The Dairy Connection

MS-friendly recipes, Dairy connection

OMS strongly recommends that you avoid all dairy products as part of the OMS Recovery Program.

Research shows a strong connection between MS and cow’s milk.1,2 Particular proteins in milk have been shown to a) stimulate the immune cells of people with MS and b) cause lesions to appear in the central nervous systems of test animals.3,4

Some proteins in cow’s milk mimic part of myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG), the part of myelin thought to initiate the autoimmune reaction in MS.5

Alternatives to dairy are widely available in a range of substitutes for milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and even butter. Some are calcium-fortified, if that’s what you prefer. Some people are concerned they won’t get enough calcium if they eliminate dairy, but a plant-based whole-food diet contains plenty of calcium. A key issue here is getting adequate sun exposure or vitamin D in supplements to ensure calcium is absorbed from food.

OMS does not recommend any kinds of animal-based milk, including that from goats and sheep.

For more information about milk and MS, and to see the sources for this page, see our MS Encyclopedia section on dairy.

  1. Malosse D, Perron H, Sasco A, et al. Correlation between milk and dairy product consumption and multiple sclerosis prevalence: a worldwide study. Neuroepidemiology 1992; 11:304-312.
  2. Malosse D, Perron H. Correlation analysis between bovine populations, other farm animals, house pets, and multiple sclerosis prevalence. Neuroepidemiology 1993; 12:15-27.
  3. Winer S, Astsaturov I, Cheung RK, et al. T cells of multiple sclerosis patients target a common environmental peptide that causes encephalitis in mice. J Immunol 2001; 166:4751-4756.
  4. Stefferl A, Schubart A, Storch M, et al. Butyrophilin, a milk protein, modulates the encephalitogenic T cell response to myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. J Immunol 2000; 165:2859-2865.
  5. Mana P, Goodyear M, Bernard C, et al. Tolerance induction by molecular mimicry: prevention and suppression of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis with the milk protein butyrophilin. Int Immunol 2004; 16:489-499
  6. Chen H, Zhang SM, Hernan MA, et al. Diet and Parkinson’s disease: a potential role of dairy products in men. Ann Neurol 2002; 52:793-801.
  7. Campbell TC, Campbell TM. The China Study. New York: Benbella Books, 2006