Why is diet important?
The Overcoming MS Program incorporates MS diet recommendations that are scientifically researched and play an important role in managing MS and preventing its progression. Learn more about the changes you can make to your diet to better manage your MS symptoms.
The Overcoming MS Diet
The Overcoming MS diet is a plant-based diet that also includes seafood, if desired. It aims to significantly reduce saturated fat intake while increasing the intake of healthy, omega-3 fats.
This dietary approach was developed by our very own Professor George Jelinek and is based on his own experience with MS and extensive reading of scientific studies The diet is wholefood and plant-based and recommends cutting out all processed foods, eggs, meat, dairy and saturated fats. Alongside this diet Professor Jelinek also recommends taking 20–40mls of flaxseed oil daily, as part of a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and meditation.
The Overcoming MS charity incorporates MS diet recommendations that are scientifically researched and play an important role in managing MS and preventing its progression.
The Overcoming MS diet is a plant-based diet that also includes seafood if desired. It aims to significantly reduce saturated fat intake while increasing the intake of healthy, omega-3 fats.
A diet plan that avoids saturated fats
Several long-term studies show a close connection between saturated fats and the development and progression of MS.
People with MS who avoid saturated fats, such as those from meat and dairy, but consume unsaturated fats, such as those from fish and flaxseed oil, typically have reduced progression of MS. In many cases they experience minimal effects from MS.
High levels of saturated fats are also linked to cardiovascular disease and obesity. Obesity can cause immune stimulation and inflammation which can worsen your MS symptoms.
Sources of saturated fat include:
Poultry skin and dark poultry meat
Fatty pieces of lamb, pork or beef
Dairy products which are high in fat
Tropical oils such as palm and coconut oil
The most important research on MS diets to date was done by Prof. Roy Swank, who conducted a 34-year study that showed people with MS consuming a diet low in saturated fat had dramatically better health outcomes than those who did not follow the diet.
Dr Swank started treating people with MS using a diet low in saturated fat way back in 1948. His diet recommended no red meat or processed food, low-fat dairy products and whole grain starches along with a multivitamin supplement and cod liver oil.
He discovered that the people who followed the diet for years often experienced an improvement in their MS symptoms with slower or no progression of disability.
The Overcoming MS Program builds on Dr Swank’s pioneering work, taking into account modern data on fats as well as additional evidence on other dietary factors.
Watch this video to get a quick overview of our MS diet recommendations:
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Key recommendations of the Overcoming MS diet are:
1. Reduce saturated fat intake by:
Eliminating all meat and dairy products
Not cooking with oil (other than baking with olive oil)
Avoiding processed, pre-made or commercially baked foods that contain harmful oils
Avoid oils/fats such as coconut oil and cocoa butter that are solid at room temperature
2. Increase omega-3 intake by:
Consuming oily fish three times per week – if desired
Supplementing daily with 20-40 ml of cold-pressed flaxseed oil