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Diet & Nutrition

Eating healthy can help manage MS symptoms. Learn about dietary research and evidence-based recommendations.

Shelly
Diagnosed in 2006

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Evidence-based recommendations on diet in MS

Diet is important in MS

Lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and exercise impact the risk of getting MS and worsening of MS after it is diagnosed.

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 are 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 have important effects on the immune system that may be relevant for MS
  • Dietary metabolites (such as vitamins, fatty acids (fat), and amino acids that form proteins) have direct effects on the immune system and the brain

No ‘best diet’ for people living with MS

As of 2020, 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, including through multiple Society-funded research studies. We hope to have more specific advice to offer as more research is completed.

While we do not yet know that a specific diet will help your MS, any positive changes you make towards more healthful habits are likely to help your overall health and well-being and are therefore worthwhile. Most MS experts agree that a healthy diet is an important complement to your MS treatment plan for the long-term health of your nervous system. Some general healthy recommendations agreed upon by health experts include:

  • 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
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Diet and Nutrition in MS

People living with MS and healthcare professionals discuss experiences and evidence related to diet / nutrition, and potential effect(s) on multiple sclerosis and symptoms.

Additional resources

Diet and nutrition guidance Find a dietician / nutritionist 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.
  • FoodPantries.org - provides an online directory of food pantries, subsidized grocery resources and other local sources of food assistance.
  • Meals on Wheels America – online search tool to locate home-delivered meal programs throughout the U.S.
  • No Kid Hungry  is the only national campaign committed to ending childhood hunger in the U.S.  Individuals can use the Free Meals Finder to find healthy meals (breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner) served by organizations in their communities.

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