Summary: For people with multiple sclerosis, following a Mediterranean diet can help reduce the risk of developing cognitive, memory and thinking problems.
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) who follow a Mediterranean diet may have a lower risk of memory and thinking skills problems than those who don’t follow the diet, according to a preliminary study published today, May 1. March 2023, which will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 75e The annual meeting will be held in person in Boston and live online 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, meats and saturated fatty acids.
“It’s exciting to see that we can help people with MS maintain better cognition by adopting a Mediterranean diet,” said study author Ilana Katz Sand, MD, of the Icahn School of Medicine. Mount Sinai in New York, New York. , and Fellow 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 with MS are very interested in ways they can be proactive from a lifestyle perspective to help improve their outcomes. »
The study involved 563 people with MS. People completed a questionnaire to show how well they followed the Mediterranean diet. They were given a score of zero to 14 based on their responses, with higher scores given to those who followed the diet more closely.
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.
The 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.
Researchers found that people who followed the Mediterranean diet more closely had a 20% lower risk of cognitive impairment than people who did not follow the diet.
Among people in the lowest food score group, 43 of 133 people, or 34%, had cognitive impairment, compared with 13 of 103 people, or 13%, of people in the highest food score group.
The relationship was stronger in people with progressive MS, where the disease steadily worsens, than in those with relapsing-remitting MS, where the disease flares up and then goes into periods of remission.
Importantly, noted Katz Sand, the results were the same when the researchers rigorously adjusted for other factors that may affect the risk of cognitive impairment, such as socioeconomic status, smoking status, body mass index, high blood pressure and exercise.
“Of health-related factors, the level of dietary alignment with the Mediterranean pattern was by far the best predictor of people’s cognitive scores and whether they met the study criteria for cognitive impairment,” Katz said. Sand.
She noted that longer studies that follow people over time and well-designed interventional clinical trials are needed to confirm the findings. A limitation of the study was that the tests were only done once.
Funding: 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 on multiple sclerosis research and diet
Author: Renee Tessman
Contact: Renée Tessman – ON
Picture: Image is in public domain
Original research: Findings will be presented at the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology