Multiple sclerosis: does nutrition influence the course?
A healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can possibly have a beneficial effect on the course of multiple sclerosis. Apparently those affected develop fewer complaints and are not so badly affected in their everyday lives. This is the conclusion of a study by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, in which almost 7,000 people with multiple sclerosis (MS) were involved.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system that mostly occurs in young people between the ages of 20 and 40. The inflammation is caused by the attack of the body's own defense cells on the myelin sheaths of the nerves. The consequences range from visual disturbances to general weakness, fatigue, depression and paralysis.
For the examination, the MS patients provided information about their diet in questionnaires. By definition, healthy food was available when the subjects consumed a lot of fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, but little sugary desserts and soft drinks, red and processed meat.
The U.S. scientists also assessed whether the overall lifestyle was healthy. In addition to nutrition, other factors such as healthy body weight, regular physical activity and no smoking were taken into account. In addition, the test subjects recorded whether MS symptoms had recurred in the past six months or had continuously worsened. They should assess how badly they felt affected.
Patients with a particularly healthy diet were 20 percent less likely to suffer from the disease than those with an unhealthy diet. The result was independent of age and duration of illness.
The risk of depression was similarly reduced with a healthy diet. MS patients with a generally healthy lifestyle were less likely to experience severe fatigue (minus 31%), pain (minus 44%) and depression (minus 47%). However, no causal relationship can be demonstrated with this study design, the authors point out in the journal Neurology. It would be possible that a healthy diet via the intestinal flora and immune system alleviates the course of the disease. However, other factors such as smoking and genetics can play a role. Long-term studies are therefore necessary to support the results and to research the background. Heike Kreutz, respectively