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Diet and Multiple Sclerosis: Scoping Review of Web-Based Recommendations


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Beckett, JM ORCID: 0000-0002-2911-0313, Bird, ML, Pittaway, JK ORCID: 0000-0001-9095-901X and Ahuja, KD ORCID: 0000-0002-0323-4692 2019 , 'Diet and Multiple Sclerosis: Scoping Review of Web-Based Recommendations' , Interactive journal of medical research, vol. 8, no. 1 , doi: 10.2196/10050.

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Background: There is currently no scientific evidence supporting the use of specific diets in the management of multiplesclerosis (MS); the strongest dietary associations are observed with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. Despitethis, there are many websites that provide advice or suggestions about using various dietary approaches to control symptoms ordisease progression.Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the dietary advice for the symptomatic management of MS available onthe internet.Methods: This study was a systematic review of webpages that provided dietary advice for the management of MS. Webpageswere selected from an internet search conducted in November 2016 using Google, Yahoo, and Bing search engines and the searchterm “MS diet.” The first two pages of results from each search engine were included for the initial assessment. Duplicates wereremoved. Data extracted from websites included specific advice relating to diet and its rationale and the citation of supportingscientific literature. Authorship and credential information were reviewed to assess webpage quality.Results: We included 32 webpages in the final assessment. The webpages made a wide variety of specific recommendationsregarding dietary patterns and individual foods to help manage MS. The most common dietary pattern advised on these webpageswas the low-fat, high-fiber balanced diet, followed by the low-saturated fat diet, near-vegetarian Swank diet, and the Paleo diet.The main categories of individual foods or nutrients suggested for addition to the diet were: supplements (especially omega-3and vitamin D), fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. In contrast, the most commonly recommended for removal were saturatedfats, dairy, gluten-containing grains, and refined sugar. These recommendations were often accompanied by rationale relating tohow the particular food or nutrient may affect the development, prevalence and symptoms of MS; however, very little of thisinformation is supported by the current scientific evidence between diet and MS. Only 9 webpages provided full authorshipincluding credential information.Conclusions: There is a wide variety of Web-based dietary advice, which in some cases is contradictory. In most cases, thisadvice is the result of peoples’ individual experiences and has not been scientifically tested. How people living with MS use thisinformation is not known. These findings highlight the important role health professionals can play in assisting people living withMS in their health information-seeking behaviors.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Beckett, JM and Bird, ML and Pittaway, JK and Ahuja, KD
Keywords: diet; evidence-based medicine; internet; multiple sclerosis
Journal or Publication Title: Interactive journal of medical research
Publisher: JMIR Publications
ISSN: 1929-073X
DOI / ID Number: 10.2196/10050
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2018 Jeffrey M. Beckett, Marie-Louise Bird, Jane K. Pittaway, Kiran D.K. Ahuja. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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