Paleolithic Diet Improved RRMS Patients’ Quality of Life, Study Shows

Janet Stewart, MSc avatar

by Janet Stewart, MSc |

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A modified Paleolithic diet reduced fatigue and increased the quality of life of patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), a study shows.

The diet may also reduce inflammation by increasing vitamin K levels, the researchers said.

The study, “Randomized control trial evaluation of a modified Paleolithic dietary intervention in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a pilot study,” was published in the journal Degenerative Neurological and Neuromuscular Disease.

Eight of the 17 RRMS patients involved in the randomized control trial were put on the Paleolithic diet, which eliminates gluten and dairy products. Nine were controls, eating as before. The trial lasted 3.5 months.

Researchers measured fatigue associated with patients’ daily activities on the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS), a widely used nine-item scale.

FSS scores in the Paleolithic-diet group decreased by 1.4 points, while increasing 0.2 points in the controls.

Those on the diet had higher quality of life scores as well. All had at least five-point increases in the Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life–Mental health scale, while only three controls showed similar increases. Those on the diet also had similar increases in physical health Quality of Life scores, compared with the controls.

The Paleolithic diet group’s levels of vitamin K jumped to 2.5 times what they were before the trial, while the control group’s vitamin K levels decreased 3.6%. Vitamin K inhibits inflammation.

Slight increases in motor function were observed in both groups, with the diet group improving more than the controls.

A 26.5% improvement in predicted and actual exercise capacity, measured by the Veteran’s Specific Activity Questionnaire, was seen in the diet group, whereas the control group showed no change.

It took both groups less time to complete a test of upper-extremity function known as the 9-Hand Peg Test, but the Paleolithic diet group did it faster, compared with pre-trial results. Specifically, the diet group completed the dominant-hand portion of the test 15.1% faster than before the trial, and the non-dominant-hand portion 18.2% faster. The controls’ results were 3% and 7.4% faster.

“A Paleolithic diet may be useful in the treatment and management of MS, by reducing perceived fatigue, increasing mental and physical quality of life, increasing exercise capacity, and improving hand and leg function,” the researchers concluded. “By increasing vitamin K serum levels, the MPDI [modified Paleolithic diet] may also reduce inflammation.

“These findings may support a Paleo diet as a potential treatment for patients with RRMS or as an addition to currently available therapies,” the team added.

According to the study: “The Paleolithic (Paleo) diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed and pasture-raised meats, vegetables, fruits, fungi, roots, and nuts; excludes grains, legumes, and dairy products; and limits refined sugars, starches, processed foods, and oils. In sum, the Paleo diet is relatively high in vitamins B, D, E, and K, polyunsaturated fatty acids, coenzyme Q10, α-lipoic acid, polyphenols, carotenoids, zinc, and selenium, which all support mitochondrial function in addition to myelin growth and repair.”