Food and MS: Cause or Effect?
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A new, rather small study has me wondering even more about the cause-and-effect aspects of multiple sclerosis research findings.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore tested a small number of women, 27 with MS and 30 without. They started out studying vitamin D in relation to MS. What they found was that not only did the women with MS have lower vitamin D counts, they also had lower levels of five other nutrients known to have antioxidant and/or anti-inflammatory properties: food folate, vitamin E, magnesium, lutein-zeaxanthin, and quercetin.
Both groups of women were followed for a full year, reporting on their dietary and nutritional habits before they began vitamin D supplementation. The research was sponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and is to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, in April.
Gut health and nutrition seem to be a strong focus of research on many diseases and disorders these days. From brain health to autism spectrum disorder, gut bacteria and how it helps us process food into nutrients is medical research gold right now.
In the Johns Hopkins study, low levels of anti-inflamatories in subjects with MS were attributed to the fact that the women took in less of these nutrients in their food AND processed them differently than the healthy controls.
Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) is a chronic inflammatory disorder. Could it be because our gut flora isn’t processing these nutrients properly and that has something to do with our MS? Could it be that multiple sclerosis has somehow reset our gut’s friendliness to these bacteria? Or could our absorption of the correct balance of nutrients be affected by MS?
One good result was that the women with MS also consumed less fat on average than the healthy study subjects.
Certainly, gut and nutrient research will continue to be an interesting avenue for many conditions. As a trained chef with MS (who tries to consume a healthy – while still enjoyable – diet) I look forward to more research data on this.
How about you?
My book, Chef Interrupted, will be available on March 1, but you can pre-order your copy now onAmazon. Follow me on the Life With MS Facebook page and on Twitter, and subscribe to Life With Multiple Sclerosis.
Photo: Getty Images
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