Knowing Food that should be avoided by those with an neurological disability like Multiple Sclerosis

This comprehensive blog explores various food groups and ingredients individuals with MS may want to consider limiting due to their potential impact on inflammation and overall health. It emphasizes the importance of mindful eating practices and seeking guidance from a healthcare professional for personalized dietary advice.

food fight
food fight

Foods Not to Eat If You Have a Autoimmune Disability

Do you have an autoimmune disability like MS and have noticed what you eat is directly related to some of the problems you are having? Like right after you eat that pizza you can't move like you previously were able to or feel some pain afterward. This is an informative article to shed some light on these issues so you can stay away from these foods.

processed meats
processed meats

Processed Meats and Inflammation: Understanding the Risks

What are Processed Meats?

Processed meats are any meat products that have undergone some form of alteration to preserve flavor, texture, or shelf life. This can include smoking, curing, salting, pickling, or adding preservatives. Examples include:

  • Sausages: Hot dogs, breakfast sausage, chorizo, pepperoni, salami

  • Bacon: Regular, turkey, peppered

  • Ham: Deli ham, smoked ham, honey-glazed ham

  • Hot dogs and lunch meats: Bologna, mortadella, turkey breast

  • Canned meats: Corned beef, corned chicken, spam

Why are Processed Meats Problematic?

Several aspects of processed meats are concerning for individuals with autoimmune diseases like MS:

  • High in Saturated Fat: Processed meats are often high in saturated fat, which can contribute to inflammation throughout the body.

  • Sodium Overload: They often contain high amounts of sodium, which can worsen blood pressure and potentially increase inflammation.

  • Nitrates and Nitrites: These preservatives used in curing can break down into compounds like nitrosamines, potentially linked to increased inflammation and even cancer risk.


Sarah, diagnosed with MS, enjoyed starting her day with a breakfast of bacon and eggs. However, after consistently consuming processed meats for breakfast, she noticed increased fatigue, muscle stiffness, and even occasional flare-ups of her MS symptoms. After consulting a nutritionist, she learned about the potential link between processed meats and inflammation and decided to find healthier breakfast alternatives.

Refined Carbohydrates
Refined Carbohydrates

Refined Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar Spikes

What are Refined Carbohydrates?

Refined carbohydrates are carbohydrates that have been stripped of their bran and germ, leaving behind the starchy endosperm. This process removes most of the fiber, vitamins, and minerals naturally present in whole grains, leading to a faster rise in blood sugar levels after consumption. Examples of refined carbohydrates include:

  • White bread: Wonder bread, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, bagels

  • Pasta: White spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, white rice noodles

  • Pastries: Cakes, cookies, muffins, donuts, croissants, pastries

  • Sugary cereals: Frosted flakes, Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, Cocoa Puffs

  • White rice: Jasmine rice, basmati rice, sushi rice

  • Crackers: Saltine crackers, soda crackers, animal crackers

Why are Refined Carbohydrates Problematic?

Refined carbohydrates can be problematic for individuals with MS due to their impact on blood sugar:

  • Blood Sugar Spikes: They digest quickly, causing rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. This can lead to fatigue, increased hunger, and difficulty concentrating, potentially worsening MS symptoms.

  • Inflammation: Studies suggest chronic blood sugar fluctuations may contribute to low-grade inflammation, potentially impacting overall health.


Michael, living with MS, found comfort in indulging in sugary cereals for breakfast. However, after consistently consuming refined carbohydrates, he noticed a pattern of increased fatigue in the mornings and afternoon crashes. He also experienced difficulty focusing on work tasks due to the energy fluctuations. After learning about the link between refined carbohydrates and blood sugar spikes, he opted for whole-grain alternatives like oatmeal with berries, which provided sustained energy and helped manage his symptoms.

fried food
fried food

Fried Foods and Inflammation: Understanding the Downside

Fried Foods: A Tempting Trap

Fried foods hold a universal appeal, offering a crispy, flavorful experience. However, for individuals with autoimmune diseases like MS, frequent indulgence in these items can come with potential downsides.

What are Fried Foods?

Fried foods are any food items cooked by submerging them in hot oil for complete or partial submersion. This cooking method can be applied to various ingredients, such as:

  • Deep-fried meats: Chicken tenders, fried fish, fried shrimp, fried calamari

  • French fries: Regular fries, crinkle-cut fries, sweet potato fries

  • Onion rings: Regular and breaded varieties

  • Fried vegetables: Tempura vegetables, fried pickles, mozzarella sticks

  • Fast food items: Fried chicken sandwiches, french fries, onion rings, chicken nuggets

Air-Fried Alternatives:

It's important to note that air frying offers a healthier alternative to traditional deep-frying. Air fryers use hot air circulation to cook food, resulting in a crispy texture with significantly less oil compared to deep-frying.

Why are Fried Foods Problematic?

Several factors make fried foods potentially problematic for individuals with MS:

  • High in Unhealthy Fats: Deep-frying increases the content of unhealthy fats like saturated and trans fats, contributing to inflammation in the body.

  • Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs): The high temperatures involved in deep-frying can lead to the formation of AGEs, compounds linked to chronic inflammation and potentially worsening MS symptoms.

  • Increased Calorie Intake: The high fat content in fried foods often translates to higher calorie intake, potentially leading to weight gain and further burdening the body.


Emily, recently diagnosed with MS, enjoyed indulging in weekly fried chicken dinners with her family. However, after a period of consistently consuming fried foods, she noticed increased joint stiffness and fatigue, impacting her mobility and overall well-being. Upon learning about the potential negative effects of fried foods on inflammation, she and her family explored healthier alternatives like baked or grilled chicken with air-fried vegetables, leading to a noticeable improvement in her symptoms and energy levels.

Highly Processed Foods
Highly Processed Foods

Highly Processed Foods: A Maze of Ingredients and Potential Health Concerns

Highly Processed Foods: Beyond the Convenience

While highly processed foods offer convenience and extended shelf life, they often come with a trade-off in terms of nutritional value. For individuals with MS, understanding the potential downsides of these items is crucial for informed dietary choices.

What are Highly Processed Foods?

Highly processed foods (UPFs) are food items that have undergone significant alteration from their original state through various industrial processes. These processes often involve:

  • Adding preservatives, artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners

  • Refining or modifying natural ingredients

  • Combining ingredients from various sources

Examples of Highly Processed Foods:

  • Fast food: Burgers, fries, nuggets, pizzas, processed cheese products

  • Convenience meals: Frozen dinners, microwaveable meals, instant soups

  • Snacks: Packaged chips, cookies, crackers, candy bars

  • Sweetened breakfast cereals: Sugar-coated cereals, granola bars

  • Sugary beverages: Soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks (unless 100% juice)

Similarities and Differences with Processed Meats:

Both highly processed foods and processed meats undergo significant alteration from their natural state. However, there are key differences:

  • Focus: Highly processed foods encompass a broader range of food items beyond just meat products.

  • Ingredients: They often contain various additives, artificial flavors, and sweeteners not typically found in processed meats.

Why are Highly Processed Foods Problematic?

Several aspects of highly processed foods can be concerning for individuals with MS:

  • Low in Nutrients: UPFs are often stripped of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber naturally present in whole foods.

  • High in Added Sugars, Sodium, and Unhealthy Fats: These ingredients can contribute to inflammation, potentially worsening MS symptoms.

  • Lack of Transparency: The complex ingredient lists of UPFs can make it challenging to understand what you're consuming, potentially hindering informed dietary choices.


John, managing his MS diagnosis, relied heavily on frozen dinners and packaged snacks due to his busy work schedule. However, after a period of consuming these highly processed foods regularly, he experienced increased fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and occasional digestive issues. After consulting a nutritionist, he learned about the potential drawbacks of UPFs and opted for healthier alternatives like preparing meals at home with fresh ingredients, leading to an improvement in his overall well-being and energy levels.

Trans Fat Dietary Label
Trans Fat Dietary Label

Trans Fats: The Hidden Culprit in Inflammation

While the presence of trans fats in food products has significantly decreased in recent years due to regulations and public health initiatives, it's still important to be aware of their potential negative impact, especially for individuals with MS.

What are Trans Fats?

Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat created through a process called hydrogenation. This process adds hydrogen atoms to vegetable oil, making it more solid and increasing its shelf life. However, it also creates a different molecular structure compared to natural unsaturated fats, potentially leading to adverse health effects.

Examples of Trans Fats:

  • Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (PHVO): Once widely used in processed foods but now generally avoided by reputable manufacturers.

  • Commercially baked goods: Some commercially produced cookies, cakes, pastries, and pies might still contain trans fats, especially if the label lists "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" or "shortening" among the ingredients.

  • Margarine: While some margarine brands are trans-fat-free, some may still contain small amounts. Carefully check the ingredient list to be sure.

  • Fried fast foods: While regulations have limited their use, some fast-food chains might still use trans fats in minimal amounts for frying.

Why are Trans Fats Problematic?

Several aspects of trans fats are concerning for individuals with MS:

  • Increased Inflammation: Studies suggest trans fats can contribute to low-grade inflammation throughout the body, potentially worsening MS symptoms.

  • Impact on Heart Health: Trans fats are also linked to an increased risk of heart disease, a significant concern for individuals with MS who may already experience increased cardiovascular risk factors.

  • Negative Impact on Cholesterol Levels: Trans fats can raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels while lowering HDL ("good") cholesterol, further impacting cardiovascular health.

Story Example:

Sarah, living with MS, was unaware of the potential dangers of trans fats. She frequently enjoyed commercially baked cookies and occasional fast food meals. However, after experiencing increased fatigue, muscle aches, and difficulty managing her cholesterol levels, she consulted a healthcare professional who educated her about the negative effects of trans fats. By carefully checking ingredient lists and opting for healthier alternatives like homemade baked goods and fresh, whole foods, Sarah noticed a significant improvement in her energy levels, overall well-being, and better management of her cholesterol.

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: Beyond the Sweetness

Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are a common source of liquid calories and added sugars in our diets. While they may offer a temporary burst of flavor and energy, their frequent consumption can pose potential health concerns, particularly for individuals with MS.

What are Sugar-Sweetened Beverages?

SSBs are any drinks with added sugars, including:

  • Soda: Regular and diet varieties

  • Fruit drinks: Unless labeled 100% juice, these often contain added sugars, artificial flavors, and coloring.

  • Sports drinks: While formulated for hydration during exercise, they can be high in added sugars and unnecessary for everyday activities.

  • Energy drinks: Often packed with sugar, caffeine, and other ingredients, these can lead to energy crashes and potential health risks.

  • Coffee and tea: While naturally sugar-free, adding sugars, creamers, or flavored syrups significantly increases their sugar content.

Understanding the Difference:

It's important to distinguish between SSBs and other beverages:

  • 100% juice: While containing natural sugars, they offer vitamins and minerals unlike SSBs. However, consuming large quantities can still impact blood sugar.

  • Water: The healthiest and most hydrating beverage option, crucial for overall health and well-being.

Why are Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Problematic?

Several aspects of SSBs can be concerning for individuals with MS:

  • Blood Sugar Spikes and Crashes: The high sugar content in SSBs leads to rapid blood sugar spikes followed by crashes, potentially contributing to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and increased hunger.

  • Inflammation: Studies suggest chronic high sugar intake may contribute to low-grade inflammation, potentially worsening MS symptoms.

  • Weight Gain: The high calorie content of SSBs can contribute to weight gain, placing additional stress on the body and potentially impacting mobility for individuals with MS.

Story Example:

David, recently diagnosed with MS, found comfort in reaching for sugary drinks throughout the day. However, he noticed a pattern of increased fatigue, difficulty focusing on work, and occasional sugar crashes after consuming SSBs. After learning about the potential downsides of these beverages, he opted for water and unsweetened tea throughout the day, experiencing an improvement in his energy levels, focus, and overall well-being.

Conclusion: Embracing Mindful Eating for Optimal Well-being

Navigating a Healthy Path with MS

This article has explored various food groups and ingredients that individuals with MS may want to limit or avoid due to their potential contribution to inflammation and other health concerns. It's important to remember that individual responses can vary, and consulting a registered dietitian or healthcare professional familiar with MS is crucial to create a personalized dietary plan that addresses your specific needs and preferences. Read more for comprehensive information on foods that are good for someone with autoimmune issues.

Key Takeaways:

  • Processed meats, refined carbohydrates, fried foods, highly processed foods, trans fats, and sugar-sweetened beverages are all potential contributors to inflammation and may worsen MS symptoms for some individuals.

  • Mindful eating practices like focusing on whole, unprocessed foods, reading food labels carefully, and limiting added sugars and unhealthy fats can significantly benefit overall health and well-being.

  • Consulting a healthcare professional or registered dietitian is essential for creating a personalized dietary plan that aligns with your individual needs and preferences while managing your MS.