Multiple sclerosis – Foods to avoid for managing the symptoms
Multiple sclerosis is a prevalent neurological disorder where the immune system destroys the nerves’ protective covering. Those with this health condition must follow a proper nutrition plan apart from doctor-recommended treatments for a better quality of life. Poor food habits can lead to inflammatory changes, worsening the disease and increasing the intensity and frequency of symptoms like fatigue and cognitive alterations. Here are a few foods to avoid when suffering from multiple sclerosis.
Research suggests multiple sclerosis symptoms can aggravate if one consumes too much animal-sourced saturated fats. Therefore, one must avoid foods like beef and pork. These foods can also increase cholesterol levels as well as the risk of cardiovascular diseases, leading to further complications. It is recommended to have not more than 13 grams of saturated fats daily, including plant-sourced saturated fats.
One should make a conscious effort to avoid items high in sugar, such as candy and cake. These foods can lead to massive fluctuations in blood glucose levels, leading to fatigue and worsening symptoms. Refined sugar is more harmful and can have severe consequences. Managing blood sugar can get tricky since specific treatments for this condition also lead to spikes. Hence, one can consult with a doctor to create a low-sugar meal plan based on their situation.
Processed foods have numerous additives that increase their shelf life while modifying their flavor and color. Additives damage the intestinal mucosa, weakening the natural immune system. And since immune balance is crucial for preventing or slowing down the progression of multiple sclerosis, processed foods should be avoided. A few examples include tinned vegetables, bread, and ready-to-eat snacks.
Like sugar, refined grains cause a spike in blood glucose. Unsurprisingly, they are branded as one of the worst foods for this disorder. Constant blood sugar spikes damage the myelin sheaths on neural cells, leading to neural dysfunction. Since multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition, one should avoid foods that can damage nerve cells. Some common examples of refined grains are white rice and white bread. Eliminating these from the meal plan can help manage the progression of the disease.
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, has been one of the most controversial food additives for the last few decades. Research suggests that its effects are minimal in healthy people. But, in those with multiple sclerosis, the immune system can respond abnormally to MSG’s molecules and damage neurons in the body. This ingredient is mostly found in packaged snacks and some Chinese cuisines, acting as a flavor enhancer.
High salt intake is closely linked with the worsening of multiple sclerosis symptoms. Hence, patients should avoid using salt for seasoning foods and utilize alternative spices like black pepper to manage the condition. One must also steer clear of canned veggies as they are high in sodium content and consider fresh veggies instead.
Patients with this neurological disease usually experience an overactive bladder. Caffeine can cause the kidneys to make more urine, increasing the urge to go to the bathroom and leading to other bladder-related issues. Hence, it is best to avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea. However, research also suggests that caffeine may help relieve fatigue. Hence, it is best to consult a doctor to determine if caffeine is safe and in what quantity.
The nutrition tips mentioned above can help relieve common multiple sclerosis symptoms like fatigue and improve the patient’s overall quality of life. Besides avoiding these foods, one may add more fish, whole grains, and plant-based foods to the meals after consulting a doctor to manage the condition and slow down its progression.
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