The following article is part of conference coverage from the 34th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) in Berlin, Germany. Neurology Advisor’s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in neurology. Check back for the latest news from ECTRIMS 2018.

Although many individuals in the early stages of central nervous system demyelination from multiple sclerosis continue to follow their usual dietary patterns, there is evidence that a small percentage do improve upon these dietary habits in the first 5 years after onset of symptoms, according to research presented at the 34th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis, held October 10-12, 2018, in Berlin, Germany.

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Researchers used data from the Cancer Council Victoria Food Frequency Questionnaire to analyze the dietary habits of 260 patients in the early stages of multiple sclerosis from baseline to 5 years after initial onset of symptoms. Iterated principal factor analysis and linear regression were used to identify dietary patterns and evaluate the determinants thereof. They categorized 3 dietary patterns: Western (42.5% at baseline), which included a high amount of take-out, processed meats, confectionary, fried foods, and alcoholic beverages; Mixed (41.4% at baseline), which included high amounts of fried and sweet foods with some vegetables; and Prudent (32.0% at baseline), which included high amounts of non-fried fish, whole grains, fresh fruits, some vegetables, and wine.

Participants who were smokers or overweight were more likely to have a higher Western diet score, whereas female and middle-aged participants were more likely to have a lower Western diet score. Higher Prudent diet scores were found among middle-aged participants, physically active participants, and participants taking omega-3/6 supplements. After 5 years, the percentage of participants with primarily Western dietary patterns dropped from 42.5% to 29.1%, Mixed dropped from 41.4% to 30.2%, and Prudent rose from 32.0% to 37.6%. A significant drop in Western diet scores was seen among females and participants who had lowered their body mass index (BMI), and the change in Prudent diet scores was significantly less among participants who increased their BMIs or had been current smokers at baseline.

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Study investigators conclude that “[a]lthough all [3] dietary patterns persisted during follow-up, there was evidence that some participants improved their diet whereas others did not. These findings have implications for the health improvement efforts of people in the early stages of living with [multiple sclerosis].”

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Simpson S. Three dietary patterns consistently demonstrated over five years of followup in early multiple sclerosis: results from the AusLong Study Presented at: 34th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis; October 10-12, 2018; Berlin, Germany. Poster 365.

This article originally appeared on Neurology Advisor