Researchers have found a remedy for the debilitating fatigue faced by many patients with multiple sclerosis (MS): A low-fat diet.
"The results reinforced what we had seen before," said study leader Dr. Vijayshree Yadav, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. "A low-fat diet can truly make a difference in a patient's fatigue level, even without going so far as to make it a vegan diet."
The new study, published online Nov. 8 in the journal Multiple Sclerosis Journal, builds on a decade of research testing the notion that diet matters, especially for folks with MS.
"Fatigue is very disabling for these patients," Yadav said. "There is no FDA-approved drug for fatigue, but we know fatigue greatly affects their quality of life."
The new study included 39 people with MS who experienced fatigue. A control group of 19 ate their usual foods and received diet counseling at the study's end.
Meanwhile, 20 participants received nutrition counseling and then followed a low-fat diet. Routine blood tests confirmed that they adhered to the regimen, finding clear signals of reduced calorie intake.
"You cannot really fudge the biomarkers," Yadav said in a university news release.
Unlike a 2016 study that tested a plant-based diet, the new low-fat regimen did include meat.
Participants who followed the diet had significant improvements in fatigue, as measured on a standard scale, researchers said. Every four weeks, they answered questions measuring such things as their ability to concentrate and carry out routine physical activities.