Nutrition and healthy habits

Good nutrition – now more important than ever

If you’ve been diagnosed with a neurological condition, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet. Good nutrition is important for normal body functioning, growth and repair, particularly if you are unwell.

A well-balanced, nourishing diet ensures that you are getting enough carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals to meet your body’s needs.

No specific diets have been proven to have a definite benefit for people diagnosed with neurological conditions.

Diet

However, following a balanced diet comprising of a variety of foods from every food group and limiting the foods that are high in saturated fat, added sugars and added salt is universally beneficial regardless of health status.

NHMRC’s Australia Dietary Guidelines provide recommendations for healthy eating that are realistic, practical and based on the best available scientific evidence. The dietary information promotes health and wellbeing and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating visually represents the recommended portions of the five food groups to be consumed each day.

Are you experiencing eating or digestion issues?

Has your appetite reduced? Are you having problems with fatigue, digestion or swallowing? MSWA’s Dietetics team advises on all aspects of nutrition, digestion, and weight management to help you optimise your nutritional status. They will make recommendations to ensure you receive the right amount of nourishment, safely.

If your condition enters an acute phase, you may require nutritional supplements to boost your nutritional status. Advice from a Dietitian is recommended to ensure it suits your needs.

Is Vitamin D beneficial for neurological conditions?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found naturally in some foods. It can also be made in the body after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Vitamin D controls calcium levels in the blood; important for strong bones, muscles and overall health.

Recent research has shown evidence of a link between Vitamin D deficiency and certain neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis (MS).

If you’ve been diagnosed with a neurological condition, we recommend you discuss your Vitamin D levels with your neurologist and/or GP. You may be recommended to take a supplement.

Physical Activity

Daily physical activity is recommended and can help people with MS control pain, stiffness, balance, weakness, depression, anxiety, insomnia and fatigue. It is also seen as an essential component of health and wellbeing.

Choose an activity that is appropriate, convenient and affordable. A physiotherapist will be able to assist with appropriate activities if you have any limitations around mobility.

MSWA member Yvette Cocivera

Smoking

Smoking is not good for anyone’s long term health but evidence suggests that it can increase the risk of developing some neurological conditions e.g. Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as increase the rate of disease progression.

Smoking is bad for your general health – with increased risk of heart and lung disease, stroke & cancer and vascular disease.

The toxic chemicals constrict blood vessels, reducing the oxygen supply to cells, and cross into the brain tissue, further damaging areas already affected by inflammation, scarring or degeneration. Smoking effects relate to an increased autoimmune response and increased frequency and duration, of infections. Quitting smoking may not be easy but there is help available. Speak to your GP and/or pharmacist about the medications available to help you quit. One of the first steps is to learn why you feel like you need to smoke. Once you understand why you smoke, you can prepare yourself to find the best ways to quit.

Find out more about how to quit smoking

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