woman in blue sweater pauses to consider in supermarket aisle

Why an MS Diet Makes Sense

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex autoimmune disease. It affects the central nervous system, causing a range of symptoms including fatigue, mobility issues, and cognitive impairment.

While there is currently no known cure for MS, research suggests that diet plays a significant role in people’s lived experience with MS.

A large cross-sectional survey done in 2017 found that a high-quality diet was associated with less disability and less disease burden.

From influencing gene expression through epigenetics to supporting mental health, there are compelling reasons to consider diet in your MS management plan.

Epigenetics: Food Can Change How Your Genes are Expressed

According to the Center for Disease Control, epigenetics is the study of how behavior and environment affect the way our genes are expressed.

In some cases, certain foods have the power to ‘switch on’ and ‘switch off’ specific genes. This doesn’t change our DNA. It simply uses our DNA to work for us or against us.

For example, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, seeds, and walnuts have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties. This may help tamp down inflammation in the central nervous system associated with MS.

Similarly, plant-based compounds such as curcumin, found in turmeric, and resveratrol, abundant in grapes and red wine, contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that could benefit people with MS.

There are so many ‘food medicines’ in the natural world. A diet rich in food medicines can dramatically impact our lived experience with multiple sclerosis.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Diet can also influence mental health and emotional wellbeing, factors that are often impacted by the challenges of living with MS. Research suggests that certain nutrients and dietary patterns may play a role in mood regulation, stress management, and cognitive function, all of which can profoundly impact the lived experience of MS.

For instance, studies have linked a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, to a lower risk of depression and improved cognitive function.

On the other hand, processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats have been associated with increased inflammation and oxidative stress, which may exacerbate symptoms of depression and anxiety in people with MS.

Nutrition and Energy Levels

Nutritional deficiencies are common among most people. For those of us with MS, nutritional deficiencies can make fatigue, muscle weakness, and cognitive impairment even worse.

It’s important to get enough vitamin D, magnesium, B vitamins, calcium, protein, and antioxidants such as vitamin C and E.

Foods rich in these nutrients, such as fatty fish, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and colorful fruits and vegetables, can help support immune function, nerve health, and our overall wellbeing.

About half of the foods we tested were as or more potent than the drugs being developed.

Dr William Li (Medical researcher and clinician)

Why Looking at Diet is Smart

Diet is often the first thing we look at when we are diagnosed with MS, and this is smart. Diet can massively impact our quality of life, disease progression (if any), as well as our mood and mental health.

We are what we eat!

We now know that the gut microbiome — that unique ecosystem of bacteria (good and bad), viruses, fungi found in the gut, small, large intestines — produces 70% of our serotonin, half of our dopamine, and is the training ground for our immune system.

Microbes to digest our food impact our brain health, heart health, as well as our digestion. This place that processes our food is swiftly becoming the new frontier in MS and other autoimmune disease research.

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So if you’re wondering if looking at diet is necessary for the best life with MS, I say it’s essential! We are what we eat.

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The Food Medicine Diet for MS is the easiest MS diet to stick to. It’s simple, flexible, and sustainable. And evidence-based. It’s how I got to NEDA. Check out the Food Medicine Diet for MS

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