A diet rich in vegetables and low in protein reduced inflammation in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients by modulating the gut microbiome and promoting bacteria that helps control a hyper-reactive immune system.
The study reporting the findings, “Immunological and Clinical Effect of Diet Modulation of the Gut Microbiome in Multiple Sclerosis Patients: A Pilot Study,” was published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.
An increasing amount of data supports the idea that changes to the natural flora of microorganisms within the gut, known as the gut microbiome, plays a role in MS.
As antibiotics are known to alter the microbiome composition, so does diet, and both can change the interaction between the microbiome and the immune system. For example, one study with the established mouse model for MS – the so-called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mice – showed that a low-calorie diet had a beneficial effect in EAE, while a salt-rich diet increased disease severity by increasing the activity of immune cells called Th17 cells.
Now, a team of researchers tested the hypothesis that MS disease activity can be affected by dietary patterns.
The team conducted a small pilot study with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) patients attending the Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation Unit of the Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundation in Milan, Italy.
Researches analyzed the participants’ gut microbiome together with additional clinical parameters, including their immune system, at the time of recruitment. They then compared the results after patients had followed two different diets – a Western diet (WD) and a high vegetable/low-protein diet (HV/LP) – for at least one year.
The WD was characterized by the “regular consumption of red meat, processed meat, refined grains, sweetened food, salt, and an overall high intake of saturated and omega-6 fatty acids,” the researchers wrote.
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