Can the Mediterranean diet help people with multiple sclerosis maintain their thinking skills?

Summary: For those with multiple sclerosis, following a Mediterranean diet can help reduce the risk of developing cognitive, memory and thinking problems.

source: AT

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) who follow a Mediterranean diet may have a lower risk of problems with memory and thinking skills than those who do not follow the diet, according to a preliminary study published today, March 1, 2023, which to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 75th The annual meeting takes place in person in Boston and live online from April 22-27, 2023.

The Mediterranean diet includes a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, fish and healthy fats such as olive oil and a low intake of dairy products, meat and saturated fatty acids.

“It’s exciting to see that we can help people living with MS maintain better cognitive abilities by eating a Mediterranean diet,” said study author Ilana Katz Sand, MD, of the Icahn School of Medicine. at Mount Sinai in New York, New York and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Cognitive difficulties are very common in MS and often worsen over time, even with treatment with disease-modifying therapies. People living with MS are very interested in ways they can be proactive in their lifestyles to help improve their outcomes.

The study included 563 people with MS. People filled out a questionnaire to indicate how well they followed the Mediterranean diet. They were scored from zero to 14 based on their responses with higher scores given to those who followed the diet more strictly.

The researchers then divided the participants into four groups based on their diet scores, with the lowest group having scores of zero to four and the highest group having scores of nine or more.

Participants also took three tests assessing their thinking and memory skills. Cognitive impairment was defined as a score below the fifth percentile on two or three of the tests.

A total of 108 people, or 19%, had cognitive impairment.

The researchers found that people who more strictly followed the Mediterranean diet had a 20% lower risk of cognitive impairment than people who did not follow the diet.

The Mediterranean diet includes a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, fish and healthy fats such as olive oil and a low intake of dairy products, meat and saturated fatty acids. Image is in the public domain

Among those in the lowest dietary score group, 43 of 133 people, or 34 percent, had cognitive impairment, compared with 13 of 103 people, or 13 percent, of people in the highest dietary score group.

The link was stronger among people with progressive MS, whose disease gets steadily worse, than among those with relapsing-remitting MS, whose disease flares up and then goes into periods of remission.

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Importantly, Katz Sand notes, the results were the same when the researchers rigorously adjusted for other factors that could influence the risk of cognitive impairment, such as socioeconomic status, smoking, body mass index, high blood pressure and exercise.

“Among the health-related factors, the level of dietary alignment with the Mediterranean pattern was by far the strongest predictor of people’s cognitive outcomes and whether they met the study’s criteria for cognitive impairment,” Katz Sand said.

She noted that longer studies that follow people over time and well-designed interventional clinical trials are needed to confirm the results. A limitation of the study is that the tests were done only once.

Financing: The study was supported by the Irma T. Hirschl/Monique Weill-Caulier Trust, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the National Institutes of Health.

About this news about multiple sclerosis research and diet

Author: Rene Tessmann
source: AT
Contact: René Tessmann – ON
Image: Image is in the public domain

Original research: The findings will be presented at the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology

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