Eating fish reduces risk of getting multiple sclerosis

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Local researchers found an easy and healthy way to reduce your risk for multiple sclerosis. (KABC)

Local researchers have found an easy and healthy way to reduce your risk for multiple sclerosis. All it requires is adding seafood to your diet.

Anita Bennett, 65, of Temple City, Calif. first learned she had multiple sclerosis after a trip to Hawaii 18 years ago.

"And on the way back I started having visual problems. I couldn't see properly out of one eye," said Bennett.

Medications made her feel worse than multiple sclerosis itself.

"For all these years, I've sort of been able to get by, I think," she said.

So a new Kaiser Permanente study that suggests eating more fish may reduce the risk of MS is of great interest.

Researcher and Neurologist Dr. Annette Langer-Gould of Kaiser Permanente Southern California said, "We were really interested in understanding the role of Omega 3s in protection.

For this study, Kaiser researchers examined the diets of more than 1,100 patients with an average age of 36 -- half of whom had been diagnosed with MS.

Langer-Gould said, " The people who consumed fish or seafood on a regular basis at least once a week had a much lower risk of developing MS. They had a 45 percent reduction in risk."

Langer-Gould and her colleagues also found those who consumed even moderate amounts of fish one to three times a month in addition to taking fish oil supplements saw a benefit as well.

"They had about a 24 percent reduction in risk compared to the people who almost never eat fish and never take fish oil supplements," she said.

Which fish are most beneficial? Researchers said seafood high in Omega 3s include salmon, albacore tuna, lake trout, sardines, and shrimp. Stay away from those high in mercury.

Some participants also took fish oil supplements, but Langer- Gould said other nutrients in fish make it more beneficial.

"They're very important for multiple functions including both neuro-cognitive development. They're also nerve-protective during aging," she said.

The study focused on prevention, but Bennett thinks all the other benefits of Omega 3s make it worth trying.
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