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What research is there about MS and diet?

Here we have brought together some links for the areas of the website covering studies relevant to the diet part of the OMS program.

The Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis book has a great deal of information about studies which have influences the OMS recommendations, eloquently written by Professor Jelinek, so this is recommended places to start with. Pages 69 - 147 cover the science behind the diet. There are 150 references for this chapter alone. 

 

Roy Swank and other studies building the foundation of research

Here we have collated some of the older evidence, and have written blogs posts about individual (more recent) studies below.

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Evidence that membrane saturated fats predict outcome in MS

05 Nov 2009

Confirmatory evidence has been published from South African scientists that higher cell membrane concentrations of saturated fats predict worse outcomes in people with MS

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HOLISM paper shows intake of healthy fat, fruit and vegetables predict better quality of life and less disability in people with MS

06 Mar 2015

The OMS group has been researching the associations of a variety of lifestyle factors with MS disease progression and quality of life, including detailed analysis of dietary factors.

The latest publication from this HOLISM study lends strong support to the findings of Swank and others. In analysing around 2,500 PwMS from 57 countries around the world, the HOLISM researchers used a detailed dietary habits questionnaire developed in Australia.

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Australian researchers confirm bad fats a key factor in MS progression

06 Mar 2015

MS Research Australia has finally turned its attention to this important area, and now, published online early in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal, a new paper from the Southern Tasmanian Longitudinal Study has confirmed the importance of the OMS approach.

Studying 141 people with MS over 2.5 years, a research team from the Menzies Research Institute led by Dr Ingrid van der Mei has confirmed the critical importance of the ratio of good to bad fats in the blood in influencing MS disease progression.

People with a bad fat profile, generally associated with high animal fat consumption, had considerably more disease progression over the 2.5 years than those with a healthier lipid profile usually associated with consumption of more unsaturated fat-containing foods like the OMS diet.

Lead investigator Dr van der Mei was quoted by MSRA as saying: "Our new findings confirm that dietary measures to control fats in the blood is also another important measure Australians living with MS should act upon."

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Quality of the diet was associated with disability and symptom severity.

13 Dec 2017

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 and symptom severity.

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.

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Study shows correlation between fats and level of disability in MS

Jan 2019 

Investigators at Imperial College London demonstrated a link between certain blood lipid levels and increased levels of both disability and inflammation in people with RRMS.

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Omega 3 and Vitamin D

06 Aug 2019

A randomised control trial has been published evaluating the effects of the combination of omega-3 and vitamin D supplements on a number of outcomes in pwMS.  Studies evaluating a combination of both interventions are scarce, and RCTs are even scarcer.

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Methionine study

10 Feb 2020

New research from a team of researchers from McGill University, Canada, have made a link between reducing the amount of methionine (an amino acid found in animal products) in a person's diet and development and progression of MS and other disorders.

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Modified mediterranean diet study

17 Apr 2020

The team performed a pilot randomised control trial of a “modified Mediterranean dietary program for MS”.  This was designed to test the feasibility of a larger-scale study, aimed at evaluating how a specific diet might impact MS symptoms and potentially, prognosis.

They enrolled 36 females with MS, aged 18-65, from a single MS Treatment Centre in New York City.  All participants were previously following a Western-style diet and had to agree to randomisation, with the only permissible additional supplement being vitamin D.

Those in the dietary intervention group were “encouraged the intake of fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, avocados, and use of olive oil in cooking.  It advised against the intake of meat (including red meat as well as poultry), dairy, white grains and processed foods”. Participants were also advised to limit salt intake to 2g/day and also abstain from eating for at least 12 hours per night (ideally from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.  They were given handouts on grocery shopping, reading food labels, and advice on eating out and travel.  

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