Multiple Sclerosis and Diet


How diet effects Multiple Sclerosis?

Currently there is no official guidance on this matter but with the explosion of interest in things like the Dr. Terry Whals Protocol there is something to be said for 'giving it a try' to see if it improves your MS symptoms. Plus if you view websites such as MS Society and MS Trust they all mention 'special diets and MS' which presumably means theres credit given to diet adjustments?

Regardless of whether you have MS or not, the following are proven: 

Vitamins and Minerals: Fight fatigue and promote wellness. 

Antioxidants: Fight inflammation

High Fibre: Help with bowel movements

 

Nutrient deficiency: 

Some other browsing of studies have shown that people with MS are more likely to lack nutrients particularly Vitamins D3, A and B12. 

Considerations when choosing an MS Diet?

  • Is following the diet worse than the symptoms you're experiencing? 
  • Do your research before commencing - is the diet just a fad with lots of promotion on things like social media or does it actually have evidence based research / information to back up its claims to improve MS symptoms?
  • Can you even afford to do it? Many 'diet specific' foods are more expensive than regular items
  • Do you have the support at home? Food preparation will potentially be different than previously.. everyone you live with needs to be 'on board' with the new program to stop you slipping. 
  • Will you have support within your friendship network? If you go out for meals regularly, how much of an impact will being on this type of diet have on your life? Does it balance out? 
  • If possible, get advice from a dietitian who has expertise in MS to assist you with meal plans to ensure your nutrients and intake are sufficient and healthy. 

MS Diet Options:

There are a number diet options that have been talked about over the years and some that have exploded in popularity more recently. Many are based on hypothesis but the key factor is whether or not it helps you as an individual? After all MS is different for everyone so what may help one, may not help another. If you have MS you will know that 'anything is worth trying' to ensure you live your best life. 

Some of the best know diets that 'claim' to make a difference are below:

  • Paleo Diet - All processed foods and domesticated meats should be avoided in a Paleo diet, and natural high fibre foods eaten regularly. Cereals, dairy and eggs are also avoided. - There’s been little research into a Paleo diet or the Wahl’s Protocol and MS. At the moment, there’s no clear evidence to suggest they have benefits for people with MS. (Ref: MS Society)
  • Keto Diet - Low carbohydrate, high fat diet - Small studies have shown that following a ketogenic diet can reduce inflammation, fatigue and improve symptoms. Early studies have suggested intermittent fasting and keto diets might have a positive effect on the immune system and the bacteria in the gut which affect it. But at the moment, there isn’t enough evidence to show they have an effect on people’s MS symptoms or how their MS develops. (Ref: MS Society)
  • Mediterranean diet - This is a basically healthy diet, focussing on whole grain bread, pasta and couscous, lots of fruit and vegetables, along with olive oil, low-fat dairy foods and plenty of water. Red meat and sweet treats are allowed, but rarely. Fish and poultry are allowed several times a week, but having a few vegetarian days or meals is also encouraged. Red wine in moderation is encouraged - There hasn’t been much research into MS and Mediterranean diets in particular, and the small amount of evidence we have doesn’t prove that they affect the course of MS. But they are usually a balanced diet, which can help you stay in the best health possible. (Ref: MS Society)
  • McDougall Diet - The diet is based around starchy, whole grain foods and lots of fruit and vegetables. No meat, dairy or extra oils are allowed, and only small amounts of sugar and salt - There’s no research evidence that the McDougall diet has an effect on MS. (Ref: MS Society)
  • Swank Diet - This diet suggests cutting out all processed foods, and sticking to low-fat dairy products, whole-grain starches and no red meat. A cod liver oil and multivitamin supplement is also recommended. - Some people say that following this diet has made them feel better, and reduced the number of relapses they’ve had. (Ref: MS Society)
  • The Best Bet Diet - It is a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, and encourages cutting out yeast, eggs, red meat and soya as well. A large number of supplements are recommended, including Vitamin D, fatty acids, calcium and magnesium - Current research doesn’t support the theory behind the diet, nor does it suggest there is any benefit to cutting out any of these food types completely. This particular diet hasn’t been tested in any research trials, so there is no evidence that it can help manage MS symptoms. (Ref: MS Society)
  • The Overcoming MS Diet - A plant-based wholefood diet; basically vegan with the addition of seafood. Jelinek recommends cutting out all saturated fat, processed foods, eggs, dairy and meats. - Research into this diet has not provided conclusive evidence of its benefits. A five-year follow up study showed that people who had followed this diet reported they felt better physically and mentally, but there was a very high drop-out rate. (Ref: MS Society)

Personal Experience:

How I helped my RRMS symptoms with diet, nutrition and supplements:

Changing my diet and adding supplements improved my mental alertness including thinking, learning and planning. 

Changing my diet reduced my fatigue, improved my energy levels and reduced my muscle problems and overall mobility. 

 


Changing my diet reduced constipation issues.

Adding supplements improved my bladder problems.

Making a positive change to my diet and seeing the benefits made me feel back in control so improved my mental health. 


As mentioned in the 'About' page - the reason for setting up this small scale snacks website is based on my frustration of not being able to easily source yummy snacks in the UK that met my dietary requirements. Had I not had the privilege of having spent time in the USA and Canada over the past few years I would have assumed that what is on the shelf at my local supermarket / health food shop was all that was available. I truly believe without sourcing food and snacks to satisfy my cravings along with the support of my partner, I would have failed at this diet plan within a month of starting it ! Check out the online shop for yummy snacks to keep your cravings at bay whilst still meeting your diet aims.