What Does the Research Show?
- Gluten-free diet. Cutting out gluten is popular. But there's no evidence it helps people with MS, says Allen C. Bowling, MD, PhD, medical director of the Multiple Sclerosis Service at the Colorado Neurological Institute and author of Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Multiple Sclerosis.
- Swank diet. This diet, developed over 60 years ago, has very low levels of saturated fats. Though some studies have shown promise, none has shown a convincing benefit, Bowling says. "I don’t think the Swank diet is harmful, but it’s hard to stick to," he says.
- Wahls diet. This diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables -- 9 cups a day - but no studies have shown a clear result. Bowling believes its emphasis on certain nutrients leads some followers to “use high doses of many supplements.” He cautions that the safety of such high doses has not been proven. Discuss any supplements you're taking with your doctor, even if the products are natural.
MS and Diet: What Should You Do?Though there is no magic MS diet, some dietary changes may be good for your overall health:
- Cut fat and boost fiber. Just like people without MS, your diet may have too much saturated fat and too little fiber. Changing that may help you avoid heart disease and other conditions.
- Avoid extreme, untested diets. Diets that radically change how you eat could be harmful. "If you’re using a diet to treat your MS, it's really like using a medication," Mowry says. You wouldn’t take an untested drug, so be wary of an untested diet. When in doubt, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian.