy weight too. They not only help you with inflammation but can also prevent you from developing many other cardiovascular diseases.

Saturated Fat Foods to Avoid

Studies have observed the involvement of saturated fats in the aggravation of this neuroinflammatory disorder. These foods can potentially worsen your symptoms of MS and also interrupt the body’s other metabolic processes. These saturated fats are usually found in large amounts in the western diet that is mostly based on processed foods. So it is extremely important for you to cut them off from your diet. Saturated foods to avoid include:

Sources of saturated fats.
Your Multiple Sclerosis Diet Should Be Rich In Unsaturated Fats That Are Healthy (Image Source: Shutterstock)
  • Margarine and ghee
  • Cheese 
  • Fatty meat
  • Dairy products like milk, cream, and many other bakery items

It is better that you avoid processed foods as much as you can. But if you can’t, then you must read food labels before buying any processed item. Carefully reading the food labels can help you reduce these fats from your diet.

You should also limit the consumption of alcohol, junk foods, and any refined carbs. Your multiple sclerosis diet should be rich in unsaturated fats that are healthy. Avoid the unsaturated trans fats that can prove harmful.

Some foods that you can consume that have high unsaturated content are:

  • Olive oil. Olive oil is rich in both mono and polyunsaturated fats. It has massive health benefits. 
  • Omega-3 rich foods. Fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and other kinds of seafood like oysters, etc.
  • Cod liver oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, and sunflower oil.
  • Some seeds like flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are rich in omega-3 and other micronutrients.

These foods have polyunsaturated fats that, according to experts, accelerate the production of HDL or good cholesterol in your body and help reduce bad cholesterol.

Conclusion

Multiple sclerosis is an often debilitating disorder that disturbs the routine lifestyle of the people who have it. From muscle spasms to vision problems, people with multiple sclerosis have a hard time coordinating their movements, among a range of other symptoms. While the severity varies from individual to individual, the intensity of the symptoms can potentially be reduced through a specific diet. Include antioxidant-rich foods such as berries and anti-inflammatory foods like yogurt and green vegetables in your diet for a healthier life.

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