HealthDay News — For patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), diet quality is associated with disability and symptom severity, according to a study published online in Neurology.

Kathryn C. Fitzgerald, ScD, from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the correlation between diet quality and intake of specific foods among participants in the North American Research Committee on MS.

A total of 6989 patients reported physician-diagnosed MS and provided dietary information; an overall diet quality score was constructed based on the estimated intake of fruits, vegetables and legumes, whole grains, added sugars, and red/processed meats.

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The researchers found that having dietary quality scores in the highest vs the lowest quintile correlated with lower levels of disability (Patient-Determined Disease Steps; proportional odds ratio, 0.80) and lower depression scores (proportional odds ratio, 0.82). The odds of reporting severe fatigue, depression, pain, or cognitive impairment were lower for individuals reporting a composite healthy lifestyle (odds ratios, 0.69, 0.53, 0.56, and 0.67, respectively).

“Our large cross-sectional survey suggests a healthy diet and a composite healthy lifestyle are associated with lesser disability and symptom burden in MS,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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Fitzgerald KC, Tyry T, Salter A, et al. Diet quality is associated with disability and symptom severity in multiple sclerosis [published online December 6, 2017]. Neuro. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004768