Food is one of life’s simplest pleasures. With a condition like MS, eating can be tiresome, unenjoyable, or challenging. While certain diets claim to cure MS, the research isn’t clear and consistent. What we do know is that a healthy, balanced diet may help make each person feel better. Our Registered Dietitians have created an easy-to-use guide to nourish your body. Whether you have been recently diagnosed, are in remission, or are experiencing a relapse or flare-up, use this downloadable tool as a starting point on how to nourish your body. Fight fatigue, manage nutrition, and start feeling like you again.
Download our "Nutrition Tool Kit" which includes helpful shopping lists, delicious recipes, and tools to help you manage and live a healthy lifestyle:Nutrition Tool Kit
When it comes to grocery shopping, our Registered Dietitians recommend a few helpful shopping tips. When heading to the store, try some of the following suggestions to create a smoother shopping experience.
- Use the Multiple Sclerosis Shopping List and Meal Plan to help keep you organized and prepared.
- Bring the Reading a Food Label handout to the store to make reading food labels easier. Fill your cart with whole foods – foods that have been processed as little as possible – from all food groups.
- Stock up on fruits and vegetables, the more colorful the better. Aim for 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily. Try them fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.
- Seek whole grains, lean protein foods, low-fat dairy, and healthy beverage options to round out your cart.
- To ease fatigue, look for food items that have already been washed, cut, pre-cooked, or can be easily prepared, like bagged salads, rotisserie chicken, pre-cut fruit, chopped vegetables, etc.
- Take a family member or friend to the store with you to help reach items, push the cart and assist in other ways.
- Go to familiar stores so you know where grocery items are located, as well as restrooms.
- Shop at non-peak times to avoid becoming overly tired.
- Order online – more and more grocery stores have online ordering options. Check out your local store to see what they offer and if they deliver!
Download these helpful tips before heading to the grocery store!Shopping TipsShopping ListReading a Food Label
Every MS patient has a unique and unpredictable experience. Therefore, there is no one diet proven to help or improve the disease. However, eating a variety of healthy foods may help you feel better, increase energy levels, and better manage some of the challenges of MS. Below are some nutritional tips:
Eat a well-balanced diet that includes
- Lean Protein
- Nuts and Seeds
- Whole Grains
Choose foods high in antioxidants – nutrients that help to protect healthy cells
- Fruits: Strawberries, Blueberries, Cherries, Blackberries
- Vegetables: Spinach, Kale, Collard Greens, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel sprouts
- Herbs and Spices: Dried or Ground Turmeric, Ginger, Cinnamon, and Garlic
Include healthy fats that help to lower inflammation
- Fatty Fish: Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna, Sardines
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, Walnuts, and Ground Flax Seed
- Fruit: Avocado
- Oil: Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Add fiber-rich foods to your plate to help lower inflammation and improve digestive regularity
- Nuts and Seeds
- Whole Grains
Skip out on foods that may increase pain or discomfort of MS
- Red Meat
- Processed Meat: Hot Dogs, Bratwursts, Sausages, highly-processed Deli Meats
- Refined Grains: White Flour-Based products
- High-Sugar Foods: Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Desserts, Cookies, Candies, Ice Cream, and Cake
Maintain Good Bone Health
Low levels of movement and low nutrient consumption can increase the risk for bones to become brittle and break
- Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy products
- Consume kale, broccoli, mustard greens, and turnip greens. All of these are rich in calcium that is easily absorbed
- Add in calcium-fortified foods: Soy Milk, Tofu, and 100% Orange Juice
Chewing and Swallowing Challenges
In some, MS may affect the mouth and throat, which can make eating an uncomfortable experience.
- Avoid chips, crackers, toast, and cake – dry and crumbly foods can cause choking
- Soft foods such as mashed cauliflower or potatoes are easier to chew and swallow compared to raw
- Small bites are easier to chew and require less energy
- Thickened liquids are easier to swallow – thick smoothies, sauces, puddings
*It’s always best to consult with your primary care provider about new MS symptoms. It may be necessary to work with a speech language pathologist to learn more about dietary recommendations for swallowing.
New research findings show there may be a link between low levels of vitamin D and relapses in MS patients. Be sure to talk with your clinical care provider and have vitamin D levels checked at least annually.
Another promising area of research related to MS is the use of probiotics. Probiotics are living microorganisms that are used or taken for possible health benefits. Even though bacteria are usually thought of as harmful “germs,” our bodies need certain bacteria to function properly. For example, there are large amounts of bacteria in our digestive system that help break down food, destroy disease-causing germs, and make important vitamins.
Probiotics can be found in fermented foods like yogurt, or drinks, like kefir and kombucha. You can also take supplements that contain probiotics. For more specific information about which probiotic supplement to choose, check out the US Probiotics Guide.
When buying a probiotic, there are many things to look for, including:
- Brand Quality: Do your research. Look for the NSF and/or the USP seal on products to determine safety and quality. For more information click here.
- High CFU (Colony Forming Units) Count: Choose a probiotic that has a higher number of CFUs, anywhere from 15 BILLION to 100 BILLION.
- Strain Diversity: Look for a probiotic supplement with at least 10 to 30 different strains of bacteria. Certain strains may be more helpful for some conditions than others. Using a tool like the US Probiotics Guide can help you find out which strain is best for you.