When you’re ill, good nutrition becomes even more important because it can have a bigger impact on your overall health. At the same time, your illness may pose new challenges. Myasthenia gravis weakness can make it difficult to eat certain foods. MG medications may affect your appetite, your metabolism and your ability to exercise.
What Should You Eat?
According to the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
- Eat a variety of foods.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
- Choose a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits and grain products.
- Use sugars only in moderation.
- Use salt only in moderation.
- If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.
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Special Concerns for MG Patients
Maintaining a healthy weight is extra challenging. If you’re weak and unable to exercise, or if you’re taking a corticosteroid like prednisone, extra pounds can show up. But doing everyday activities with extra weight is a bigger drain on your strength. Trying to keeping your weight in check is worth the effort.
Prevent excessive bone loss (osteoporosis) that happens with age and with prednisone usage. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, adults under age 50 need 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D daily. Adults age 50 and over need 1,200 mg of calcium and 800 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily. An 8-ounce glass of milk contains about 300 mg of calcium. Ask your doctor about taking a calcium/vitamin D supplement.
If your MG medication causes diarrhea or stomach upset, avoid foods that are fatty, spicy or high in fiber. Avoid dairy foods, except for yogurt which can sooth digestive problems. Good choices include mild foods like bananas, white rice, eggs and chicken.
Diarrhea can lower potassium levels. Foods rich in potassium include orange juice, bananas, potatoes, avocados and apricots.
If prednisone use causes fluid retention, you’ll want to avoid salt. Use a salt substitute. Avoid frozen meals, canned soups and vegetables, smoked and cured meats, and salty snacks.
Hear from an Expert
Reviewed by the MGF of Illinois Medical Advisory Board, February 2015.