National MS Society awards grant to investigate impact of popular diets on multiple sclerosis-related fatigue

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has just committed over $1 million to support a clinical trial at the University of Iowa led by Terry Wahls, MD, to compare the ability of two popular diets to treat multiple sclerosis-related fatigue, a disabling symptom that can significantly interfere with a person's ability to function at home and work. This financial commitment is the latest in the Society's relentless research efforts to move us closer to a world free of MS, and part of a projected investment of $50 million in 2016 alone to support more than 380 new and ongoing studies around the world aimed at stopping the disease in its tracks, restoring function, and ultimately ending MS forever.

"The National MS Society is committed to identifying wellness solutions to help people live their best lives," noted Bruce Bebo, PhD, the Society's Executive Vice President, Research. "We're very pleased to support a rigorous clinical trial to test the ability of two popular MS dietary approaches to address the disabling symptom of fatigue," he added.

Wellness - and the strategies needed to achieve it - is a high priority for people living with MS and for National MS Society programs and research. For the most part, research studies in the area of dietary approaches have generally been of inadequate size and design to provide useful information about dietary strategies in MS. This new trial takes a carefully designed approach to understanding the potential impact of diet on fatigue and potentially other symptoms commonly experienced by people living with MS.

Study investigators will be recruiting 100 people with relapsing-remitting MS who experience fatigue to enroll in the 36-week clinical trial. Participants will follow their usual diet for 12 weeks and then be randomly assigned to follow a low saturated fat diet (Swank diet) or a modified paleolithic diet (Wahls diet), for 24 weeks. Their health and activities will be extensively monitored during the study.

Wahls created the Wahls Protocol diet after being diagnosed with MS herself. She's spent more than a decade studying the origins of certain foods and vitamins and their effects on the body. The Wahls Protocol follows a modified Paleolithic diet that doesn't include grains, eggs, dairy products, legumes and nightshade vegetables, but places a heavy emphasis on vegetables, fruit, meat and fish.

Roy Swank, MD, PhD, began studying MS in 1948 and created the low saturated fat Swank Diet around 1950 after he observed a higher incidence of MS in geographic areas that ate meat, milk, eggs, and cheese - foods that are high in saturated fat -- and a lower incidence in areas that ate fish. He spent more than 50 years recommending this diet to his patients and monitoring their health.

Both diets have been shown to have a positive impact on patients with multiple sclerosis.


University of Iowa Health Care


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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