Every year the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers has an annual meeting and information on Vitamin D, smoking and diet with multiple sclerosis were included. This year, on May 24th, 2017, Kathryn Fitzgerald, ScD, from John Hopkins School of Medicine, put on a presentation on “What Environmental Exposures and Lifestyle Choices have the Greatest Impact on MS?” For reference, you can find her report here.
In her presentation, Fitzgerald talks about vitamin D, smoking, and diet and how important each is when multiple sclerosis is brought into the picture. I am not writing this and saying that you should run out and buy vitamin D and your MS will magically be healed.
In her findings she states. “Clinical studies suggest higher levels of vitamin D protect are associated with lower levels of inflammatory MS activity.”
I do urge everyone with this diagnosis to be seen by not only a neurologist but also an MS specialist and have routine blood work done, to include your vitamin D levels.
Smoking is a topic that universally is understood as not being healthy, yet there are many confirmed diagnosed MS patients that continue to smoke. Not only does the report and its findings mention worse prognosis with continued smoking the results mentioned a potential for conversion from a relapsing form to a secondary progressive form of the disease. Without a doubt, smoking is a risk factor that could stand to be eliminated.
Diet is one of the reasons I wanted to read the report to begin with. Like many I like to be on top of the latest information that is out there from reputable sources. Although there were many pages to the diet section of the presentation, the majority of the findings talked about obesity and HDL vs LDL. The findings gave way to the obvious that an obese lifestyle comes with complications. Something interesting in the findings was that out of seven different diets or diet trends, there was “very little evidence for a specific diet having direct effects on MS.”
By no means am I advocating that diet is not important. The opposite shows true. What is said is that there is more than one acceptable way for diet to play a role in your daily walk with multiple sclerosis. The report did mention there are several studies being done currently which involve specific diets and their findings are not yet completed. The final pages do explain that “western style diet” is not good for this disease and links the diet to other factors that all play a role in our health.
The bottom line is, as someone who is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, you should always be your own advocate. Findings change and research is being done faster than ever before and the only way to stay on top of it all is to stay afresh. Find reputable sources from scholars and doctors. Stay away from junk news articles or people that have the goal of selling you something. Keep searching until you are comfortable with your choices. That threshold is different for each of us and stay strong.
Do you take Vitamin D, smoke or follow a specific diet?
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Gina Litwin lives in San Antonio, TX with my loving family. Mom to three great kids 22, 9, and 7. Lover of animals, and mom to 5 pups I am always on the go. Currently going back to school for a marketing degree. Officially diagnosed now as relapsing remitting, there was a point where I was believed to be secondary progressive. My first episode was in 1999 and I have been on many different treatments over the years.