In individuals with neurological conditions, the varying nature of symptoms can make it difficult to generalize dietary advice. In Multiple Sclerosis (MS), for example, damage to the myelin sheath can manifest as many different physical and mental symptoms. These symptoms can vary over time and may be different from one person to the next. Nonetheless, there are some healthy eating tips from which both Multiple Sclerosis patients and individuals with other neurological conditions may benefit. Explore some practical strategies for eating well to manage neurological conditions below.
Eat to Energize
All food gives us energy, but wholesome choices are the best choices for keeping energy levels up during the day. Natural foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts can help to keep fatigue at bay. Additionally, avoiding sugary or particularly heavy foods that cause a crash can also minimize energy loss.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Neurological disorders are often accompanied by symptoms that make exercise difficult. This can result in weight gain, and to further complicate matters, meal prep and food shopping can further deplete energy. Research suggests that malnutrition isn’t uncommon in people with Multiple Sclerosis, but having healthy, home-cooked meals can ensure you get the nutrients you need while promoting weight management. A plant-based diet, in particular, has been shown to help people with MS lose weight. A dietician can help you come up with healthy options that require minimal prep work, such as vegetarian chili in the slow cooker.
Avoid Known Triggers
Feeling overheated can be an issue for people with Multiple Sclerosis, so avoiding foods that are too hot can help keep this symptom at bay during meals. Likewise, if you begin to feel overheated, a cool healthy treat such as a whole-fruit popsicle could provide relief. Individuals with trigeminal neuralgia, which causes facial pain, may find it easiest to enjoy softer foods, like yogurt and potatoes. Finally, any foods that cause constipation should be limited, as this symptom tends to be common in Multiple Sclerosis.
Get Plenty of Key Nutrients
Researchers are exploring whether certain nutrients could help individuals with neurological conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, have been linked with less disability progression and fewer relapses in people with Multiple Sclerosis. While omega-3s can be found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, it can be difficult to take in ample amounts through diet alone. Thus, many patients discuss the option of taking an omega-3 supplement with their doctors.
Vitamin D could also be important for people with Multiple Sclerosis. In particular, MS has been observed as being more common in areas with less sunlight, so researchers believe vitamin D could have protective qualities to help prevent MS. While research is still ongoing to determine whether supplementing vitamin D in patients who already have Multiple Sclerosis could be beneficial, addressing a deficiency could still support your overall health. It’s, therefore, a good idea to have your vitamin D levels checked if you haven’t done so recently.