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What Not To Eat When You Have Muscular Dystrophy?

A muscular dystrophy is a group of genetic disorders, which result in progressive weakness and wasting of muscles.1 These disorders can solely be managed by medication and physical therapy to enhance mobility. Nevertheless, it is crucial to observe good nutrition so as to consume foods which can provide the body with energy and boost the immune system. In the early stages of muscular dystrophy disorders, infants can gain weight or become obese due to administered steroids as well as restricted mobility.

Therefore, it is important that you feed your child on foods which will not trigger further addition of weight. Later on, the patients usually experience symptoms of malnutrition and weight loss which are attributed to by difficulty swallowing. So, it is important that the patient, at this time, eats healthy nutritious and nourishing foods.

What Not To Eat When You Have Muscular Dystrophy?

If you have muscular dystrophy, it is important that you watch what you eat to avoid any further health complications. Here are a few guidelines on what not to eat and drink as well:

  • For starters, you should keep off any foods that have potential allergens such as dairy foods, gluten, soy, food preservatives, artificial coloring, and other additives as well. In addition to that, you should generally avoid foods which can cause respiratory and digestive problems.
  • Also, avoid coffee and other stimulants including drugs such as tobacco and alcohol.
  • Do not eat refined foods such as white bread, pasta, and sugars.
  • Avoid fatty meats e.g. mutton, beef, and pork, instead opt for leaner meats e.g. chicken and fish.
  • Minimize salt intake if you have symptoms of heart problems or are taking corticosteroid medication.
  • Try and avoid very dry foods, which may prove difficult to eat and even swallow.

The ideal diet for patients with muscular dystrophy should be rich in fiber and proteins and low on fats. Proteins are essential for the body since they help with muscle growth as well as repair and regeneration of muscles. Foods rich in fiber such as fruits and vegetables are important to keep your body hydrated and also avoid constipation.

Fats, on the other hand, are not ideal for individuals with muscular dystrophy because they contribute to weight gain, which can then add pressure on the weakened and wasting muscles. In addition to that, you can take calcium and vitamin D supplements, so as to give strength to your bones and muscles as well.

Understanding Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy occurs as a result of wearing off of muscle mass and progressive muscle weakness.2 This is due to gene mutation associated with the production of proteins required for the formation of healthy muscles. Therefore, people who develop muscular dystrophy usually lack the protein referred to as dystrophin. The defective gene is usually inherited through an X-linked recessive gene from the mother. Boys are more prone to muscular dystrophy compared to girls, because they only have one X-chromosome whereas girls have two X-chromosomes, and in case one contains the defective gene, the other can make the protein. Often, signs of the condition are first noticed during childhood, although they can also develop later on in life. The common symptoms of muscular dystrophy include difficulties walking, sitting or standing from a lying position, movement of limbs, waddling gait, frequent falls, and breathing problems. With time, one may develop other complications such as enlarged calf muscles, heart and swallowing problems as well as scoliosis. Muscular dystrophy cannot be cured and thus, lifelong treatment and care are required for the patient.


A healthy, nutritious and well-balanced diet is needed to promote and sustain good body health. Furthermore, it will also be beneficial in managing weight gain and obesity as well as effects of steroid usage, and boost your immune system. For people with muscular dystrophy disorders, they should ensure they take foods which will provide them with muscle strength and energy such as proteins, carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. Foods to be avoided are those which interfere with medication one is taking and cause allergic reactions or problems with the patient in terms of respiration and digestion.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 14, 2019

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