Nutrition - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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Nutrition

Eating healthy to take charge of your health.

Shelly
Diagnosed in 2006

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In this article

Overview

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. MS specialists recommend that people with MS adhere to the same low-fat, high-fiber diet that is recommended for the general population.

Nutrition and MS

Learn more about nutritional guidelines for people living with MS.

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The problem with special diets

Different diets have been proposed as treatments, or even cures, for the signs and symptoms of MS. Evidence of effectiveness is limited. 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. Most of the diets that have been touted as helping people with MS have not been subjected to rigorous, controlled studies. The few that have been evaluated have produced mixed results. Most claims made for dietary treatments are based on personal accounts. The reported benefits may have been spontaneous changes that would have happened without any treatment.

Some diets may be harmful — others are fine

Some special diets may be harmful because they include potentially toxic amounts of certain vitamins, or exclude important nutrients. Others conform to the low-fat, high-fiber diet recommendations of the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society. It's important to consult with your healthcare professional before starting any diet that includes nutritional supplements or vitamins. 

Proper nutrition can make an important contribution to your health. 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. 

The USDA's MyPlate website can help you start on the path to healthy nutrition.

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 on Vitamin D.

Vitamin D and MS

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

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Nutritional Resources

Find a Dietician/Nutritionist

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – Provides an online search tool to locate registered dieticians (RDs). 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 Association of America – Online search tool to locate home-delivered meal programs throughout the U.S.

 

 

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Publication

Food for Thought

A guide to healthy eating—includes managing symptoms, changing eating habits, and the effects of diet on MS.

Download now

Download now
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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Download now

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.

Order now

Order now