I have MS and even though there is no cure, I want to be proactive about improving my overall health and supporting my immune system. One way to do this is through diet, but what should I eat?
Why does it matter what I eat?
Every cell in the body is alive and they need nutrients from food to convert into energy to carry out bodily functions, including strengthening the immune system.
Put simply, our cells break down the fats, sugar, proteins, and carbohydrates from our food and use them to fuel our bodies. For the body to function at its best, it needs to be fed a healthy blend of these nutrients.
Can diet stop the progression of Multiple Sclerosis?
The official answer is no, there is no evidence that a specific diet can treat or cure MS.
On the other hand, according to Menzies Institute for Medical Research, there is not enough evidence to say that diet reduces the risk of progression more than a healthy diet but there is evidence to suggest that some dietary patterns, such as a healthy diet, may reduce MS symptoms through reduced inflammation in the body.
Why does inflammation matter and how can diet help?
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (CNS) and this inflammation not only drives disease, but it contributes to symptoms and progression.
Although research still is unclear as to how diet may or may not affect the inflammatory processes, many theorize that lowering inflammation in the body can improve brain health and strengthen the immune system.
Here are some of the most popular MS Diets:
- The Best Bet Diet
- AIP- Autoimmune Protocol
- The Wahls Protocol
- The Swank Diet
- Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis Protocol
- The McDougall Program
- Paleo Diet
- Mediterranean Diet
What do the experts say to eat?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, research shows that a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fish, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, olives, and nuts helps maintain brain health and may reduce the risk of MS.
Taking this one step further, research shows that the MIND diet which is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) may protect brain tissue from further damage in people with MS.
Studies suggest diet may reduce MS symptoms
Several studies have shown that eating more fruits and vegetables may help reduce symptoms such as fatigue, pain, and depression.1
In this, HOLISM study, a higher intake of fruits and vegetables was associated with reduced levels of patient-reported disease activity and disability.
Recently, the Swank diet and a modified-Paleo diet (Wahls) went head-to-head in a study at the University of Iowa. The results were encouraging!
Both groups showed significant reductions in fatigue, and improvements in quality of life, indicating the benefits of healthy eating for MS.
What are general recommendations for diet and MS?
The Mayo Clinic along with most medical professionals recommend that people with MS should eat the same healthy diet recommended to the general public. For instance, unprocessed or minimally processed foods, low saturated fat, high fiber, and at least five servings a day of fruit and vegetables.
That’s great advice and a good way to get started on building a strong foundation for a healthy diet but what else can I eat?
What is the best diet for people with MS?
For a diet to be successful, it must be sustainable!
Therefore, the best diet to follow is one that you can stick to long-term. Many of these MS diets are not just about food but also about adopting healthier lifestyle habits like exercising, better sleep routines, and stress management strategies.
Take a look through the resource links above and consider what protocols resonate with you. Keep in mind that some MS diets are restrictive, require a lot of time in the kitchen, and can get costly. If you can’t sustain those habits, choose a diet that you know you can commit to.
I have MS, what should I eat?
There are many different diet protocols people with MS follow in the hopes of reversing or improving symptoms. From vegetarianism to paleo, the common theme is that they are all anti-inflammatory diets, and they all focus on decreasing inflammation in the body, improving brain health, and supporting the immune system.
Dietary needs can change over time
Just like the variability of MS itself, the body is constantly changing and so are its dietary needs. What might work for you now may change in the future. What might not have worked for you before might benefit you now. The only way you will know is through trial and error.
Keep a symptoms journal to keep track of food, mood, symptoms, and progression so you can recognize patterns that may help you decide which foods work for you, and which do not. An elimination diet can help you figure out which foods might trigger symptoms like pain, headache, fatigue, heat sensitivity, and brain fog.
Change your mindset about food and diet
Instead of thinking about what you can’t eat, focus on what new healthy foods you can add to your diet. Think about why you’re eating them and how these improvements may change your life.
For instance, when I gave up starches and grains, I replaced them with vegetables. Instead of rice or pasta, I’d have roasted cauliflower or butternut squash. Over time, I had more energy, less fatigue, and my heat sensitivity and migraines went away. It’s easier to stick to something when you can visualize your goals and what your life might look like if you succeed in hitting them.
There is no one size fits all approach to diet, and nobody can tell you exactly what to eat. What worked for someone else might not work for you. Everyone needs to experiment to find what’s best for them. There is no wrong diet, only unhealthy ones.
By making simple changes like swapping inflammatory foods for nutrient-dense anti-inflammatory whole foods you are making better choices that will benefit your long-term health. Will it help your MS? That’s unknown but it will impact your overall wellness.
You have MS and what should you eat?
That depends on your lifestyle, ethical beliefs, level of commitment to adherence, sustainability, and goals.
“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.”
If you found this article helpful, please Like, and Share.
Click here to subscribe for new monthly posts, exclusive content, and tips for making healthy choices to live better with MS.
Please check your inbox and the spam folder to confirm your subscription 😊