What to Eat When You Have MS

By

Garippo, Gina

ADVERTISEMENT

Vitamin D May Help Prevent MS Flare-Ups

Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” is best known for helping to build strong bones. But scientists are learning that it also promotes health in a wide variety of other ways.
veggies

Each day, Americans are bombarded with mixed messages about healthy eating. That may be especially true for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Thankfully, you don’t have to eat a special or restricted diet if you’ve been diagnosed with MS. Rather, experts believe that focusing on nutritious, healthy foods can help you feel better and reduce some disease-related symptoms. Below are some tips for eating well with MS.

Have a Plan

In general, people with MS should eat the same high-fiber, low-saturated fat diet that is recommended for all Americans. Fill your plate with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and other sources of protein, such as poultry, fish, beans and lentils, and low-fat dairy products. When eating carbohydrates, stick to whole grain options, such as brown rice, instead of white.  Avoid processed foods high in saturated fats, such as fast food, fried foods, and packaged baked goods.

Focus on Fiber

Fiber—the part of plant-based food that your body is unable to fully digest or absorb—is especially beneficial  if you have  MS. Fiber aids in digestion, which can help relieve MS-related constipation. Fiber is also very filling, which can help you maintain a healthy weight.

One of the best ways to get your fiber is to eat fruits and vegetables. In addition to fiber, these nutrition powerhouses contain antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your cells from the damage of free radicals, which have been associated with the development of cancer and heart disease and are also linked to MS. Aim for about five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. To avoid gas and cramps, start slowly and gradually build up.

Bone Up on Calcium

People with MS have a higher risk for osteoporosis, a condition that causes weakening of the bones. This may be due to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle or lack of weight-bearing exercise. To reduce your risk, focus on getting enough calcium through your diet. Low-fat dairy products like yogurt and milk are good choices. Other sources of calcium include canned salmon, sardines, and dark green vegetables like broccoli or kale. You can also try calcium-enriched orange juice or cereals.

Get Fortified with Vitamin D

Vitamin D, which the body makes when exposed to the sun, may be very important if you have  MS. It is necessary for bone health because it helps the body absorb calcium and it may boost the immune system. However, research has also linked low levels of the vitamin to the development of MS.  Studies show that the incidence of MS is greater the farther people live from the equator, perhaps because of reduced sun exposure.

Experts don’t know how vitamin D affects MS after it’s begun. But it may be wise to talk with your doctor to make sure you’re getting adequate amounts. If you’re vitamin D deficient, supplements may help.

Watch Your Calories

If MS has affected your ability to exercise, you may not be burning the same level of calories as you were before you were diagnosed. This can slowly cause weight gain, which can interfere with your health, energy, and mobility. To feel good and keep your weight in check, watch your calorie intake. Reduce portion sizes and avoid high-fat and high-calorie foods. If you need a little help, talk with a registered dietitian, who can design an eating plan that’s right for you.  

Make Prep a Snap

MS-related fatigue can take a real toll on your food interest and preparation. When you are tired, running through a drive-throughor opting for fatty convenience foods may be more appealing than cooking a healthy dinner. To combat poor eating on days when your energy is low, plan ahead.  Double or triple your favorite healthy recipe and freeze the extras.  Stock easy and healthy go-to ingredients for nights when you can’t make it to the grocery store. And consider buying precut and prewashed produce to cut down on prep time.

Medical Reviewers: Williams, Robert, MD Last Review Date: Mar 25, 2013

© 2015 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Food For Thought: MS and Nutrition. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 2012.;
  2. Weight Management and MS. Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. Updated September 2012. (http://www.mymsaa.org/publications/motivator/spring-08/symptom-awareness/);
  3.  Nutritional Tips for People with MS. Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. Updated September 2012. (http://www.mymsaa.org/publications/motivator/summer-08/health/);
  4.  Nutrition and Diet. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Accessed Feb. 25, 2013. (http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/healthy-living/nutirtion-and-diet/in...;

You Might Also Like

Managing Side Effects of MS Drugs

An attack is a sudden worsening of your old MS symptoms or the appearance of new symptoms. 

E-mail this page to your friends.

© Copyright 2015 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Patent US Nos. 7,752,060 and 8,719,052. All Rights Reserved. 
Third Party materials included herein protected under copyright law.

Use of this website and any information contained herein is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

PREVIOUS ARTICLE:

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis and Depression

NEXT ARTICLE:

Take Control of MS-Related Bladder and Bowel Problems

Up Next

Take Control of MS-Related Bladder and Bowel Problems