MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS.JPG

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

FOODS THAT HEAL

  • Prune juice
  • Berries
  • Whole grain breads and cereals
  • Split peas
  • Artichokes
  • Nuts
  • Papaya
  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Cranberry juice
  • Water

    FOODS TO LIMIT

  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods

    WHO’S AFFECTED

  • About 300,000 to 425,000 North Americans
  • Women are twice as likely as men to get multiple sclerosis
  • White people whose family originated in Northern Europe have the highest risk
    Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that most often strikes people between the ages of 20 and 40
    MS is characterized by the gradual destruction of the myelin sheaths that insulate the nerve fibers, thus robbing nerves of the ability to transmit impulses
    Although the symptoms vary depending on the sites where myelin is destroyed in the brain and spinal cord, most people suffer abnormal fatigue, impaired vision, slurred speech, loss of balance and muscle coordination, difficulty chewing and swallowing, tremors, bladder and bowel problems, and, in severe cases, paralysis

    Nutrition Connection

    The main role of diet for those with MS is to help control symptoms such as fatigue, constipation, urinary tract infections, and problems with chewing and swallowing
    Here are guidelines to discuss with your doctor or dietician: Think low-fat, high-fiber
    A low-fat, high-fiber diet that contains fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can be helpful in managing MS by providing energy and nutrients to maintain and repair tissues, to fight infections, and to keep the risk of constipation low
    Some foods include prune juice, bran cereal, raspberries, strawberries, whole wheat pastas, whole grain breads and cereals, barley, bran flakes, split peas, lentils, artichokes, peas, and broccoli
    Eat foods rich in antioxidants
    Some scientists believe that free radical damage can promote the progression of MS
    Antioxidants are believed to counter the effect of these free radicals, so it is prudent to include antioxidant-rich foods in your daily diet
    These include fruits and vegetables for vitamin C and beta-carotene, such as oranges, carrots and papaya; vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds for vitamin E; and whole grains, nuts, and seafood for selenium
    Get plenty of vitamin D
    Some studies suggest that vitamin D might prevent progression of the disease or may play other protective roles
    In addition, people with MS are at risk for osteoporosis, and vitamin D plays an important role in lowering this risk
    Good food sources include milk, fortified soy and rice beverages, fatty fish, and margarine
    Increase fluid intake
    Constipation is aggravated by an inadequate fluid intake
    Also, urinary tract infections are often a problem for people with MS, particularly when they have to undergo frequent catheterizations
    Drinking cranberry juice may help by increasing urinary acidity and creating a hostile environment for bacteria

    QUICK TIP:

    Regulate your temp
    Heat worsens multiple sclerosis symptoms in many people, so make sure your air conditioners are working well in summer, avoid hot tubs, and choose swimming pools that aren’t kept too warm
    Avoid caffeine
    If urinary incontinence is a problem, people with MS should avoid caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea, and colas, and save chocolate (it also contains caffeine) for an occasional treat
    Caffeine has a diuretic effect and irritates the bladder
    Eat small, frequent meals
    This helps to provide a constant source of energy
    Don’t skip breakfast
    A nutritious breakfast provides an important energy boost to start the day
    Avoid problem foods
    Some people with MS have problems with bowel incontinence, which may be worsened by diet
    Try eliminating suspect items such as coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods from the diet for a few days; then reintroduce them one at a time to see if the problem recurs
    Be careful with food textures
    Modify food preparations to address difficulties with chewing and swallowing
    For example, substitute shakes, yogurt, fruit and vegetable purees, thick soups, and puddings for firm or dry dishes
    Be wary of unproven diets
    Some physicians as well as MS support groups advocate the Swank diet (named for the professor who proposed it in 1950), which eliminates most animal fats
    This diet was evaluated for many years, with inconclusive results
    Other diets that have been proposed for treating MS are riskier, because they may lead to unbalanced or inadequate nutrition
    Among them are liquid diets, crash diets, raw food diets, diets that restrict intake of pectin and fructose, and gluten- free regimens
    None of these have been proven effective
    Look into vitamin therapy
    Vitamin therapy has been promoted as helpful for people with MS
    Studies suggest that vitamin D may lower the risk of developing MS
    Your doctor can help determine the right dosage for you
    200 new cases of multiple sclerosis are diagnosed each week in the US

    WHO’S AFFECTED

    Beyond the Diet

    Although there is no cure, and living with MS can be difficult, these lifestyle adjustments may help to manage MS a little easier: Don’t smoke
    MS sufferers often experience diarrhea or incontinence
    Because nicotine can (among many other health effects) stimulate the bowel, which worsens these symptoms, it is important not to smoke
    Exercise
    For those with mild to moderate MS, regular aerobic exercise can improve strength, muscle tone, balance, and coordination
    It also helps relieve stress and symptoms of depression
    Rest
    Address fatigue by getting plenty of sleep at night
    Watch your weight
    It is especially important to maintain an appropriate weight related to height
    Excess weight can add to mobility problems and can fatigue and strain the respiratory and circulatory systems
    Being underweight is also undesirable, because it may decrease resistance to infection and increase the risk of developing pressure sores and other skin ulcers
    Seek emotional support
    Stay connected to your friends and family, and talk to your doctor who may be able to recommend a therapist, counselor, or support group in your area for those dealing with MS