Could the Keto diet help people with MS? | Partner Content: Life and Ways of Life
WEDNESDAY, March 2, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The Keto diet is a low-carb lover’s dream, but a new study suggests the popular diet may also improve some symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when your body attacks the insulation wrapped around its nerves, causing numbness, fatigue, bladder problems, mood issues and mobility issues that can interfere with daily life. There is no cure for MS.
But there may be a way to relieve the symptoms.
In the study, when people with MS followed a keto diet for six months, they reported less fatigue and depression, and better overall quality of life.
“Our study provides evidence that medically supervised ketogenic diets are safe and tolerable when studied over a six-month period, and provide clinical benefit to people with MS,” the study author said. , Dr. J. Nicholas Brenton. He is director of the MS Pediatrics & Related Disorders Clinic at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Keto diets limit your carbohydrate intake while increasing fat and protein. The goal is to shift from burning blood sugar for energy to a fat-burning state (ketosis), resulting in weight loss.
Exactly how a keto diet improves MS symptoms is not yet understood, but researchers have their theories, starting with the weight loss it induces given the emerging role of obesity in MS. Ketogenic diets can also reduce inflammation and help rebalance bacteria in the gut of people with MS. Certain gut bacteria create more inflammation in the body and this has been seen in some people with MS, Brenton said.
The study involved 65 people with relapsing-remitting MS, the most common form of the disease. It is marked by periods of relapses followed by remissions. The patients followed a strict keto diet for six months. The researchers measured the ketones in their urine every day to see if they were sticking to the diet. (Ketones are produced by the body when it burns fat for fuel.) A total of 83% of participants followed the diet during the six-month study period.
Those who followed the diet had less body fat and showed about a 50% drop in fatigue and depression scores after six months. In addition, their quality of life and mental health scores improved over the course of the study. They also performed better on tests measuring MS-related disability. Specifically, study patients walked an average of 1,631 feet during a six-minute walk test at the start of the study, compared to 1,733 feet after six months on the keto diet.
Levels of inflammatory markers in their blood also improved over the study period, Brenton said.
So should everyone with MS start following a keto diet?
Not necessarily, Brenton said. There is no single MS diet. “What works for some patients may not work for others, and accumulating evidence suggests there are many benefits to dietary interventions in patients with MS,” he said. “My current advice is to eat a healthy, balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight, as both of these likely play a positive role in MS.”
The study is to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Seattle, which will be held April 2-7. Results presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
This study builds on previous work in animals and smaller studies in humans, said Dr. Barbara Giesser, a neurologist at Pacific Brain Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif.
“Ketogenic diets may benefit people with MS through several mechanisms, including decreasing inflammation, reducing body fat, and/or promoting a less inflammatory gut microbiome,” said Giesser, who unrelated to the new study.
The study had its share of limitations, including its small size and lack of a control group for comparison, Giesser noted.
And keto diets aren’t without risk, she said. “Ketogenic diets can lead to other medical complications or nutrient deficiencies,” Giesser explained, “and any diet should be undertaken after consultation with a physician.”
General dietary recommendations for people with MS include a heart-healthy diet that limits saturated fats and highly refined grains, sugars, and processed foods, and is abundant in colorful plants, lean proteins, and polyunsaturated fats such as than the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon. and other oily fish, advised Giesser.
The American Academy of Neurology’s Patient Education Magazine, brain and lifeoffers more information about living with MS.
SOURCES: J. Nicholas Brenton, MD, director, pediatric clinic for MS and related disorders, and associate professor, pediatrics, neurology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville; Barbara Giesser, MD, neurologist, Pacific Brain Health Center, Santa Monica, CA; American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting, Seattle, April 2-7, 2022