Nutrition and MS

When it comes to managing MS, one of the biggest things to keep in mind is nutrition. Everyone’s experience with MS is different—what works for me may not work for you. But as a CNS with a specialization in fitness nutrition and someone who lives with MS, I get a lot of questions about nutrition!

Sometimes it’s tricky to know what foods to eat—and avoid. I can offer some insight on general tips and what’s helped me manage my MS symptoms. Because MS is an autoimmune disease, and inflammation comes with the package, a goal you should always keep in mind is keeping inflammation as low as possible.

Natural foods that are anti-inflammatory include:
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Ginger
  • Spinach
  • Chia seeds and nuts
  • Green tea
  • Broths
Inflammation is a big one for me personally, as many of my lesions appeared to be growing for the longest time, when in reality, they were just inflamed! A medication transition and an introduction of more anti-inflammatory foods later, I finally have that aspect under control. Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, protein, healthy fats, and slow digesting carbohydrates will help in keeping inflammation down and aid the body in functioning properly.

It is essential to consume a diet high in vegetables, as vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals that many people with MS are deficient in, such as vitamin B12. Foods that contain these essential vitamins and minerals that should be consumed on the daily include:
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Avocados
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruit
  • Yams
In experimenting with my diet, I find that I flare less often when I am eating fruits and vegetables over anything else. If it came from the planet, I’m all about eating it! It’s also important to consume an appropriate amount of saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats—it can lead to better cognitive function and even weight loss. Here are some examples of healthy fats:
  • Nuts like walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and cashews
  • Avocados
  • Nut butters (the less sugar and added ingredients the better)
  • Fatty fish, like salmon
  • Whole eggs
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Cheese
  • Chia seeds
It is also crucial that you are eating high protein foods such as chicken, turkey and fish, as protein will aid in keeping the body strong and functioning at its best. Vegetarian and vegan protein options include things such as tofu, tempe, edamame, chickpeas, beans and peas. I have found that even with MS, I am able to exercise regularly and my strength is better when I’m eating a diet higher in protein!

At the end of the day, listen to your body and recognize the signs of a trigger. Common trigger foods for me include wheat, sugar and red meats. Eat not only what tastes good, but what makes you feel good, too! Personally, eating a standard a Mediterranean-esque diet and decreasing my wheat and sugar intake ensures my flares are less frequent and my pain becomes more manageable. Let’s work together to defeat MS through any means we can, so we can live the lives we were meant to.
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Catherine Weston

Catherine is a professional in the medical marketing industry from Long Island, NY. She aspires to show the world that MS doesn't hold her back. She was diagnosed in 2014 and has been striving to help others overcome their fears and limitations since (she also loves sheep!). Keep up with Catherine and her adventures on her Instagram.