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As ALS ice bucket challenge sweeps the nation, a closer look at what ALS is and the foods that can help

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
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(NaturalNews) Recently, videos of friends, family and celebrities deliberately pouring a bucket of ice water on their heads have been popping up everywhere. The videos are part of an effort that the ALS Association hopes will help raise both awareness and donations concerning the disease. So far, it's worked; between July 29 and August 12, 2014, the ALS Association and its 38 chapters have received $4 million in donations, up from the $1.12 million during the same time frame in 2013. (1)

"While the monetary donations are absolutely incredible," said Barbara Newhouse, President and CEO of the ALS Association, "the visibility that this disease is getting as a result of the challenge is truly invaluable. People who have never before heard of ALS are now engaged in the fight to find treatments and a cure for ALS." (1)

Newhouse makes a valid point when she speaks of the visibility of the disease. Lots of people are giggling as they see videos of friends and colleagues become drenched in water, but do they stop there or do they go on to research additional information about what ALS even is?

A closer look at ALS

ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects spinal cord and brain nerve cells. Ultimately, motor neurons start to die, leaving the person with this disease without the ability to control muscle movement to the point of possible total paralysis. Commonly referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," people affected experience a wasting away of muscles, making them weak and have extreme difficulty moving and speaking, abilities which the disease slows through time. (2)

Currently, no cure exists for ALS.

Because of the muscle atrophy that people with ALS experience, experts know that keeping weight on and receiving proper nourishment is essential. According to Anne-Marie Wills, an MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) grantee and researcher with the MDA/ALS Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, "People with ALS tend to lose weight at a dramatic rate." (3) She explains that a focus on nutrition and weight is extremely important when it comes to determining survival.

Healthy foods for those with ALS

Because swallowing is difficult, the high-fat and high-calorie foods that individuals with ALS need to eat are typically in liquid form and often include drinks made with whole milk or meals made with oils and butters. (3)

Some research has shown that a moderate intake of zinc supplements contributes to a longer survival rate among those with ALS and that a deficiency of it could accelerate its onset, leading to the suggestion of eating foods such as nuts, chicken, whole grains and beans. (4)

Those with ALS should also eat foods rich in vitamin E, as vitamin E is a nerve-protecting antioxidant. Such foods include avocado, pecans, almonds and nut butters. (4)

Sources for this article include:

(1) http://www.alsa.org

(2) http://www.alsa.org

(3) http://alsn.mda.org

(4) http://www.livestrong.com


About the author:
A science enthusiast with a keen interest in health nutrition, Antonia has been intensely researching various dieting routines for several years now, weighing their highs and their lows, to bring readers the most interesting info and news in the field. While she is very excited about a high raw diet, she likes to keep a fair and balanced approach towards non-raw methods of food preparation as well. >>> Click here to see more by Antonia

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