01 Jul 2015
The British Dietetic Association (BDA) considers that the risks and benefits to an individual should be considered before adopting an alternative diet in the management of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). There is currently a limited evidence base for the named alternative diets and the use of supplementary vitamin D, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, and vitamin B12 for the specific treatment of MS. If people do wish to follow any of these diets then they need to ensure their diet is nutritionally adequate and a healthy body weight maintained. Registered dietitians may be able to support this where necessary.
1. The BDA does not advocate the use of alternative diets for the management of MS.
2. The BDA does not advocate the use of supplementary vitamin D, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acid compounds, and vitamin B12 for the specific treatment of MS. This recommendation does not include individuals who are clinically deficient or a high risk group (e.g. elderly for bone health).
3. Although the use of alternative diets is not recommended, the BDA recognises individual’s choice and where this is the case, registered dietitians can be available to support patients in ensuring their diet is nutritionally adequate and minimize nutritional risk.
4. The BDA recommends a well-balanced diet to maintain a healthy body weight.
Test report panel
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition affecting nerves in the brain and spinal cord. It results in varying symptoms from individual to individual including fatigue, loss of vision, balance and co-ordination difficulties, swallowing and speech difficulties and cognitive impairment (NICE 2014 and MS Society, 2014). To date there is no known cure for MS and the BDA recognizes that many people with MS implement dietary strategies to help manage their MS symptoms/relapse rate and/or quality of life. MS is a chronic remitting/relapsing condition which complicates the assessment of the impact of any dietary change on the underlying condition.
Currently there are recommendations for the use of supplementation of vitamin D and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (as per NICE guidance) but no recommendations for the use of alternative diets. Some of these alternative diets may result in food exclusion and possible risks such as inadequate nutrient intake, altered bowel habit, fatigue, mood changes, pressure ulcers and infection.
This BDA policy statement aims to provide guidance for the use of alternative diets and supplementation for the management of MS. It provides an overview of the current literature behind five common alternative diets and supplements that have been raised from the clinical setting. All other vitamin/mineral supplements have not been included in this policy statement secondary to limited research.