Diet, lifestyle and MS

MS survivor and researcher Professor George Jelinek, from the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, has published his book Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis: The evidence-based 7 step recovery program.

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The manual, which cites around 1000 references from peer-reviewed medical journals, helps people with MS make diet and lifestyle changes to manage their condition. These include: eating a low saturated fat, plant-based diet with seafood, omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin B12 supplements; getting enough sun and Vitamin D; exercising; meditating and taking medication, if needed.

Professor Jelinek, who leads a team of 7 researchers at the Neuroepidemiology Unit - 3 of whom are clinicians - says that these interventions reduce the influence of environmental risk factors responsible for disease progression by curbing inflammation and degeneration.

“We know from research that people who have a high fruit and vegetable intake, and don’t eat processed food and animal fat, have much less degenerative disease than people who eat typical western diets,” Professor Jelinek said.

“These preventive measures also affect the immune system by modulating it downwards, away from inflammation.

“The plan is that if you live this way, then you have a realistic chance of not having significant deterioration. We now have tens of thousands of people following this program who are well and not deteriorating - many of them not needing medication.”

Professor Jelinek, who was diagnosed with MS in 1999 and is in good health, has for the past year at the University of Melbourne been focussing on epidemiological research on MS prevention after a distinguished career in emergency medicine research.

He is conducting two long-term observational studies with people with MS, addressing how lifestyle interventions impact on MS progression, and how attending intensive residential programs influence quality of life.

Professor Jelinek is also leading a third study, which is assessing the experiences of partners of people with MS to better understand how their partner’s diagnosis impacts their personal life and relationships.

His team have also developed a website that provides evidence-based information for people with MS so they have the tools to reduce their risk of progression of the disease.

Professor Jelinek’s research is funded exclusively by philanthropic donors, many of whom are people with MS on the Overcoming MS Program outlined in his book.