Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
Resources
About MyMSTeam

Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
Resources
About MyMSTeam
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
NEWS

Keto Diet May Help Douse MS-Related Inflammation

Posted on March 01, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Evelyn O. Berman, M.D.
Article written by
Kevin Cyr, M.D.

  • A ketogenic diet may reduce inflammation in the brains of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), a new study says.
  • Previous studies of the ketogenic diet’s effect on MS have been mixed, and some health experts caution that the diet may not be optimal in the long term for people with MS.
  • Larger and longer-duration studies are needed to evaluate whether a keto diet could significantly change relapse rates or the severity of MS symptoms.

A ketogenic diet — which is low in carbohydrates and rich in fats — may reduce inflammation in the brain among people with multiple sclerosis, a new study indicates. Specifically, the diet may help reduce levels of serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL), a marker of neuron damage and inflammation.

“Overall, our study suggests that an AKD [adapted ketogenic diet] offers an avenue to impact sNfL levels, which seems to be a promising biomarker in neuroinflammatory diseases, supporting the use of dietary interventions as a supplement treatment tool for MS,” the study authors wrote. “These findings are of urgent medical interest because such dietetic strategies exhibit few unwanted side effects.”

Diet and MS

Over the years, researchers have investigated various types of diets and their impact on MS.

Some previous research has suggested that people living with MS may benefit from adopting a ketogenic diet. A study from 2019 found that people with relapsing MS tolerated the diet well, experienced improvements in fatigue and depression, and lost weight. A 2020 study concluded that a ketogenic diet and a fasting diet “may modulate immunity, reduce disease severity and promote remyelination in the mouse model of MS,” but it noted more research was needed.

Another study from 2019 found that with ketogenic diets, “no difference in mental and physical health [quality of life] was noted in patients with multiple sclerosis.”

Some health experts have questioned the long-term safety of a ketogenic diet, cautioning it can lead to nutritional deficiencies. “The verdict is still out on the long-term safety of low-carb diets,” according to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. “They tend to be high in total fat, especially saturated animal fat, which has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and perhaps even MS. The low-carb craze also restricts fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This can result in deficiencies of valuable vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. All of these are important to long-term good health.”

A 2021 study identified two diets high in fruits, vegetables, and unsaturated fat that could help manage symptoms of multiple sclerosis: the Swank diet and Wahls Protocol.

Learn more about healthy eating and MS.

Ketogenic Diet Linked to Lower Inflammation

In this latest study, German researchers enrolled a total of 60 people who were assigned to receive one of three diets for six months: the AKD, a calorie-restricted diet, or — for the control group — a standard German diet. Each participant remained on their regularly prescribed disease-modifying therapy for their MS for the duration of the study.

The participants on the adapted ketogenic diet consumed fewer than 50 carbohydrates per day, with 100 or fewer grams of protein and more than 160 grams of fat.

Researchers then evaluated how each diet impacted participants’ sNFL levels, measuring them at the start and end of the trial. Participants who were enrolled in the ketogenic diet group were monitored for successful sustained ketosis through regular urine testing. Ketosis is a metabolic process through which the body burns fat instead of carbohydrates to fuel the body.

In the end, researchers found that participants on the AKD demonstrated a significant decrease in their sNfL levels. They saw no significant changes in the control or the calorie-restricted groups.

Choose Your Diet With Care

People living with MS should speak with their doctor before making drastic changes to their diet, including adopted a ketogenic diet. “People with MS need to plan for the long haul. Maintaining a healthy weight is important, and while carbohydrates may contribute to weight gain, it’s calories that pack on the pounds,” the Multiple Scleorosis Society notes.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Evelyn O. Berman, M.D. is a neurology and pediatric specialist and treats disorders of the brain in children. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about her here.
Kevin Cyr, M.D. is a physician with a focus in cardiovascular disease and bioengineering. Learn more about him here.

Related articles

Spasticity is one of the more common symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). MS causes damage to the...

Baclofen Relieves MS Spasticity, but Can It Cause Weight Gain?

Spasticity is one of the more common symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). MS causes damage to the...
If you or a loved one has multiple sclerosis (MS), you’re likely familiar with the most common...

Do You Ever Feel Like Your Bed Is Vibrating?

If you or a loved one has multiple sclerosis (MS), you’re likely familiar with the most common...
If you’re living with multiple sclerosis (MS), you’re likely familiar with the common symptoms of...

Feeling Wet When You’re Dry: Skin, Fingers, or Feet

If you’re living with multiple sclerosis (MS), you’re likely familiar with the common symptoms of...
Many members of MyMSTeam have been asking each other about the Wahls Protocol — a diet and...

MyMSTeam Interviews Dr. Terry Wahls

Many members of MyMSTeam have been asking each other about the Wahls Protocol — a diet and...
Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) can complicate decisions about what supplements and...

Using Vitamins and Supplements Safely With MS: What To Avoid

Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) can complicate decisions about what supplements and...
Red wine is sometimes called a “superfood” because of its antioxidants — substances that help...

Red Wine and MS: Potential Benefits and Risks

Red wine is sometimes called a “superfood” because of its antioxidants — substances that help...

Recent articles

If you’re living with multiple sclerosis (MS), you are familiar with the common symptoms of the...

Why Does It Feel Like Something Is Stuck Between Your Toes?

If you’re living with multiple sclerosis (MS), you are familiar with the common symptoms of the...
When you’re living with multiple sclerosis (MS), symptoms and sensations can become a part of...

Unusual Sensations and MS: Causes and When to Worry

When you’re living with multiple sclerosis (MS), symptoms and sensations can become a part of...
Walking impairment is one of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Many people...

Managing MS Gait and Walking Difficulties

Walking impairment is one of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Many people...
Some people with MS experience involuntarily biting their tongue.

Why You May Accidentally Bite Your Tongue When Talking

Some people with MS experience involuntarily biting their tongue.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects everyone with the condition differently, causing a variety of...

Why Does Your Face Turn Red When You Poop?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects everyone with the condition differently, causing a variety of...
People who live with multiple sclerosis (MS) can experience a variety of symptoms, not all of...

Why Does One Side of Your Face Feel Hot and Sensitive?

People who live with multiple sclerosis (MS) can experience a variety of symptoms, not all of...
MS News
MS News

Thank you for subscribing!

Become a member to get even more:

sign up for free

close