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The Making of Medicine

Big Benefits for Keto Diet for People With MS

A new study from our J. Nicholas Brenton, MD, and colleagues has found that the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet can have major benefits for patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

The study put "keto," as the popular diet is commonly known in the fitness community, to test in 65 volunteers with relapsing-remitting MS. The results? Participants who stuck with the diet saw reductions in neurologic disability, fatigue and depression and heightened overall quality of life, among other benefits.

"Our study not only demonstrates the feasibility of dietary changes in MS patients but also the potential benefits that could arise from such interventions," Dr. Brenton told me. "Given the intriguing results of this study, our team is currently looking at how the ketogenic diet impacts the immune profile of MS patients.”

The benefits were seen not just in participants' self-reported descriptions but in laboratory and clinical tests. For example, patients on keto walked farther and faster in six minutes than they did prior to the diet. Other benefits included reductions in total body fat and enhanced fine motor speed, as well as improved fatigue, depression and quality of life scores and beneficial changes in inflammatory blood markers.

“Our study provides evidence that a ketogenic diet is safe and beneficial, reducing some symptoms for people with MS, when used over a six-month period,” Dr. Brenton noted. But he also added this important addendum: “More research is needed, as there are risks associated with these diets. It is important that people with MS consult with their healthcare provider before making any big changes to their diet, and that they be regularly monitored by a physician and registered dietitian if pursuing a true ketogenic diet.”

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