Learning about Healthy Eating and Multiple Sclerosis

By Bernhard, Blythe | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 17, 2014 | Go to article overview

Learning about Healthy Eating and Multiple Sclerosis


Bernhard, Blythe, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Though food has not been proven to cause, prevent or treat multiple sclerosis, the right tools for diet and meal preparation can help people cope with certain symptoms. For those who have a hard time exercising, a healthy diet becomes even more important.

"I want to keep my body as healthy as I can because the MS is hard enough on the body," said Lynn McSorley, 62, of St. Louis, who was diagnosed in 2007 and uses a walker.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system, affecting the brain and spinal cord by damaging the protective myelin sheaths around nerve cells. Symptoms are unpredictable and vary from person to person but can include vision impairments, weakness, muscle stiffness and potential paralysis.

The MS Center of St. Louis, a partner of Mercy Hospital St. Louis, recently hosted the "Eat Well, Be Well" educational dinner for people with multiple sclerosis and their families. Chef Donald Grace prepared a meal of Mediterranean salad, roasted vegetables and a fruit and vegetable smoothie. As the guests ate, Grace spoke about healthy eating and answered questions.

A second speaker, Mercy dietitian Rebecca Doss, stressed that there is no evidence that any particular diet is beneficial for people with multiple sclerosis. Some research has linked the disease to diets high in saturated fat, and other studies have indicated that vitamin D can lower the risk. Though more research is needed on the role that food plays in the incidence and progression of the disease, Doss recommends a low-fat, high-fiber diet that is universally healthy.

"Diet plays a big role in how you're feeling, especially in the hot summer months," said Dan Reilly, 51, who has lived with multiple sclerosis for more than 20 years and said he came to the event to learn more about healthy eating. "I can feel it if I had several pieces of pizza versus a grilled chicken sandwich."

Because one of the most common problems for people with multiple sclerosis is fatigue, Doss suggested using canned or frozen fruits and vegetables and bagged salads to cut down on preparation time. Peanut butter added to whole-grain crackers or oatmeal can add a protein energy boost. She also told the crowd to spend their more energetic days making meals that can be frozen and eaten later.

"With MS being an unpredictable disease, take advantage of times you feel best," Doss said. …

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