More MS news articles for September 2002

Proper nutrition can help MS

Aug 16, 2002
By Barbara Beznos
iCan News Service

The need to eat a healthy balanced diet should be of great importance to anyone who has a disability. Food can build the immune system and speed recovery from episodes. The correct kind of food, the most beneficial choices, in the right amounts, can possibly preserve body functions and decrease free radical attacks. It can affect energy level, mental state, and physical well-being.

As a registered dietitian and nutritionist, I believe food plays a vital part in any challenging disorder.

Multiple sclerosis is a cause of major disability due to movement problems, sensory pain, visual impairment, lack of energy, fatigue and even nausea and vomiting. Neurological symptoms and inflammation in areas of the nervous system are truly real. Swallowing, breathing, chewing, choking, aspiration pneumonia, and weight loss can be challenging in more advanced cases. Maintaining proper digestion can be an important issue.

Remember that food is vital and intimate. Do take care and allow time to eat it. Food should provide pleasure and nourishment. Choose wisely, taste foods you never tasted. Look for wonderful color, flavor, smell and variety.

The nutritional goals Restore energy, strength and endurance by eliminating fatigue. Improve circulation, muscle and nerve function Overcome eating difficulties Balance and produce anti-inflammatory prostaglandins while boosting the immune system Fight infection Improve mood Strengthen digestion and create better absorption of food. Make mealtime easier Find and avoid food sensitivies Maintain proper weight Keep the diet nutritious and balanced Prevent urinary tract infections or candidas Partake in complementary therapies To achieve these goals, you must go through a process of assessment, education, behavior modification and management throughout the progression of MS, to enhance your overall health status.

General tips Elimination diets or avoiding foods that you may be sensitive to may help with symptoms of MS (i.e., dairy, caffeine, yeast, sugar, wheat, soy or gluten). Speak to a dietitian before attempting this. An unbalanced diet may be harmful.

Studies have shown that consuming a vegetarian, lower fat diet can cause fewer relapses and less severe symptoms. Examples of food choices include fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, oils, eggs and fish.

Eliminate saturated fatty foods in the diet, such as fried greasy foods and animal fat.

Have your diet evaluated to ensure it is nutritious and balanced. There can be many nutritional deficiencies in the diet of people with MS.

A normal diet would provide enough choline, but if you have malnutrition, choline may become deficient. Choline is found in milk, egg and peanuts. It provides protection of the myelin shealth. Dietary choline helps form acetylcholine, one of the neurotransmitters, and is also involved in muscle and nerve functions.

Vitamin K from dark leafy greens may help prevent nausea and vomiting.

A vitamin B complex with thiamine, niacin, and B6 may help nerves and immune system and aid in manufacturing lecithin and B12.

Herbs are beneficial. Ginger tea may help with digestion. Season foods mildly with curry or turmeric, which may also improve digestion.

If you are on corticosteroids, you may need to avoid unnecessary weight gain, and seek help with side effects of increased appetite, fluid retention, nervousness and insomnia.

Doing stress-releasing activities may reduce MS flare-ups. Try reflexology, massage, guided imagery or meditation, to name a few.

In this package: For visual or optic nerve problems For muscle weakness and nerve dysfunction Urinary tract problems and infections Fatigue, bone strength and constipation Depression and moods Increasing immunity Chewing and swallowing problems

Barbara Beznos is a registered dietitian and owner of Integrated Nutrition LLC in Farmington Hills, Mich. She provides nutrition counseling, therapy and evaluation. Visit her Web site at If you have questions about nutrition, e-mail If you have a serious medical condition, please contact your physician. Related iCan storiesMore about multiple sclerosis from the Conditions Library More Nutrition columns Nutrition Q and A
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