One Strategy for Nutrition
Is there a diet recommended for people with MS?
No conclusive data exists that favors a particular diet for multiple sclerosis (MS). But maintaining a healthy diet is a key part of your overall health. What is considered a healthy diet? For most adults, it is an eating plan that is low in fat and includes a variety of nutrient-rich, high-fiber foods like grains, fruits and vegetables, as well as some high-protein foods like lean meats, fish or low-fat dairy.1
Always talk to your doctor before starting any diet or nutritional program.
Strategies for healthy eating
Some helpful tips for managing your diet:
- Keep a food journal. Then, compare what you eat with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPlate food guide recommendations. This can help you identify changes you can make in your diet.
- Control your portions. It takes 20 minutes before you start feeling full, so try taking smaller portions at first and eating slower.2 You may find that by giving your body a chance to register food intake, the smaller amount of food on your plate may actually be enough!
- Make low-fat substitutions. Choose fresh fruit or yogurt instead of ice cream, turkey instead of ham for a sandwich, and precut veggies or pretzels instead of potato chips.
- Don't forget the fiber. Eat fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. These foods can help you feel full, which decreases the desire to eat more.2
- Avoid foods high in saturated fats, sugar and other sweeteners, including refined "white" grains. They may offer empty calories that fill you up but don't offer the nutritional value your body needs.3 For example, choose brown rice instead of white rice, whole wheat bread over white bread.
- Stay hydrated. Water helps maintain a normal body temperature. For some people, a rise in body temperature may temporarily exacerbate symptoms or lead to fatigue.4
- Plan ahead. Eating a healthy snack before going to a party or other social events can help curb your appetite and limit indulgence in more high-calorie foods.
- Start slow. When changing your diet, it's best to start slow. Diet plans that involve dramatic changes are harder to start and maintain.
- Understand the connection between eating and emotions. For instance, sometimes people eat too much or too little when they are stressed. If you notice changes in your eating habits related to your mood, talk to your doctor.
Changing ingrained eating habits can be difficult. It can help to set small, easily attainable goals. Here are a few suggestions:
- Try a new healthy food or recipe once a month.
- Cut out dessert with meals once or twice a week.
- Visit a farm stand if there is one in your area. Locally grown food is often fresher and tastier than a lot of produce you might find in your large grocery store chains, because locally grown food often gets to the consumer more quickly. It may travel less or spend less time in between distribution centers.
- If you drink a lot of soda, try cutting out one or two servings a week.
Think of goals that will work best for you. You can also ask your health care professional for additional ideas.
1. American Heart Association. Diet and lifestyle recommendations. 2012. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp. Accessed September 14, 2012.
2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eat Right: Eating Right for a Healthy Weight. 2012. http://www.eatright.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=10828. Accessed September 14, 2012.
3. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eat Right: Step Up to Nutrition and Health. 2009. http://www.eatright.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=10824. Accessed March 24, 2010.
4. Nowack D. Food for Thought—MS and Nutrition. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 2012. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/multimedia-library/brochures/staying-well/download.aspx?id=149. Accessed September 14, 2012.
Rebif® (interferon beta-1a) is used to treat relapsing forms of MS to decrease the frequency of relapses and delay the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS. Rebif is not approved for treatment of chronic progressive MS.
Important safety information
What is the most important information I should know about Rebif?
Rebif will not cure multiple sclerosis (MS) but it has been shown to decrease the number of flare-ups and slow the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS. Rebif can cause serious side effects, so before you start taking Rebif, you should talk with your doctor about the possible benefits of Rebif and its possible side effects to decide if Rebif is right for you. Potential serious side effects include:
- Depression. Some patients treated with interferons, including Rebif, have become seriously depressed (feeling sad). Some patients have thought about killing themselves and a few have committed suicide. Depression (a sinking of spirits or sadness) is not uncommon in people with multiple sclerosis. However, if you are feeling noticeably sadder or helpless, or feel like hurting yourself or others, you should tell a family member or friend right away and call your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may ask that you stop using Rebif. You should also tell your doctor if you have ever had any mental illness, including depression, and if you take any medications for depression
- Liver problems. Your liver may be affected by taking Rebif and a few patients have developed severe liver injury. Your health care provider may ask you to have regular blood tests to make sure that your liver is working properly. If your skin or the whites of your eyes become yellow or if you are bruising easily you should call your doctor right away
- Risk to pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking Rebif you should call your doctor right away. Rebif may cause you to lose your baby (miscarry) or may cause harm to your unborn child. You and your doctor will need to decide whether the potential benefit of taking Rebif is greater than the risks are to your unborn child
- Allergic reactions. Some patients taking Rebif have had severe allergic reactions leading to difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness. Allergic reactions can happen after your first dose or may not happen until after you have taken Rebif many times. Less severe allergic reactions, such as itching, flushing or skin bumps, can also happen at any time. If you think you are having an allergic reaction, stop using Rebif immediately and call your doctor
- Injection-site problems. Rebif may cause redness, pain or swelling at the place where an injection was given. Some patients have developed skin infections or areas of severe skin damage (necrosis) requiring treatment by a doctor. If one of your injection sites becomes swollen and painful or the area looks infected and it doesn’t heal within a few days, you should call your doctor. For more information, please see Medication Guide
Who should not take Rebif?
Do not take Rebif if you:
- Have had an allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing, flushing, or hives, to another interferon beta or to human albumin
If you have any of the following conditions or serious medical problems, you should tell your doctor before taking Rebif:
- Depression (a sinking feeling or sadness), anxiety (feeling uneasy or fearful for no reason), or trouble sleeping
- Liver diseases
- Problems with your thyroid gland
- Blood problems, such as bleeding or bruising easily, and anemia (low red blood cells) or low white blood cells
- Are planning to become pregnant
Tell your doctor about all medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements. Rebif and other medicines may affect each other, causing serious side effects. Talk to your doctor before you take any new medicines.
What are the possible side effects of Rebif?
- Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, sweating, muscle aches and tiredness)
- Skin reactions. Soreness, redness, pain, bruising, or swelling may occur at the place of injection
- Depression and anxiety. Some patients taking interferons have become very depressed and/or anxious
- Liver problems
- Abdominal pain
- Blood problems. You may have a drop in the levels of infection-fighting blood cells, red blood cells or cells that help to form blood clots. If the drop in levels is severe, it can lessen your ability to fight infections, make you feel tired or sluggish or cause you to bruise or bleed easily
- Thyroid problems. Your thyroid function may change. Symptoms of changes in the function of your thyroid include feeling cold or hot all the time, change in your weight (gain or loss) without a change in your diet or amount of exercise you are getting
- Severe allergic reactions. Allergic reactions are rare and may be associated with difficulty in breathing and loss of consciousness, which require immediate medical attention
Let your doctor know if you have any of these symptoms or feel sad, tired, hot or cold, or experience hives, rashes, bruising, yellowing of the skin, or a change in body weight (gain or loss).
Refer to the Instructions for Use that comes with the Rebif® Rebidose® (interferon beta-1a) autoinjector.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit
This information is not intended to replace discussions with your doctor. For additional information about Rebif, please consult the Prescribing Information and Medication Guide and talk to your doctor. You can also visit www.rebif.com or call toll-free 1-877-447-3243. Rebif is available by prescription only.
MS LifeLines is an educational support service for people living with MS and their families. Speakers and MS LifeLines Ambassadors who participate in Talk MS or in live events are sponsored by EMD Serono, Inc. and Pfizer Inc. Rebif, Rebif Rebidose, Rebiject II, MS LifeLines, and the Rebif logo are registered trademarks of EMD Serono, Inc. or its affiliates.
Brought to you by EMD Serono, Inc. and Pfizer Inc, the co-marketers of Rebif in the US.
This information is intended only for residents of the United States.