The World's Healthiest Foods

What foods help multiple sclerosis?

Q. My wife has MS and I was wondering if there is a diet to help her.

A. We do not profile multiple sclerosis (MS) as a condition on our website because it is an unusually complicated condition that is influenced by an unusual variety of different factors. It's also a condition in which there is no clear consensus as to the contribution of food and diet. While no one believes that diet is irrelevant in healing from MS, the dietary recommendations available to date are more like potentially helpful steps than steps proven to be helpful. The idea here is to take some of these possible steps into consideration (together with your healthcare provider), and determine whether they make sense in your particular circumstances. With that context in mind, here is some background information on diet and MS that may be helpful for your wife.

One worldwide study conducted on the relationship between dairy products and MS found a correlation between milk, butter and cream and the incidence of MS. There was no correlation found with cheese. Since many people have sensitivity to milk and milk products, you may want to read the information we provide on Food Sensitivities, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=faq&dbid=30. Avoiding foods to which you are allergic or have an intolerance is important for your overall health.

There is also some evidence that cold-water fish such as salmon and halibut and fish oils can be helpful for MS. You can find profiles for salmon and halibut on our website, as well as recipes for incorporating these World's Healthiest Foods into your meal plan.

As we mentioned earlier, MS is a condition that's yet to be fully understood, and an unusually wide variety of dietary factors are associated with it. Each of these factors can involve some fairly major dietary changes. For example, there is some evidence that elimination of wheat-containing products can be also be helpful in MS, but this helpfulness seems to depend on other factors specific to the individual. Consulting with a healthcare professional who has expertise in this area would be important here. Digestion is an especially individualized question in MS, and while there are many steps a person could take to support good digestion, the exact ones, once again, depend on other personal issues. These issues can involve imbalance of bacteria in the digestive tract, or inadequate amounts of digestive enzymes.

There is also a special diet that some practitioners use in treatment of MS called the Swank Diet. You can find out more about this diet by visiting:

http://www.swankmsdiet.org/

We are unable to either endorse or reject the principles of the Swank diet with regard to MS, but provide this website address to make it easier for you to read up on this approach. We have talked with practitioners who find this approach to be very worthwhile with certain MS patients, but once again, finding the right "fit" between MS and diet seems to be a highly individualized process.

We would like to emphasize the importance of consulting with a healthcare professional regarding MS. While our site offers in-depth, current and well-referenced information on food, nutrition, and health, we believe that the role that diet can play in more complex health problems like this can only be responsibly addressed by a nutrition-oriented licensed healthcare practitioner. It would be best for her to have her needs carefully assessed by a healthcare professional familiar with her personal clinical information including history, lab work, and current dietary strengths and weaknesses. We encourage her to ask her doctor for more help in this area, and if he or she is not sufficiently helpful, ask him or her for a referral to another healthcare practitioner who can better assist her by helping to define the cause of her condition and the best approach to improve it.