Being diagnosed with Spinocerebellar Ataxia is distressing for that person and the family. When feeling overwhelmed, it is comforting to know that treating the condition with various interventions, like appropriate diet, can make a positive difference.
Ideas on nutrition for those with Spinocerebellar Ataxia are not conclusive, because insufficient research has been done. Also, there are different types of this illness (SCA2, SCA3 etc), so what may work for one person, may not work for another. Consequently, always consult a doctor about nutrition and supplements, before making any changes. When considering nutrition, both macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) are important.
- Complex carbohydrates like legumes, starchy vegetables, rice, pasta and unsweetened fruits. These foods do not enter the bloodstream as quickly as simple carbohydrates, and help people to feel fuller and have more energy.
- Lean fresh meat, poultry and fish, provide protein without too much fat.
- Fresh vegetables and fruits provide dietary fibre which makes bowel movements easier.
- Water. Drink at least 6 glasses of water each day.
For some people, following a gluten-free diet may optimise health. A test to determine gluten intolerance can be done.
What should be avoided?
- Simple carbohydrates. These are refined flour and sugar products and those high in fructose. Examples are white breads, muffins, pies, cakes, biscuits, jams, jelly, unsweetened and sweetened fruit juices, brown sugar and corn syrup.
- Processed or cured meats and fish, like sausages, which have nitrates and nitrites.
- Foods with preservatives.
In addition certain foods may increase dizziness and lack of balance. Since difficulty with coordination when walking are a symptom of the disease, treating the following with caution, or avoiding them altogether, may be beneficial:
- Aspartame (sweetener).
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG).
- Sulphites like dried fruits preserved with sulphites.
- Tyramine like some cheeses, nuts and soy.
- Dark and milk chocolate.
- Citrus fruits.
- Raw onions.
A good, daily multivitamin may help in reducing fatigue and promote overall good health and a happier outlook on life. While Spinocerebellar Ataxia is generally progressive, different types cause different degrees of disability, so treating with certain supplements may help one type but not another. Therefore, work with a doctor to ensure the best outcome, and stop taking anything that results in unwelcome side effects. Also, be assured that research continues, for example with levodopa, creatine, lecithin, choline etc and, in the future, there may be other efficacious supplements.
Meantime, consider including the following:
- Vitamin B12.
- Vitamin C.
- Vitamin D-3 aids the absorption of Calcium.
- Vitamin E.
- Vitamin K assists with maintaining healthy bones.
- Omega 3, 6, 9.
- Coenzyme Q-10 is best taken with fats at a meal.
- Magnesium may relieve muscle cramps.
- Glucosamine sulphate (not HCI) may reduce joint pain.
- French Green Clay, Aloe Vera Juice and Spirulina may effective in eliminating toxins from the body.
Those with Spinocerebellar Ataxia may feel out of control in many aspects of life, so it is encouraging that general good health practices are within reach. Together with the doctor, an interesting exercise regime, a tasty diet and an advantageous supplement routine can be established.