Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Print

MS is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves.
The resulting nerve damage disrupts communication between the brain and the body leading to further complications. The causes are not known, however diet can help control symptoms.

Symptoms are varied, and include vision loss, pain, fatigue, impaired coordination, incontinence, slurred speech, etc.

According to the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies, diet has not been proven to have a major therapeutic effect. There are ongoing studies on omega-3 essential fatty acids that are needed for the repair and maintenance of the central nervous system. These studies indicate that supplements might slow the progress of MS and reduce the severity and duration of relapse.

The Swank Diet claims to reduce lapses and increase energy and life expectancy. This has not been proven. However, the diet is well-balanced for overall health and would not pose nutritional risks to MS sufferers. It prescribes less than 20g of saturated fat per day, but high amounts of polyunsaturated fats.

Managing Symptoms

An MS diet aims to manage common problems such as fatigue, incontinence, and constipation and avoid worsening other symptoms. Chronic fatigue is one of the most incapacitating symptoms of MS. Slow release carbohydrates (pasta, Basmati rice, rye bread, bananas etc.) will help maintain steady energy levels. 

MS conditions may lead to a person becoming less active, leading to weight gain. Controlling calories and limiting sugar rich comfort foods is therefore essential. Additional weight can impair mobility and strain respiratory and circulatory systems.

Smoking depletes vitamin C in the blood and worsens the disease.

MS can affect the bladder’s nerve fibres, causing incontinence. If patients react by reducing fluid intake, they may experience additional issues, such as dry mouth, loss of appetite, constipation and difficulty in swallowing. Incontinence can lead to urinary tract infections. Cranberry juice is beneficial for preventing this.

Avoid constipation by drinking plenty of water (1.7 litres / day) and consuming fibre rich foods e.g. whole grains, cooked green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit. Prunes and figs are natural laxatives.

MS affects each person differently and therefore the patient should seek professional advice on diet and nutrition.
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