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MS Research and the Women who Support Us

On International Women’s day we would like to introduce you to three women without whom MS Research simply wouldn’t be able to achieve what we do. Our thanks and respect go out to Rosie, Laurence and Ollie for their hard work and commitment.

Dr Rosie Jones – Chairman

Rosie gained a PhD at Birmingham University Medical School as a Neuromuscular Physiologist and has had extensive active engagement in laboratory and clinical MS research and teaching. She has held posts at the University of Birmingham, University College London and at Bristol University and in the NHS in Bristol.

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It's Volunteering Week

How Can You Help Us?

MS Research always needs volunteers. Are you able to help? We are always keen to hear from people who would like to help us develop our approach and play an active role in the organisation.

There are many ways you can be involved:

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Notes for people who have been diagnosed for some time

No doubt when you were told your diagnosis of MS you felt confused and perhaps shocked. Hopefully you have begun to understand your MS and how the symptoms of MS affect you personally. You may also have observed is that the course of MS and the changes that MS brings about vary greatly from one person to another and nobody can tell you exactly what lies ahead for you.

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Diet and MS

Diet and MS

For people living with multiple sclerosis, diet is important. Regulating what you eat can have a profound effect on how the body functions and how well you feel.  

Managing your diet can also provide some measure of feeling more in control of the condition, and enables positive choices for dealing with MS. Aside from enabling a choice about what foods you choose to eat, the impact of diet on symptom management can be important.

One example of this is bowel function. Constipation for example, can be troublesome, often leading to higher levels of spasticity (muscle stiffness) and is accompanied by a general lack of wellbeing and discomfort. Using diet to help manage bowel function can work well for some people and may avoid the occasional cycles of constipation and bloating followed by temporary loss of bowel control.  

Only you will know how to regulate such symptoms yourself and no amount of dietary advice will replace your own trial and error approach. If this does not help, we advise you to speak to your continence advisor or MS Nurse. 

Other examples of the importance of regulating diet involve weight management and the avoidance of swallowing problems. If your MS limits the degree of exercise you can do, it follows that in some cases diets rich in carbohydrates (sugary foods, bread, cake etc.) may result in weight gain. On the other hand, adopting a very low food intake approach will risk low energy and greater fatigue.  

Instead, adopting a rounded healthy diet, that encourages eating more fruits and vegetables, will provide benefits without undue weight gain. Using the ‘five a day’ approach by eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetable snacks per day, is a helpful way to increase your nutritional intake.  

If you have occasional swallowing problems, advice from a speech therapist or MS Nurse can help you identify the type of food preparation methods that help to avoid swallowing difficulties. Also, bear in mind that some medicines commonly used in the management of MS symptoms can influence speech and swallowing. Talk to your MS nurse or a dietician about this. 

So, is there an “ideal” MS diet?

From a research perspective, we would suggest that no single dietary approach or specific foods to be embraced or avoided have a profound impact on the progress of MS. As we noted above, having a sensible varied diet can help in a variety of ways.  

This means including plenty of good lean sources of protein, vegetables, whole grains and unsaturated fats. While also moderating intake of refined cereals, dairy and sugar.  

If you actively dislike some foods rich in essential vitamins or other important dietary ingredients (e.g. Vitamin D and calcium in dairy products), using reliable off-the-shelf supplements is an option. It is always wise to take advice on the use of supplements as “more” is not always best.  

Higher doses of Vitamin C for example can help to avoid bladder infections, as excess ascorbic acid (Vit. C) is excreted and sits in the bladder, helping to overcome some bacterial infections. However, this can also increase bladder sensitivity so your own trial and error methods will help you work out the right balance for you. 

You can explore our MS Symptom pages for more information on diet and treatments, including information on our Bladder and Bowel and FACETS courses.  

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