Nutrition has had extremely positive results as a therapy for controlling Multiple Sclerosis. Nutrition is an umbrella word that can describe the food you eat, nutrients in the form of supplements, the efficiency of your body’s absorption and digestion, as well as food that you may be intolerant to (‘intolerance’ is often confused with ‘allergic’ but are very different as intolerances are reversible). Dietary counselling can include food sensitivity screening, which is highly recommended before starting any new diet.
Nutritional screening checks for intolerant food stuffs as well as vitamin, mineral and basic digestion status ensuring the best possible gut efficiency and strengthened immune system. When foodstuffs that the digestive system is intolerant to are continually ingested, not only is the immune system weakened, but partially digested foodstuffs are allowed to pass into the circulation, these are known to be neurotoxic (poisonous to nerve tissue) so of especial detriment to MS sufferers. These toxins need to be removed to prevent further inflammation to the central nervous system tissue. The nutritionist will work further to insure good nutrition, efficient absorption, and proper supplementation.
The main reason for taking a supplement is because you may be deficient in certain nutrients and by taking supplements you will correct the deficiency. Another good reason for taking supplements is some MS patients have difficulty converting or absorbing certain nutrients.
Evening Primrose Oil
Fatty acids belonging to the linoleic acid family are vital to people with MS, evening primrose is high in gammalinolenic acid – a converted form of linoleic acid. In MS, red blood cells are not only very low in essential fatty acids they are also much bigger than they ought to be, are abnormally shaped, and have a poor ability to regulate the passage of fluids through cell membranes. Evening Primrose Oil can correct this defect within a matter of months. Recommended dosage for MS patients is a 500mg capsules six times a day. MS Action has Evening Primrose Oil available to purchase at a discount rate.
Cod Liver Oil
Fish oils contain alpha-linolenic acid, family of essential fatty acids. These oils are used in your brain and your central nervous system. Recommended intake can be found in a diet rich in oily fish or through a cod liver oil supplement.
These seeds are rich in fibre and essential fatty acids. The soluble fibre in these seeds coats the digestive tract and helps maintain regularity. Recommended dosage is one heaped tablespoon 2 or 3 times a day sprinkled over breakfast cereal or mixed in with yoghurt. Golden Linseeds must be taken with sufficient liquid as well – ¼ pint of liquid for each tablespoon of seeds.
There are good reasons to take supplements of vitamins and minerals. Firstly, your diet may not be supplying enough. Secondly, you may need more than a normal person as you have a chronic illness. Thirdly, some specific vitamins and minerals are vital for the biochemical conversion process of fatty acids. And finally certain vitamins and minerals are essentials if you are taking EFA’s to prevent them from oxidation. Multi-vitamins, vitamin C and various other supplements are sold at MS Action, it is advisable that you discuss supplementation with the Nutritionalist before taking supplements.
NUTRITION IN MS
A diet which is low in saturated fat and high in polyunsaturated fat is the most important part of the self-help management of MS. The diet recommended by MS Action advises an increase in all sources of essential fatty acids (EFA), reduce saturated fat and increase ‘nutrient dense’ food for general good health. The MS Action library has numerous books about a suitable diet for MS, that we highly recommend you read before starting the specialised diet. The following is a quick outline of the foods that are should be chosen or avoided on the diet.
Fats and Oils
Polyunsaturated margarines, fats and oils, for example sunflower or soya spread and sunflower, corn, safflower and soya oils in moderation. Linseed oil. Monosaturates, such as olive oil can be eaten occasionally. Grape seed oil is best to heat.
Oily fish such as mackerel, herring, kippers, sardines, whitebait, trout and salmon at least three times a week.
Meat and Meat Alternatives
Lean red meat, poultry, game and offal. Try to included ¼ lb of liver per week. Quorn, soya and tofu. Aim for only one meat product portion per day (remember this includes cheese).
Fruit and Vegetables
Aim for 5 portions a day (1lb). Fresh fruit and vegetables (fresh or frozen) – particularly salad/raw vegetables and green leafy vegetables.
Jacket, boiled or mashed and occasionally roasted or homemade chips cooked in suitable oil. Always eat fresh produce whenever possible, ideally organic.
Peas, beans, lentils, baked beans, soup made with pulses.
Breads (preferably wholemeal), breakfast cereal, porridge, muesli, pasta, rice. Homemade cakes, biscuits and pastries with the appropriate oil. Breadsticks, crispbreads, teacakes, plain biscuits and homemade flapjacks (without coconut) sweetened with a bit of molasses or treacle.
Naturally low fat dairy foods. Skimmed milk preferably, or semi-skimmed. Low fat yoghurt, fromage frais, and cottage cheese. Cheese made with polyunsaturated fat (such as ‘Flora’) in moderation. ‘Healthy Eating’ sorbet. Hard cheese (preferably half-fat) no more than 1/4lb a week. Eggs (up to 3 or 4 a week).
Fats and Oils
Frequent fried foods, blended cooking oils, butter, lard, hydrogenated vegetable oils, suet, dripping, low fat spreads, mayonnaise or salad dressings made with saturated fats.
Fried fish (shallow fried in suitable oil may be eaten occasionally), fish in batter, cream sauce, butter or tinned fish in unspecified oil.
Fatty meat, processed meat such as sausages, burgers, corned beef, meat pies, pasties and poultry skin (remove skin and meat fat BEFORE cooking).
Fruits and Vegetable
Chips, fried vegetables (a stir fry with suitable oil is OK).
‘Gold Top’ milk, full cream, Greek yoghurt, thick and creamy yoghurt and ordinary ice cream.
Muesli with coconut, added vegetable fat, croissants, bought cakes and slimming bars or biscuits.
Brazils, coconut, cashews, peanuts and peanut butter.
Try to avoid excessive caffeine.
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