Best Food Choices For MS

Content Producer
Medically Reviewed
View as:|
1 of 10
Next
iStock

While there is no diet that has been proven to be an effective treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) some foods may impact your symptoms. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), a well-balanced, carefully-planned diet is important in helping those with MS maintain good health. There is increasing evidence that an anti-inflammatory diet, similar to the Mediterranean diet, may be beneficial in minimizing MS symptoms. Here are foods to include and avoid as part of your healthy diet.


iStock

Fatty fish

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.


iStock

Nuts

Nuts, including walnuts, almonds, and pistachios are a good source of polyunsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol and heart disease risk. Research has shown that a low polyunsaturated fat intake may be a risk factor for MS and may exacerbate MS symptoms, so it’s important to include foods rich in these heart-healthy fats in your daily diet.


iStock

Whole grains

Sometimes people living with MS encounter challenges with bowel function. To help manage this symptom, it is recommended that 25 to 35 grams of fiber be consumed daily. Whole grains, such as quinoa and brown rice, are good sources of fiber. Avoid processed grains, which contain minimal nutrients and very little fiber.


iStock

Pumpkin seeds

Many people living 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 good sources of magnesium include spinach, artichokes, and dark chocolate. Seeds, including pumpkin, flax, and chia are also good sources of polyunsaturated fats.


iStock

Eggs

Eggs contain vitamin B12, which plays an important role in synthesizing red blood cells, maintaining the nervous system, and modulating myelin. Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including eggs, shellfish, meat, and poultry. Vitamin B12 can also be found in some fortified cereals. The NMSS reports that people living with MS frequently have low blood levels of vitamin B12, so it’s important to get adequate amount of this vitamin through diet.


iStock

Vitamin D-fortified foods

Many studies suggest that vitamin D can influence MS disease activity. Research also has shown that vitamin D deficiency is a 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 foods fortified with vitamin D (including milk, milk alternatives, and orange juice), fatty fish, oysters, egg yolks, and shiitake mushrooms.


iStock

Fresh fruits and vegetables

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, found primarily in fresh fruits and vegetables, are important because they protect cells from such damage. Excellent sources of antioxidants include dark colored produce such as blueberries, kale, bell peppers, berries, and tomatoes.


iStock

What to avoid: saturated fat

There is increasing evidence that people living with MS are at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease, so it’s important to limit your intake of saturated fat, which comes primarily from animal products (such as red and processed meat).  Research also suggests that a plant-based diet, which is low in saturated fat, may improve MS symptoms.


iStock

What to avoid: excess sodium

Research has shown that excessive sodium intake can exacerbate symptoms of MS. To limit the amount of sodium in your diet, avoid processed, packaged, and canned foods that often contain salt, which is used as a preservative. Opt for fresh or frozen food, and examine labels of sauces, marinades, and dressings for their sodium content. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day, or no more than 1,500 mg for people living with heart disease.