Food Coma and Multiple Sclerosis

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Food Coma and Multiple Sclerosis

Food Coma and Multiple Sclerosis

What is a food coma?

  • The medical term for this is postprandial hypersomnolence PPS

Post  – after

Prandial – eating

Hyper  – increased

Somnolence- sleepiness

  • This can occur in anybody but seems to be more common in people with multiple sclerosis.
  • The theory is that extra energy is needed to digest the food after we have eaten and this energy is taken away from other areas of the body so it can be sent to the gut. This leaves people feeling overwhelmingly tired after eating.

What can you do to help?

  • Eat smaller meals.
  • Eat the main meal at a time when it isn’t “such an inconvenience “to then feel extra tired.
  • Include more low glycaemic index foods in your meals.   These include oats, beans and pulses, pasta, sweet potato.

The body produces less insulin when these foods are consumed.  It is thought that when insulin is produced it increases the body’s uptake of certain amino acids.   In particular valine, leucine and isoleucine.  As these amino acids are taken from the bloodstream it changes the ratio of amino acids left in the blood and this results in more tryptophan then being taken up by the brain.  In the brain, tryptophan is converted to serotonin and the serotonin then converted to melatonin.  Increased levels of serotonin and melatonin increase the levels of sleepiness.    So reducing spikes in insulin can help to reduce the feeling of sleepiness after a meal.

  • If you can try and walk around after eating before the sleepiness sets in.
  • Some people report that having a liquid-based meal can help – such as soup.  Or having plenty to drink with the meal.

In severe cases, this condition can lead to weight loss and malnutrition.  If this is a problem then ask to be referred to a dietitian for individualised advice.

Visit the BDA website for more information on a low glycaemic diet.


Produced by Claire Fenlon 2020