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Multiple Sclerosis Diet: Food to Eat, avoid and more – Ayush Prana

For many Multiple Sclerosis is a condition that results from a combination of environmental and genetic predisposition. The environmental-based risk factors for MS include lower levels of vitamin – D, low exposure to sunlight, smoking, and viral exposure.  Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune and neurodegenerative condition affecting an individual’s brain and the spinal cord. The development of MS depends on lifestyle factors like smoking, an unhygienic diet, and or no physical activity. In this blog, we will be learning more about The Role of Diet in Multiple Sclerosis, Diet tips, Food to eat and avoid and more…

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune and neurodegenerative condition affecting an individual’s brain and the spinal cord; but for many, Multiple Sclerosis is a condition that results from a combination of environmental and genetic predisposition. The risk factors of MS and the factors contributing to the progression of symptoms in MS include poor nutrition and unhealthy gut caused by poor diet and unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits which include smoking and alcohol consumption, besides other causative factors. Gut health is paramount as there is a direct neural connection with the brain through the vagus nerve, and any change in the gut microbiome can alter both neurotransmitter levels (5) and blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability (1).  Breakdown of the BBB  enables toxins and other microbes from the gut to enter the CNS (Central Nervous system) and these could trigger inflammatory and immune responses, and could initiate neurodegeneration (3) as in the case with MS. Ayurveda asserts that food is medicine. In this blog, we will see why that is, by explaining how certain foods or the lack thereof will impact Multiple Sclerosis and more…

When it comes to diet – Diet affects the composition of gut bacteria, which has crucial implications for the immune system that might be relevant to MS. Dietary constituents like vitamins, proteins, and fatty acids directly impact the immune system; thereby, the food we take plays a vital role in our overall health and well-being. So it is essential to have a healthy diet to lower the risk of Multiple Sclerosis and its progress.  However,  a reformed diet alone is not responsible for curing MS.

But, having a healthy diet supplements PAMS therapy to cure MS in some cases depending on the disease pathology, in all patients- it helps reduce flare-ups, manage the symptoms, and control the progression of Multiple Sclerosis.

 

Foods to Eat

  1. Food rich in Vitamin – D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that primarily aids the assimilation of calcium from the food we consume. Various functions of your immune, digestive, circulatory, and nervous systems depend on the Vitamin D  reserve in your body. The recommended daily value for Vitamin D is currently set at 600-800 IU for adults. Many studies have proved that the lower levels of vitamin – D are associated with an increased risk of developing MS. (2) So, It would be beneficial to acquire Vitamin – D through the diet and by exposure to sunlight. Foods like eggs, fish (salmon or tuna; kindly check with the doctor as it may be contraindicated with some PAMS medication), cereals, oranges, and yogurt are good sources of vitamin – D and these food will help increase the levels of Vitamin – D in your body.

       2.Food rich in B12

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that is crucial for the myriad processes in your body like the production of the red blood cells, formation of DNA, help with nerve function, metabolism and energy production. Vitamin B12 is paramount in maintaining the myelin sheath of your nerves. The deficiency of this vitamin can exhibit symptoms that are similar to certain MS symptoms, such as fatigue, weakness, numbness or tingling and problems with memory.

In fact, Vitamin B12 levels in MS patients are related to the age of onset of the disease. (4) The recommended daily intake for vitamin B12 on average for adults is around  2.4 mcg. Vitamin B12 is found mostly in animal products, including meats, seafood, dairy products, and eggs. Some good vegan sources of the same can include yoghurt, fortified plant-based milk, fortified cereals, and nutritional yeast.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can be caused by not getting enough of this vitamin through your diet or by untreated gut conditions over a long period of time since our bodies can store B12 for several years.

       3.High Fiber Food

Bowel problems like constipation, loss of bowel control, and diarrhoea are bothersome problems observed in MS patients. According to the National Institute of Health, intake of a high fiber diet (Oats, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat, walnuts, almonds and fruits and vegetables like berries, peaches, plums, veggie leaves, roots) has a vast range of health benefits that includes gut bacterial nourishment, promoting good digestion, helps in preventing and relieving constipation, and promoting regular bowel movements etc.. However, intake of excess fiber food can increase the risk of gas and bloat. Therefore, it is recommended to take 20-25gms of fiber food to deal with bowel problems commonly observed in people with Multiple Sclerosis.

 

Foods to Avoid

  1. Saturated, Processed and Refined Carbs

According to the Studies conducted, almost 85% of MS people may have an increased risk of heart attack and heart-related diseases. The main reason for this can be the excess intake of saturated food (sausages, fatty cuts of meat, cheese, butter, canned food), refined carbs including (biscuits, white bread, pasta), fried and highly processed food can be a risk, as these food items are linked with chronic inflammation and are known to raise bad cholesterol.   Less consumption of saturated food intake can help in reducing the risk of relapsing into the condition.

      2.Fluids related issues

Almost 80% of people with Multiple Sclerosis experience bladder problems like frequency or urgency in urination, Incontinence, and inability to empty the bladder. This occurs when MS lesions in the central nervous system (CNS) that regulate the bladder and urine sphincters obstruct or delay the nerve signal transmission. Drinking too much fluids can cause you to urinate more often. When you drink too much water rapidly, your bladder might get overwhelmed, causing a severe sensation of urgency. This is why it is important to drink water in small quantities throughout your day while avoiding alcohol and beverages like coffee and tea, which increase urine production. And having Caffeinated drinks may worsen the bladder activity in a few people as caffeine is a mild diuretic. Avoiding caffeinated beverages will help manage the symptoms of bladder issues commonly observed in Multiple Sclerosis. And talking about alcohol, it is recommended for everyone not to consume alcohol as it is a depressant of the central nervous system and consuming excess alcohol can increase the rate of depression, which is also a common symptom of Multiple Sclerosis.

        3.High sugar food and drinks

A study by an Elisa Meyer-Gerdingh, MD whose findings were presented at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting stated that the participants of the research who consumed an average of 290 calories of the beverages like (tea, coffee, and sodas) per day were five times more likely to have a severe impairment than the others who rarely drank these sugar-sweetened beverages. In addition, consuming excess sugary food or drinks can increase the severity of Multiple Sclerosis symptoms. For example, a diet rich in sugar can induce frequent blood sugar changes, exacerbating fatigue in those with MS.

 

Diet Tips

Being healthy is what everyone aims for. But in this busy life, with heavy work pressure, we never think of what we are eating and when we are eating. And of course, not all the foods we eat are the best for our body.  And for people with MS, it is vital to have a portion of healthy food that can help manage the condition.

 

Here are a few healthy food tips for MS Fighters

  • It is always key to know about: what you eat, how you eat, when you eat, and where you eat.
  • Eat only when you are hungry. It would be beneficial to wait till the previous food is completely digested.
  • For a healthy day, a balanced diet is tantamount, include fruits or fresh juice in your daily diet. Fruits are preferable to juices.
  • It is better to eat your dinner no later than 7 pm since this helps your body focus on cell repair and overall healing of the body during your night’s sleep, instead of focusing only on digesting your food.
  • Have a complete and perfect sleep, which means you have to have a perfect sleep cycle. Try to sleep at least by 10 PM.
  • Practising regular exercise and yoga will help in managing the symptoms and increase hunger. With the diet, minimal physical activity would be required for a healthy you.

 

We at Ayush prana understand the importance of a holistic treatment plan to treat Multiple Sclerosis. However, we believe that medicines are not the only treatment solution and that a proper diet plan can help overcome the troubles caused by MS.

Ayush Prana’s healthy diet plan is unique and customised to the body type (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) of each individual,  incorporating vital principles from Ayurveda, considering the taste and health aspects of the food, and your disease pathology. We emphasise on consuming fresh, natural food low in fat and calories, fresh fruits and vegetables. And we entirely avoid food with excess salts, added colours, flavours, or preservatives. We advise our Multiple Sclerosis Patients to take food according to their hunger at the proper timings and to resist the temptation of overeating. In fact, Dr. Prasanth puts it succinctly and efficiently when he says that we need to get up from a good meal still feeling somewhat empty in the stomach.

Book a consultation with us for your customised PAMS therapy with a diet plan specific to your condition and body type. Let us follow the diet plan and fight MS with all our might. With us having your back, you are not alone in this fight.  Follow us to know more about our services at Ayush Prana, or for more info, contact us.

 

Works cited

  1. Braniste V, Alasmakh M, Kowal C, Anuar F, Abbaspour A, Tóth M, et al. The gut microbiota influences blood-brain barrier permeability in mice. Sci Transl Med. (2014) 6:263ra158. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.300975
  2. Martina B. Sintzel, Mark Rametta, and Anthony T. Reder. Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis: A Comprehensive Review.Neurol Ther. 2018 Jun; 7(1): 59–85. doi: 10.1007/s40120-017-0086-4
  3. Melanie D. Sweeney, Abhay P. Sagare, and Berislav V. Zlokovic. Blood-brain barrier breakdown in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Nat Rev Neurol. 2018 Mar; 14(3): 133–150. doi:10.1038/nrneurol.2017.188
  4. Sandyk R, Awerbuch GI. Vitamin B12 and its relationship to age of onset of multiple sclerosis. Int J Neurosci. 1993 Jul-Aug;71(1-4):93-9. doi: 10.3109/00207459309000596. PMID: 8407160.
  5. Yano JM, Yu K, Donaldson GP, Shastri GG, Ann P, Ma L, et al. Indigenous bacteria from the gut microbiota regulate host serotonin biosynthesis. Cell (2015) 161:264–76. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.09.017