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Diet and Nutrition

A healthy diet can help manage MS symptoms, promote the long-term health of your nervous system and prevent other conditions. Read our evidence-based recommendations.

Shelly
Diagnosed in 2006

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Evidence-based recommendations on diet in multiple sclerosis

Diet is important in MS. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and exercise impact the risk of getting MS and can affect how the disease progresses.

Diet may impact MS in several possible ways:

  • Establishing and maintaining a healthy body weight is associated with decreased risk for MS-related disability and disease activity (e.g., relapses and lesions on MRI).
  • Diet has a strong relationship to body weight and the development of cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes
    • The presence of cardiovascular risk factors is associated with higher levels of MS-related disability and disease activity.
    • Cardiovascular risk factors can lead to other health conditions (i.e., comorbid conditions), such as heart disease and stroke.
  • Diet affects the composition of the gut microbiome (bacteria that live in the gut), which in turn has important effects on the immune system that may be relevant for MS.
  • Dietary metabolites (such as vitamins, fatty acids and amino acids that form proteins) have direct effects on the immune system and the brain.

No “best diet” for people living with MS

There is no definitive diet that has been scientifically proven to be beneficial in changing the course of MS. There are serious challenges to conducting dietary research in MS that the MS research community is working hard to address. The Society has funded multiple research studies. We hope to have more specific advice to offer as this research is completed.
 
While we do not yet know that a specific diet will help your MS, any positive changes you make are likely to help your overall health and well-being. Most MS experts agree that a healthy diet is important to the long-term health of your nervous system. Experts agree on the following recommendations for good health:

  • Prepare meals at home as much as possible.
  • Incorporate colorful fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
  • If you choose to eat grains, choose whole grains over refined grains.
  • Avoid/limit processed foods and added sugars as much as possible.
Read more about diet and MS in Momentum Magazine.
Jon Strum talks with a registered dietitian nutritionist onscreen about how to eat healthfully for MS.

Ask an MS Expert: The Role of Nutrition in MS

Mona Bostick, a registered dietitian nutritionist who lives with MS, talks about the importance of healthy eating and MS.

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A mom prepares dinner with her kids using an electric grill.

Diet and Nutrition in MS

People living with MS share their approaches to diet, and healthcare professionals discuss current research on nutrition and MS.

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Additional resources

Diet and nutrition guidance Dietician/nutritionist search tool Food assistance
  • Feeding America – nationwide network of food banks that also helps consumers determine their eligibility for federal programs such as SNAP and the National School Lunch Program.
  • FoodPantries.org – maintains an online directory of food pantries, subsidized grocery resources and other local sources of food assistance.
  • Meals on Wheels America – provides an online search tool to locate home-delivered meal programs throughout the U.S.
  • No Kid Hungry – connects people with healthy meals served by organizations in their communities via a Free Meals Finder.

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© 2022 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its Identification Number (EIN) is 13-5661935.