Dietary Changes to Decrease Your Symptoms
A study by Dr Luxford and his colleagues found that only one in every ten people with Meniere’s disease have been to see a Dietitian. In fact, even though most of the people interviewed had heard about the benefits of dietary modification, 74% of study participants got the answers wrong from a list of appropriate food choices for Meniere’s disease.
What can a Dietitian do for you?
The study by Dr Luxford and his team went on to say that the people who followed the dietitian’s advice for 6 months or more had significantly less vertigo. So, what does a Dietitian do?
Firstly, you will start by having a nutrition assessment. In this appointment your Dietitian will get an overview of your situation. You discuss things like other medical conditions you have, medication that you are currently taking, how much exercise you are doing, what your lifestyle is like, what your symptoms are like, as well as what your diet looks like. This is done so that the Dietitian can tailor all of your advice to suit your individual needs. For example, if you are travelling a lot for work your Dietitian many need to discuss how to achieve your dietary goals whilst you’re away, or if you are overweight, your Dietitian may need to allow you a little more fluid.
The second goal of treatment is to make some changes to decrease your symptoms. For example your Dietitian might encourage your to use a soda stream fountain instead of drinking diet cola, or might encourage you to out honey on your toast instead of vegemite.
Some people also find significant dietary improvements by avoiding particular allergens, so if symptoms persist your Dietitian many try an elimination diet with you to see if you can isolate any food intolerances.
Finally, the third goal of treatment is to provide you with education so that you know how to manage your diet going forward. They will teach you skills like label reading and meal spacing.
What dietary changes help to improve Meniere’s disease?
1. Salt restriction – Salt, or sodium as it is also known, is primarily used to add flavour to foods. However, salt increases thirst and plays an important role in fluid regulation. It also impacts the size of your blood vessels. The inner ear, which plays an important role in governing balance, is particularly important to changes in blood vessel size and blood flow. Consequently, it is recommended that you decrease your sodium intake to less than 1500mg per day.
2. Meal spacing – Do you skip breakfast and lunch, then overeat in the evenings? This could be worsening your symptoms. Your eating pattern will also have an impact on your fluid balance, so it is important to eat small, regular meals throughout the day.
3. Carbohydrate distribution – The volume of carbohydrates that you eat at any one time can also impact your fluid balance. Your Dietitian will teach you to spread your carbohydrate intake evenly throughout the day.
4. Allergy assessment – It is believed that 30% of people with Meniere’s disease also have food sensitivities. Research hasn’t yet been able to conclude whether or not there is a direct link, but decreasing common allergens has been found to significantly improve symptoms for many people who experience Meniere’s.
If your symptoms are still bothering you, I’d encourage you to have an assessment with an Accredited Practising Dietitian. You may even be eligible for Medicare rebates for your consultations. Learn how to improve your diet and take control of your health.