Search Weight Loss Topics:




Oct 12

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Diet: The Best Plans and Foods to Avoid – Good Housekeeping

If youve been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), you no doubt want to do everything you can to stay as healthy and symptom-free as possible. Youre probably wondering if changing your diet might be a good move.

Is there a best diet for MS? The honest answer is that we dont know, says Ben Thrower, M.D., senior medical advisor for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation and medical director of the Andrew C. Carlos MS Institute at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Big picture, there are no specific foods that have been shown to be good or bad for MS.

There is lots of research looking into how certain ways of eating may positively impact the course of MS in individual patients, however. A review of studies found that three factors are important when it comes to stopping MS progression: reducing inflammation, protecting against neurodegeneration and repairing the damage MS does to the nervous system. Which foods could help accomplish these goals? Because MS is a disease that has such a specific impact on different people, its important to experiment and explore. Lets take a deeper dive into the evidence, so you can try an eating strategy that might work uniquely to make you feel better.

A quick Google search will show you a number of food plans that are supposed to help reduce MS symptoms like fatigue. The problem is that a lot of these diets are too nutritionally limited.

You can find some very restrictive diets targeted to people with MS, says Lauren Gluck, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY. Overall, these diets are not well validated. Not enough people who used them were studied overall, and specifically not enough people were studied across different ages, sexes and ethnic groups. I tend not to recommend them. If you do decide to follow a restrictive diet, be sure to focus on getting enough nutrients and calories and check if you are feeling well. Plus, be sure to share information about the diet with your MS treatment team.

Heres what the research on some of the most popular diet plans shows:

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet is well-known for its great effect on heart health. When it comes to MS benefits, there may be some key benefits to giving it a try. Studies have shown that because the diet is high in good fat, low in saturated fats and salt, and high in fruits and vegetables it may have a benefit when it comes to brain health, and that too may make an impact on slowing neurodegeneration for MS patients.

The Wahls Protocol

This Paleolithic-based plan has three levels, is gluten and dairy-free, and involves periods of fasting. Unexpected foods like raw meat, seaweed, and organ meats take the place of grains. Other factors are also added in addition to the diet aspect of this philosophy. This is a combination of diet, exercise, and stress management, explains Dr. Thrower. Research has suggested a decrease in fatigue for those following the protocol. A recent study looked at blood markers of inflammation in people with MS doing intermittent fastingit showed a decrease in these markers. Whether these lab findings would translate into clinical benefits is not known, however.

The Swank Diet

Founded over thirty years ago, the Swank diet is extremely low-fat, to the point where even a hamburger or two ounces of cheese is purported to reverse any benefits from it. That theory is linked to the finding that saturated fat can worsen MS symptoms because it causes inflammation. Obesity is also thought to be a contributing factor to both the cause of MS and the flaring of its symptoms, again due to its link to inflammation in your system.

The McDougall Diet

This plan is also very low-fat, with an emphasis on starchy veggies, and no animal products or oil whatsoever. It has been shown to have some potential positive impact on MS-related fatigue and also helps patients lose weight, but research showing any more specific or proven benefits is still ongoing.

Are there general rules to follow when deciding what to eat when you have MS?

As a rule, with balanced eating, you cant go wrong. People with MS, and many people in general, tend to feel better when eating a diet with more fruits and vegetables, unsaturated fats, lean meats and fish, legumes, beans, and whole grains, with less processed foods, red meat, sodium, and refined sugar, says Dr. Gluck. This can help reduce fatigue, brain fog, and pain, and may benefit long-term brain health. These food patterns are also part of many heart-healthy diets that reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, and overall inflammation. Since we know that people with MS who have additional cardiovascular disease have worse MS disease, it's possible that some of these recommendations help MS by helping the rest of the body stay healthy.

I recommend eating more nutritious food over taking a ton of nutritional/vitamin supplements unless you are specifically deficient in a vitamin, says Dr. Gluck. I also advise against juicing for meal replacements. Juicing removes the beneficial fiber and many nutrients of fruits and vegetables and just leaves the carbohydrates and sugars.

However, its important to know that having MS wont force you to avoid all the foods you love. It doesn't mean you can't have a piece of cake or a steak once in a while, Dr. Gluck adds. Two simple tips to make healthy daily changes: Add a vegetable to every meal, and cut out sugary beverages like soda and juice, she suggests.

"Its hard to find dietary rules that would apply to everyone with MS," Dr. Thrower sums up. Eat a healthy daily diet then tweak. Introduce new foods into your routine, and see how you feel. If you detect a decrease in your symptoms or feel like you have more energy, you may have found a food thats acting as medicine for you.

Keeping a food diary can be very helpful, noting when you try a new food and how many times you consume it before you notice any change in how you feel. Keep your doctors informed about any changes you notice and look at trying new foods as a handy tool in your self-care kit. You know your body best keep doing what works for you!

Lisa Mulcahy is an internationally established health writer whose credits include Good Housekeeping, Prevention, Oprah Daily, Womans Day, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Parade, Health, Self, Family Circle and Seventeen. She is the author of eight best-selling books, including The Essentials of Theater.

This content is imported from OpenWeb. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

See original here:
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Diet: The Best Plans and Foods to Avoid - Good Housekeeping

Related Post

    Your Full Name
    Your Email
    Your Phone Number
    Select your age (30+ only)
    Select Your US State
    Program Choice
    Confirm over 30 years old Yes
    Confirm that you resident in USA Yes
    This is a Serious Inquiry Yes
    Message: