MS, Diet, and Nutrition: A Summary

It seems that there are more and more “fad” diets popping up every day, each with its own health and weight loss claims. Most diets tend to focus on shedding those extra pounds, however, there are several diets that also claim to help manage and improve certain health conditions. Many people with MS have tried diets including eating gluten free, the Swank Diet, the Paleo diet, and the MS Recovery diet, to name a few. There has been a great deal of discussion around diet and nutrition and MS, so we’ve pulled together some of the highlights from conversations from our community members.

We recently asked our Facebook community to share their thoughts about diet and if it helps them manage their MS. Some felt that diet makes no difference in their MS symptoms; one community member noted, "I have tried it all. Gluten free, eating healthy, everything. My MS and Crohn's are still crappy. [It] doesn't work for me." However, others have tried one or several diets with some level of benefit. Here are more of the comments from our community members:

Gluten Free/Wheat Free

  • Gluten free doesn't work or me
  • Fruits, and veggies are my worst enemy
  • Gluten free helped me A LOT
  • Gluten free helped me with energy level
  • I have gone wheat free and I am the only medication I take daily is my Gilenya

Eating Clean

  • I limit refined processed garbage. Your body can't fight disease and clean up what you put in it
  • I don’t follow a specific diet but have recently started eating healthier and gluten reduced (not gluten free, too much to think about and give up!). It has definitely made a difference in how I feel

Swank Diet

  • When 1st diagnosed in 1996 I started on the Swank diet, which limited the saturated fat. Great recipes I still use, but I lost too much weight, so still do it in moderation
  • I follow a Swank diet in combination with a modified Paleo diet. I have only had 1 major flare since being diagnosed in 2006. I know it has helped my body feel much healthier

MS Recovery Diet/ Best Bet Diet

  • I have completely recovered from MS with the Best Bet Diet. same thing as the MS Recovery Diet :
  • I am currently on the MS Recovery Diet, which is a gluten free, dairy free, yeast free, legume free (the ones you are allergic to), and egg free diet. felt a big difference the one time I actually had gluten.

Dr. Wahls’s Diet

  • Dr. Wahls's diet: we have been on this diet for only two months. But already seeing increases in energy, felling better, some increase in range of motion. It's worth a try. No miracles, but better
  • Dr. Wahls's diet has certainly helped me

One of our moderators, Cathy Chester, wrote about her personal experience with diet and MS. Since her diagnosis in 1987, she has been trying to follow the anti-inflammatory diet recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil, who believed a diet rich in high fiber, whole foods and “good” fats paved the way toward optimal health, and counteracted chronic inflammation. While recognizing that there are several newer diets that claim to be the best for MS (e.g., gluten free, vegan, McDougall Program, Swank Diet), following Dr. Weil’s diet has worked well for Cathy. A few of our community members reached out to Cathy in response to her article, and here is what a few of them had to say:

  • Changing my diet has had a profound affect on my health. I’ve been on a high carb low cat diet for the past 2 years and I’ve been symptom free ever since. About 90 percent of my diet is fruit and I love it…
  • I always thought that losing weight would have a impact on my MS symptoms. I mean how could losing weight not help with fatigue. I have lost more than 16% of my body weight and can’t tell a difference. I still have a long way to go probably need to be between 40 and 50% loss to be satisfied but I really hoped that weighing less would mean feeling better…
  • I don’t follow a specific diet but have recently started eating healthier and gluten reduced (not gluten free, too much to think about and give up!). It has definitely made a difference in how I feel.

Click here to read more of this conversation.

Another one of our contributors, Donna Steigleder, wrote about diet and MS from the caregiver’s perspective. Her husband, Lynn, started seeing a nutritionist to help cope with his MS symptoms and saw notable changes in how he felt.  Lynn’s nutritionist recommended that he eat a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and free of gluten and dairy. It has been 2 years since Lynn started seeing a nutritionist, and Donna said, “In fact, Lynn was just saying today that if he had to give up all his doctors/therapist but one, the one he would keep is his nutritionist!”

Donna provided the further information about Lynn's diet in the comments, which can be read here. moderator, Laura Kolaczkowski, added that she "always tells people it is probably going to make them feel better, whether it affects their disease or not. Eating clean food is one step toward better health for everyone."

What has your experience been with diet/nutrition and managing your MS? Tell us about it in the comments!

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