Study Finds Dairy and Gluten Intake Unlikely to Affect Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Activity

by Ella

In the realm of managing multiple sclerosis (MS), where dietary considerations often play a role, a recent study suggests that consuming dairy and gluten does not significantly impact disease activity. Despite some MS diets advocating for the restriction of these foods, the research reveals that individuals incorporating dairy and gluten into their diets demonstrated outcomes comparable to those who abstained from these products over a two-year period.

The study, titled “Dairy and gluten in disease activity in multiple sclerosis,” was published in Multiple Sclerosis Journal – Experimental, Translational, and Clinical. The focus of the research was to investigate the potential connection between dairy and gluten consumption and disease activity in MS patients.


While various dietary strategies have been proposed for individuals with MS, aiming to meet nutritional needs while avoiding inflammatory foods, no universally recommended diet exists. Some suggested MS diets suggest limiting dairy and gluten intake, hypothesizing that these foods may trigger disease worsening. However, scientific evidence supporting this notion has been limited.


Researchers in Australia examined 187 MS patients, including 159 with relapsing-remitting MS, 23 with secondary progressive MS, three with primary progressive MS, and one with progressive relapsing MS. Participants completed dietary screeners assessing their dairy and gluten intake over the preceding two years. The study analyzed the frequency and quantity of these foods consumed during each meal.


Statistical models were employed to compare the dietary intake between patients with and without disease activity over the two-year period. The primary focus was on the patients’ No Evidence of Disease Activity (NEDA-3) status, indicating no relapses, no disability progression, and no new lesions visible on MRI scans.


Among the participants, 47% maintained NEDA-3 status, while the remaining individuals experienced some form of disease activity. The study found that the dietary consumption of dairy products was approximately 21% higher in the NEDA-3 group and about 7% lower for gluten products compared to the group with disease activity. However, no significant differences in dairy or gluten intake were observed between the two groups over the analyzed two years.

The study acknowledged its limitations, highlighting the relatively small sample size and the potential challenge in detecting small effects of dairy or gluten that may be statistically meaningful in larger groups. Nonetheless, the findings suggest that neither dairy nor gluten has a substantial impact on MS disease activity.

The researchers concluded, “Detection of more modest effects will require larger sample sizes, however, it remains to be determined whether such effects will translate to clinically important differences in disease activity. Therefore, recommending a healthy, balanced diet for [people with] MS may be the best approach.”



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