More vegies linked to less disability in people with MS

Living Well Magazine Winter 2014

In support of the latest research  from the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis (OMS) team, Professor George Jelinek has been fielding interviews with media in the USA.  Their new HOLISM paper shows healthy fat intake and increased fruit and vegetable consumption strongly predict better quality of life, and less disability, in people with MS.

The OMS group has been researching the associations of a variety of lifestyle factors with MS disease progression and quality of life, including detailed analysis of dietary factors.

The HOLISM researchers used a detailed dietary habits questionnaire developed in Australia to analyse around 2,500 people with Mulitple Sclerosis (PwMS) from 57 countries around the world. The questionnaire scored dietary habits from 20-100 points, with higher scores reflecting healthier habits. Detailed data was provided about fat intake, fruit and vegetable intake, and consumption of other foods. Previously published research from this study (featured in Living Well Issue 17 Winter 2013), showed that more frequent fish consumption and regular flaxseed oil intake predicted better quality of life and fewer relapses. This current dietary research added significantly  to these findings.

The data indicated that PwMS with the healthiest fat consumption had much better quality of life (QOL) and were significantly less disabled. Those in the healthiest fat consumption group had 33% fewer relapses over the previous 12 months than those in the worst  fat consumption group (predominantly saturated fats).

Additionally, higher intake of fruit and vegetables also predicted these outcomes, with those in the healthiest fruit and vegetable consumption group having 32% fewer relapses than those in the least fruit and vegetable intake group. Those not eating meat had 19% fewer relapses over the previous 12 months than those eating meat, and those avoiding dairy had 17% fewer relapses than those eating dairy.

Overall, a healthier diet as shown by a higher score on the dietary questionnaire was associated with better QOL and less disability; each 10% increase in the diet score towards a healthier diet predicted a six point increase in physical QOL and five point increase in mental health QOL, a 12% reduction in relapses over the previous 12 months, and 30% lower chance of being significantly disabled. Moderate improvement in the sort of fats that were eaten did not predict better outcomes; only the most rigorous attention to fat intake was associated with better health outcomes. These findings are so strong statistically and clinically that they demand further research in this long neglected area. Further, given the strength of these findings and that such healthy changes to diet can only result in generally better health, there is no reason that PwMS should not take up the dietary recommendations of the OMS Recovery Program.

Source: www.overcomingmultiplesclerosis.com 3rd April 2014

Professor George Jelinek facilitates the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis retreat at The Gawler Foundation’s Yarra Valley Living Centre. OMS books also available at the Foundation.