MS and My Diet

Every so often someone who cares about me will give me a book or forward an article about how a certain dietary regimen might help people with multiple sclerosis. I appreciate their concern, and I understand that friends and family of people with diseases such as MS often feel helpless. Sending information such as this is my loved ones’ own way to feel helpful.

I sure wish that something as simple as changing my diet could change the course of my MS, and I wish altering my kids’ diets could prevent their ever being diagnosed with this disease. But, as the National MS Society notes, there’s really no scientific evidence to show that any special diet has that kind of power.

On the other hand, experts note that people with MS, just like people without the disease, likely benefit from maintaining a balanced, healthy diet. That’s what I try to do. (Well, most of the time. I probably eat way more pizza than I should….)

I’ve been thinking about diet and MS since I read recent reports about studies suggesting a potential link between high salt consumption and MS risk. A set of studies published March 6 in the journal Nature found intriguing connections between salt intake and biological changes that could be related to the development of MS. (You can read more about the research by following the link under “In the News” on the Society’s home page.) But even the studies’ authors acknowledge that their findings are extremely limited and preliminary, and in no way warrant a recommendation that people alter their salt consumption as a means of preventing MS.

Still, since most Americans consume way more sodium than is recommended for our cardiovascular health, the new studies serve as a reminder to set aside the salt shaker. MS or no MS, most of us would also do well to read the nutrition facts panels on the packaged foods we eat to keep our salt consumption in check.

Federal guidelines suggest that we limit our salt intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day; those of us who are at risk for cardiovascular disease and other conditions should keep it below 1,500 mg. A recent study found that the average American consumes about 3,600 mg of sodium daily. So, yes, most of us could stand to cut back. But not because we think it will make our MS better.

Do you believe your diet influences your MS symptoms?
Tags Healthy Living, Research      5 Appreciate this
Jennifer

Jennifer LaRue Huget, Blogger

Jennifer LaRue Huget was diagnosed with MS in 2001. A freelance writer and children's book author, she lives in Connecticut with her husband, two teenage kids, and two brown dogs. Her website is www.jenniferlaruehuget.com.