Diet & Nutrition - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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Diet & Nutrition

Eating healthy to take charge of your health.

Shelly
Diagnosed in 2006

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In this article

Maintenance of general good health is very important for people with any chronic disorder: a well-balanced and planned diet will help achieve this goal. Although there's no special “MS diet,” what and how you eat can make a difference in your energy level, bladder and bowel function, and overall health. MS specialists recommend that people with MS adhere to the same low-fat, high-fiber diet recommendations of the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society for the general population. The USDA's MyPlate website can help you start on the path to healthy nutrition. Read more in the Society's white paper What Do We Know About Diet, Exercise and Mood? from March 2015, or the Momentum magazine article, How I empowered myself with food.

Nutrition and MS

Learn more about nutritional guidelines for people living with MS.

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Challenges with special diets

Different diets have been proposed as treatments, or even cures, for the signs and symptoms of MS. Most of the diets touted as helping people with MS have not been subjected to rigorous, controlled studies, and the few that have been evaluated have produced mixed results.

Most claims made for dietary treatments are based on personal accounts, and reported benefits may be changes that could have happened without any treatment. Read more in Is there an MS diet? article from Momentum magazine and below:
  • There is some evidence that a diet low in saturated fats and supplemented by Omega-3 (from fatty fishes, cod-liver oil, or flaxseed oil) and Omega-6 (fatty acids from sunflower or safflower seed oil and possibly evening primrose oil) may have some benefit for people with MS.
  • A recent research review paper by Pavan Bhargava, MD, provides information and current evidence for each of the most popular diets.
Some special diets may be harmful because they include potentially toxic amounts of certain vitamins, or exclude important nutrients. That's why it's important to consult with your healthcare professional before starting any diet that includes nutritional supplements or vitamins.

Vitamin D

It is well known that vitamin D works to promote calcium absorption for strong bones. However, recent research also suggests that vitamin D may have important effects on the immune system and may help regulate cell growth and differentiation. A clinical trial is underway to determine what role vitamin D supplementation might play in reducing MS disease activity. Read more about vitamin D in Momentum magazine article, Vitamin D: Dandy? Dastardly? Or Debatable?

Vitamin D and MS

Research into the role Vitamin D plays in MS is growing.

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Resources

Find a dietician / nutritionist

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – Provides an online search tool to locate registered dietician nutritionists (RDNs). Offers many consumer-geared resources.

Find food assistance

Feeding America – Nationwide network of food banks. Also offers information & links to help consumers determine their eligibility for federal food assistance such as SNAP and the National School Lunch Program.

Meals on Wheels America – Online search tool to locate home-delivered meal programs throughout the U.S.

 

 

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Publication

Diet and MS Research Review Paper

With increasing interest in the possible role of diet in MS, this research review looks at current evidence that diet may be beneficial in MS.

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Publication

Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs in MS

Practical guide to diet supplements for people with MS. Outlines what is and is not known, with references for further study.

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Multiple Sclerosis: A Self-Care Guide To Wellness

The book covers a broad spectrum of topics related to MS and its effects, offering practical tips on self-care designed to promote maximum independence, well-being and productivity.

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