At last! High level evidence for diet in preventing MS disability

December 13, 2017

Anyone following the OMS Recovery Program will tell you of their frustration that, despite all the evidence pointing strongly to a role for diet in preventing MS progression, healthcare workers continue to say there is insufficient evidence to recommend a dietary approach. Well at last we have high level science!

Led by researchers at Johns Hopkins and using the NARCOMS (North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis) dataset, this study looked at the diets of nearly 7,000 people with MS from North America and assessed how the quality of the diet was associated with disability.

To do this they basically split the diet into four components: (1) fruits, vegetables and legumes (2) wholegrains (3) refined sugar and (4) red meat. Individuals were scored into quintiles according to how healthy their diet was in each domain and the scores summed. Those people with MS in the highest quintile overall for healthiest diet (i.e: most fruit and vegetables, most wholegrains, least sugar, and least meat) were 20% less likely to be severely disabled.

Read more: Diet

Even more importantly, from an OMS Program point of view, they combined that score with the few other markers of healthy lifestyle they had on smoking, exercise and body weight and found that those in the healthiest group overall had around one-third less fatigue, around a half the incidence of depression and pain, and around a third less cognitive impairment.

These findings are strikingly similar to those of the HOLISM study to date, although HOLISM has considerably more data on healthy lifestyle behaviours, allowing much more robust independent associations to be discovered.

An editorial by experts in the field noted that as far as diet and MS was concerned, science had finally taken a seat at the table. For people following the OMS Program, this is strong endorsement that we are on the right track. While we await further intervention trials to confirm these findings, people with MS should have no hesitation in embracing the OMS Program, backed as it is by a growing credible evidence base from high quality research.

25 thoughts on ‘At last! High level evidence for diet in preventing MS disability

    • It’s like talking to a brick wall. Medical dogma is as challenging ad religious dogma, if not more. Just show her how healthy you can be.

  1. I have reversed all my symptoms with I very strict whole food plant based diet no gluten,processed sugar,oil or anything processed at all,both my ms nurse and neurologist are very supportive,in actual fact my neurologist said sadly that he is not allowed to advise people to do this as there have been no clinical trials,my ms nurse said she can only bring up diet if they ask first,she asked me if anyone does show any interest can she put them in touch with me. It’s very wrong!

    • Are you on medication or are you managing through diet?
      I am newly diagnosed this month and I’m considering not taking medication.

    • @Heather, I was deemed a very bad case with ‘innumerable’ lesions, one so big it was measured in centimetres… they wanted me on DMD’s pronto … But I have gone solely on diet alone -NO drugs – and its now 3.5 years and I’m doing great. No relapses in all that time. You can manage MS with diet alone.

  2. I have been following a plant based diet for the last 6 months. Not reaping a lot of “changes” yet but my body is thanking me for it everyday – not a complete Vegan (still have wild caught fish and some cheese) but a huge change from being a “meat and potato” person. I have been met with a lot of negativity from any one I tell but when you are met with no other options to “cure” my MS I am doing the best I can to lead a healthier life. And of course having the support of my husband and 2 adult children has been very beneficial too.

  3. Hi,I have followed this oms diet for now 9 months.Can’t believe how I have improved,10000 mg salmon oil daily,flax oil,fish,chicken no skin,veg,fruit,NONO meat,dairy,sugar,processed food,.Playing golf next year,can’t wait.Thankyou George Jelineck champion.

  4. My father and I recently visited his neurologist who suggested a paleo-type diet with limited red meat, higher focus on greens and no refined sugar. I’ve read a lot of frustrating blogs which seem to think this is not the way to go. The above information seems limited as to the results of the study while expansive are not broken down very well. It does seem to offer relief per the scores? Not all of us are scholars in this field so interpreting the data sets is difficult.

  5. I’ve been a strict adherent to the OMS lifestyle ever since I was diagnosed with MA three years ago, and I’ve had stunning results. I’m active and only feel limited symptoms- nothing like I went through in the beginning. Thanks Dr Jelinek!

  6. I was diagnosed with MS in 1996 and I try to follow a healthy diet and not to stress too much over studies looking at diet (results can never be clear as that of a drug trial). I probably have primary progressive and have never had drug treatment.

  7. I’ve been on the diet for 10 month now, and can honestly say that I feel much, much better! I’ve had positive conversations with my Neurologist and MS nurse who are happy to support my decision. Thank you Professor J!

  8. Do not take any notice of what any doctors say.

    My son has been on the vegan diet and has only been eating fruit and vegetables with no dairy whatsoever.
    He has also started walking and running regularly
    And since this has happened he has been MS symptom free for the past 4 years.
    The diet definately works and my son is proof of this.

    Do not eat any cheese,milk, or any meats whatsoever under any circumstances.

    If you eat only fruits nuts vegetables you will see a massive difference in your condition.
    The good news is that you can have the occasional glass of wine or beer
    So this is a win win
    Good luck

  9. Doctors have zero training on diet and would be too scared of taking sides. Myself, I am fascinated by how much diet affects absolutely everything. I think some serious research has also been done on gut biomes and the result seems to be that eating live yoghurt is vital to good heath. Kefir is even better. Hooray for the 1.5 KG of bacteria in our guts!

  10. Recently I was invited to the opening of a new centre which was to support people with neurological conditions such as MS. It was advertised as a light lunch. I have been following the OMS diet for 10 months and am used to “taking my own.” The lunch that was provided was pastries and danishes!!!!….not even a sandwich in sight. Couldn’t cope! Nobody should have that for lunch, little lone people who should be as healthy as they can.

  11. I believe diet has major benefits in all health issues. I have been diagnosed with MS for 28 yrs & now have secondary progressive MS. I went to an OMS retreat when I had had MS for 20yrs and followed the diet for 5 yrs before changing to a paleo based diet which is virtually the same except for meat. My reason for this was because I struggled with weight loss. My whole point of writing this is that my disease had already progressed but that I believe that if I had been more aware of the benefits of diet back in the day and made the OMS diet changes sooner I would be more mobile today. Exercise has never been a problem for me I just look at different ways of staying active and for me the Alinker has been awesome, it is so important to keep moving and I believe the sooner you start the OMS lifestyle the greater the benefits!

    • I had to google the Alinker, as I hadn’t heard of it. Wow! looks like a great bike. Do the brakes work well on downward slopes?

  12. I’m trying to eat mainly a plant based diet and am working on the Elimination diet to work out where my food sensitivities/allergies lie. One thing that worries me is that I’m on Tecfidera and often still have some slight itching and flushing from it. I’m wondering about quitting it as it’s obviously having the same problems as the foods I’m trying to avoid.

    Has anyone else had this problem with Tecfidera?

    • Hi Wendy, those are very common side effects of Tecfidera. We wouldn’t recommend stopping your medication at the same time as the elimination diet as it would be difficult to determine if any improvements were made as a result of diet or drug therapy changes. It would be best to try the elimination diet and if you are still experiencing symptoms, speak to your doctor about changing medications. Kind regards, OMS team

  13. Hi Wendy
    I too am on Tecfidera and having the prickly flushing issues. The MS nurse from the drug company suggested a mini aspirin taken half an hour before breakfast…it helped a little. Her latest suggestion was to wrap the capsule in nut butter and take it as normal. I have only been doing it for a week but I think it has helped. Good luck.

  14. I have reached 10 years of being diagnosed MS. I took Copaxone, Tysabri,Tecfidera and now one insidious of Ocrevus.

    Stopped working 2016 and just stopped driving 2017! Can’t walk without aids. I always ate healthy, but I have to extremely change diet and lifestyle for me. Anyone change their mobility in positive way with diet. I have two teenage boys graduating in 2-4 years and don’t want to be in chair

  15. Perhaps some of the problem some medical staff have with the diet issue could be due the difficulty in distinguishing between silly fad diets, slimming diets, and the real thing like our OMS diet. Some of that might even be down to the language that we use, even just the word “diet” can be assumed to mean just about anything by mouth. so assuming that we can change ourselves easier than changing others (like medicos), perhaps we needs to take extra care with the way we describe what we mean by diet, and put it in context with the other essential bulwarks of looking after ourselves (exercise, sunshine, peace inside, …). As diet is not really included in medical training, maybe it is inevitably a struggle bringing up the subject with the medical profession (most simply don’t get it, or want to), but super healthy diet has to be an absolutely essential for PwMS.

  16. “Exercise, sunshine, peace inside…” Thank you for that lovely image. I would add: “…and a rainbow of foods on your plate.” And you’re right, it’s futile to expect our doctors to accept anything about diet – they are not trained to care about it. Which is why we need to.

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