Is there a perfect diet for MS?

Is there a perfect MS diet?

Veggies are good!


With so many to choose from, how do you know?

There are many options when it comes to diet.  People with MS often ask about the Wahl's Protocol, the vegan diet, the Swank Diet and many more.  The first thing you should know is there's actually not alot of data about diet and MS.  Why, you might ask?  Well, quite frankly, who is going to pay for it?  Drug companies pay big money for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that are typically double blinded and placebo or active-comparator controlled.  There is no "diet" company that has the kind of money needed to run a trial of this magnitude.  Plus it's really hard to get people to stick with one particular diet for long enough to know if the results are due to diet or other factors.  In my mind, the ideal study would be to take a large group of MS patients and divide them into thirds.  Put 1/3 of them on the Wahl's protocol, put 1/3 of them on the Swank diet, and put 1/3 of them on no particular diet.  Then watch them for the next 30 years and see how they do in the end.  Nobody is going to stay on a strict diet for that long.  Nobody wants to be in a study for that long.  We can't wait this long for good data! Clearly this is a big feat and won't happen.  What we do have are smaller studies over shorter time frames which do have promising data for reductions in fatigue, and overall quality of life linked to lifestyle changes.  

What I'll often recommend to my patients if they are extremely motivated to do anything and everything to improve their health, quality of life, and overall feeling of wellness is to try 30 days of the Wahl's protocol or a similar diet such as The Whole 30 and just see how they feel.  Both of these diets cut out gluten, dairy and sugar.  Both of these diets promote eating lots of vegetables along with some fruit, nuts and seeds.  Both of these diets allow high quality meats and wild fish.  If you're feeling better after a month, then maybe this diet is helpful for you.  If you're not feeling better then we also need to look at other parts of your lifestyle which could be affecting your health such as getting enough sleep (ideally 8 uninterrupted hours per night), exercising enough (ideally 5 days a week of a combination of strength training and cardio), managing stress, spending time with people who make you happy, and of course realizing the negative impact that smoking can have on all aspects of health.  

Another tactic would be to cut out just one food that could be causing increased inflammation in the body.  Cutting out gluten can be a good first step and it's really not that hard.  Try it for 30 days and see if you feel any different.  If you feel better, more energized, less bloating, fewer mood swings etc. then maybe you are sensitive to gluten.  If you feel exactly the same after the month, try cutting out a different food that could be considered pro-inflammatory such as dairy.  Keep experimenting to learn how your body reacts to certain foods.  

Talk to your doctor about your goals and come up with a plan that is right for you!

BlogSusan Anzalone, MD