Exploring the Diet-MS Connection: New Study Sheds Light on How Food Choices Influence Multiple Sclerosis Progression

21 June 2023

  • Pro-inflammatory diet linked to higher risk of relapses and larger fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) lesions in individuals with MS, indicating increased inflammatory activity.
  • Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, focusing on whole foods while minimising processed and sugary foods, may offer an integrated approach to managing MS.
  • Mindful food choices have the potential to enhance overall well-being and empower individuals with MS to actively manage their condition and potentially improve outcomes.

Exploring How Diet Can Influence MS Progression.

Recent research conducted by Dr Alice Saul and her team at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, supported in part by MS Australia and The Penn Foundation, suggests that the food we eat may play a role in how MS progresses.

Data from the AusLong study, conducted over a 10-year period, was collected to understand the relationship between a pro-inflammatory diet and the progression of MS.

The findings, published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal, shed light on the impact of diet on relapse rates and inflammatory activity in individuals with MS.

What Did the Study Find?

Data was analysed from 223 individuals who had been diagnosed with MS-related demyelination of the central nervous system.

The researchers assessed their diets using a tool called the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII®). They discovered some important associations between diet and MS progression.
Participants who had a more pro-inflammatory diet, as indicated by higher DII® scores, had a higher risk of experiencing relapses. Specifically, those who scored highest on the DII® had more than twice the risk of relapse compared to those with the lowest scores.

The team also found that individuals with higher DII® scores had larger periventricular fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) lesions on their brain scans.

What Does This Mean for People with MS?

These findings highlight the significance of diet for individuals living with MS. It suggests that the foods we eat can influence the frequency of relapses and the progression of disability in MS.

While more research is needed to fully understand how diet affects MS, these findings provide valuable insights. They suggest that adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, rich in components found in fruits and vegetables, may help reduce the risk of relapses and slow the progression of disability.

Making healthier food choices can be a complementary approach to traditional medical treatments for MS. By focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet, individuals with MS can have a positive impact on their overall health and well-being.

It is important to remember that diet alone cannot cure MS, but it can play a role in managing the disease and improving long-term outcomes.

lifestyle factors - diet

Modifiable Lifestyle Factors: Diet

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Exploring the Diet-MS Connection: New Study Sheds Light on How Food Choices Influence Multiple Sclerosis Progression