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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.

 

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