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A Diet Rich in Fruit and Vegetables Could Help Improve Multiple Sclerosis Fatigue

Sara Karlovitch
A new study suggests lipid profiles could help improve multiple sclerosis (MS) fatigue.
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fats, while being low in carbohydrates, can help improve fatigue in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study published in PLOS One.

Investigators found that lipid profile variables were associated with fatigue improvements in patients with progressive MS. Previous research on the same diet found that it is also associated with improved balance, walking, and quality of life. Investigators also saw improvements to body mass index (BMI) over the 12-month study period. 

The study included 18 patients with progressive MS. Of the 18 patients, 16 had secondary progressive MS while 2 had primary progressive MS. Out of the 18 patients, 12 were not on any disease-modifying treatments while 6 were. Participants were recommended 3 serving of leafy green vegetables daily and plenty of plant and animal protein was encouraged. Participants were only allowed 2 servings of gluten free grain or starchy foods weekly. Patients were also recommended dietary supplements that were thought to be beneficial to MS fatigue, but could stop taking them at any time. Fatigue was measured using the Fatigue Severity Scale. No control group was used.

Participants were also put on a personal home exercise plan that strengthened leg and trunk muscles. The routine also included stretching. Participants logged their diet and exercise in a journal. Weight loss was not a goal of the study; the study team was notified if any participant lost more than 10% of their body weight, and the participant would then be put on a higher calorie diet.   

Investigators found that changes in BMI were not associated with fatigue level. All dietary changes the participants made were in line with recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

“The results from this pilot study of the diet-based multimodal intervention are consistent with the possibility that lipid profile biomarkers, particularly [total cholesterol] and [high-density lipoprotein cholesterol], may contribute to improvement in MS fatigue” the authors wrote. “Our results require confirmation given the limitations of the current pilot study design, which include the small sample size, lack of control group and randomization. However, if confirmed in larger studies, lipid monitoring may become useful for guiding fatigue treatment decisions.”   


Fellows Maxwell K, Wahls T, Browne RW, 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. PLoS One. 2019;14(6):e0218075. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218075.

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