There are many theories about MS and how it can be caused by certain food types and intolerances, There are also a wide range of diets reported to reduce or reverse the effects of MS. Although these diets aren’t proven to reverse the effects of Ms, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is important for everyone, particularly people with an unpredictable, progressive illness such as Multiple Sclerosis.
Can diet cause MS?
Research studies have shown that MS is not caused by bad diet; a study on newly diagnosed MS sufferers showed that their nutritional health was equal with non-sufferers. However, if we look at global distribution of MS, it is the westernized areas, such as America, Britain, France and the rest of Northern Europe who appear to be at greatest risk of MS. This could be down to the transportation and production methods of food in westernized cultures or the high intake of animal fats; the areas most heavily populated with MS sufferers are the ones with the highest intake of dairy produce and saturated fats.
Another suspected factor in the cause of MS is lack of vitamin D in childhood. There are on-going studies looking at the relationship between poor vitamin D intake in early years and the development of MS but health organizations are reluctant to encourage vitamin D supplements as taking too much vitamin D can result in too much calcium in the blood or urine.
At the moment there is nothing to suggest that high vitamin D intake once diagnosed will help to alleviate MS symptoms. Research looking at the impact of high vitamin D intake on individuals with MS is unclear, although the healthy amount as part of a healthy diet will certainly help to maintain optimal health in MS sufferers.
A good diet can improve MS symptoms
Whilst a poor diet could worsen the symptoms, such as reduced mobility, erratic bowel movements, fatigue and depression, a balanced diet can help reduce symptoms. MS sufferers are more susceptible to weight gain as a result of prescribed medication for the condition, limited mobility and the need to turn to convenience food as a result of limited mobility or fatigue. Other people with MS may suffer extreme weight loss, possibly as a result of drugs or the inability to prepare food.
A good diet can help control bowel movements, decrease fatigue, control weight, maintain bone strength, and keep your teeth and gums healthy.
What is a healthy diet?
To get a healthy diet you need all of the following:
- Fluids – to carry nutrients around the body and help in chemical processes throughout the body.
- Vitamins and minerals- to keep your bones healthy, boost your immune system, tissue repair and growth
- Fiber – to keep your digestive system healthy
- Protein – to help maintain, repair and grow healthy tissue
- Fat- to help you to absorb vitamins and to give you essential fatty acids. It is important that you eat the right kind of fat and keep saturated fat (such as animal fats, dairy produce and meat) levels low.
- Carbohydrates – slow- release, unrefined carbohydrates such as brown bread, rice, pulses and grains, to give you energy.
If you would like to learn more about how diet can affect MS symptoms read our article ‘Can a low fat diet help MS Symptoms?’. Or call us toll-free on 1-866-668-9263.