How does diet impact MS?

It’s so interesting to see new studies on the potential impacts of diet on MS. Is there something people can eat, or stay away from, that would actually help make life with MS better? Studies presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) showcase this growing area of research, but did not all find positive results. That’s ok. All of these are arrows pointing us toward – or away from – solutions for people with MS. (Links are included to abstracts on the AAN site - access is free.)

Walk down any grocery aisle and you’ll find products marketed as antioxidants.  Antioxidants block the action of “free radicals,” which are normal by-products of bodily processes that may cause tissue injury in MS. A poster presentation by Dr. Rebecca Spain and colleagues from Oregon Health & Science University reported promising results from a clinical trial of lipoic acid, an antioxidant supplement, in 51 people with secondary progressive MS. The group conducted a 2 year, double-blind, randomized controlled trial of 1200 mg daily lipoic acid compared to inactive placebo. The first outcome they studied was reduction in brain atrophy (shrinkage). They also evaluated secondary outcomes such as atrophy of spinal cord and brain substructures, changes in neurological exam, walking, cognition, fatigue, and quality of life. Their most significant finding was that after two years, those taking lipoic acid showed less brain atrophy than those taking placebo. Overall, treatment was safe and tolerable, with stomach upset being the most pronounced issue reported by those taking lipoic acid. This is wonderful news, and I hope it bears out in further, larger studies. (Abstract P1.373)

Fatty acids, like omega-3, are always a hot topic in discussions of diet research for any disease, and MS is no different. Dr. Aiden Haghikia and a team from Ruhr University in Germany found that a fatty acid called propionic acid improved mice that had MS-like disease by increasing a type of immune cell called regulatory T cells or “Treg” cells. As their name suggests, these cells work to regulate and dampen the immune response. They did preliminary tests of this oral fatty acid in 60 people with MS and 30 controls without MS. They found that Tregs increased in both groups, and reduced levels of cells considered inflammatory (Th17). The investigators say that other results, which will soon be published, show that the effect on Tregs was even stronger in people with MS. The team reports no side effects. It will be important to see if larger studies prove it to be a safe and effective. (Abstract P1.374)

Recent lab reports have suggested that dietary salt might speed the development of the immune attack in mice with MS-like disease. Dr. Marianna Cortese (University of Bergen, Norway) and researchers at Harvard assessed the intake of salt and other minerals in the Nurses’ Health Study group (involving more than 150,000 female nurses in the U.S. followed over time). None of the minerals, including salt, seem to alter the risk of developing MS. If salt is a factor in MS, it’s good to have studies such as this one help us to fine tune if, when, and how it makes a difference. (Abstract S37.001)

Research into impacts of gut bacteria (a critical part of maintaining ‘balance’ in the immune system) presents the exciting possibility that probiotic strategies may ultimately be developed to treat MS. Dr. Stephanie Tankou and another Harvard team investigated a probiotic product VSL#3 in 15 people with MS, people without MS, as well as mice with MS-like disease. The investigators were looking at the ability of VSL#3 to push immune cells in a less inflammatory direction. Treatment was well tolerated in people with MS, and they reported finding some signs from blood cells suggesting a reduction of inflammatory signals, but most did not reach statistical significance. Treated mice had less severe disease. We need more research to know if this can work, and work safely. We know that gut bacteria are important in MS. This study tells us something about how they may be working to balance the immune system. (Abstract P5.320)

It’s great to see such variety in studies on diet and MS. We have more to say on diet and nutrition now than ever before. I’m hopeful that work like this will lead to practical solutions for stopping disease activity and restoring function to people with MS.
Highlights of MS-related presentations focusing on stopping MS, restoring function, and ending MS forever from AAN Meeting
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Mark Allegretta, PhD

Dr. Mark Allegretta is the Vice President of Research at the National MS Society, leading commercial research including partnerships developed through Fast Forward. He brings expertise in immunology and 28 years of experience in biotechnology and pharmaceutical operations to help drive the development of new therapies to stop MS and restore function.

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  • Suzanne   Apr 21, 2016 1:55 PM
    Thrilling news on diet! As a person with MS, I've been taking lipoic acid supplements, and putting chia seeds in everything. I'm on the Right track...Yey!
  • Ruth  Apr 21, 2016 5:45 PM
    Thank you for sharing this. I have tried to eat healthier since being diagnosed.
  • Mary   Apr 22, 2016 12:47 AM
    I was diagnosed with MS in 2014, and have problems walking, numbness in limbs, and digits, face, migraines, retina was damaged due to a seizure of the sort in my left eye that has left me with bad eyesight . I wear bi-ficocals. I also use a walker to help me walk, and I should mention that I am disabled if you couldn't tell by now.
    My question to you is what would be the best thing for me to start eating ??? I take 9 different meds and would like to get off all these meds and start living again.
  • david   Apr 22, 2016 1:59 AM
    I would like more information.
  • Gary   Apr 22, 2016 7:28 AM
    Hi Mary, I don't know your type of MS, but if it's relapsing MS, then there are some quite effective treatments - especially if you take them earlier in the diagnosis. You should speak to a specialist MS neurologist or even a few different ones to get different opinions.
  • Mary Ann   Apr 22, 2016 8:23 AM
    There are so many probiotics on the market. How do,you know,which one(s) to be taking?
  • Dawn   Apr 22, 2016 2:28 PM
    I enjoyed this information, would love to know a lot more about supplements and SPMS.
  • Danka Petrovic   Apr 23, 2016 9:01 AM
  • Sheryl   Apr 28, 2016 7:31 AM
    Just exciting that this is being looked at ..... More focus in this direction please !!!!!!
  • CarolRohan   May 5, 2016 5:25 PM
  • Darci   May 6, 2016 8:59 PM
    I recently developed constipation & had to strain & did some damage to my abdominal wall. What does everyone do to fight constipation? I was exercising everyday for the past 3yrs & now my gastrointestinal Dr said no exercising for 3-4 weeks & if no progress in healing then an MRI will be needed.. Anyone having this problem in there abdomen?
  • Farmun   May 19, 2016 5:34 AM
    I was have RRMS and I follow the Wahl's Protocol "Paleo" advanced, that advises specific foods to eat and avoid as well as supplements. Essential to exclude Gluten and Dairy.
  • Brenda   May 19, 2016 5:40 AM
    I have relapsing MS, but my Neurologist is talking secondary progressive. I eat a well balanced diet, but nothing has changed. I also have Fibromyalgia, GERD and various other issues. Nothing I do seems to help. Between constant fatigue, tremors, sight issues and cognition, I can barely get through a work day. My job requires the ability to think through problems and solve them. Many days I would like to run out the door and not go back, but there is the necessity of putting a roof over my head. I keep a positive attitude and have faith in in Jesus to provide my needs. I also believe that he heals as he chooses. I have heard so much advice from well meaning people that I would like to scream. I am 59 and don't have much of a social life. I am just too tired for outside activities beyond work and Sunday morning church. Eliminating work would be a blessing.
  • Doreen   May 19, 2016 5:58 AM
    Thank you for the diet info would you suggest a gluten free diet for people with RR MS
  • Christine Johnson   May 19, 2016 6:17 AM
    I was surprised to not see both turmeric and vitamin D studies were not reported as well.
  • G-MAN  May 19, 2016 6:40 AM
    I think a fruit and veggie diet would probably do me more good than the DMT poison's that are available , I've had bad experiences with the ones I've used.
  • judith moroz   May 19, 2016 6:43 AM
    i find this all very interesting--thanks. j.m.
  • Karen Osterle   May 19, 2016 6:46 AM
    University researchers are also looking at the tumeric/back pepper combination (consumed most typically in "golden milk" recipies, if not Southeast Asian cooking) for its protective properties--particularly with M.S., Alheimer's, and Parkinson's.
  • Megan   May 19, 2016 6:47 AM
    I was diagnosed 7 years ago. I have never had a relapse since my diagnosis. My doctor just says to keep doing whatever is it i am doing. I dont adhere to a particular diet, but there are certain foods i eat every day or routinely. There must be others who have not had relapses and it would be interesting to poll them to see if there is a commonality in foods we eat.
  • Larry Naylor   May 19, 2016 6:50 AM
    As I write this my wife, Marge is lying in bed in a local nursing care under Hospice Care. She was diagnosed with MS in January 1986. During most of her life 67 this year, Marge was conscious of what she ate and took supplements. Don't doubt this information, too early to know for certain, we will see if it is valid. Just a little late for many folks.
  • Megan   May 19, 2016 6:52 AM
    I was diagnosed 7 years ago. I have never had a relapse since my diagnosis. My doctor just says to keep doing whatever is it i am doing. I dont adhere to a particular diet, but there are certain foods i eat every day or routinely. There must be others who have not had relapses and it would be interesting to poll them to see if there is a commonality in foods we eat.
  • Sheila   May 19, 2016 6:53 AM
    I have noticed a significant correlation with MS symptoms if I eat sugar and having an allergy, I am already Gluten free. Food seems to have an impact on inflammation and whether or not it's activated. Upon eating sugar, I feel the pain of inflammation in my upper back within the hour. Gluten containing products cause inflammation as well. I don't think it would hurt to follow a complete Gluten free and sugar free diet for at least six months to judge how it makes you feel. Couldn't hurt : )
  • Marcia Murrsy   May 19, 2016 7:00 AM
    Wahl's Protocol
  • Virginia   May 19, 2016 7:05 AM
    My daughter was diagnosed with MS a year ago she's only 37 I wish I could have a list of things diet wise on what she should and shouldn't be eating. Also, besides her medication are there any natural things like herbs she can take.
  • Gayle   May 19, 2016 7:09 AM
    Diagnosed in 1992, chronic progressive, I added exercise, slowly, before exercise was recommended. I began the shift to nutritional focus over 12 years ago, after adding capsule supplements of concentrated fruits and vegetables and about a year later berries, and seeing a significant improvement in the quality of my life. I've had no new lesions in 12 years, I went vegitarian 10 years ago and vegan 2 years ago. Medical professionals rolled their eyes at my nutritional approach 12 years ago...I'm happy to see this is finally being given serious attention. I still have flare ups, short term memory issues and major heat sensitivity issues, but I remain mobile and feel blessed by God for His leading me to make health changes long before the benefits were recognized as worthy of study. I strongly believe high quality real food nutrition and exercise are essential to the health and wellbeing of everyone, with or without a chronic illness.
  • DeLois Gainey   May 19, 2016 7:19 AM
    My mother's friend, Margaret Lindsley (Ken) was the first person I knew with MS. This was back in the 1960s in Gainesville, Florida. She was a great believer in the selection of food in her diet for MS. I believe she was part of a study using food for MS as far back as the 1970s and early 1980s. Not sure if it was through the Univ. of Florida or the Northern State where she was diagnosed prior to moving to Gainesville. Margaret was an elegant lady and an inspiration to all. We moved my mother to Athens, GA in 1977 and our last visit with the Lindsleys was in the 1980s. The letters kept us in contact through the late 1990s.
  • Michelle schaap   May 19, 2016 7:20 AM
    Hi Mary, .I have had MS since 4/1994 I was diagnosed after having an epidural while giving birth to my son..I have had about 4 episodes all early on but none since I have been taking copaxone shots (2005) I had numbness, eye issues and complete paralysis from the waste down 2 times but took steroids and was revived and have been fine ever since..I have a great neurologist hope you do to it helps!! I take a digestive probiotic pill daily by trunature purchase it from Costco I think it helps!! All I can say is hang in there and stay positive things will work out!!!
  • Michelle schaap   May 19, 2016 7:22 AM
    Hi Mary, .I have had MS since 4/1994 I was diagnosed after having an epidural while giving birth to my son..I have had about 4 episodes all early on but none since I have been taking copaxone shots (2005) I had numbness, eye issues and complete paralysis from the waste down 2 times but took steroids and was revived and have been fine ever since..I have a great neurologist hope you do to it helps!! I take a digestive probiotic pill daily by trunature purchase it from Costco I think it helps!! All I can say is hang in there and stay positive things will work out!!!
  • DavE   May 19, 2016 7:34 AM
    Since having MS symptoms in 1986 i have been eating a low fat diet and taking GLA (from evening primrose oil or borage oil) symptoms have not progressed.
  • Jacey Smith   May 19, 2016 7:47 AM
    Everyone who is interested in diet should look up Terri Wahls, MD diet. Also The Swank Diet. People are seeing huge results with these diets. And should have been mentioned in this article.
    I presently do not take ANY MS meds by maintaining a very healthy diet and lifestyle. I'm still fully mobile and have no brain fog.
    There are tons of functional medicine approaches to MS that will help reduce or eliminate your MS drugs.
    Everyone can wait around for "the science" but the MS Soceity won't ever promote diet because there is no money in it. If they do recognize the many people who are getting better on diet, then their big pharma donations will dry up.
  • Shiran   May 19, 2016 7:48 AM
    Wahls Protocol!! It gives a clear path to follow, a life style... what to eat, what not to eat, exercise, etc.
  • Russ Maksuta   May 19, 2016 7:49 AM
    Dr. Roy Swank and Dr. John McDougall have done work in this area for years. Several firmly believe that our environment - coupled with an immune response to dairy protein are responsible for several autoimmune diseases.

    A whole food plant based diet has been proven most effective against several maladies... MS included - more people should give it a try - it dramatically improves your quality of life....
  • cathy fay   May 19, 2016 7:49 AM
    I was diagnosed in 1985 at 26 years old.I had a newborn and 2 1/2 year old.I deteriorated quickly, exacerbations averaging two a year, until 1994, when I started Betaseron. From 1994 - 2014 not one exacerbation or new lesions. I started getting slowly worse in 2012 and stopped Betaseron in 2014. Started low dose Naltrexone 4.5 mg and went to Weight Watchers. I am now 57 years old, weight 42 lbs. lighter and feel better now than I have ever felt in years. If I eat greasy food I am so tired. When I eat the good food I am energetic. Diet definitely effects MS
  • Diane Batch   May 19, 2016 7:50 AM
    We are what we eat. It is so great to see a study re nutrition. We need more of these studies than pharmaceutical studies which are toxic to our bodies.
  • Russ Maksuta   May 19, 2016 7:51 AM
    Go to for more information on proper diet.
  • Emily King   May 19, 2016 8:00 AM
    I grew up in a small community of approximately 1500 people. My sister was in a high school class of less than 40. She and two more of her classmates have been diagnosed with MS. In addition, one of my high school classmates has MS, and there are a couple of persons who were a year or two behind me who also have MS. This seems to me to be a rather large cluster for such a small area. Any ideas?
  • Dionne Hoyte   May 19, 2016 8:00 AM
    Thank you for the highlights on new findings. I will definetly make some changes to my diet.
  • Lucille   May 19, 2016 8:28 AM
    It is so good to receive this news which is encouraging for people with M like my self
  • Christine   May 19, 2016 8:38 AM
    My husband has had Progressive MS for over 25 years. Generally studies have been done on Relapsing MS only. What are the possibility of something like this helping him?
  • PBtracy  May 19, 2016 8:47 AM
    Dr. Roy Swank put his patients on a low saturated fat diet and followed them for 34 years. His patients were hugely successful following his diet. Dr. John McDougall picked up where he left off. It is so frustrating that the Society and medical community are not aware or supporting these protocols. I love it (sarcasm) that the last issue of MS Connections was really just an advertisement for DMDs, including a 7 page list of warnings and side effects for Lemtrada. There are certainly no negative impacts of trying Swank or Wahls protocol.
  • Naomi Mitchum   May 19, 2016 8:52 AM
    Interesting research, but picturing vegetables at banner line and giving the article a title that infers information about diet is less than responsible to the reader. Nothing in the article is about diet, rather about pills that may influence diet choice in a few years. I am a writer who works with honest titles.
  • Pamela Trosino   May 19, 2016 8:55 AM
    Thank you for sharing this healthy living report.
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    Kelly1869  May 19, 2016 9:12 AM
    love to read this! I have thought diet is key to living healthy with MS. I would love to be in a study about probiotics. :)
  • Patricia   May 19, 2016 9:26 AM
    As someone diagnosed with MS in 1997, who has NEVER taken any of the conventional treatments for MS, I find this article laughable. It mentions a couple of SUPPLEMENTS (lipoic acid and omega 3), not a WHOLE foods diet. A natural diet. Supplements are just that, supplements to bridge gaps in a healthy diet, since soils where foods are grown are so depleted by conventional farming techniques. Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food."
  • mark naffziger   May 19, 2016 9:35 AM
    Go back to sleep. I have PPMS and have been looking for dietians with the knowledge of foods to help me. My source where I live fell short. Ive been eating as much of the healthy foods I can afford . Brian food, cartalige building, muscle relaxing, are basic subjects I try to eat for. Ive been aware of food for healing for 6 or more years. What Ive run into is a bunch of Drs that dont want to understand my MS. Its easier for them to try convential RLMS medicines that dont even come close to working. As you can tell Im very frustrated with my situation. Thanks for reading
  • Beth Pozo   May 19, 2016 9:38 AM
    Change your eating lifestyle it helps. I am proof! I have Relapsing Remitting MS. I first encountered the symptoms 20 years ago and was diagnosed 10 years later. When finally diagnosed, I was given the book The Gold Coast Cure by Andrew Larson and Ivy Larson by not one but three people in a period of a week. These people were not doctors nor did they run in the same circles; I took this as a sign to read the book. This book, along with The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin and The Yeast Syndrome by John Parks Trowbridge have transformed my life. My system is very sensitive to food; for me- what I eat determines how I feel. You have to keep an open mind. I suggest reading the Maker’s Diet first and then the other two books. I have kept medical logs and personal journals over the years that are my proof that what I eat affects me. The Gold Coast Cure and The Yeast Syndrome are on my nightstand at all times. This may not work for everyone but it works for me. Before I changed my diet I had trouble standing and lifting anything, I walked at turtle pace speed and could never catch my breath. I went through years with the MS hug thinking I was dying from a heart attack at times. Since then I keep my MS symptoms at bay unless I have to use any form of Novocain or anesthesia, then I find I relapse but my symptoms are not debilitating.
  • Beatrice   May 19, 2016 9:55 AM
    I was diagnosed with MS 20 years ago. I had fibromyalgia and was in a lot of pain. I have always been constipated. My MS is mainly cognitive. I should say I am now on Copaxone and am doing very well I have tried to keep my life as stress free as possible. I saw a Gastro doctor many years he found out when the food gets to the lower part of my stomach my digestive system moves real slow thus causing the constipation. He started me on a medication called Amitiza which helps greatly. I am so glad to see it seems the gut has a lot to do with MS in restrospect my MS has been stable since I have gotten my digestive issues under control. I too have only had one severe MS attack but I have cut back on salt and eat a little healthier. My main MS symptom is cognitive I too had a job that involved problem solving but I no longer work so that is how I keep the stress level down plus my kids are grown with children of their own. Sixty years old and praise God I am still walking.
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    sahsh9269  May 19, 2016 10:02 AM
    I agree with Shiran! The Wahls Protocol is the best, most natural way to go. I do believe that eating correctly is the focus we need to take! It is certainly a possibility that not eating correctly is where we failed early on.
  • Heidi   May 19, 2016 10:09 AM
    I'm confused by this article. For one it's title is misleading. And then the information in it is suspect. The abstract for the first article does not actually include any rates of improvement it just concludes that supplementation got people up to theraputic levels. What does that mean? For the discussion on Proprionic acid, the abstract actually talks about Proprionate. They are not exactly the same thing and from available information I can't tell if the difference matters.I'm glad they are doing research on these things but I don't like all the vague and potentially misleading information as it does not help those of us trying to make decisions that influence our disease course.
  • Lori Lieberman, MPH, RDN, LDN, CDE   May 19, 2016 10:16 AM
    I so appreciated this balanced reviewed of preliminary findings presented in an unhyped way--a far cry from the way the media and press releases present findings.
    VSL #3 is the highest dose probiotic available--even the non-double strength one, the sachets--used in the study you referenced with 8 different strains--more than most over the counter ones. I'm most curious to see the outcome on larger sample sizes and wonder about lower doses. Also, alpha lipoic acid has been well tested to help diabetic neuropathy at 600 mgs/d, so the lipoic findings are also interesting to me.
    I do see patients with MS for nutrition consultation www.!
  • Cindy   May 19, 2016 10:18 AM
    Gut health is key. What you put in and on your body is key. I truly believe your environment is key. Along with a bit if genetics, how your body reacts to viruses. Exercise, healthy real food and pure joy in your life with some kind of healthy spiritual and healthy human connections can up your health. I think a better quality of life includes all these simple things that some find hard to accomplish. What to do when you have lived in auto pilot for years? Whether it be your health, relationships or anything.. What you choose to neglect, it will leave you. It doesn't mean you can't get it back. True awareness is key. I think a healthy dose of great medications, only when necessary, if you have cases that need it, prefer no chemical medications honestly, but each case is completely different.With huge amounts of doterra essential oils and supplements and everything I suggested can give anyone a better quality of life. I am a wellness advocate and teach and love to share the knowledge I've been taught. MS is a horrible disease that leaves the human body in a shape that allows us to mourn who the person really is..... still living. Prayers of healing soon.
  • CARIN LINDROTH   May 19, 2016 10:24 AM
    Diagnosed in 1986 when there was nothing but steroids available, I went to a Dr. who had a firm belief in nutrition. As a result I have been attacking free radicals for almost 30 years. Besides following a diet similar to the Swank diet I also took CoQ10 Cod Liver Oil, L-Carnitine, and other supplements. I got a B-12 shot monthly. That Dr. said that he couldn't cure me but could keep me healthy anticipating a life of steroids. I stopped walking in 2008 when pain in my legs told me to sit down. I had my first experience with steroids in 2014. All in all I think I received excellent advice from this Dr.!
  • Edward   May 19, 2016 10:26 AM
    My wife was diagnosed in 1964, at age 22. She is now 74 and basically the healthiest person in our family -- though she has been a quadriplegic for almost two decades. She retired from teaching writing at age 62, and finally stopped giving piano lessons at 70. She has never taken any chemicals. though she worked with the MacDougal protocol (going non-gluten) for several years back in the 1980s and maintains a totally balanced diet. She also megadosed on sunflower seeds for a couple of years in the 1970s. She has not seen a neurologist in years, since she could never see that they provided anything more than unwanted reassurance She wilts under excessive heat or humidity and avoids direct sunlight. Nevertheless, she insists on getting outside daily, even if it's only for a few minutes on our back deck during an Upstate NY snowstorm..
    Her basic health has not changed appreciably for ten years. One might think she were in remission.
    She has always maintained a normal life style, raising two children and doting on our 4 grandchildren, attending the theatre, concerts, art exhibits, and opera, participating in Bible Study groups as well as book clubs. We eat out at least once a week, frequently with friends and former colleagues, and she always orders dessert. She loves to travel, though not on public transportation. The hassle is too great.
    Her medications include bacitracin as a muscle relaxer, trimethoprim for bladder infections, Lasix for water retention, Dilantin for seizures, Senekot and/or prunes for constipation, and miacalcin for osteoporosis, as well as Vitamins C and D, and Tylenol,
    Her diet includes FRESH fruits AND vegetables daily as well as chocolate in some form. We have very little red meat, though she savors it when we do have it. Lamb, pork, chicken, cheese, fish, and shell fish are standard parts of our menus, as well as beans, rice, potatoes, pasta, and bread. She always has her 1% milk for breakfast and supper and freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast.
  • Marcia Naseem   May 19, 2016 10:41 AM
    Hi, I did want to add that food does impact some people with MS, I am one of them. If I eat legumes, lentils, peanuts, drink milk eat foods with full cream, I get dysphagia. I am not under therapy yet, so I'm unsure if this plays a part, but before my diagnosis and after relapses, I could consume all of these items. Thought I'd mention this as well. I'll definitely start using the lipoic acid supplement, that looks really great. The other things I'm doing already. Thanks for this article, it was very helpful. I tire of reading articles that say even normal people should eat healthy. :-( This article is something I can learn from and actually use to help me with my illness, not just look and feel great. Thank you so much!
  • Pamela K Houser   May 19, 2016 10:49 AM
    I read your article and gleaned insight from it. I am a 63 yr old female having lived with MS for these last 22 years. In 2000, my physician recommended I try the SWANK diet because I had an allergic to all nuts and zucchini. Later, approximately in 2006, I became allergic to red meat, followed by watermelon and tuna. It was found by the Kansas State University that an enzyme linked all these items thus affecting my MS. Strange as it is, avoiding these items and taking supplements has improved my daily living activities with the Aubagio I am taking. Within. The last few months, I have been tested and now have to refrain from these supplements which have caused further problems. Of course I know, age is a factor in the problem. But I did want to let you know, I understand the medical information and agree with the findings to back up what I e experienced these last 22 years.
  • Patti   May 19, 2016 11:47 AM
    Paleo is only the way to go!!!!! Sugar and grains are evil!
  • Kathy   May 19, 2016 11:56 AM
    My husband was diagnosed in 1979. He began care under Dr Roy L Swank right away - the low saturated fat diet may have been key to his successful progress, but in hindsight, we suspect incorporating good fatty acids & Vitamin D into his diet is possibly more important (we live in the cloud covered, rainy Pacific Northwest where MS is very common-one thought is that MS is a vitamin D deficiency disease). I am disappointed that Dr Swank's research isn't given more attention. My husband's original lesions resulted in loss of vision in one eye and causes numbness on the surface of his legs. He's experienced fewer and fewer attacks through the years & he no longer suffers the headaches that were common accompaniments to relapses; the attacks became milder through the decades. Lots of veggies and fruit, fish, lean meats, multivitamin, cod liver oil, Vitamin D3, whole grains, olive oil, eggs (in moderation), flax seed meal, avoid excessive heat, moderate exercise..
  • Christine   May 19, 2016 12:03 PM
    After reading about the study and the comments, I would like to know how much lipoic acid supplement is used in the study.
  • Sandy   May 19, 2016 12:10 PM
    I was diagnosed with RR MS in 1999... and soon thereafter began investigating alternatives to pharmaceuticals. Even in 1999/2000 there was LOTS of information about the Swank Diet, vitamin D and sunlight, supplements... food allergies, the blood/brain barrier, etc. I encourage those interested to use the internet, Google, and find out about the many types of "alternative" treatments out there. Good luck!
  • Christine   May 19, 2016 12:13 PM
    Just went back to the study and saw that 1200 mg was used. Thanks! Have an appointment with my neurologist coming up for routine follow up and will bring this study up (sounds positive) as I am taking other supplements...cod liver oil....(Dr. Roy Swank) ... a patient of his years ago. Look forward to more diet information and will pass along any that I think would be helpful.
  • Shawne Mulloy   May 19, 2016 12:23 PM
    I wonder why the magazine does not include reports from Dr. Terry Whals research on diet and MS? She has MS, has significantly improved her function with dietary changes, is a medical doctor, and is doing research projects, written several books on the subject.

    This is something practical we can all use - also the swank diet also proved helpful in reducing symptoms.

    It is interested to hear about studies with certain supplements, but in addition maybe it would be helpful to educate people about what we actually eat every day. it does make a difference.

    Thank you for considering this suggestion
  • Tanwir   May 19, 2016 12:45 PM
  • Elaine "AngelB" Carney   May 19, 2016 12:50 PM
    Thank you for the article.
    With regards to the study of lipoic acid:
    Do you know if the study was using Alpha lipoic or R-lipoic?

    Thank you
  • jdk2009  May 19, 2016 1:06 PM
    Diagnosed in 2009. I have been following the Wahl's Protocol, adding or subtracting food categories a little at a time so that I can watch for changes. Biggest improvements came when I recently dropped dairy. I share the frustration with MS Society re: lack of real coverage on diet impacts. Their job should be presenting information/resources like Wahl's rather than all drugs all the time, or ad campaigns about "Too Much Rain in the NW causing MS?. Nutrition must be a consideration in understanding the environment which our immune system exists, just as in any eco-system. Eating in a way that is supplying better vitamins and minerals will improve outcomes even if one is using the pharms.
  • Kathy   May 19, 2016 1:15 PM
    Thank you for sharing this. <3 information. Thought i was eating healthy . As much see room for improvement. More you know the great things that come out of reasearch.
  • Reginald E Bavis.   May 19, 2016 1:32 PM
    I would like to have more information I have been suffering with M.S. Since 95 N.B doctors said I have secondary now theDoctors in Toronto say my M. now primatior pls send me more info. Reg Bavis
  • Yvonne C. Kopp   May 19, 2016 1:41 PM
    sounds great ! I'll ask my neurologist
    what she thinks.
  • lazuli  May 19, 2016 2:38 PM
    I'm so happy to see good results from the study of lipoic acid at OHSU! Thank you for posting this article!

    I have proven to myself over the past 20 years that the Swank low-fat diet along with stress reduction and lots of rest helps lot! All information is in The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book by Dr. Roy Laver Swank and Barbara Brewer Dugan, which can be found on or at major booksellers. I consider this book a necessity for everyone living with MS. I will also add that dairy products have proven detrimental to me. Didn't bother me as a child, but will quickly trigger an exacerbation now that I'm older.
  • lazuli  May 19, 2016 2:38 PM
    I'm so happy to see good results from the study of lipoic acid at OHSU! Thank you for posting this article!

    I have proven to myself over the past 20 years that the Swank low-fat diet along with stress reduction and lots of rest helps lot! All information is in The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book by Dr. Roy Laver Swank and Barbara Brewer Dugan, which can be found on or at major booksellers. I consider this book a necessity for everyone living with MS. I will also add that dairy products have proven detrimental to me. Didn't bother me as a child, but will quickly trigger an exacerbation now that I'm older.
  • Chris   May 19, 2016 3:02 PM
    What about any connections with celiac disease? Gut bacteria is o important and anytime I'm cross contaminated I seem to have a flare.
  • Lucy Stimmel   May 19, 2016 3:30 PM
    I encourage you to take a thorough look at Dr. Terry Wahl's protocol for MS patients. I've been on it for more than two's complete with natural probiotics, fats, lean animal protein and tons of greens and fruit. Just like the plans in this issue, it's ant-inflammatory and eliminates grains, dairy, eggs, sugar. Her own experience as an MS patient speAks for itself.
  • Sylvia   May 19, 2016 4:55 PM
    I am doing a Paleo Diet- this has helped me tremendously. I do this along side of pool therapy ( M, W, F) and personal trainer on Tues Thurs. These things help to live a more productive life.
  • Svetlana Rubinchik   May 19, 2016 7:41 PM
    I am taking L-carnitine and Omega-3, MS patient since 2009, I am taking copaxone shots and ampura tablets
  • Maddie   May 19, 2016 8:26 PM
    My daughter was diagnosed 3 or 4 years ago and her neurologist put her on the shots, which she described as shooting acid into herself. She researched and found Dr. Wahl's research and personal story of going totally paleo, so followed Robb Wolf's program. No bread or wheat, dairy, non-organic food or meat of any kind. Lots of good fats like coconut and avocado. She dumped the shots and is doing ok - never looked back. Only relapse was stress related and short. Her neurologist was not happy and ordered another MRI. Came back with almost zero inflamation showing.

    Try it for yourself. Organic veggies and meats are good for all of us..
  • Fran Lorant-Moore   May 19, 2016 8:28 PM
    MS is a Vascular Problem and the reason for the differences in all. Our Blood is just not getting to all of the parts of the body for real. It all has a cure of the CCSVI. I have had it 3 times and wish I could do it but insurance quit paying for the procedure.
  • Barbara Perry   May 20, 2016 1:29 AM
    Years ago, I was in a health food store in Port Townsend Wa and there was a book written by someone with MS who felt he was curried by taking 600 mg of Alpoic Acid, so I started. It was about 2004. I found that 600 made my heart palpitate in a scary way so reduced to 300 mg. It stopped my frequent constipation. Has anyone in your study had their hearts effected by taking so much? I am soon 69.

    Another issue, statins (I won't take them anymore) made my right foot not work but did discover CoQ10 brought back the feeling in my foot. Do you know of any studies of CoQ10 or Ubigquinol. They are expensive but seem to add to my energy levels.

    Today I will also take COQ10
  • Joe   May 20, 2016 4:11 AM
    Given the advances in technology and data collection algorithms out there used by social media and search engines to track the behaviors of users everywhere for a number of goals, predominantly target marketing, I can't help think that it would not be too far of a stretch for them to apply those similar behavior tracking to MS patients to evaluate as much about thier individuality (age, genetic heritage, gender, sleep habits, physical activity, diet, symptom history/activity, weight, height, BMI, general habits and activities, etc.) to look for trends that may reveal more information to help further the research. Perhaps is Google or Facebook can offer such an allocation it could become part of their respective altruistic efforts that I've read about in corporate profiles.
  • Rosalinda Mendoza   May 20, 2016 11:06 AM
    Thank you for the article on diet. At this time I'm under no medication. I've been diagnosed with secondary progressive and secondary relapsing by different neurosurgeons. They both say MS medications will not work on my MS. My mom prepares all my meals. She also gets me all my supplements. This will help her.
  • Cathleen   May 20, 2016 11:18 AM
    I was diagnosed with Relapsing MS about 15 yrs ago. I have friends in Copenhagen, where the disease is prevalent, and the Gov't has instituted a successful health program mandating Vitamin D suppements for all infants. I have also been taking Vitamin D suppements (liquid drops), along with Taurine supplements that have almost elimated my muscle spasms entirely. Have just introduced Lipoic Acid supplements, so too early to tell what effect this will have. Am not on any medications.
  • Yvonne Andrews   May 20, 2016 12:12 PM
    The information on diet is very helpful will share with my daughter and her husband who both have MS.
  • mike podobnikar m.d.   May 20, 2016 1:49 PM
    I had weird sx from 1968-72 while a surgical res. they disappeared in '73-74 while in Army. hit me bad 12/22/75 in private practice. neurologist said M.S. Said quit smoking. I did and sx went away til 1997. Now R leg weakness only and heat makes my legs like rubber. I even got disability ins along the way which paid me when neurolodist said I should never be in OR. because of falls; all the way back to 1997. QUIT SMOKING!!
  • Frances Dasher   May 20, 2016 5:38 PM
    Will you give me your opinion of Wahls Protocol? I was diagnose with Primary Progressive MS about 9 year ago. I have been to the Mayo Clinic and the neurologist said they saw weakness on my left side about 20 years ago but thought it was related to a brain tumor I had removed at Mayo in 1973. She said I have made adjustments all these years and that now I cannot make those adjustments any more. That is when they found the MS. I am now 72 and have always been very active and do not want to become anymore disabled if I can help myself. I do a lot of exercise and eat a balanced normal healthy diet.
  • Lisa   May 20, 2016 7:21 PM
    Thank you. Great information. I've had ms for 13 years now.
  • Jenna   May 20, 2016 10:24 PM
    It is so hard to point to one specific thing out of the many that I am doing to try to help with the MS, but the one that has recently made a difference was simply making sure I was eating a higher amount of protein. In trying to figure out how to control the slow weight gain due to necessary lifestyle changes from the MS, I learned that through "fixing my metabolism" by eating more frequently and focusing on the higher protein, a lot of the weakness and fatigue that I had attributed to the MS has gone and I have felt better and been able to get back into an exercise routine (and lost the extra weight)! This may be a "well, duh" to others, but it has been pretty significant to me. :)
  • Donna   May 20, 2016 10:31 PM
    Hi Darci, ELIMINATES constipation!!: eating lentils (one serving has 9 grams of fiber!!)
  • Rhonda Duke   May 20, 2016 11:42 PM
    I have a great concern with this week's supposed findings that they have discovered no harm to humans by GMO foods! I find this very frightening! If there is no problem then why has the UK banned all food and seeds from Monsanto and all GMO's to their country's? They are modified against insects which suggests pesticides from within! Another move by large company's to still put $ over the health of American Citizens just like the Giant Pharmaceutical Co's Greed! Sad for All of us! They still can't take it with them and we all will still die! Just how soon and in what stage of Health could easily depend on THEM! Thank You for Listening! Tomorrow does not come for many M.S. and other people with many Hideous Diseases!
  • Pam S Conner   May 21, 2016 8:55 AM
    I have more questions than comments. I was diagnosed in 1998 and had very few problems until 2014, most Dr.s said stress caused problems. Never have had a Dr. talk to me about diet.
  • Polly Long   May 21, 2016 11:34 AM
    The info could be useful in helping spurious 'bad MS days'
  • Vikki Cartaino   May 22, 2016 10:45 AM
    My first symptom was in 1973, 6 months after my father died suddenly, and my body went into a shock mode. My left eye was having difficulty seeing and some minor pain. After that my left side became weak. I hade difficulty walking and was dragging my left leg, my left arm and hand was weak. This went on for two years before I saw a neurologist, because I feared I had a brain tumor. When I did see the neurologist in 1974, I was diagnosed with MS.
    I was on several medications for the next 20 years, copaxone, beterseron, three chemo treatments, and infusion once a month of steroid and gammaglobulen I went from remitting and relapsing to secondary. I first started to use a cane in 2001 and progressed to a walker to a scooter.
  • Vikki Cartaino   May 22, 2016 10:45 AM
    My first symptom was in 1973, 6 months after my father died suddenly, and my body went into a shock mode. My left eye was having difficulty seeing and some minor pain. After that my left side became weak. I hade difficulty walking and was dragging my left leg, my left arm and hand was weak. This went on for two years before I saw a neurologist, because I feared I had a brain tumor. When I did see the neurologist in 1974, I was diagnosed with MS.
    I was on several medications for the next 20 years, copaxone, beterseron, three chemo treatments, and infusion once a month of steroid and gammaglobulen I went from remitting and relapsing to secondary. I first started to use a cane in 2001 and progressed to a walker to a scooter.
  • Vikki Cartaino   May 22, 2016 11:05 AM
    My first symptom was in 1973, eye problem, I was diagnosed in1974. I had all the different medication that was available the time, copaxone, beterseron, chemo, and infusion of steroid 1x month. Nothing worked, I went from a cane to a walker to a scooter. I then discovered a diet from a book I found in Barnes&Noble, The MS Recovery Diet.
    There were five trigger foods, gluten, dairy, eggs, and leigunes. sugar and caffeine was also mentioned. I started the diet and read the blog that the author had on line. she and several others were symptom free. I wrote to her and she invited me to her home. It was wonderful, good food, stress free. I only needed to use my. cane. while I was there.
    I still work as a clinical social worker and it has been nearly 43 years since I had my first symptom. I still use the scooter when I go out and the walker when I'm home.
  • Katie Gibson   May 22, 2016 11:18 AM
    Thank you. I am a firm believer that what we eat does affect our health. Professor George Jelinek fron Australia has much to say about diet & is fact based with many scientific studies. Please go to this website at
  • Donna   May 23, 2016 9:24 AM
    Hi Darci, [about CONSTIPATION] I should have explained better…
    I know that some diets discourage eating grains, legumes, etc.
    But I have found that A HIGH FIBER DIET with foods like lentils (9 grams fiber per serving) “ELIMINATES” MY constipation. Since I don’t want to deal with constipation, I try to eat a high fiber diet. It works for me, and I assume it COULD work for you also. But I want to be clear…”LENTILS” by themselves are NOT a magical solution.
  • Donna   May 23, 2016 9:34 AM
    Hi Darci, [about YOUR ABDOMEN issue]
    PLEASE!!! Ask your doctor if a high fiber diet is safe for you with your condition before trying it.
  • busrider53  May 23, 2016 10:44 AM
    Megan, My husband was diagnosed with Progressive MS 3 years ago. Last month he went to the Mayo Clinic (which would be his 3rd opinion) to see what they would recommend for diet, exercise, etc. What we found out shocked us. They said he doesn't have MS! Just saying......
  • Andrew Smith   May 24, 2016 9:08 AM
    I've found that a complete removal of gluten, added sugar & anything that comes pre prepared (ie out a jar or tin) has had amazing benefits to my health.
  •  May 24, 2016 10:27 AM
    Personally, I have gained confidence by eating or avoiding food to keep my pH at or above normal, i.e. 7.365. I'm a vegetarian, but I still got MS. Does being a vegan help? I do not know. Theoretically, it can help. Macrobiotics may cure MS. May. These days I am trying to grow new myelin in my body. Wish me luck. I get a new MRI in the upcoming summer.

    I can be reached at
  • Shadow  May 26, 2016 8:57 PM
    I believe diet high in brightly colored fruits and vegetables help me with feeling better. I also limit dairy products and processed foods. I have not had fast food for over a year and do not miss it. I enjoyed reading this info on nutrition. It reinforced what I believe.
  • Jean Knapp   May 30, 2016 10:25 AM
    I have Primary Progressive MS finally diagnosed in 1986. Balance, fatigue, weakness etc. have been my challenges. I use a walker at all time. I read, or tried to understand the article but what I would like to know is what foods are the best to eat to be beneficial for me. I do take supplements, B12, D, Fish Oil.
  • Lee Boyd   Jun 11, 2016 4:46 PM
    What kind of research is being done for people like me, who have primary progressive MS.
  • Angela   Jun 16, 2016 7:17 AM
    I want to hear more about what to eat & what to not eat while having MS... I have diagnosed with relapsing MS & am currently going through a relapsing period but I'm maintaining & starting to see the results of the Rebif medicine & God s power
  • Vikki   Jun 26, 2016 9:51 AM
    I previously wrote my experience with MS, but never completed it. I was dx.1974, my first symptom was in 1973. I was on all the different kinds of medication given for ms.
    I have stopped all meds.and I'm on the MS Recovery Diet for approximately 7 years. I still use a walker and scooter, but I also work 3 days a week as a clinical social. I have more energy and because of my walker and scooter I'm very independent.

    I believe we are what we eat and what we think (positive attitude).
  • Avatar
    Belue-123  Jun 28, 2016 4:01 PM
    I have been using food as my medicine for over a year now!! I only eat what Dr. Terry Whals recommends. It's a short list of foods but I haven't relapsed in over a year. It's a short list of foods and I never cheat. I'm back to running 7 miles in the morning and boxing in the evening. I use CBD oil for pain and Norco on really bad pain days. I still have pain and tingling in my legs and feet . But it's tolerable. Does anyone else treat there in mass with food like I do ?
  • Avatar
    Belue-123  Jun 28, 2016 4:17 PM
    Diet, diet, is everything. Dr. Terry Whals protocol. I take none of the medications! For me it works. I run 7 miles in the morning and I box 1 hour in the evenings. I do have pain that I use CBD oil for. It's a leap of faith to come off all of the meds !
  • Barbara   Jul 20, 2016 9:59 PM
    This is a very good article. I've been on the Swank diet for 22 years, and am still fully active and mobile as a result.
  • Barbara   Jul 20, 2016 9:59 PM
    This is a very good article. I've been on the Swank diet for 22 years, and am still fully active and mobile as a result.
  • Debra   Aug 22, 2016 11:29 AM
    I found your "gut" and probiotic studies most interesting. I have had reflux and stomach problems since I was a child. I have suffered with everything from food allergies to constipation, diarrhea, bloating and pain. I was diagnosed with MS about 6 years ago and recently my doctor suggested that I go on an anti-inflammatory diet and add probiotics to the supplements I currently take. I have an appointment to start working with a nutritionist and I'm excited to see if this will help not only the symptoms I have with my stomach but, my Ms as well. Thank you for your articles, they were very encouraging.
  • profbarnhouse  Sep 23, 2016 6:26 PM
    My daughter (24) was diagnosed in 2014, and I wrote an article about our research and experiences here:

    She has done beautifully on the modified Swank program developed since 1999 by Dr. George Jelinek called Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Avatar
    bidgoli  Oct 21, 2016 5:22 AM
    Please Read Carefully!
    this is what avicenna (a scientist who is regarded as one of the most significant thinkers and writers which lived around a thousand years ago) said :

    The Humors.
    The humors are the vital essences of the body. These humors affect the function of the body and are themselves influenced by physical functions.
    Food and drink are transformed into innate heat through the digestive process. The humors arise in the second stage of digestion in the liver. This process produces four humors which sustain and nourish the body and move through the channels or meridians: sanguineous (blood), serous (phlegm), bilious (choler, yellow bile) and atrabilious (melancholy, black bile); which correspond respectively to Air (hot and moist), Water (cold and moist), Fire (hot and dry) and Earth (cold and dry). The humors are subject to variation in quantity and to variation in degree of purity.
    Illness results when there is either a quantitative or qualitative change of a humor. In a "normal" state, the humors are assimilated by the organs and completely integrated into the tissues. In an "abnormal" state, which is due to improper digestion, the material is unsuitable for assimilation and must therefore be eliminated by the body. Surpluses may be eliminated by exercise, bathing, coitus, purges and laxatives.
  • Lynnetta in CA   Nov 6, 2016 9:08 PM
    I've had MS for about five years. I tried Paleo and that lasted two weeks before I started getting the signs of an attack (tingling and weakness in legs) so I gave up Paleo. Six months later I started a nearly vegan diet. I've been doing this diet for almost five months and have been doing very well. I do allow myself fish and have had some chicken but have been very strict with the dairy. I've noticed improvement in my overall balance and a reduction in the numbness in my limbs. Yesterday I had a piece of ice cream cake and another piece today, and now I have numbness in my right hand again! For the first time in months! It may be a coincidence but I think I will not be "slipping up" again! Just thought I'd share my experience so far, in case anyone is considering trying vegan (or nearly vegan).
  • Sherri   Jan 6, 2017 5:15 PM
    I was diagnosed in 2005 I really need to be on a good diet but I'm having lots of trouble no longer working. I walk with a cane and sometimes use a wheelchair. I get so bored and I Return to eating junk food. Anybody have any things that could help me. I see a wonderful doctor and no I need to lose weight. I am just so bored and I always return to food. Any suggestions anyone
  • Susan Grattan Doyle   Feb 13, 2017 5:24 PM
    Thank you for such an informative paper which gives a ray of hope in dealing with this insidious disease.