7 Best Food Choices for MS
Jacqueline Ho | Jan 17th 2014 Apr 11th 2017
While there is no “MS diet" that has been proven to be an effective treatment, certain foods, such as the following, can have a positive impact on some MS symptoms. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), a well-balanced, carefully-planned diet is important in helping people with MS maintain good health.
Some studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acid can slow the progression of MS and reduce frequency of relapses in people with MS. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines. People should consult their doctor before taking omega-3 supplements, especially if they are currently taking any medications.
Walnuts are a good source of polyunsaturated fat (“good fat”), which can help lower cholesterol and heart disease risk, especially when it replaces saturated fat (“bad fat”). Some studies have shown polyunsaturated fat to help decrease the severity and duration of MS relapses.
Sometimes people with MS encounter challenges with bowel function. To help manage this symptom, it is recommended that 25 to 30 grams of fiber be consumed daily. Whole grains are a good source of fiber, and quinoa, in particular, contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. Quinoa also contains iron, which may help to increase brain function.
Many people with MS have low levels of the mineral magnesium, which can lead to numbness or tingling sensations, among other symptoms. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium, containing about 150 milligrams per serving. Other sources of magnesium include spinach, artichokes and dark chocolate.
Eggs contain the vitamin B12, which plays an important role in synthesizing red blood cells, maintaining the nervous system and modulating myelin. B12 is naturally found in animal products, including eggs, clams and beef. Vitamin B12 can also be found in some fortified cereals.
Many studies have suggested that vitamin D can influence MS disease activity. Some research also has shown vitamin D deficiency to be a possible risk factor for developing MS. Vitamin D also plays a role in bone health, blood sugar control and immunity. Good sources of vitamin D include milk, tuna and shiitake mushrooms.
Some research has shown that damage to cells by free radicals, or oxidants, may be a factor in the damage to myelin and nerve fibers in MS. Antioxidants are important because they protect cells from such damage. Excellent sources of antioxidants include blueberries, kale and tomatoes.