Low-fat Diets Battle Fatigue for Folks With MS

TUESDAY, Nov. 14, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Researchers have found a remedy for the debilitating fatigue faced by many patients with multiple sclerosis (MS): A low-fat diet.

"The results reinforced what we had seen before," said study leader Dr. Vijayshree Yadav, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. "A low-fat diet can truly make a difference in a patient's fatigue level, even without going so far as to make it a vegan diet."

The new study, published online Nov. 8 in the journal Multiple Sclerosis Journal, builds on a decade of research testing the notion that diet matters, especially for folks with MS.

"Fatigue is very disabling for these patients," Yadav said. "There is no FDA-approved drug for fatigue, but we know fatigue greatly affects their quality of life."

The new study included 39 people with MS who experienced fatigue. A control group of 19 ate their usual foods and received diet counseling at the study's end.

Meanwhile, 20 participants received nutrition counseling and then followed a low-fat diet. Routine blood tests confirmed that they adhered to the regimen, finding clear signals of reduced calorie intake.

"You cannot really fudge the biomarkers," Yadav said in a university news release.

Unlike a 2016 study that tested a plant-based diet, the new low-fat regimen did include meat. 

Participants who followed the diet had significant improvements in fatigue, as measured on a standard scale, researchers said. Every four weeks, they answered questions measuring such things as their ability to concentrate and carry out routine physical activities.

More information

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has more about managing multiple sclerosis symptoms with diet.

SOURCE: Oregon Health & Science University, news release, Nov. 9, 2023

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