Nutrition Tips for People with Multiple Sclerosis

Cooked salmon and vegetables

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated process where the body’s immune system behaves abnormally and is turned against the central nervous system (CNS). This results in an inflammatory process within the CNS and eventually damages the tissues of the system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. More specifically, the inflammation damages myelin, a fatty substance that insulates the nerve fibers.

Thanks to modern research, there is a growing body of evidence to support specific dietary recommendations that work to promote anti-inflammatory processes within the body and can minimize the inflammatory effects on the CNS.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society recommends:

A diet that is…

  • Low in saturated fats
  • High in Omega-3 and Omega-6 (salmon, flax seeds, chia seeds)
  • High in Vitamin D (fish, mushrooms, fortified foods)

The Dietary Impact on Your Body with MS

  • Central Nervous System effects:
    • Altered metabolism may play a role in the adaptation of the nervous system to damage
    • Diets may have protective effects
  • Direct effects on the immune system
    • Metabolism plays an important role in the function of several types of immune cells
    • Intake of certain types of fats have been linked to greater inflammation while intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids have been found to have the opposite effect
  • Indirect effects via modulation of the gut flora
    • Gut bacteria can act on immune cells and shift the immune system towards a pro- or anti-inflammatory state

Pro-Inflammatory Dietary Factors (Foods to Stay Away From)

  • Unsaturated fatty-acids of animal origin
  • Saturated fatty-acids of animal origin
  • Red meat
  • Hypercaloric diets high in refined carbohydrates
  • Increased dietary salt intake
  • Whole milk

Anti-Inflammatory Natural Bio-Active Compounds (Food to Eat)

  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish and vegetables
  • Polyphenols and carotenoids from vegetables
  • Vitamins A and D
  • Oligioelements (such as selenium and magnesium)
  • Thiol compounds

Physical therapy can also aid in the treatment for MS. Physical therapy involves exercises to strength muscles, work on balance and improve stretching to keep the body’s mobility high. ProActive offers FREE assessments to new patients and we have locations all over Tucson. See which location is nearest you and call us today to schedule!

Author: Lee Holland, PT, DPT

Lee Holland

East Tucson