Multiple Sclerosis – What to Eat & What to Avoid

We all know that managing multiple sclerosis is not an easy task. Everything from medications, performing exercises, and maintaining positive mental health becomes essential. However, while balancing physical activities, we often overlook the most important thing—our diet. 

Diet has a vital role in treating multiple sclerosis, which is why you must know what you should eat and what needs to be avoided. To understand the importance of diet in multiple sclerosis, you should first understand what happens in your body if you have multiple sclerosis.

What happens in Multiple Sclerosis?

Our body’s immune system is designed to fight the harmful organisms that attack our bodies, such as viruses, bacteria, etc. However, in Multiple Sclerosis, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own body, especially the widely distributed nerves in your body.

This attack by your body’s immune system damages the covering of the nerves, i.e., Myelin, and the function of these nerves is disrupted.

These nerves are responsible for many functions such as movement, vision, balance, etc., and when the nerve gets damaged, its function is affected. As the name (Multiple Sclerosis) indicates, this damage occurs at multiple sites in your body; hence different symptoms are seen, such as muscle weakness, loss of balance, visual problems, etc.


The connection between Diet and Multiple Sclerosis

As mentioned above, multiple sclerosis occurs when your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the outer covering of your nerves, i.eMyelin, a diet that affects your immune system, also affects the progression of this disease.

  • Some diets support and protect your nerves (or nervous system), and they can help minimize the relapsing episodes.
  • Some vitamin deficiencies can weaken your nervous system, and they can indirectly worsen your symptoms.
  • A healthy diet improves the overall well-being, and hence the ability to fight several diseases together with multiple sclerosis is increased.
  • Some bacteria are naturally present in your gut, and they play a beneficial role in your body in several ways. Both healthy and unhealthy diets have effects on these bacteria.

As diet is closely linked with multiple sclerosis episodes and symptoms, one must be very careful in choosing his/her diet if one has multiple sclerosis.

Foods you should eat.

Now, when you understand the importance of diet in multiple sclerosis, let’s have a look at the foods you should eat.

white and green labeled cans

Probiotics and Prebiotics

As mentioned earlier, there are some beneficial bacteria present in your gut. These bacteria are responsible for breaking up food and nutrients, and they also help in the digestion process.

Probiotics are foods that contain these beneficial bacteria. Eating these foods increases the number of these beneficial bacteria in your body. These foods include

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Fermented tea

A diet that promotes the growth of such beneficial bacteria in your gut is known as the probiotic diet. This type of diet mainly contains fiber. These foods include:

  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes

Fiber

The fiber in your diet helps nourish your gut bacteria, manages your blood cholesterol levels, and reduces the risks of obesity. Recommended foods for fiber are as follows.

  • Vegetables
  • Legumes (e.g. Lentils)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Brown Rice
  • Whole grains

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for improving bone health in multiple sclerosis patients. Vitamin D can be achieved by appropriate exposure to sunlight, but certain foods can also help gain it.

  • Fortified Dairy Products
  • Yogurt
  • Orange Juice
  • Egg Yolks

Vitamin B

Vitamin B or biotin has a vital role in minimizing the episodes of relapsing multiple sclerosis, and one can gain it by following foods.

  • Eggs
  • Yeast
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Spinach
  • Whole-wheat bread

Others

Other important components of a beneficial diet for multiple sclerosis patients include fruits, vegetables, herbs, polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, etc.

Foods you should avoid

Just like some foods protect and support your nervous system, some foods have a terrible effect on your already compromised nervous system in multiple sclerosis patients.

Besides this, some foods are not suitable for your muscles and bone health, and as they are already weakened in multiple sclerosis, you should avoid these foods.

Let’s have a look at the foods you need to avoid if you have multiple sclerosis.

Saturated Fats

Unlike polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s), foods containing saturated fats are not suitable for health, especially for those already fighting neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Foods with a high amount of saturated fats are as follows.

  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Palm and coconut oil
  • Red meat, etc.

Sodium

A high amount of sodium in the body can result in elevated blood pressure (hypertension), and hypertension can increase heart disease and stroke risks.

A study done in 2015 showed that people with multiple sclerosis who have high sodium levels in their bodies are more prone to experience relapsing symptoms of this disease. [1]

Foods containing high levels of sodium are as follows.

  • Salted or canned meat
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Sausages
  • Canned entrees
  • Beets

Sugary Foods     

Just like a high amount of salt is not suitable for your body, foods containing a high amount of sugar also negatively affect your well-being.

A high amount of sugar or glucose in your body can affect the nerves in your body (neuropathy) and decrease their function. As nerves are already damaged in multiple sclerosis, a high amount of sugar in the body can be damaging to your health.

Foods containing a high amount of sugar are as follows.

  • Ketchup
  • Yogurt
  • Chocolate
  • Cola
  • Fruit Juice
  • BBQ sauce

Fried Foods

Foods fried in a high amount of oil can also be damaging to the health of multiple sclerosis patients. In addition, when a person has a neurological disease and their body is busy fighting that condition, chances of getting affected by other diseases are also increased.

Oily and fried foods increase the amount of bad cholesterol in the body. This increased cholesterol can result in several heart diseases. It can also result in stroke if the blood supply of your brain is interrupted or blocked.

Most commonly used fried foods include fish, fries, chicken strips, and cheese sticks, but a person can deep fry any food.

Final Words

If you have multiple sclerosis, you should eat foods beneficial for your nervous and musculoskeletal (muscles and bones) system and avoid foods that can increase the risks of other diseases.

REFERENCES

1. Riccio, P. and R. Rossano, Nutrition facts in multiple sclerosis. ASN neuro, 2015. 7(1): p. 1759091414568185.

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A Senior’s Guide to Thriving When Transitioning to Assisted Living

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This is the kind of content you can expect from the NewGait. Visit our blog for more.

Making the transition from your home to an assisted living facility can be difficult. However, this move can benefit you in many ways. Leisure Care explains that this shift can help seniors avoid a decline in health and combat feelings of loneliness, for instance. There are steps you can take to ensure you thrive in your new environment. It’s important to commit to your health and happiness to ensure you can enjoy your later years.

Read on to discover what steps you can take to ensure a seamless transition from your old home to your new assisted living community.

Prepare for the move well in advance

Don’t rush the move to assisted living. Research facilities thoroughly before choosing one. Consider practical elements like location, as well as extras that will help maintain your health. For example, some assisted living communities offer exercise courses. Before you move, you also need to decide what to do with your old home. Find out how much you can get for selling your house using an online calculator like this one from Redfin.

Decorate your new space to make it feel like home

You want to feel emotionally at ease in your new space. When you’re preparing for the move, pack a box of some essential comfort items like a favorite throw blanket and family photos. When you arrive in your new space, you can unpack this box immediately to settle in. Aging Care offers more tips for making an assisted living space feel like home, like decluttering beforehand to make for an easier move.

Enjoy healthy meals with other residents and caregivers

Many communities offer meals for residents, giving you an opportunity to get to know your new neighbors. Sticking to regular mealtimes is especially important for seniors, who tend to have slower metabolisms — meaning, they must get more nutrients while eating smaller portions. The National Council on Aging provides nutrition tips that can help guide your meal choices, emphasizing the need for lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.

Take advantage of exercise opportunities to maintain mobility and independence

In addition to meals, many assisted living communities also offer opportunities for exercise. Take advantage of these courses. According to BioMed Research International, regular physical activity is essential for healthy aging. If you have mobility issues, the NewGait can help you get back on your feet. This physical therapy device helps promote better walking, building strength, balance, and coordination.

Socialize with other residents to stay mentally sharp

When you go to meals or take part in exercise courses at your assisted living community, make a point to socialize with others. Actively engaging with people helps to maintain mental acuity with age. Further, feelings of isolation or loneliness can cause health issues like depression, anxiety, and hypertension. A lack of socialization is also linked to a greater risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, according to Senior Lifestyle.

Invite visitors to help you mingle

If you’re shy, you may have trouble taking steps to integrate with your assisted living community. Even striking up a conversation in an exercise class or over a meal can be tough. Call on friends or family to help. A visitor can be a great way to spark up a conversation — all you have to do is introduce them to others. They can then help facilitate the discussion. Check your community’s guidelines in case there are visitation restrictions.

Take advantage of opportunities to try something new

In addition to regular exercise courses and meals, your assisted living community may host special events, holiday get-togethers, and educational courses. When you have an opportunity to try something new, take it! Harvard Health Publishing explains that novel experiences challenge your brain and maintain mental acuity. Plus, you never know if you’ll discover a new hobby that you can enjoy in the future.

Give yourself time to adjust emotionally 

Even if you follow all of the above steps, you may find yourself experiencing emotional ups and downs as you settle into your new assisted living community. Don’t be afraid to reach out for emotional support. The National Institute of Mental Health provides a comprehensive guide to senior mental health, including how to recognize warning signs of issues like anxiety and depression. A mental health professional can provide guidance if needed.

Making the change and moving from your old home to a new assisted living community isn’t always easy. However, it will benefit your emotional and physical health in the long run. The above guide explains how to ensure a seamless transition.

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Impact Of Mental Health On Chronic Pain Recovery.

Ever wondered how much power your mind has?

Let me tell you this, Your mind has the power to completely change your life, it can actually bring you back to life from a death-like situation. 

Don’t believe us? 

Here’s a story of one of our patients who suffered through a major injury:

In October 2019, a helicopter crashed in Eastern Oregon, killing a man and injuring his daughter (Jordan Valentine). Now, after fracturing her spine and losing control of the muscles in her legs because of nerve damage. Now because of her strong will and mindset and with the help of NewGait she can walk again.

You can have a strong mindset and willpower as Jordan only if you have a healthy mind. 

We talk about mental health on a daily basis but do you really know what mental health actually means? Does having a strong mindset and solid willpower refer to having good mental health?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease.

In simple words mental health is nothing but how we think, perceive things. It indicates how we handle stress whenever we face difficult situations and how we make choices. Mental health is vital at every stage of life, no matter if you are suffering from any disease or not.

Why is Good Mental Health Important in Healing Physically?

This is the most crucial question, and you need to be sure about the answer to this question. If you want to recover fully from an illness, you need to maintain a harmonious balance between your mind, body, and spirit. It is because every aspect of physical being is inter-connected, and all parts need to be healthy.

You must have heard about the harmful effects of addiction to certain drugs on a person’s body. These drugs have a detrimental impact on your brain, and when your brain is not in a good condition, your whole body suffers. 

 The same is true when we talk about depression, anxiety, or stress. These conditions also have a terrible influence on your mental health, and that’s why they interrupt your body’s healing capacity. Not only is your physical healing affected; it also affects your thinking and behaviors.

Benefits of Good Mental Health

Having good mental health not only improves your body’s healing capacity but also has several other benefits as well.

If you have optimum mental health, it allows you to:

  • Realize your body’s potential and do wonders.
  • Cope with the stresses of your life
  • Work productively and efficiently.
  • Make a powerful contribution to your society.
  • Boost your self-confidence and self-esteem

Tips For Maintaining A Good Mental Health

All of us suffer from mental health issues, and the chances of these problems are increased when one is suffering from a particular disease or diseases. That’s why we need to be well aware of some important tips that can prove beneficial.

Here are a few essential tips for you.

  • Don’t ignore your social life. Get connected with others and maintain a social circle of people you enjoy talking to.
  • Stay positive when you are having a bad time. It isn’t easy, but you need to train your mind.
  • Get physically active and incorporate exercises into your daily routine based on your health condition.
  • Maintain a good hydration status as lack of water can cause several problems affecting your mental health.
  • Get regular and enough sleep. It keeps your brain healthy.

If it is getting hard for you to manage your stress and anxiety, you should ask for professional help as this is very much important.

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Importance of Healthy Diet

What is a Healthy Diet?

Everyone around us advises us to eat healthy food. But do you know what exactly a Healthy or Balanced Diet is?

In case you don’t know, a healthy or balanced diet is a diet that contains all the essential nutrients to keep your body functioning correctly. It doesn’t mean that if you are eating more, your diet is a healthy one. You might be eating something that does not contain enough nutrients that are essential for your body.

How does diet affect our body?

Like a car needs fuel to run, our body needs substances or nutrients to keep itself healthy. Our body absorbs whatever we eat. Then it uses the nutrients present in the diet for gaining energy and other purposes.

If you are taking a healthy diet, that’s good. But if you are taking an unhealthy diet, there’s a problem. For example, your muscles get affected when you don’t consume enough proteins. If you are taking a diet that contains excessive fat/cholesterol, this extra fat can cause severe diseases like Myocardial Infarction (heart attack), Stroke, etc.

So you need to consider two things. First, you should take a diet that contains all the necessary nutrients. Secondly, you should take a diet that has everything balanced.

Benefits of Healthy Diet

Now when you know what a healthy diet is, you must also understand why a healthy diet is vital for your body. Here are some most common benefits of a healthy diet that you should be aware of:

  • A healthy diet keeps you energetic, i.e., full of energy
  • It improves your mood.
  • It boosts your immune system, which means that you are less prone to developing diseases.
  • It reduces the risk of heart and gut diseases.
  • It reduces the risk of diabetes. If you have diabetes, a healthy diet helps to keep your blood glucose under control.
  • It helps in keeping reasonable control of your body fat.
  • It improves your memory

These are a handful of benefits, and the list is very much longer.

Which diet should I follow?

Every one of us is different, and we all have different body compositions. Some are tall; some are short. Some have muscle bulk, while some are slim and smart. Gender differences also play a role in body composition.

Due to these differences, everyone needs a diet that matches his/her body’s needs. Based on these facts, giving a diet plan that suits everyone is impossible, but we can tell you some essential components of a healthy diet.

There are seven essential components of a healthy diet. These are proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fats, fiber, and water. While considering a diet, you should be cautious of these components.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains (millet, oats, wheat, brown rice), nuts, etc.

One should be cautious about using sugar and fats in his/her diet. These are essential components of a healthy diet. Excess of these components can cause several problems.

We should take care of our body and diet because: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT!

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