Fight MS Fatigue with a Low-fat Diet

Use diet to to combat fatigue

Fight MS Fatigue with a Low-fat Diet

By Gina Roberts-Grey Published at January 10 Views 2,338

A well-balanced diet is considered part of any healthy lifestyle. But a new study has hope for people living with multiple sclerosis, saying diet may be a way to combat the fatigue that’s commonly experienced by those living with the disease.

The study, conducted by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University, says people with multiple sclerosis who for one year followed a plant-based diet very low in saturated fat had much less MS-related fatigue at the end of that year than those with MS who didn't follow the diet. "Fatigue can be a debilitating problem for many people living with relapsing-remitting MS," said Vijayshree Yadav, M.D., an associate professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine and clinical medical director of the OHSU Multiple Sclerosis Center. “So this study's results — showing some notable improvement in fatigue for people who follow this diet — are a hopeful hint of something that could help many people with MS.”

While the study didn’t lead to changes in the brain, those eating a plant-based didn’t have significant differences in brain lesions detected on MRI brain scans or on other measures of MS, it’s giving healthcare providers and those living with MS hope that fatigue can be better managed.

The study focused primarily on relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), the most common form of MS. About 85 percent of those living with MS have RRMS which is characterized by defined attacks of worsening neurological function followed by recovery periods when symptoms improve.

While the ability for a plant-based diet’s ability to combat fatigue is news, the diet itself isn’t all that new. Study participants followed the McDougall Diet, an eating plan devised by John McDougall, M.D. that’s partly based on an MS-fighting diet developed in the 1940s and 1950s by the late Roy Swank, M.D., a former head of the division of neurology at OHSU who treated thousands of MS patients in his 50 year career. The meal plan that consists of eating foods very low in saturated fat and prohibits consumption of meat, fish or dairy consists primarily of starches, fruits and vegetables.

After a year of following the strict diet, those with MS had no change in relapse rate or level of disability. However, they did lose significantly more weight than those who didn’t eat a plant-based diet, which may be a factor in having increased energy. People who followed the diet also had higher scores on a questionnaire that measured their quality of life and overall mood and had significantly lower cholesterol levels.

Before adopting any new diet, it’s best to discuss your individual symptoms and health history with your healthcare provider. And if fatigue is keeping you on the sidelines of your life, consider talking to your doctor about how a plant-based diet may affect your MS symptoms.

To learn more about MS:

Strategies To Limit MS Relapses
MS: Real Relapses vs. Pseudo-Relapses
How Is an MS Relapse Defined?

  • Share
    Email Email
    Print Print Twitter Twitter
    Facebook Facebook

Comments (No comments)

Add your comment Reply Down