A European study found that alcohol, wine, coffee and fish consumption appear to be linked to slower disability progression in people with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).
1372 people registered with the Flemish MS Society in Belgium answered a survey about dietary patterns. 893 of these people had RRMS. Patients were asked to assess the progression of their disability on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (the EDSS). EDSS 6.0 is the point at which assistance is needed to walk. The research showed:
Patients with RRMS who drank at least one alcoholic drink (not wine) a week reached EDSS 6.0, 7 years later than people who did not drink at all.
Those who drank wine reached EDSS of 6.0 four years later than those who did not drink wine.
Those with RRMS who drank coffee daily delayed reaching EDSS 6.0 by five years.
People with RRMS who ate fish two or more times a week reached EDSS 6.0 seven years later than people who ate fish less than once a month. Interestingly, it did not seem important if the fish was lean or fatty.
These effects were not seen in people with progressive MS, only in people with RRMS.
The researchers hypothesise that these affects may be due to anti-inflammatory properties of alcohol, wine, coffee and fish. It should be said, however, that this is not a prescription to start drinking coffee or alcohol - certainly not excessive amounts. Much more research needs to be done in this area.
The paper contains full details of the suggested mechanisms that may be involved in the links between consumption and disease progression and is available free online at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-1331.2011.03596.x/pdf