You are here:

MS research update - Is poor nutrition a problem for people with MS? - 23 June 2014

Summary

Malnutrition, is a common condition that occurs when the diet does not contain the right amount of nutrients. This study looked at how common malnutrition was in people with MS.

The researchers found that 12 people with MS out of 102 assessed were malnourished, compared to one out of the 50 people in the control group. Although there was a trend for malnutrition to be more likely in MS, the difference was not significant. Furthermore the researchers did not find any relationship between malnutrition and type of MS, time since diagnosis or level of disability.

The authors conclude that studies using a larger group of people and tracking them over time are needed to determine if malnutrition is in fact more common in people with MS or if their results were due to the effect of only looking at a small group, which magnified a problem which is very common in the general population anyway.

Background

Malnutrition, is a condition that occurs when the diet does not contain the right amount of nutrients, this is usually caused by a lack of food or an unbalanced diet.

It is a common health problem and symptoms can include losing weight, feeling tired all of the time, taking a long time to recover from an illness or for a cut to heal and skin problems such as rashes. There are several factors that can make malnutrition more likely including having a long term illness, reduced mobility or a low income.

Previous studies have found nutritional problems in people with MS, but the issue has not been investigated thoroughly. This study looked at how common malnutrition was in people with MS and to assess if it was associated with type of MS, time since diagnosis or level of disability.

How this study was carried out

For this study the researchers used information contained in the medical records of people who attended an MS outpatient clinic in Turkey between January 2000 and June 2012. Information on 102 people with MS and a control group of 50 people with other long term neurological conditions such as headache or vertigo, were collected and compared.

For people with MS the researchers collected the date of diagnosis, type of MS, medication information, number of relapses and EDSS and Functional System Scale scores.

Serum albumin levels were also recorded. This is a protein found in the blood, it is often measured by doing a blood test as it is used as an indicator of health and nutrition levels. The study considered that anyone with a serum albumin level below 3.5g/dl was suffering from malnutrition.

What was found

The researchers found that 12 people with MS and one person in the control group had serum albumin levels below 3.5g/dl and so were considered to be malnourished. Although the number of people with MS who were considered malnourished was higher than in the control group the difference was not significant.

When the researchers compared the 12 people with MS who were malnourished and the other 90 people with MS and looked at MS type, time since diagnosis, number of relapses, EDSS score and FSS scores, there were also no differences between the two groups. This result showed that the malnutrition in these 12 people could not be linked to any MS related measure assessed in the study.

What does it mean?

The study shows that there may be a trend for malnutrition to be more likely in people with MS, although the results were not clear cut. The authors suggest this may be because the number of people they studied was small and they only used the results of one type of test for malnutrition as they were working from medical records, so could not do other tests on the people directly.

The authors conclude that studies using a larger group of people and tracking them over time are needed to determine if malnutrition is in fact more common in people with MS or if their results were due to the effect of only looking at a small group, which magnified a problem which is very common in the general population anyway.

Sorgun MH, Yucesan C, Tegin C.
Is malnutrition a problem for multiple sclerosis patients?.
J Clin Neurosci. 2014 Jun 2. pii: S0967-5868(14)00155-6.[Epub ahead of print]
abstract

More about diet

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good general health.

Research into diet and MS has been limited. However, there has been research into a healthy diet for other conditions, which found that a diet that was low in fat, with lots of fruit and vegetables reduced someone's risk of developing heart disease, strokes and certain cancers. Consequently this forms the basis for the Government's advice for a healthy balanced diet. A balanced diet is essential to provide all the nutrients needed to be as active and healthy as possible. This includes foods from the major food groups of fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates, fat, protein and dairy products.

The role of diet in helping people with problems such as eating difficulties, bladder problems and constipation, is now generally accepted. A poor diet and nutrition can also worsen existing symptoms such as fatigue and weakness.

However some symptoms can also make consuming a balanced diet more difficult. Mobility problems may make it more difficult to go to the shops and buy a variety of fresh food or move around the kitchen preparing a meal. Fatigue may mean the person is exhausted just preparing the meal and so doesn't eat it. Problems with swallowing can also be a symptom of MS and so eating a variety of nutritious food can be difficult.

There are a number of suggestions in Living with fatigue for reducing the impact of fatigue when preparing and eating meals, but these suggestions can also help reduce the impact on other symptoms as well. These include:

  • Organise the kitchen to keep commonly used items close to hand
  • Use ready prepared foods such as grated cheese, diced meat, pre-washed salads to reduce the energy required in preparing these foods. Frozen fruit and vegetables are as high in vitamins as fresh.
  • Sit rather than stand to prepare and cook meals
  • Large meals can leave people feeling bloated and sluggish. If this is the case then try having more frequent, lighter meals or healthy between meal snacks such as fresh fruit, cereals or sandwiches.

You can read more suggestions in Living with fatigue.

You can read more about diet in the A to Z of MS.

Research by topic areas...

Assessment tools

Fischer M, Kunkel A, Bublak P, et al.
How reliable is the classification of cognitive impairment across different criteria in early and late stages of multiple sclerosis?
J Neurol Sci. 2014 May 27. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Heldner MR, Vanbellingen T, Bohlhalter S, et al.
The coin rotation task: a valid test for manual dexterity in multiple sclerosis.
Phys Ther. 2014 Jun 19. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Bone health

Tyblova M, Kalincik T, Zikan V, et al.
Impaired ambulation and steroid therapy impact negatively on bone health in multiple sclerosis.
Eur J Neurol. 2014 Jun 16. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Causes of MS

Mandia D, Ferraro OE, Nosari G, et al.
Environmental factors and multiple sclerosis severity: a descriptive study.
Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Jun 19;11(6):6417-6432.
abstract

O'Gorman C, Bukhari W, Todd A, et al.
Smoking increases the risk of multiple sclerosis in Queensland, Australia.
J Clin Neurosci. 2014 Jun 2. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Disease modifying treatments

Tur C, Montalban X.
Natalizumab: risk stratification of individual patients with multiple sclerosis.
CNS Drugs. 2014 Jun 19. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Loleit V, Biberacher V, Hemmer B.
Current and future therapies targeting the immune system in multiple sclerosis.
Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2014 Jun 16. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Ward MD, Jones DE, Goldman MD.
Overview and safety of fingolimod hydrochloride use in patients with multiple sclerosis.
Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2014 Jul;13(7):989-98.
abstract

Harrison K.
Fingolimod for multiple sclerosis: a review for the specialist nurse.
Br J Nurs. 2014 Jun 12;23(11):582-9.
abstract

Falls

Nilsagård Y, Gunn H, Freeman J, et al.
Falls in people with MS-an individual data meta-analysis from studies from Australia, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States.
Mult Scler. 2014 Jun 16. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Other treatments

Schroeder B, Doig J, Premkumar K.
The effects of massage therapy on multiple sclerosis patients' quality of life and leg function.
Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:640916.
abstract

Flachenecker P, Henze T, Zettl UK.
Long-term effectiveness and safety of nabiximols (Tetrahydrocannabinol/Cannabidiol Oromucosal Spray) in clinical practice.
Eur Neurol. 2014 Jun 18;72(1-2):95-102. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Physical activity

Gorgas AM, Widener GL, Gibson-Horn C, et al.
Gait changes with balance-based torso-weighting in people with multiple sclerosis.
Physiother Res Int. 2014 Jun 14. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Pregnancy and childbirth

Karp I, Manganas A, Sylvestre MP, et al.
Does pregnancy alter the long-term course of multiple sclerosis?
Ann Epidemiol. 2014 Jul;24(7):504-508.e2.
abstract

Provision of care

Tallantyre EC, Causon EG, Harding KE, et al.
The aetiology of acute neurological decline in multiple sclerosis: experience from an open-access clinic.
Mult Scler. 2014 Jun 18. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Self-management

Socha K, Kochanowicz J, Karpi Ska EB, et al.
Dietary habits and selenium, glutathione peroxidase and total antioxidant status in the serum of patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
Nutr J. 2014 Jun 18;13(1):62. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Sorgun MH, Yucesan C, Tegin C.
Is malnutrition a problem for multiple sclerosis patients?
J Clin Neurosci. 2014 Jun 2. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Symptoms and symptom management

Wyndaele JJ.
Self-intermittent catheterization in multiple sclerosis.
Ann Phys Rehabil Med. 2014 Jun 4. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Ashtari F, Rezvani R, Afshar H.
Sexual dysfunction in women with multiple sclerosis: dimensions and contributory factors.
J Res Med Sci. 2014 Mar;19(3):228-33.
abstract

Yorkston KM, Baylor C, Amtmann D.
Communicative participation restrictions in multiple sclerosis: associated variables and correlation with social functioning.
J Commun Disord. 2014 May 26. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Joly H, Cohen M, Lebrun C.
Demonstration of a lexical access deficit in relapsing-remitting and secondary progressive forms of multiple sclerosis.
Rev Neurol (Paris). 2014 Jun 16. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Year: 2016

December 2016

November 2016

July 2016

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 2016

Year: 2015

December 2015

November 2015

October 2015

May 2015

April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

Year: 2014

December 2014

November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

August 2014

July 2014

June 2014

May 2014

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

Year: 2013

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013

September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

Year: 2012

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012

June 2012

May 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012

Print this page