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
Maintain Good Bone Health
- 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
Low levels of movement and low nutrient consumption can increase the risk for bones to become brittle and break
Chewing and Swallowing Challenges
- 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
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 on 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 10-30 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.