Dietary Changes in Multiple Sclerosis

Most MS patients have not considered changing their diet as a therapeutic approach.

Obesity, along with the composition of the microbiome in the gut, have been suggested as elements that may contribute to the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS).

In a study presented at the ACTRIMS Forum in New Orleans, LA, University of Virginia researchers J. Nicholas Brenton and colleagues found that MS patients surveyed said overwhelmingly that they would be willing to modify their diet in an attempt to improve or treat their illness.

“Our data demonstrate the feasibility of patient recruitment for future studies assessing therapeutic intervention by way of diet modification for MS,” the team concluded in an abstract presented at the meeting Feb. 19.

The study involved a survey mailed to 604 MS patients at the University of Virginia’s MS clinic.

Of those who received it, 199 subjects returned the survey, of whom 70% were women with a mean disease duration of 12 years. Most (71.4%) had relapsing-remitting MS.

The respondents had generally not tried to change their diets as therapy, with only 17% indicating they had done so.

However, 91.5% said they would like to try that therapy and that willingness was not affected by age, gender, disease duration, body mass index, current diet, MS subtype, or other factors.

Asked which diet they wanted to try, most chose paleo (53.8%). High carbohydrate, low salt, modified Atkins were next popular, chosen by a range of 41% to 48% of respondents; vegetarian and vegan options were the least popular.

The authors said the survey’s positive findings should be useful to researchers who want to test the effectiveness of diet-modification in treating MS.