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Society-Supported Wellness Research Group Publishes Strategies for Improving Diet Studies in People with MS

April 27, 2020

Can a person’s diet make their MS worse or better? Is there an ideal diet for people with MS? Evidence-based answers to these and other questions require results from well-designed studies. A Wellness Research Group supported by the National MS Society has published new strategies for improving diet studies in people affected by MS, based on studies that have already been completed or are underway. These recommendations can inform studies going forward to ensure they provide the answers people and their healthcare providers need to enhance wellbeing. See how a healthy diet, regular exercise, stress management and other wellness strategies can help you manage your symptoms and feel your best.
  • As part of its ongoing wellness initiative, the National MS Society convened a group of researchers with experience in MS and  diet-related research, as well as a person living with MS, to develop recommendations regarding unmet needs and opportunities in diet -related research. The group’s primary mission is to promote scientific evidence to support lifestyle, behavioral, and psychosocial approaches for promoting wellness in people living with MS.
  • Based on lessons learned from recent or ongoing diet studies, the group discussed several recommendations going forward, including the following:
    • Begin dietary studies with an education session led by a nutritionist and include local options for food shopping. Include partners/significant others, to ease implementation at home. Make sure that people fully understand the dietary interventions they are being asked to follow, and what will be expected in terms of time, finances, and travel.
    • Let people who already cook be creative with the diet plan to increase flexibility, but include highly specific guidance for people who do not, to decrease anxiety.
    • Depression, anxiety, fatigue, and mobility impairments – common in the course of MS – may affect adherence and need to be considered in study design.
    • Studies may involve collecting blood, urine or stool samples, but it’s important to balance the need for samples with the fact that collecting them too frequently may deter recruitment or compliance. 
“Conducting dietary intervention trials in people with multiple sclerosis: Lessons learned and a path forward” is published by Dr. Kathryn Fitzgerald, Dr. Ellen Mowry (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore) and colleagues in the journal MS & Related Disorders.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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