Fruits, veggies may help reduce disability, symptoms of multiple sclerosis

Eating a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables and whole grains may lower disability and reduce symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study.

MS is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves. The symptoms include vision loss, pain, fatigue and impaired coordination.

The findings showed that people who took the healthy diet were 20 per cent less likely to have more severe physical disability, nearly 50 per cent less likely to have depression, 30 per cent less likely to suffer severe fatigue and more than 40 per cent less likely to have pain.

A healthy lifestyle was defined as having a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity, not smoking eating a healthy diet with more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains and less sugar from desserts and sweetened beverages and less red meat and processed meat.

“People with MS often ask if there is anything they can do to delay or avoid disability, and many people want to know if their diet can play a role,” said Kathryn C. Fitzgerald, from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“While this study does not determine whether a healthy lifestyle reduces MS symptoms or whether having severe symptoms makes it harder for people to engage in a healthy lifestyle, it provides evidence for the link between the two,” Fitzgerald added.

The results, published in the journal Neurology, were true even after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect disability, such as age and how long they had MS.

The study involved 6,989 people with all types of MS who completed questionnaires about their diet.