(WNDU) – Nearly one million Americans are living with multiple sclerosis, a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord.
Initial MS symptoms can be difficult to attribute to MS, and research is ongoing to help identify what causes the disease.
Exposure to certain viruses or bacteria, where you live, how your immune system functions, and gene mutations are all factors that can impact a person developing MS.
Vision problems, changes in gait, fatigue, loss of balance or coordination, muscle spasms, muscle weakness, and tingling or numbness, especially in your legs or arms are all signs that a person may have MS.
If MS progresses and gets worse, symptoms may lead to complications such as difficulty walking that may result in needing a cane, walker or wheelchair, loss of bowel or bladder control, memory problems, and sexual difficulties.
Therapy and medication can slow the progression. But now, researchers say a popular diet might help with symptoms.
Meals that are high in healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, and salmon, and extremely low in carbohydrates. The ketogenic diet is popular with those trying to drop weight quickly.
“This diet, in a way, tricks the body into thinking it’s really fasting,” said J. Nicholas Brenton, a neurologist at the University of Virginia Health System. “And in fact, it’s not, and most people are quite full on this diet.”
On a keto diet, the body relies on fat for energy instead of stored sugar from carbs. Since dietary intake is known to improve the body’s immune system, Dr. Brenton and his colleagues wanted to know if the keto diet could help MS patients.
He says for some, it took some getting used to.
“Putting oil on things, right? And lots of eggs and creams and things like that was very counterintuitive,” Dr. Brenton said.
83 percent of the participants adhered to the keto diet for six months and found thy had lower levels of depression and fatigue. They also had improved physical endurance, and a reduction in other symptoms.
“Painful sensations, tingling sensations in their hands or feet, including improvements also in their bowel and bladder function,” Dr. Brenton said.
Dr. Brenton says the study shows the diet was safe and effective short-term.
A team led by the Institut de Neurociències at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (INc-UAB) has managed to reduce chronic inflammation associated with multiple sclerosis in mice thanks to the administration of a type of lipid that mediates inflammation.
The team studied lab mice and found that these types of mediator substances, responsible for resolving the inflammatory process when it is no longer beneficial, are minimized in people with multiple sclerosis as well as in animal models of the disease.
The use of these mediators could become a good strategy for the treatment of this autoimmune disease.
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