Kavindra Sahabir ‘21
In patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS), fatigue is a very common and debilitating symptom that differs greatly from the fatigue that is commonly associated with other diseases. This is because of the nature of MS, which results from a degradation of the central nervous system as well as a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier. Drugs prescribed for MS-induced fatigue are limited and, as with most pharmacological solutions, have a myriad of harmful side effects. There is evidence that dietary intervention can be used to reduce MS induced fatigue and its severity. Previous studies show that certain diets alter the body’s lipid levels, and this was effective in reducing symptoms of fatigue. In a study by Kelly Maxwell and other researchers, lipid profiles and fatigue levels of MS patients were compared in order to better discern the causal relationship between the two variables.
In this study, 18 patients between the ages of 18 and 65 suffering from MS were put on diets high in nutrients like vegetables, while excluding foods such as dairy and gluten, which would lower the lipid levels of the participants. Participants adhered to this diet for 12 months and lipid data was collected both at the beginning and by the end of the study. Data regarding levels of fatigue of MS patients was collected using a questionnaire called the Fatigue Severity Scale and the extent of disability of the patients was also assessed.
The results of this study showed that the levels of fatigue reported over the course of the study consistently declined, from an initial score of 5.51 out of 6, to a score of 2.48 at the end of the study; lower scores were also associated with greater amounts of the recommended foods consumed. Participants who experienced decreased fatigue also had lower lipid levels. These results confirm the hypothesis that a diet consisting of foods which decrease overall lipid levels may decrease in fatigue in patients suffering from MS. Although the research study has shortfalls such as an extremely small sample size and lack of a control group, the results are nonetheless promising.
- K. Fellows, et al., Lipid profile is associated with decreased fatigue in individuals with progressive multiple sclerosis following a diet-based intervention: Results from a pilot study. Public Library of Science, (2019). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218075.
- Image retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pnnl/9466500533