ALS is a nervous system disease that impacts the way your muscles function. Because of the disease progression, patients with ALS need to know how to take proper care of themselves throughout every stage.
Many times, a caregiver will come into the home to help patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but, whether you have a caregiver or not, it’s important to understand good nutrition for ALS. Choosing the right food groups can help you to keep your strength up as much as possible.
The most important thing when it comes to maintaining proper nutrition if you have ALS is to make sure your body is getting enough calories each day for it to function. As the progression of ALS continues, this can become more difficult. With that in mind, let’s learn more about this challenge and other ways you can help to soothe the symptoms of this disease.
Difficulty Eating Due to ALS
Many people with ALS start to lose weight as the disease progresses. Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for someone with this disease, as it will allow them to maintain a higher quality of life for a longer time.
The more weight you lose, the weaker your body will continue to become. Typically, weight loss is a result of how difficult it can become to eat “normal” foods. Even eating food you once enjoyed might start to feel impossible.
This is mostly because, as ALS progresses, many people experience swallowing difficulties. Chewing and swallowing can start to feel impossible and, as these actions become more difficult, the person suffering from the disease runs the risk of choking.
ALS patients who live on their own or prepare their own meals may also start to notice that it’s harder to move the muscles required to cook or even to feed themselves. This can make mealtime take longer, so they won’t eat as much. Many people with ALS also experience a lack of appetite, so they simply don’t want to eat as much as they used to.
Because of these difficulties, people with ALS should choose nutrient-dense foods that are the appropriate consistencies. If you feel as though you aren’t getting the nutrients you need, and you can’t easily chew things like fruits and vegetables, you may want to consider nutritional supplements.
What Is the Alternative to Preparing Foods Safe to Swallow?
As ALS continues to progress, chewing and swallowing will become even more difficult. In many cases, alternative options must be considered, such as a feeding tube. A feeding tube may not be the first option for everyone, but it’s an efficient way to provide adequate nutrition while eliminating the risk of aspirating foods into the lungs or windpipe.
What Should You Be Eating?
While there is no “perfect” diet for someone dealing with ALS, there are foods you can ingest that will help to fight off other ailments and which can help you to keep your strength as long as possible. Try to include as much of the following as possible in your diet:
- Foods rich in antioxidants
- Whole grains
- Natural proteins (powdered milk, regular milk, soft cheeses)
- Fruits and vegetables with softer consistencies
In addition to these staples, you should make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. It’s easy for patients with ALS to get dehydrated. You should also find clever ways to increase your caloric intake as much as possible. Include a scoop of protein powder in your morning milk. Add gravy to meats to add calories and make them easier to swallow. Add a tablespoon or two of butter to dishes when you’re cooking.
Minimizing Fatigue When You Have ALS
Eating the right foods will help you to feel more energetic, and your muscles will stay stronger for longer, but it’s also important to get enough rest when you have ALS, so you can fight one of the most common symptoms—fatigue.
You should relax as much as possible and turn your living space into an area that promotes that relaxation. One great way to make sure you’re getting enough rest is with a hospital table for home.
The atHand® Overbed Table System, for example, allows you to remain in bed or in your favorite comfortable chair with everything you need in one convenient location. From USB ports and electrical outlets to storage, a tray, and so much more, it’s designed to let you relax in one spot without having to get up and down for the things you need most.
Dealing with ALS can feel overwhelming for anyone, but maintaining the right nutrition throughout the progression of the disease can help you to stay strong for as long as possible. Keep these nutrition tips in mind and get enough rest, and you can feel better about handling the symptoms that go along with this condition.