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Diet & Nutrition to Prevent MS

By Donald A. Ozello

The presumed cause of Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is multi-factorial, including: genetics, infectious agents and environmental exposure. MS researcher Ashton Embry of Calgary, Canada, states, "Dietary factors are most probably the main (but not the only) cause of most (but not all) cases of MS." The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, NMSS, recommends a low-fat, high fiber diet for the general population. Currently MS is officially incurable, but implementing nutritional strategies will make you healthier and may help prevent MS.

MS Prevalence

MS is more prevalent in higher latitudes, but there are cultures that are exceptions. American Eskimos have a low prevalence of MS. Newfoundland and Alberta, Canada, have similar latitudes, but according to Ashton Embry, Newfoundland has a low MS prevalence while Alberta has the highest recorded MS prevalence in the world. Coastal Norway has a 75 percent lower MS incidence rate than inland Norway, which is along the same latitude. The main environmental difference in the low prevalence cultures is their high consumption of fish, which is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Registered Dietitian Marla Brodsky states in an essay on anti-inflammatory foods and MS, "Abnormal inflammation is the root of accelerated aging and almost all chronic diseases including MS." Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have strong anti-inflammatory qualities, while omega-6 fatty acids found in domestic animal meats increase inflammation. Your can balance your body's inflammation by consuming more salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, and less beef and pork. Denise M. Nowack, a registered dietitian for the Southern California Chapter of the NMSS recommends two to three 3-ounce servings a week of omega-3 rich seafood.

Vitamin D

The best way to receive large amounts of Vitamin D is through exposure to direct sunlight, which proves difficult in higher latitudes during winter months. Ashton Embry, the founder of Diet Research into the Cause and Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, or DIRECT-MS, writes, "The avoidance of Vitamin D deficiency especially in childhood, seems to be the key for preventing MS." The foods with highest source of Vitamin D include salmon, mackerel and tuna canned in water.

Low-Fat Diet

Dr. Roy Swank, a neurologist at the University of Oregon, created the Swank Diet, or MS Low-Fat Diet. Dr. Swank executed extensive research in Norway to determine the source of the varied MS prevalence between coastal and inland Norway. He concluded the difference was the higher prevalence inland population consumed large quantities of saturated fats from butter and domestic animal meats while the lower prevalent coastal residence ate large quantities of fish. Dr. Swank recommends limiting your daily saturated fats intake to 15 grams and your daily unsaturated fat consumption to 20 to 50 grams, which includes a teaspoon of cod liver oil.

Food Allergies

Eliminate all foods that elicit allergic reactions. You might keep a nutritional journal in which you record a detailed description of all foods you consume, how you prepared them and how you felt afterwards. Accurate food allergy testing can be performed with blood testing or skin scratch testing. These methods will help you determine which foods to eliminate due to food allergies. Common foods that may elicit food allergies and autoimmune reactions include gluten grains, legumes and dairy.


Dietitian Denise M. Nowack writes, "Fill your plate with colors of the rainbow and include four to six servings in your diet each day." Antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium and Beta-carotene, a form of Vitamin A. These substances protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals and can be found in numerous foods including berries, oranges, apricots, spinach and carrots.

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