Diet and Multiple Sclerosis

Although no diet can compete with existing medication treatments for MS in terms of curative effects, a special regime can help alleviate existing symptoms by controlling a series of biological and chemical processes inside the body. Recent research has revealed the fact that nutrition plays a major role in multiple sclerosis; while an inappropriate diet can amplify the autoimmune response of the body, determining an acceleration in the process of demyelization (destruction of myelin – protein which covers the body nerve cells, enabling the communication between the central nervous system and peripheral nerves), a proper diet can reduce the intensity and frequency of MS symptoms by regulating a series of processes at the level of the immune system. Considering the fact that nutritional factors play major roles in the progression of multiple sclerosis, patients diagnosed with the autoimmune disease should ask for the advice of their physician or nutritionist in order to establish an adequate, special curative regime. The regime should contain foods that can help the body suppress the autoimmune response and exclude foods which have been identified to generate autoimmune reactions.

Persons with MS are advised to include in their special food regime nutrients such as vitamin D and omega-3 essential oil. Vitamin D can be found in vegetables and fruits, as well as dairy products and certain meats (be cautious though, as some fatty dairy products and meats can generate autoimmune reactions), while omega-3 essential oils can be found in fish meats (salmon and mackerel in particular) and flax (it is best to use refined flax oil). Vitamin D and omega-3 essential oils can also be purchased under the form of pharmaceutical nutritional supplements. In order to obtain the best curative effects, patients with MS should ensure that their body receives between 4000-5000 IU of vitamin D each day and several milligrams of omega-3 essential oil every week (the required amount of the nutrient can be ingested by including fish in the regular diet – three or four meals of fish every week are sufficient – or by taking a capsule of omega-3 essential oil each day). The foods that should be excluded from the special MS diet are fat-rich dairy products, grain products (wheat, barley, oats and rye) and dried beans. Some animal fats, as well as omega-6 essential fatty acids (contained by regular vegetable cooking oil) have also been identified to trigger autoimmune reactions in patients with MS and thus should be excluded from one’s diet. It is advisable to replace regular cooking oil with olive oil – which contains monosaturated fat – and fatty meats (especially red meat) with lean chicken meat and fish.