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13 December 2017

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

New research into the eating habits of nearly 7,000 people with MS has shown evidence for diet being a factor in reducing disability.

Anyone following the OMS 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.

What does research say about the OMS diet?

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.