Health professionals are often not discussing the importance of following national dietary guidelines with their multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, causing them to turn to other sources like the internet that may advise potentially harmful diets with serious consequences, according to an Australian study.
The study, “Dietary responses to a multiple sclerosis diagnosis: a qualitative study,” was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
MS is an immune disorder that has no cure yet, and there is limited evidence to support the benefits of a particular therapeutic diet to manage MS symptoms or progression. Nonetheless, national dietary guidelines recommend patients follow a healthy diet.
In Australia, however, only a small percentage of adults actually follow the guidelines, according to a 2011–12 National Nutrition Survey.
Studies have estimated that up to 42% of MS patients make dietary changes after receiving a diagnosis. However, what these changes entail and whether they are in line with recommendations is not clear. Some patients even decide to follow alternative therapeutic diets that claim to help regulate the inflammatory response associated with the disease.
It would be beneficial for researchers to determine how MS patients respond to dietary advice at the time of diagnosis, and the type of advice needed to help guide these individuals.
To help answer these questions, Australian researchers set out to investigate the experiences of recently diagnosed MS patients living in Western Australia regarding their diet.
Researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with 11 adults with MS focused on responses to diet since their diagnosis. They noted three key themes that emerged from these responses.
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