Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is vital for those living with any chronic illness like multiple sclerosis. Good nutrition, especially adequate calories and high-quality proteins, helps maintain the body’s stores of protein, provides energy, assists in faster wound healing and helps fight infections. The following are some nutritional guidelines for persons with MS (or any chronic disease):
Eat a variety of foods from each food group, to include adequate amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only are these foods primary sources of antioxidants (substances that prevent cellular damage) but they also provide the bulk of the fiber that’s needed in every diet to maintain a healthy digestive environment.
Maintain appropriate weight through a proper balance of exercise and caloric intake.
Choose foods low in saturated fats and cholesterol, unless otherwise directed by your health care provider. Instead, choose mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats, such as olive oil and canola oil, for cooking or to drizzle on foods.
Make a conscious effort to limit how much sugar is eaten throughout the day. This may sound easy but because sucrose (sugar) is added to many packaged and canned foods in some form, most Americans have no understanding of just how much sugar they ingest on a daily basis. Breakfast cereal alone can account for significant amounts of sugar consumption every day. If you enjoy cereals for breakfast, try choosing those that have no added sugar or have only 2-4 grams of sugar per serving. This will require you to learn to read labels to determine which products have no sugar or are low in sugar content. But the increase in health and decreased risk of developing diabetes from lowering sugar intake is well worth the effort.
Moderate your use of salt. In general, never add salt at the table.
If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, do not consume more than one or two beverages per day.
Drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, starting with a full glass immediately upon rising in the morning. That first glass of water helps rehydrate the body and muscles, making for a stronger, better functioning system.
Limit caffeine consumption. While the benefits of caffeine are becoming more evident as more research is done on the substance, it is still wise not to overdo caffeine or caffeine-containing beverages, like coffee or tea. Limit these drinks to no more than 3-4 cups during the day and avoid ingesting caffeine in any form after 2:00 PM in the afternoon. This will help prevent problems falling asleep at night due to caffeine stimulation.
According to the National MS Society, “While many different diets have been proposed as a treatment, or even a cure, for MS, evidence of their effectiveness is very limited.” Most MS specialists recommend that people with the disease adhere to a simple, low-fat, high-fiber diet. Here at AAging Better, our caregivers are trained in healthy nutrition shopping and meal preparation, and can help you or your loved one plan and stick to a healthy, doctor-approved diet plan, if the MS has advanced to a point where the individual needs some help at home. Our goal is to keep clients safe and effective at home by helping to keep them stay on paths to better nutrition and health, no matter the condition or disease.
To find out more about in-home care for you or your loved one with MS, contact usonline or call us at 208-777-0308 if you’re calling from the Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene or Hayden areas; 208-263-7889 in the Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry or Priest River areas; or 208-784-1505 if you’re calling from the Kellogg, Pinehurst or Wallace areas. If calling from outside any of these areas, call us toll-free at 877-464-2344 and we’ll be happy to come out for a free in-home assessment to discuss your needs or the needs of your loved one.
Sources: WebMD and National MS Society