People who eat a healthy diet that includes foods such as vegetables, fish, eggs, poultry, and legumes may have a reduced risk of multiple sclerosis (MS), a study suggests.
Although diet may be a modifiable risk factor for MS, current evidence is mainly based on single foods and nutrients, with inconclusive results.
For example, one study found that eating fish once a week, or one to three times per month, along with taking daily fish oil supplements, may help lower the risk of developing MS. Another study showed that higher intake of antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamin C and E, does not reduce the risk of MS in women, as previously thought.
Instead, analyzing dietary patterns has advantages over the single food or single nutrient approach “by capturing information about a person’s total diet, including the interactions that may occur between food components,” the authors wrote.
Researchers at Curtin University in Australia investigated the associations between dietary patterns and the risk of a first diagnosis of central nervous system demyelination, a common precursor to MS.
“There are a number of known environmental risk factors for MS, including low vitamin D status and low sun exposure, smoking, and a history of glandular fever, and we were intrigued to see whether diet and food intake also played a significant role in this,” study lead author Lucinda Black, PhD, said in a press release.
The team collected data from the 2003-2006 Ausimmune study, a multicenter, case-control study conducted across Australia, and assessed if “a healthy diet or a western-style diet had an impact on the chances of having a demyelinating event, which involves damage to the myelin sheath that protects the nerves,” Black said.
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