A balanced diet is essential for anyone with multiple sclerosis. Although it has not been proven that a particular diet can reduce the risk of developing the disease, there are foods that can help us to have a higher quality of life.
The benefits of good nutrition
Multiple sclerosis researchers continue to study the influence diet and healthy habits can have on the progress of those living with the disease. Despite no specific diet being associated with treatment for multiple sclerosis, there are certain foods that have potentially beneficial properties and may help alleviate symptoms.
Diet plays a fundamental role in our health, particularly when it comes to chronic diseases. In these cases, nutritional management is of paramount importance from the very beginning. Having a well-managed diet can help us prevent diseases caused by multiple sclerosis, such as high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
We can feel overwhelmed by the task of controlling our diet. Changes should be introduced gradually, with the help of a professional.
- Low-fat, high-fibre foods: A diet based on a low saturated fat intake and rich in fibre is the basis for good health in both MS patients and the general population. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds provide the body with energy. Alternatively, saturated and fats are associated with a number of negative health effects. Multiple sclerosis symptoms can be aggravated by being overweight, which is why following this diet will keep you healthy.
- 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day: In relation to healthy eating, fruit and vegetables are an important source of fibre and also provide vitamins and minerals and have anti-inflammatory properties. Research is underway to determine whether antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables help slow down the progression of multiple sclerosis.
- Including fish in your diet: It is recommended to eat fish at least twice a week. Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce the severity and duration of MS flares even though research is still at an early stage. Furthermore, Omega-3 helps to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and improve heart health. In the event that you cannot eat fish or are allergic, walnuts are an important source of omega-3 and can be included in a variety of dishes: salads, dips and smoothies.
- Drinking water: Dehydration, fatigue, and constipation can occur if you don't drink enough water. To avoid dehydration, drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. A symptom of multiple sclerosis is sensitivity to heat, so hot showers, sport or summer temperatures can lead to a feeling of dehydration or lack of water. Proper hydration allows the body to self-regulate its temperature.
- Salt: High sodium intake increases MS activity, causing flare-ups and increasing the risk of developing new lesions. In addition to the salt that is added to food while cooking, many processed foods are high in sodium. It is important to check labels before buying these products. An alternative to salt can be partner-free spices and the use of aromatic herbs in cooking.
- Vitamin D: In addition to helping the body absorb calcium, Vitamin D has been shown to slow the progression of MS and assist in early treatment. Researchers recommend 10-15 minutes of sun exposure 3 times a week to absorb vitamin D. If this is not enough, vitamin D supplements are an option to consider.
- Don't go hungry: Fasting or not consuming any food for several hours at a time can greatly increase fatigue. To maintain energy levels, it is best to have several small meals throughout the day. This does not mean eating more, but rather eating healthy snacks to help maintain a healthy weight.
- The importance of yoghurt: A food that helps restore normal intestinal flora is yogurt. MS medications can upset the gut and cause problems such as diarrhoea and bloating. Yogurt helps to restore normality and contains calcium and vitamin D. Aside from its conventional uses, it can also be used to make sauces and soups.
Having fatigue, for example, can make it difficult to cook and prepare daily meals. To alleviate this, meal prep is a good idea, which entails preparing all the food for the week in a healthy manner on one day. The purpose of this is to be organized and know what you will eat every day or at least have a structure of what you plan to eat each day. This will enable you to eat better, as well as save you time and money.
Meal prep is a technique that requires that you understand your diet as a multiple sclerosis patient.
Below are some links to learning more about it:
- My Ultimate 3-Day Meal Plan for Healing Multiple Sclerosis
- Strategies for healthy and effective meal planning and preparation for people living with ms
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