Multiple Sclerosis: Nutritional Considerations
Although there is no known cure for MS, clinical studies show that
the disease may be slowed significantly with some dietary changes:
- Smoking cessation: Smoking has been shown to
increase the risk of disease.
- Lower saturated fat intake: Long–term studies,
first pioneered by physician Roy Swank, M.D., showed that diet
changes can have a dramatic effect. Studies following MS patients
for over 50 years revealed that those who eat the least saturated
fat (less than 10 to 15 grams per day) live longer and better.
Also, in Japan and Africa where there are very low amounts of saturated
fat in the diet, there is also a very low incidence of MS. The
main food sources that contain saturated fats are animal products
(meat, dairy products, and eggs) and tropical oils (e.g., palm
oil and coconut oil). A low–fat, vegan diet leads to the most dramatic
reductions in saturated fat.
- A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains: These
foods can improve energy levels and functioning of the immune system.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D has been shown to significantly
decrease the risk of MS. This may be related to its effect on inflammation.
Vitamin D normally comes from sunlight’s action on the skin.
However, many people do not get enough vitamin D from sun exposure
or from their diet. And many foods that are high in vitamin D are
also high in saturated fat. Some breakfast cereals are enriched
with vitamin D, but this is probably not enough. So, it is important
to take a supplement with 400 IU of vitamin D on a daily basis.
- Consult with a qualified dietitian to help make
healthy food choices.