Washington D.C.: A diet that mimics fasting can have a positive influence on the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a recent study.
The USC-led study, which included mice and human patients who have multiple sclerosis, discovered that the diet triggers a death-and-life process for cells that appears critical for the body’s repair.
Lead author Valter Longo explained that during the fasting-mimicking diet, cortisone is produced and that initiates a killing of autoimmune cells. This process also leads to the production of new healthy cells.
For the first part of the study, researchers put a group of mice with autoimmune disease on a fasting-mimicking diet. Results showed that the diet reduced disease symptoms in all the mice and “caused complete recovery for 20 percent of the animals,” the researchers wrote.
The researchers found reductions in symptoms attributed to health improvements such as increased levels of the steroid hormone, corticosterone. They also saw a reduction in the inflammation-causing cytokines – proteins which order other cells to repair sites of trauma, infection or other pain.
They also saw improvements in the white blood “T cells,” responsible for immunity. Finally, the researchers found that the fasting-mimicking diet promotes regeneration of the myelin – the sheath of proteins and fats that insulate nerve fibers in the spine and brain that was damaged by the autoimmunity.
The researchers also checked the safety and potential efficacy of the diet on people who have multiple sclerosis through a pilot trial with 60 participants with the disease, lead by Markus Bock at Charite University Hospital in Berlin.
Those who received a fasting mimicking diet cycle followed by the Mediterranean diet and those on a ketogenic diet reported improvements in their quality of life, improvements in health, including physical and mental health.
The researchers noted that the study is limited because it did not test whether the Mediterranean diet alone would cause improvements, nor did it involve a functional MRI or immune function analysis.