Foods That Fight Fatigue And MS Symptoms

By : | 19 Comments | On : July 25, 2013 | Category : Healing Foods, MS Diet Tips

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Fighting Fatigue & MS Symptoms with Food

We have all experienced tiredness. After a long hard day at work or looking after children, we feel spent, weary or finished! All we want to do is veg out on the sofa, eat some home cooked food and watch our favorite TV program. If we are disciplined, we will have an early night, wake up refreshed and go into the next day feeling revived and full of energy again. But what about fatigue? Is this just another synonym for tired? As many of us know, the answer to this question is a resounding NO! Most people with MS know all about the crippling and persistent fatigue that comes with the illness. It is a very different  feeling to normal tiredness and simply turns every day life into a struggle for survival.  Let’s explore this sinister symptom and have a look at foods to combat it.

Fatigue

Chronic fatigue is the most common of all the MS symptoms but the hardest to treat and the most misunderstood. It has been defined as a debilitating state of physical and mental exhaustion that comes crashing down suddenly and can, without warning, attack eyesight, balance, muscular strength, and threaten everything in one’s immediate focus. Fatigue affects people in different ways, and it may change from week to week, day to day, or hour to hour.

Alison Potts (who wrote an article for the BBC) describes her fatigue as the ‘feeling of a blanket’ on her head with which she stumbled around for years. She goes on to say that, before she was diagnosed, she didn’t understand why she found the simplest activities so hard. Someone else described their fatigue like this,“I am lifeless. At times it is like someone has switched me off,”. Does this sound familiar to you? I have often felt this way. People around you often just can’t understand why you can’t just ‘get on with it’. You are labelled as lazy and always tired’. It is a highly frustrating situation!

If you are experiencing MS related fatigue, you may be dealing with some of the following difficulties:

  • An overwhelming sense of tiredness with no obvious cause.
  • Feeling extremely tired after very little activity.
  • Waking up feeling as tired as you did when you went to sleep.
  • Heavy limbs
  • Difficulty grasping things or writing
  • Inability to concentrate for any period of time.
  • Wanting to sleep all the time.

Day to Day Life Is A Challenge

Every facet of one’s life of can be affected by fatigue: going to work, cooking a meal, playing with your children, going out with friends and just staying up to date with the day to day things that need to get done. Balancing these activities can become a daily issue when you’ve got limited reserves of energy. I know how frustrating it feels to have so much to do but no energy to do it. You feel overwhelmed and quite hopeless. It is also extremely stressful if you feel that you are letting people down or not getting important things done.

There Is Hope

The good news is that fatigue is usually the first of the MS symptoms to improve when you change your diet. This was certainly the case for me. Just before I started the diet, I felt like I wasn’t coping very well with normal life. I was at home with my fourteen month old daughter and looked after another child two days a week. The kids kept me on my toes but it shouldn’t have drained me to that extent. I found it hard to motivate myself to keep the house clean and the meals cooked. Every time Rachel slept, I slept too. I also had terrible brain fog that hung over my mind and interfered with my ability to think clearly.

I could have been recovering from the shock of being a parent but I had been getting a full night’s sleep for quite a few months and Rachel was an easy baby so I didn’t really have any excuse to be tired all the time. I remember discussing the matter with my husband and we decided that it was time for more drastic action. This is when I contacted my ‘natural nutritionist’ and my MS Diet journey began.

Within a week of being on the diet, I was feeling more like my normal self again. My energy returned and I was just finding life a bit easier to cope with. Within two weeks, I felt better than I had felt in years. I was excited and enthusiastic about living again. Loving life with my toddler, I was actually feeling motivated to do everything I needed to do. The fatigue vanished just like that! It was quite astonishing. After about 2 months of being on the MS diet, I had a very stressful week of moving house. I ate badly and the fatigue started returning. I quickly got back on track and within a few days was feeling good again. This proved to me, that what I ate had a huge impact on my symptoms of fatigue.

Fatigue Fighting Foods

Fatigue starts at a cellular level. Cells that are not receiving the nutrients they need can’t work efficiently and are sluggish in their essential jobs. An even worse situation is when they have to deal with the toxins and bad fats from foods we shouldn’t be eating. You all know what those foods are! Refined sugars, dairy, margarine, red meat, preservatives and artificial sweeteners are a few of the usual suspects. If our cells are feeling fatigued, our whole being will feel fatigued.

Foods that contain high levels of nutrients feed your cells and help them to carry out their functions at maximum efficiency. Antioxidants are particularly important as they neutralise free radicals that cause cell damage. All fruit and veg is amazing for keeping fatigue at bay but there are a few super foods that I would like to mention.

Green Barley

This is one of those whole foods that provides a full range of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, enzymes, chlorophyll, protein(amino acids) and antioxidants. The big advantage with this supplement is that it is quickly absorbed and utilised at cell level. I simply cannot do without my tall glass of green barley juice in the morning. It makes me feel ready for anything. For more information, see the Green Barley Supplements page.

Spinach

Delicious in salads and cooked meals, this dark green leafy vegetable is packed full of the right stuff! Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth, which makes it a perfect food for people seeking to restore their vitality and get rid of their chronic fatigue symptoms. Spinach is an excellent source of 13 vitamins and minerals, and is full of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that reduce cellular stress, giving your adrenal glands (which control stress response) a well-needed rest and leaving you with extra energy. It also has a good amount of protein in it! I try to have a large handful of organic spinach every day.

Kale

ms diet kale 2 Foods That Fight Fatigue And MS Symptoms

Kale is overflowing with vitamins A, C, and K and contains a good amount of vitamin E and magnesium, all of which are key nutrients to keep your energy levels up and your MS symptoms down. It also contains omega 3s, which are essential elements of the MS diet. Kale is rich in chlorophyll which helps remove toxins and calm the immune system. Kale also contains a host of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonols, such as quercetin, which help prevent immune attacks on your nervous system. Steam it, juice it or dehydrate it. This versatile vegetable is great in any dish.

Sweet Potato

This has to be one of my all time favourite vegetables. It is very tasty and goes well in salads, bakes and just on its own. It has a low glycemic index so it keeps you feeling fuller for longer and releases energy slowly. It is full of beta carotene which is an important antioxidant in the effective functioning of our bodies. Definitely a must for keeping the fatigue locked away.

Fruit

ms diet sweet green 2 Foods That Fight Fatigue And MS Symptoms

 

Fruit has been referred to by many as the most perfect food. Raw fruit gives the body exactly what it needs to function at its best. Contrary to many opinions, fruit has a stabilising effect on blood sugar levels. This should reduce or even eradicate cravings for refined sugar. Sweets and other refined sugars will give you an energy boost for about an hour but then insulin kicks in and your sugar levels drop lower than before, making you feel more tired. Eating a beautiful piece of fruit won’t do that to you. It will give you the boost you need and keep you there. This summer I have been loving grapes, strawberries and nectarines!

Nuts

ms diet raw crunchy nuts clip Foods That Fight Fatigue And MS Symptoms

Nuts and seeds are rich sources of protein and essential fats. They also contain those beautiful vitamin Bs and other essential minerals like vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron. Almonds, pecans and cashews are my favourites. I soak them in a little salt water overnight, then dehydrate them. They are brilliant snacks and keep me going in between meals.

Flaxseeds & Salmon

ms diet salmon steaks Foods That Fight Fatigue And MS Symptoms

Belgian researchers found that patients with chronic fatigue had low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and those with the most severe fatigue symptoms had the greatest deficiencies. These two foods are some of the richest sources of omega 3s and will definitely help your body fight fatigue. Salmon is a true superfood and is absolutely delicious. You can read more about salmon in the healing foods post. A recent study by Dr. George Jelinek has revealed that taking flaxseed oil every day reduces relapses by two thirds. A significant finding!

Summing it all up

There are so many other foods that will help to combat fatigue. For a full list, visit the MS Diet page. It is so easy to incorporate them into all your meals and they will have you feeling energetic within days and really improve your MS symptoms. This goes without saying but I need to remind you that you that getting rid of the nasties is part and parcel of the energy restoring process. You can also find a comprehensive list of these foods on the MS Diet page. Remember to drink water very regularly throughout the day as this amazing liquid also helps your cells work more efficiently. They need it to perform every function they have. If I start to feel a bit tired and lethargic, the first thing I do is down a large glass of water. It gives me an instant energy boost. Which foods give you energy? You are welcome to leave a comment below and let us know.

If you need help and support to take the next step with your lifestyle, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

Love and nutrients,

kimsignature Foods That Fight Fatigue And MS Symptoms

PS: If you need help with MS diet meal plans, recipes, fasting guides, or even one-on-one coaching, please visit the Resources page. Our new MS Diet For Women Community is also growing quickly, we’d love you to join us and get the support you need!
PS: If you need help with MS diet meal plans, recipes, fasting guides, or even one-on-one coaching, please visit the Resources page. Our new MS Diet For Women Community is also growing quickly, we'd love you to join us and get the support you need!

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Kim avatar 64x64 Foods That Fight Fatigue And MS Symptoms
Kim was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in October 2010. She is in her thirties, married and has two beautiful children. Kim is passionate about helping others with MS by sharing what she learns about the disease with her fellow MS sufferers. She loves to discover new recipes that are both tasty and help to treat her condition. She is currently living a normal life - her mission is to help others do the same. Read more about Kim...
Kim avatar 64x64 Foods That Fight Fatigue And MS Symptoms
Kim avatar 64x64 Foods That Fight Fatigue And MS Symptoms
Kim avatar 64x64 Foods That Fight Fatigue And MS Symptoms
Over the years I have developed many tools I use to help me keep living well, slow my MS progression and reduce my MS symptoms. I am confident in them, because they work for me… in fact, if I didn’t have MS, I would still live this way. You can get MS diet meal plans, recipes, fasting guides, or even one-on-one coaching on the Resources page.

Related posts you may also enjoy:

How To Manage Your Stress, To Manage Your MS
Where Is MS Diet For Women Headed?
My MS Diet Lifestyle

Has this post helped you in some way? Please leave a comment below, I'd love to hear your thoughts, and so would others! Or why not leave a comment below to introduce yourself, I love to meet new people with MS!

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  1. posted by Carol Dry on July 27, 2013

    This has made interesting reading for me.

    • posted by Kim on August 1, 2013

      Hi Carol

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the article. Hope you are dong well and are motivated with your MS Diet.

  2. posted by gogo on August 3, 2013

    Yes, sweet potatoes are good in supplying energy to my body. Thanks Kim.

    • posted by Kim on August 8, 2013

      Thanks for the mention!

    • posted by Kim on August 8, 2013

      That’s great! I love sweet potatoes. Fabulous veggies.

  3. posted by janita on August 6, 2013

    i was so happy to see this article on here. i am working through the first weeks of diagnosis and beginning this diet journey and can definitely see its positive effects. i wonder how you and your readers handle fatigue in relation to your workouts. i miss the gym SO much but dont know where that line is between pushing myself and doing too much. i was feeling pretty good last week so i got in 2 workouts on the elliptical a day apart (first ones in 2 months), half my normal time at lower intensity. after the second one, i was a zombie the whole next day! how do you know when it’s not worth it?! so frustrating!!!

    • posted by Kim on August 8, 2013

      Hi Janita! Yes, you really need to listen to your body and then pace yourself accordingly. Perhaps when you have been on the diet for a while, you will have enough energy to build up your work out time again but for now don’t push yourself. You could be doing more harm than good. Exercise is so important though so keep going to the gym but work at a lower intensity. You will find your balance!

  4. posted by Shannon on August 13, 2013

    Thanks for the reminder, starting slow, dont push too hard too fast, my body needs to adjust to exercise. Im trying to follow ms diet daily. Thank you, Kim for sharing with us all.

    • posted by Kim on August 15, 2013

      Hi Shannon
      Well done, you are on the right track!It’s good to ease yourself into a change sometimes. It is my absolute pleasure to help where I can.

  5. posted by Maria on September 9, 2013

    My 17 year old daughter just got diagnosed with MS. I am trying to figure out what food, vitamins to start her on. Thank you for your information I am going to start changing her diet.

    • posted by Kim on September 12, 2013

      Hi Maria, thanks for getting in touch! Your daughter is so young. She must be finding the adjustment difficult. All the info is on the site but the most important vitamins are Vit D, B12 and flaxseed oil. She must try and give up dairy, red meat, sugar and gluten. Lots of wonderful food she can at though!

  6. posted by kristin on November 15, 2013

    Hi,

    I was just diagnosed last week. I am trying to find out what i can do to improve my energy levels and then i found your sight. I am going to try and stick to the diet because i have a soon to be 6 year old to raise. Hard part will be giving up mklk for me…wish me luck!!!

    • posted by Kim on December 5, 2013

      Hi Kristin! How are the changes going? Do you have more energy? The change is difficult but you will soon start to love it when you start feeling amazing. All of the very best to you! Let me know if you have any more questions. Kim

  7. posted by Stephen Leach on November 25, 2013

    Thank you for all this information it has been very helpful to us

    • posted by Kim on December 5, 2013

      Such a pleasure Stephen! I trust that your wife is on the road to recovery and is enjoying the diet!

  8. posted by Theresa on May 7, 2014

    Hi Kim my daughter has been on a diet of gluten free, dairy free ,grain free ,B12 shots we did stem cell an it seems like her walking is getting worse..she does have brown rice because we just have run out of things to eat f her..any in put..please help,me so confused

    • posted by Kim on May 7, 2014

      Hi Theresa. Oh dear, that doesn’t sound good. It must be very demotivating for you and her. Brown rice is fine, this shouldn’t be causing any issues. She can also eat quinoa and other rice. Is she including loads of greens and fresh, raw foods in her diet. These are essential as well as drinking loads. What supplements has she been taking? Vit D, flaxseed oil and BarleyLife are amazing and absolutely essential.

  9. posted by Noor alfajr on October 9, 2014

    Hi Kim, amazing article and wonderful pattern of life. Your site appears very positive and encouraging as so many of ms stories look too depressing. It appears that this mysterious disease has many aspect related to our environment and habits of life, sun exposure and so on. I am in the status of ( we are not sure is it ms or not!!). I -as a doctor -decided what ever the outcome of my diagnosis. I will never be on ms medications. I will shift to more healthy food, reduce stress, sleep more and give chance to my body to heal. I struggled a lot with fatigue, numb soles and heavy knees!!! I feel better on healthy fasting and feel worse on bad eating ( that simple) the numbness gets better but never disappear. The fatigue gets better but never disappear !!!!! I plan to be more strict to diet and see ( I eat a lot of gluten grains). I should stop this. I trust your experience and resources. I had a look on most of your references before I came to your site. I am sure that your diet works as long as one is strictly following it. Best wishes. Noor

    • posted by Kim on October 12, 2014

      Hi Noor! Lovely to hear from you and thanks for sharing your story with me. Yes, there are so many aspects to consider when recovering from MS. It sounds like you are aware of all of these. Yes, definitely get rid of gluten. You will notice a huge difference! I would recommend starting with a raw food fast for week or so. This is good for detoxing and calming inflammation. It will also get you into the right frame of mind. All the best to you and let me know if you need more help an advice. Kim

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