Can My Wife’s Keto Diet Help My MS?
For the past few months, my wife, Laura, has been following a ketogenic diet, and she’s lost a bunch of weight. But in addition to helping people slim down, the low-carb keto diet may have other benefits, including potentially for those with MS.
A small study that will be released in April by researchers at University of Virginia Health reports that the keto diet may help to reduce some key multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms.
UVA researchers studied 65 people with relapsing-remitting MS who followed a keto diet. According to UVA Today‘s Josh Barney, over 80% of study participants continued with the diet for the full six months of the study. They reported significant MS improvements, including walking farther and faster on the six-minute walking test, having less fatigue and depression, and having a better overall quality of life.
Fat is OK, but not carbs
The keto diet requires followers to eat some fat during each meal, but only about 165 grams a day. Laura will eat a burger, but she skips the bun, as no bread is allowed. Also on her menu are eggs, bacon, and chicken. She eats about 25 grams 0f carbs a day, which is about equal to a medium banana.
Cheese and green veggies also are on her menu, but forget about sugar. Instead, she soothes her sweet tooth with some blueberries or a few large strawberries.
Her diet allows only about 2,000 calories a day, which isn’t easy, but she’s been doing it since before Thanksgiving.
Keto isn’t perfect
The keto diet is not without its risks, as Harvard Health Publishing noted. Saturated fat, which makes up a large percentage of each meal in the diet, is linked to heart disease, and the keto diet has been associated with an increase in so-called bad cholesterol, or LDL. That fat also could worsen existing liver disease.
The high amounts of protein in a keto diet could stress the kidneys, and because keto is low in fiber, it could also cause constipation, Harvard Health Publishing noted.
Needless to say, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or nutritionist before starting the keto diet or any MS diet.
Is keto really useful to people with MS?
According to UVA Today‘s Barney, citing researchers, “The ketogenic diet is safe in the short-term and potentially effective in improving MS-related symptoms and overall quality of life.” But until the study is published, we don’t know the specifics about the actual diets the study participants followed. I can’t tell you how much of this and how little of that they ate during each meal, and it may be different from the weight-loss regimen Laura is following. Also, what works for one person with MS may not work for another.
Other MS diets
Though the National Multiple Sclerosis Society says there is no such thing as an MS diet, some people with MS have found a few diets helpful, such as the low-fat Swank diet and the Wahls elimination diet, which are variations of the keto diet. Some people with MS also are big supporters of going vegetarian.
I’m not a fan of diets in general. Don’t hate me: I weigh about the same 140 pounds that I weighed in college over 50 years ago. But since Laura’s been on a keto diet, I’ve been forced to modify some of my bad habits. I won’t ever have the desire to diet the way she is right now — I can’t give up my ice cream. But perhaps you might.
If you’re among the many people who want to find a way to help treat their MS without more medications, the keto diet might be worth investigating. Again, make sure to consult your doctor or nutritionist first. While you’re at it, make sure to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.