Paying close attention to what you eat is important if you live with multiple sclerosis (MS). Although there is no special “MS diet,” the foods you eat can make a big difference in your overall health. Your diet may also affect your energy level and your bowel and bladder function.1
To learn more about how people with MS are working to improve their diet, we reached out to our Facebook community. We asked members, “Have you altered your diet? What has your experience been like?”
Keep in mind, of course, that everyone is different. There is no guarantee if you follow a particular diet, you will feel a certain way. These are just the experiences of 40 of our Facebook followers. Be sure to consult your doctor before making any major nutrition changes!
Sugar is out and fiber is in
A low-fat, high-fiber diet is important when you have MS. You should try to limit the amount of sugar and processed food you eat. And getting enough fluids is also important.1,2
“I hardly eat fried foods anymore. I bake or air fry now and I limit pasta dishes and rice. I cut out sugary soda pops. Lost weight and feel lighter. I try to take probiotics also. Helps with digestion. I eat lots of homemade soups and salad. My body likes that.”
“Clean eating. No artificial or inflammatory foods/ingredients. No gluten/dairy. So far, so good.”
Staying at the right weight makes sense
People who live with MS should try to maintain a healthy weight, recommends the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Obesity may increase the risk of other health conditions that can worsen a person’s MS.2
“I lost 10 pounds by eating less meat and more vegetables.”
“I know there’s a lot of negativity towards Keto but that’s what worked for me. I lost over 60 pounds in the course of 2 years (walking daily as well) and I had very low inflammation. I got off of it for about 2 years and am starting again because I felt so much better on it. I also did organic and grass-fed meats and eggs.”
Pass up the meat and try a nut butter
People with MS should focus on lean sources of protein and healthy fats. Experts recommend limiting intake of animal-based fats. This means cutting back on butter, whole milk, and meat, but it does not mean a ban on delicious foods.3
Try out some different kinds of fish. And include some nut-based fat sources like olive oil, avocado oil, and peanut or almond butter in your meal plan. They are a rich source of healthful omega-3s.3
“No salt, dairy, beef, processed food or processed sugars.”
“I have eliminated dairy and 90 percent gluten. Those made the biggest difference in how I felt overall. I have generally stayed away from processed foods. A family member ranches, so we get amazing meat through them, but we don’t eat a lot of meat anymore.”
Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables
Experts recommend that people with MS increase their intake of fruits and vegetables.2,3
“I am limiting processed foods and processed carbs and my focus is on 3 to 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day, and 2 should preferably be dark leafy vegetables. I eat blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, pistachios, and broccoli daily.”
“Vibrant fruits and veggies – as much color as I can get on my plate!”
“I eat a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables and more food that has no preservatives, is not fried, and is low in sodium and sugar. While I’m not 100 percent with this, I DEFINITELY feel a difference with the way I eat.”
Thank you to everyone who shared information about their experiences with multiple sclerosis and making changes in the diet. We appreciate your honesty and willingness to share.
1. Diet and Nutrition. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Available at https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Living-Well-With-MS/Diet-Exercise-Healthy-Behaviors/Diet-Nutrition?Accessed 8/2/2021.
2.Wellness for People with MS: What do we know about diet, exercise and mood and what do we still need to learn? National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Available at https://nmsscdn.azureedge.net/NationalMSSociety/media/MSNationalFiles/Brochures/WellnessMSSocietyforPeoplewMS.pdf. Accessed 8/2/2021.
3. Is there a multiple sclerosis diet? The Mayo Clinic. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/multiple-sclerosis/expert-answers/multiple-sclerosis-diet/faq-20057953. Accessed 8/2/2021.