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Results Published of Small Study Showing Improvements with Ketogenic Diet in People with MS

May 6, 2019

SUMMARY:
  • In a small, uncontrolled study of 20 people with MS, participants adhered to a ketogenic diet (eating high levels of fat, adequate protein, and fewer carbohydrates), and reported improvements in fatigue and depression, and also showed reductions in body mass index and inflammatory molecules secreted by fatty tissue.
  • Larger, longer-term, controlled studies are necessary, but this small study is an example of pilot studies that can provide clues to  areas worth pursuing to develop evidence-based dietary lifestyles that may benefit people with MS. Meanwhile, maintenance of general good health is very important for people with any chronic disorder.
  • The team (J. Nicholas Brenton, MD, and colleagues at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville) published their findings in Neurology, Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation (Published online April 12, 2019). The results were originally reported at ECTRIMS 2018.
 
DETAILS
Background: Different diets have been proposed as treatments for MS and symptoms. Most diets have not been subjected to rigorous, controlled testing, and the few that have been evaluated have produced mixed results. Some diets affect “ketone bodies” – molecules in the liver that may protect the brain and spinal cord. These “ketogenic diets” include high levels of fat, adequate protein, and fewer carbohydrates.
 
The Study: Dr. J. Nicholas Brenton (University of Virginia, Charlottesville) and colleagues enrolled 20 participants with relapsing-remitting MS; a trained dietitian taught them how to adhere to a modified ketogenic diet. Their adherence was monitored daily by testing ketone levels in urine. Physical function, fatigue, and depression were measured before and after the diet.
 
Nineteen participants adhered to the diet for 3 months, and 16 adhered for 6 months. After three months, participants reported improvements in fatigue and depression, and experienced reductions in body mass index (an indirect measure of body fat) and inflammatory molecules secreted by fatty tissue..
 
The team published its findings in Neurology, Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation (Published online April 12, 2019). The results were originally reported at ECTRIMS 2018.
 
Conclusions: Larger, longer-term, controlled studies are necessary, but this small study is an example of pilot studies that can provide clues to areas worth pursuing to develop evidence-based dietary lifestyles that may benefit people with MS.
 
Meanwhile, maintenance of general good health is very important for people with any chronic disorder: a well-balanced and planned diet will help achieve this goal. Although there’s no special “MS diet,” what and how you eat can make a difference in your energy level, bladder and bowel function, and overall health.
 
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Learn more about MS and nutrition

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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