Is Fat Your Friend?

We’ve all heard that the path to a healthy life is through a healthy diet. “Eat your veggies, don’t eat too much pizza, make sure you’re getting your vitamins”…the list goes on. But when it comes to fat, what’s the skinny on “good” vs. “bad” fat? Sure, there’s a huge difference between French fries and an avocado, but could either of them affect your multiple sclerosis?

Oh, Mega!

Before we move on, there are two main kinds of polyunsaturated fatty acids you need to know about: omega-3 and omega-6. Here’s what the National Institute of Health has to say about them:

• Both omega-3 and omega-6 must come from your diet because our bodies can’t produce them naturally.

• Omega-3 fatty acids are found in leafy green vegetables, nuts, vegetable oil (such as canola, soy, flaxseed), fish (such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines) and organ meat.

• Omega-6 fatty acids are found in seeds and nuts, and the oil extracted from them. Doesn’t sound terrible, except a ton of junk foods aremade with these processed oils.

• It’s better to eat more omega-3s. You don’t need to avoid omega-6 fatty acids like the plague; just make sure you have a healthy balance between the two.

Something Fishy

One particular type of fat—omega-3s—has been a recent star of some MS studies because of their positive impact on heart, lung and brain health (NIH), but has drawn conflicting results. In 2012, a Norwegian study published in JAMA’s Archives of Neurology found that omega-3 fatty acids had no beneficial effects to those with RRMS. Then this year, a study by OHSU attempted to find a connection between omega-3s and depression. They concluded that while good for overall health, omega-3s didn’t appear to have an effect on lowering depression in MS.

Great, Now What?

All that, and we’re right back to where we started. There’s no conclusive evidence that shows whether omega-3s are even helpful when you’re living with MS. But while there’s no miracle cure, research has shown that our fatty friends do help reduce inflammation, lower risk of chronic heart disease, cancer and arthritis, and can improve circulation and cognitive function. So even though studies have yet to make a positive correlation with multiple sclerosis, we do know this: if you’re a human eating food, omega-3s are just plain good for you.

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