Image of dairy products and gluten, featured image for a news article around a study finding dairy and gluten are not likely to affect MS

Study finds dairy and gluten not likely to affect MS

A recent study involving nearly 200 people with multiple sclerosis (MS) found no statistically significant association between consuming gluten or dairy and MS disease activity.

Certain MS-specific diets, such as the Swank diet and the Wahls Protocol, advocate the avoidance of gluten and/or dairy, but this study discovered that people who included these dietary elements were just as likely to exhibit no evidence of disease activity (NEDA-3) over a two-year span as those who refrained from such foods. NEDA-3 signifies the absence of relapses, absence of new or enlarging lesions, and no progression of disability.

Diet plays a pivotal role in overall health, particularly in managing chronic conditions like MS, and maintaining a well-balanced and nutritious diet is crucial. Although there is no universally recommended diet for individuals with MS, several dietary approaches aim to meet nutritional needs while steering clear of foods that may exacerbate inflammation.

Researchers in Australia conducted an evaluation involving 187 MS patients, encompassing various MS subtypes, who completed dietary assessments over the preceding two years. The study aimed to investigate the relationship between dairy and gluten consumption and MS disease activity, specifically assessing NEDA-3 status.

Out of these patients, 47% maintained NEDA-3 status over the study period, while the others experienced some form of disease activity. Although the dietary consumption for the NEDA-3 group showed a slight increase in dairy (21%) and a decrease in gluten (7%) compared to the group with disease activity, the differences were not statistically significant.

Measures such as relapse rates, disability progression, MRI activity, and quality of life also revealed no significant disparities based on gluten or dairy intake. Despite the study’s relatively small sample size, the researchers emphasised that it might lack the statistical power to detect subtle effects of dairy or gluten, but the findings do suggest that neither has a substantial impact on MS disease activity.

The researchers concluded that while detecting more modest effects may necessitate larger sample sizes, it remains uncertain whether such effects would translate into clinically significant differences in disease activity. Therefore, they recommended a healthy, balanced diet as the best approach for individuals with MS.

Do you have a question about diets for multiple sclerosis? Call the MS-UK Helpline weekdays 10am-4pm on 0800 783 0518, send a WhatsApp message to 07824708897 or email