More MS news articles for December 2000

Changing Diet Can Help Autoimmune Disease

http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/27/science/health-diet.html

December 27, 2000
By REUTERS
 
AS VEGAS - Getting rid of bread, cutting down on fats and adding fish oil to your diet could help control diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or multiple sclerosis, where the body's immune system fights its own tissues, researchers suggest.

These and other nutritional remedies have been reported as helping with these autoimmune conditions, Dr. Shari Lieberman noted here at the Eighth International Congress on Anti-aging and Biomedical Technologies.

Lieberman, from the University of Bridgeport School of Human Nutrition in Connecticut, presented a review of studies documenting the effects of dietary changes and nutritional supplements on a variety of autoimmune diseases.

"What makes New York bagels so good is that the grain has been genetically modified to increase gluten. This makes for a chewy bagel, but it also puts a tremendous amount of gluten into the system," Lieberman explained. Citing a study in which rheumatoid arthritis patients improved on a gluten-free diet--no wheat, rye, oats or barley--Lieberman reported similar results in the patients she treats.

Very low-fat diets, with 20 grams a day or less of fat, have been found to help people with lupus, multiple sclerosis, scleroderma and rheumatoid arthritis, Lieberman said. In one 34-year study of multiple sclerosis patients on such a diet, 95% survived and remained physically active. Defaulting from the diet, even after 5 to 10 years adherence, reactivated the symptoms, she said.

Fish oil is another super performer, Lieberman continued. It has been found to be of clinical benefit in a variety of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis and osteoarthritis.

"While dietary changes, such as eliminating gluten, get quick results for rheumatoid arthritis patients, supplements may take 3 months or more. As the inflammation is naturally decreased, patients can often reduce their medications and, over time, some can let go of them altogether," she explained.