IHMRI researcher explains how her diagnosis forged a career path

Associate Professor Yasmine Probst was 24 when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Being a qualified dietitian and nutritionist, the diagnosis paved a new way for her career: using nutrition to better disease progress in people living with MS.

“There is currently no dietary guidance for people with multiple sclerosis. That is one of the goals of my research, to provide some guidance for people who have MS, to pinpoint the kinds of foods which could be more helpful than others,” she said.

Professor Probst has researched previously reviewed studies on diet and MS. Her research found a lot of inconsistency throughout the literature, and a heavy focus on Vitamin D.

“Supplementation of Vitamin D has been found to be quite useful. But from a diet perspective, it shows that we really need to do a lot more research for multiple sclerosis and help provide more evidence based information for people who’ve been diagnosed,” she said.

Professor Probst said that there is promising research around the consumption of fatty acids from things like oily fish, however the majority of studies focused on supplementation.

“We’ve got a really big gap in the research for MS and diet in particular. We can start to look at how to use food to improve people’s way of life and help people’s progression of MS, by providing messaging around food patterns.

Food for body and mind

Professor Probst said that healthy food choices do not replace medications prescribed by a neurologist, however work in conjunction with prescriptions to aid in disease management. She added that a healthy lifestyle can support the mental wellbeing of people with MS.

“MS doesn’t show up the same for all people who are diagnosed, but it can impact their quality of life. People who show symptoms of depression or anxiety as a result of MS, do find that by eating a healthier, high quality diet can result in lessened symptoms,” she explained.

Professor Probst said her diagnosis has been a journey on a personal and professional level, and that it took her a while to come to terms with her situation. However, she considers herself lucky that she can continue her research alongside great teams, with a solid passion driving her research.

“When I realised that denial was not helping my condition, I made some really big lifestyle changes and decided that was it. It was a turning point for myself, and my research, as I decided to use my expertise in a new way to help others,” she said.

For World MS Day, Professor Probst said people can become more aware of the impacts of MS, but also stressed that a diagnosis is not the end of the road.

“Embrace it – try to make the best of a seemingly bad situation. We can try to overcome this with more research funding through things like the May 50K, which is currently underway.”

Throughout May, Professor Probst has accrued more than 100 kilometres of running, hiking and rowing, to raise money for MS research.

“This kind of awareness helps to support what I hope is a future cure of MS.” 

You can donate to her May 50K fundraiser here.

Media contact

Lizzie Jack, Social Media Coordinator

t: 4221 5432

e: ejack@uow.edu.au

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