Posted by: Anne | 2011/09/30

Should people with autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis avoid all supplements which BOOST and/or SUPPORT the immune system?

Good Day, DietDoc

I know that foods and supplements that BOOST the immune system should be AVOIDED by people with auto-immune diseases as their immune systems are already operating in over-drive mode.

What is not so clear is whether foods and supplements which SUPPORT the immune system should also be avoided, e.g. joghurt, Red Clover.

Many Thanks


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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Anne
This is an interesting question. Basically auto-immune diseases are due to a genetic predisposition which makes a given patient's auto-immune system react inappropriately in one or more regions. It does not mean that such a patient's entire auto-immune system is not functioning and that he or she may not use supplements to boost the auto-immune system. You can certainly use yoghurt which is an excellent food being rich in high quality protein and calcium. The auto-immune boosting properties which are attributed to the microorganisms in yoghurt (e.g. Lactobacillus, etc) only apply if the product still contains live organisms when it is ingested. In many cases, commercial yoghurts contain microorganisms, but they are no longer alive when we ingest them (i.e. due to addition of antibiotics or heat treatment to preserve the yoghurt). I cannot comment on Red Clover because I am not a herbal expert and have not as yet read up on this plant's properties. I trust that you are under the care of a registered dietitian if you suffer from multiple sclerosis so that your nutrient and dietary needs can be addressed when necessary (e.g. eating problems caused by difficulty with swallowing, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea as side-effects of medications, etc). If you have not as yet, consulted a dietitian, visit the Association for Dietetics in SA Website at: and click on "Find a Dietitian" to find a dietitian in your area.
Best regards

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